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Release: Nov. 19, 1999

Center for New Music presents music by current, former UI faculty

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New Music will perform music by current and former UI faculty members as part of a free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

A flexible organization devoted to the performance of music composed in recent decades, the Center for New Music is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music.

The Dec. 5 program will include the Trio for flute, clarinet and double bass by Michael Eckert, the head of the composition and music theory area in the UI School of Music; "Doctrine of Chances" for tape by Lawrence Fritts, the director of the UI Electronic Music Studios; "Layers" for flute, oboe, clarinet and trumpet by Jeremy Dale Roberts, a visiting professor of composition this year in the School of Music; and Fantasy and Toccata for piano by Richard Hervig, a co-founder of the Center for New Music who retired from the UI in 1988.

Other works on the program will be "An Idyll for the Misbegotten" for amplified flute and percussion by George Crumb; and "Urban Dances" for brass quintet by Richard Danielpour.

Four members of the School of Music faculty -- Tadeu Coelho, flute, Mark Weiger, oboe, Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet and David Greenhoe, trumpet -- will be featured as in the performance of Roberts’ "Layers," and Danielpour’s "Urban Dances" will be played by the Iowa Brass Quintet, a resident faculty ensemble at the School of Music. Other performers on the concert will be UI students.

Roberts, who recently retired as head of composition at the Royal College of Music in London, was once Gompper’s teacher. His works have been performed at major European venues, including the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh festivals in England, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve (Switzerland) and the festivals of Avignon and Paris.

"Layers" was written for the 300th anniversary of the death of the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell. It was based on one of Purcell’s best-known pieces, the lament "When I am laid in earth" from his opera "Dido and Aeneas." The composer commented on the diverse influences he felt in writing "Layers:" "In the end, it didn’t turn to be all that lively a piece, let alone exclusively Purcells’. Debussy, Chopin and Mahler all get a look in."

Hervig has many ties to Iowa: he was born in the state, studied composition at the UI under the late Philip Greeley Clapp, received his doctorate in composition here, and then taught composition and music theory in the UI School of Music from 1955 until his retirement 1988. After retiring, he moved to New York, where he teaches in the Literature and Materials of Music program at the Juilliard School.

In 1997 he wrote a Toccata for an 80th-birthday concert at Merkin Hall in New York City. The Fantasy was added in front of the Toccata in 1998.

Eckert’s Trio was written for the 1988 convention of the Iowa Music Teachers Association and premiered there by Eldon Obrecht, the former string bass teacher at the UI, together with two students from the School of Music.

Fritts’ "Doctrine of Chances" is a new piece that integrates two approaches to composition that were characteristic of the mid-20th century: the so-called chance composition of the 1950s and ‘60s, which left aspects of pieces open to chance, and the strict serial style that attempted to apply mathematical controls to all aspects of composition.

One of the most distinctive and original American composers of the 20th century, George Crumb is composer in residence at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written that "An Idyll for the Misbegotten" was inspired by thoughts about "the fateful and melancholy predicament of the species homo sapiens at the present moment in time. Mankind has become ever more ‘illegitimate’ in the natural world of the plants and animals. The ancient sense of brotherhood with all lifeforms has gradually and relentlessly eroded, and consequently we find ourselves monarchs of a dying world. We share the fervent hope that humankind will embrace anew nature’s ‘moral imperative’."

Danielpour is one of the most important American composers of the generation born in the decade after World War II. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize, he is a member of the composition faculty at the Curtis Institute and the Manhattan School of Music, and his works have been performed by major orchestras and solo artists throughout the country. He wrote:

"My brass quintet ‘Urban Dances’ attempts to evoke some of the various energies -- as I experience them -- of New York City, where I was born and now live. Its first movement, ‘Riddle Dance,’ is about confronting crisis on a daily basis, while the second movement, ‘Burlesque,’ involves the sexual energy and dynamics between men and women in New York City. ‘Shadow Dance,’ the third and longest movement, is a dirge with variations set in a style somewhat reminiscent of a chorale prelude The last movement, ‘Peripetia,’ is a cross between perpetual motion and vicissitude; it is the most positive and optimistic of the quintet’s four dances, and perhaps the most challenging music for the performers."

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks. In November, 1998, an east-coast tour by the center included a performance at Merkin Hall in New York City. Critic Paul Griffiths opened his New York Times review of the concert by observing that "an ensemble of faculty and graduate students from the University of Iowa performed strongly Tuesday night," and he praised Gompper for "the concert’s clarity and directness."

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at The Center for New Music has a web page at