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Release: Nov. 10, 1999

Clarinetist Mead performs Brazilian music for UI faculty recital

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead from the University of Iowa School of Music will present a program of Brazilian "choros" from her most recent CD recording, as well as other Brazilian pieces, on a free faculty recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

With her faculty colleagues Mark Weiger, oboe, and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon, Mead will perform the Trio of Heitor Villa-Lobos, one of the leading Brazilian composers of the 20th century. She will perform a piece for clarinet solo, "Ludica I" by Ronaldo Miranda, and a number of choros with pianist Lucia Barrenechea, a graduate student in the School of Music.

The program highlights a remarkable and ongoing connection between the UI School of Music and Brazil. Mead has just returned from a trip to Brazil, where she and the other members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet gave performances and served as judges for the Curitiba International Chamber Music Competition. Several other School of Music faculty members have played and taught in Brazil, including violinist Leopold La Fosse, pianist Rene Lecuona, and John Rapson, head of the UI jazz program.

The presence of the UI faculty in Brazil has also attracted a large number of Brazilian students to the School of Music, including Barrenechea. Pianist Rafael Dos Santos, Mead's collaborator on two CDs of Brazilian "choros," also came to the UI from Brazil for study. Over the years, numerous Brazilian violinists who came to the UI to study with La Fosse have been members of the University Symphony.

Two current members of the School of Music faculty are from Brazil -- bassoonist Coelho and his brother, flutist Tadeu Coelho. Both are members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet.

Derived from a Portuguese word meaning "to cry," the word "choro" is used in Brazil to refer to instrumental ensemble music, often in a dance style. The performing groups include a flute, mandolin, saxophone or clarinet as lead instruments, which are accompanied by guitars, cavaquinho -- a Brazilian stringed instrument about the size of the ukulele -- and a tambourine-like percussion instrument called the pandeiro.

Choros began at the end of the 19th century as European dances performed in a melancholy or nostalgic style. It reached its apex in the 1940s, and today is considered almost a classical genre of Brazilian music. Many choros feature virtuoso improvisation of instrumental variations by one or more soloists, often in a manner that is similar to American jazz.

Mead and Barrenechea will perform music by several of the leading composers of choros, including Jacob do Bandolim, Ernesto Nazareth and Pixinguinha. All the choros on the program were also included on "Red Hot and Brazilian," Mead's most recent CD recording. Recorded in Brazil in September by Mead and dos Santos, the CD will be released in the spring of 2000.

Mead is in her 16th year teaching clarinet on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she is also associate director for graduate studies. Her many solo invitations have included International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony.

As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. Her "On The Fence" performance, combining jazz, jazz-influenced compositions and classical works on a single program, was a featured recital at the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium. It was followed by "Over the Fence," her first CD of Brazilian choros recorded with Dos Santos.

She is secretary of the International Clarinet Association. She has appeared by invitation as featured soloist at the 1997 and '98 ICA conventions and at ClarFest 99 in Belgium. Most recently she was a featured guest artist at the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

As recipient of the UI Collegiate Teaching Award, Mead was the invited speaker at the UI College of Liberal Arts commencement in 1990. Her students have won first prize in competitions sponsored by the International Clarinet Association and ClarFest. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where she received the Performer's Certificate, and from Michigan State University.

Since coming to Iowa in 1988 Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, and won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY). He is a founding member of the double reed quartet Wizards!, which has released two CDs to critical acclaim, toured 18 states and presented educational residence programs. A member of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet, he has also played with the New Hampshire Music Festival, Yellow Barn Festival in Vermont, the Bear Lake Festival in Utah, the Britt and Cascade Festivals in Oregon and the Great Music West Festival in Idaho and Wyoming.

Coelho has worked extensively as performer and teacher of bassoon, in both the United States and his native Brazil. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Wind Quintet, with whom he played a sold-out concert in Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has played with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He taught bassoon at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he served as the elected vice-dean of the School of Music.

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