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Release: June 23, 1999

UI Symphony will present world premiere, light classical favorites on June 30 concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra will present its annual summer concert, this year featuring two premieres with the double-reed ensemble WiZARDS! and music from the Broadway hits "The Sound of Music" and "Oklahoma!", at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 30 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The free concert, which will also feature violinist Leopold La Fosse playing "Zigeunerweisen" (Gypsy style) by the celebrated 19th-century Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate, will be under the direction of David Nelson.

Two popular light orchestral pieces will complete the program, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole" (Spanish caprice) and the "Blue Danube" Waltz of Johann Strauss, Jr.

WiZARDS! will perform two works with the orchestra, the world premiere of "A Contemporary Concerto Grosso," written for them by Graham Powning, and the premiere of the orchestral version of "A Klezmer Wedding" by Michael Curtis.

Both works were commissioned by WiZARDS!, a group that was founded by oboist Mark Weiger of the UI School of Music faculty. In addition to Weiger, other members of the group are oboists Andrea Gullickson and S. Blake Duncan and bassoonist Greg Morton. Gullickson and Morton are both graduates of the UI School of Music.

WiZARDS! has had a professional relationship with composer Powning since 1995, when they recorded his "Bionic Music" for 3 oboes versus 3 bassoons. They have premiered two of his works at International Double Reed Society conferences, "Serenade" in 1996 and "Divertimento for WiZARDS!" in 1998.

A native of Sydney, Australia, Powning studied oboe at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, and later joined the faculty there as oboe instructor. In 1975 he was appointed principal oboe of the Elizabethan Sydney Orchestra, and in 1977 he received the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal for services to music. The composer of several symphonies and an opera, he is best known for his nearly 100 pieces for double reed instruments. WiZARDS! will perform the "Contemporary Concerto Grosso" later this year at the 1999 International Double Reed Society conference.

Klezmer music originated in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. It is particularly associated with festive occasions, including weddings and other social events, as well as major services in the synagogue. "A Klezmer Wedding" by oboist and bassoonist Michael Curtis was written in 1994, during the composer's honeymoon.

It is a programmatic work, opening with the oboe and oboe d'amore (an instrument whose name literally means "oboe of love") representing the groom and bride, respectively. The rabbi, represented by the English horn introduces the bassoon as the patriarch of the family. The festivities move through the traditional dances "Hora" and "Chusidl," concluding with the energetic "Freylach."

Nelson has been director of the UI School of Music since 1991. He is a music educator and conductor as well as a violinist with professional orchestral and chamber music experience. Before coming to the UI, he was on the faculty and directed the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of scholarly articles in music psychology, music cognition and pedagogy. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Texas at Austin.

Started five years ago, "WiZARDS!" has been touted as the "world series of double reed playing." The ensemble has toured through 18 states, gathered the world's largest library of double reed music, commissioned 12 works, recorded 3 CDs, and continues to present nearly 30 concerts each year. Weiger formed the quartet as a professional chamber group that could travel easily. The best of the available double reed music is selected and, when necessary, arranged for the quartet.

In addition to the customary double reed instruments, "WiZARDS!" often includes the less common members of the family in its performances. These include the piccolo oboe -- a smaller, higher pitched and more difficult-to-play cousin of the oboe -- the alto-voiced oboe d'amore, and the very low-pitched contra bassoon.

"WiZARDS!" was featured as the chamber group in residence for the education component of the Great Music West Festival in Utah and Idaho. Reviewers called their festival concert "a dazzling performance" and "an outstanding musical adventure for all." Another critic commented, "the audience was spellbound by their uniqueness and quality."

Weiger has performed in 38 states, Canada, England, France and Austria, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions and won second prize at the Lucarelli International Competition. The first oboist to serve as an Artistic Ambassador through the U.S. Information Agency, Weiger performed recitals in Nepal, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Sri Lanka. He is a member of the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Festival in Vermont and the Bear Lake Festival in Utah. He has recorded for the CRS, Crystal, Chandos and Centaur CD labels

Before coming to the UI, Weiger was on the faculty of the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He has served as the principal oboist for the Albany (N.Y.) Symphony, the Ohio Opera Company, the Empire State Institute for the Performing Arts and the Portland Symphony in Maine. Since coming to Iowa, he has been principal oboe with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, the Illinois Symphony and Chamber Orchestra, and the Southwest Virginia Chamber Orchestra.

A graduate of the UI School of Music, Northwestern and Michigan State, Gullickson teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh and is principal oboe of the Fox Valley and Oshkosh (Wis.) symphonies. A former member of the Quad City Symphony in Davenport, she has presented recitals and master classes and appeared as a soloist throughout the Midwest. She made her New York debut at Carnegie Hall in May of 1998, and she has had engagements at the Bach Aria Festival in New York, the Banff (Canada) Centre for the Arts, and the 25th Anniversary Conference of the International Double Reed Society.

Duncan teaches at Bradley University and is chair of the woodwind faculty with the Lutheran Summer Music Program. He plays solo English horn in the Illinois and Peoria symphonies. His extensive orchestral experience also includes positions as English horn player with the Caracas (Venezuela), Mansfield and Akron (Ohio) symphonies, and principal oboe with the Binghamton (New York) Symphony. He has also taught at SUNY Binghamton.

Morton is second bassoon and personnel manager of the Cedar Rapids Symphony. He has also played with the Dubuque, Waterloo, Des Moines and Quad City symphonies and the Des Moines Metro Opera. A graduate of the UI, Northwestern and North Texas State Universities, he has taught at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He is currently teaching at Cornell College, Wartburg College and Coe College in Iowa.

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His extensive performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. He made his first public appearance at the age of four, and he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio at eight. He later studied at the New England Conservatory. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UI he teaches violin, directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble, and serves as area head for strings. He has also done extensive research in string pedagogy. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform, teach and give master classes.

La Fosse continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had performances at Wigmore Hall in London, Sala Ceclila Mireles in Rio de Janiero, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and a jazz violinist.

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