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Release: Sept. 24, 1999

'New' Iowa Woodwind Quintet will join with string players for UI concert Oct. 6

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Woodwind Quintet, a resident faculty ensemble of the University of Iowa School of Music, will present a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The faculty ensemble will perform quintets by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and American John Harbison, and they will be joined by faculty and graduate student performers to present the Nonetto for woodwinds and strings by Louise Farrenc.

For many years a feature of the School of Music concert series, the Iowa Woodwind Quintet was temporarily silenced a few years ago when some of its longtime members retired from the UI faculty. With all positions once again filled by permanent faculty members, the quintet returned to the concert stage last spring, and they are continuing their performance activities in the 1999-2000 academic year.

Current members of the quintet are Tadeu Coelho, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon. The most recent additions are the Coelhos, brothers who separately joined the UI faculty in 1997 (Tadeu) and 1998 (Benjamin).

Performing with the Iowa Woodwind Quintet for the Farrenc Nonetto will be string faculty members Annette-Barbara Vogel, violin, Christine Rutledge, viola, and Diana Gannett, double bass; and graduate student Cora Kuyvenhoven, cello. Both Vogel and Rutledge joined the school of music faculty during the past year.

A self-described "child of nature" who "heard the aborigines' drums in the mysterious nights" of his native country, Villa-Lobos is widely considered one of the landmark composers of the 20th century. His stature was reflected in the comments of Leonard Bernstein, who said that "he was not only a great composer but also a great Brazilian and an eminent personality of the world artistic community." And conductor Leopold Stokowski said, "Villa-Lobos was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century because he was able to express, through his music, the immense diversity of life in Brazil, his native country."

Villa Lobos composed the Quintet in 1928, when he was living in Paris. The style is purely Brazilian, however, and its full title, "Quintette en forme de Choros," refers to a popular style of Brazilian instrumental ensemble music. Already popular at the turn of the last century, the choro reached its apex in the 1940s and today is considered almost a classical genre of Brazilian music. The quintet is written in several uninterrupted sections, each depicting a different mood and featuring the particular sounds and technical capabilities of each instrument.

The performance of the Villa-Lobos Quintet emphasizes the several Brazilian connections that exist for the Iowa Woodwind Quintet. The most obvious is that the two newest members of the ensemble -- the Coelhos -- are from Brazil. They continue to promote the music of Brazil in their performances in the Unites States and around the world, and Tadeu recorded a CD of Brazilian music.

Further, clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead has performed and recorded Brazilian choros with pianist Rafael Dos Santos, another native of Brazil who was a graduate student at the UI several years ago. And in November the entire quintet will travel to Brazil to perform and serve as judges for the Curitiba International Chamber Music Competition.

Harbison's Quintet, composed in1978, was written to a commission from the Naumberg Foundation. Oboist Mark Weiger has commented that the five-movement Quintet "is quite beautiful with its sound-painting effects," adding that "it pushes the instruments to extremes in range, dynamics and technique."

A uniquely gifted and pioneering composer and pianist, Louise Farrenc was the only woman to hold a permanent position on the faculty of the Paris Conservatory in the 19th century. She showed great promise already as a young girl growing up in Paris, and she studied composition at the Conservatory with Anton Reicha -- incidentally one of the first significant composers of chamber music for woodwind instruments.

After graduating from the conservatory, she wrote three symphonies that were performed in Paris and Brussels in the 1840s, a remarkable and unparalleled accomplishment for a woman at the time. She was also a brilliant pianist and taught piano at the Conservatory for 30 years, from 1842 to 1873. She became the editor of "Le tresor des pianistes" (The pianist's treasure), an anthology of music from the 17th and 18th centuries, when her husband, who started the monumental series, died in 1865.

Farrenc was particularly recognized in her lifetime for her chamber music, including a cello sonata, two piano trios, two violin sonatas and two piano quartets. The Nonetto for winds and strings, composed in1849, was one of her most successful works.

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet has been in existence at the UI School of Music since about 1932. Prior to its recent pause, the quintet has frequently toured throughout Iowa and the Midwest.

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