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Release: Aug. 25, 2000

Bassoonist Benjamin Coelho plays music from Brazil to Brahms for Sept. 6 UI faculty recital

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Bassoonist Benjamin Coelho will be joined by pianist Ksenia Nosikova and oboist Mark Weiger to open the University of Iowa School of Music 2000-2001 faculty recital series with a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. Their recital will be free and open to the public.

Playing an instrument that has a limited solo repertoire, Coelho has programmed music from his native Brazil, his own arrangement of music originally written for cello, and a piece of chamber music, as well as a recital piece for bassoon and piano.

Coelho will open the program with the three of the Sixteen Waltzes for solo bassoon by Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone. Born in 1897, Mignone was playing piano and conducting small dance orchestras by the time he was 13, and he later played flute in larger orchestras. He wrote popular music, as well as pieces that reflected his academic training in piano and composition. Inspired by friendship with bassoonist Noel Devos, he wrote more than a dozen works for bassoon, including the Waltzes for solo bassoon, composed 1979-81 when Mignone was more than 80.

The three pieces Coelho will play -- "Happy Easter to you, Devos!," "Mystery (How much I loved her!)" and "Macunaima" -- are all examples of the Brazilian waltz. Designed for strolling musicians rather than the accompaniment of dancing couples, the Brazilian waltz features an improvised solo part and great expressive freedom.

The second work on Coelho's program will be his own arrangement of Brahms's Sonata in E minor for cello and piano, op. 38. Considered one of the standard works in the cello repertoire, the Sonata features an unusual relationship between the instruments. The solo part -- the bassoon in Coelho's arrangement -- is sometimes the leading instrument, sometimes in the middle of the texture, and sometimes the bass support below the piano part, creating a sense of intimacy and equality between the two performers.

After intermission, Coelho and Nosikova will play the Sonata for bassoon and piano by the Iowa-born 20th-century composer Alvin Etler. Educated at the University of Illinois, Etler taught at Yale, Cornell, Smith College and Illinois. He is known primarily as a composer of music for wind instruments. The Bassoon Sonata, composed in 1951, is one of his most performed works.

The concert will close with the Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano by Francis Poulenc. Associated with a group of modernist composers in Paris in the early years of the 20th century, Poulenc favored a neo-classical style and avoided the more radical forms of musical experimentation of the times. Consequently his music has always been considered highly accessible. He particularly liked wind instruments, for which he wrote several pieces of chamber music, including the Trio of 1926.

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. The quintet won various chamber music competitions including Artists International, Coleman and Monterey Peninsula chamber music competitions. As a soloist, Coelho has played recitals and concertos in Brazil, the United States, Canada, Portugal and Argentina.

In Brazil, Coelho has played principal bassoon with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais and the Gramado Woodwind Quintet. 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.

Nosikova, who joined the UI faculty in 1998, has performed extensively as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. She gave her New York debut performance in 1996 in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. She has performed concertos with the Louisiana Symphony, the University of Colorado Symphony and the Jefferson Symphony. She has toured the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy with a piano trio from the Moscow Conservatory. She is currently working on the first solo CD recording of Franz Liszt's "Years of Pilgrimage."

She has been a prize winner in numerous piano competitions, including the Frinna Awerbach International Piano Competition in New York, the Alabama International Piano Competition and the Ibla International Piano Competition in Italy, to which she has returned as a jury member. She has received two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Initiative and the Central Investment Fund for Research Enhancement at the UI.

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; been a finalist in nine international competitions; won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY); performed double concertos with the Chicago Symphony's former principal oboist, Ray Still; and presented solo recitals with many other notable oboists.

Weiger 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. As 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. Following the New York premiere of the Bernard Rand Concertino, critic Gerald Gabel wrote, "Weiger's virtuosic abilities were a perfect match for this difficult work. . . . not since Heinz Holliger in his prime have we heard an oboist with his control and mastery."

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