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Release: April 14, 2000

Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, Vienna Sax Quartet are guests of Center for New Music

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present a concert featuring the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, the Vienna Sax Quartet and faculty artists from the UI School of Music at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 27 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, which is part of a national tour by the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble (MCE) with the Vienna Sax Quartet, will be free and open to the public.

The program will include music by Steve Reich and Leonard Bernstein and a piece composed specifically for saxophonist Mathew Sintchak from the UI School of Music faculty. Another UI faculty member, clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead, will also be featured as a soloist.

Founded in 1993, the MCE is a flexible chamber orchestra from Minneapolis/St. Paul dedicated to the performance of modern music. In its brief history, the MCE has covered musical styles from classical to tango, exotica, ambient, electronics and noise.

The group has performed at the UI on an earlier tour in February 1998.

The Vienna Sax Quartet has been dedicated to the performance of new music since it was founded in Vienna, Austria, in 1987. Like the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, the Vienna Sax Quartet has made a previous visit to the UI campus, in March of 1999. For the current tour, the quartet includes alto saxophonist Matt Sintchak, who teaches saxophone at the UI School of Music. Other touring members are Susan Fancher, soprano saxophone; Richard Dirlam, tenor saxophone; and Mark Engebretson, baritone saxophone.

The Vienna Sax Quartet will open the program with an arrangement of Steve Reich's "New York Counterpoint" for saxophones and tape. The arrangement was made by quartet member Susan Fancher with the support and encouragement of the composer.

The piano/percussion duo of Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson, guest artists with the MCE for the current tour, will perform "Every Night the Same Dream," a new piece by Griswold written specifically for the tour. Griswold is a composer, improvising pianist and installation artist from San Diego who has written more than 50 pieces for chamber ensembles, orchestra and jazz combos. Tomlinson, a frequent collaborator with Griswold, is a percussionist who studied with UI alumnus Steven Schick at the University of California -- San Diego. She has performed throughout Australia, North America, Asia and Europe.

The Vienna Sax Quartet will be joined by players from the MCE to perform "Bass ist in 1" for five saxophones, two percussionists and keyboard by Wollie Kaiser. Kaiser is a founding member of the Koeln Saxophone Mafia, one of Germany's leading experimental music ensembles.

"Bass ist in 1" was composed for the Mafia's CD recording "Baboma," which featured a collaboration with the African Congolese percussion group Elma.

Two members of the MCE will play Allen Gleck's "Two Trumpets," which has been recorded by the MCE on their CD "180 degrees from Ordinary."

Sintchak will be featured in a performance of "Energy Drink I," composed specifically for him by Engebretson. "Energy Drink I" is the first in a planned series of high-speed, virtuoso solo works by Engebretson for a variety of instruments.

The program will conclude with "Prelude Fugue and Riffs," composed in 1949 for jazz band leader Woody Herman by Leonard Bernstein and premiered by Bernstein on a 1955 "Omnibus" broadcast on CBS television with clarinetist Benny Goodman. Mead will be the soloist in the performance, which will also feature an ensemble of UI students and members of the MCE, conducted by the MCE's artistic director, Duane Schulthess.

From its 1993 debut performance at the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble (MCE) has performed to critical acclaim throughout the country. Their 1997 debut album, "180 Degrees from Ordinary," was characterized by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as "a tour de force of technical ability and engaging new music."

The MCE has collaborated with a wide variety of contemporary musicians, including Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison; Los Angeles guitarist/producer Skip Heller; the new music quartet Zeitgeist; the former head of music at CBS Robert Drasnin, conducting the first-ever live performance of his 1960 cult-classic lounge LP "Voodoo"; and D.J. Bonebreak, legendary drummer of the seminal Los Angeles punk band "X."

A visiting professor at the UI, Sintchak has previously taught at the University of Hartford; Nazareth College and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y.; and at Eastman,, where he won a 1996-97 Teaching Prize. An avid performer of contemporary music, Sintchak has also given traditional solo recitals across the United States and performed with the Hartford and Portland symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic, and with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on two tours to Japan.

Sintchak has studied at Boston University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and the Paris Conservatory in France. He recently completed his doctorate in saxophone performance with a Performer's Certificate from Eastman.

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," a CD of Brazilian choros she recorded with pianist Rafael Dos Santos, a UI alumnus. She and Dos Santos have recently completed their second CD, "Red Hot and Brazilian," which is due to be released in the spring of 2000.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at Learn more about the MCE at The Vienna Saxophone Quartet may be found on the World Wide Web at