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Release: Feb. 4, 2000

UI Symphony Band concert Feb. 19 highlights Honor Band Weekend at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble will present a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus. Myron Welch, director of UI bands, will conduct the concert, which is free and open to the public. Bassoonist Benjamin Coelho, a faculty member of the School of Music, will be the soloist.

The concert is part of the annual Honor Band Weekend at the UI. Each year approximately 135 high school musicians from around the state are invited to campus to play with a distinguished guest conductor and to attend clinics on their individual instruments.

The high school Honor Band will present its own free concert, with guest conductor Thomas Leslie, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20 in Hancher Auditorium.

For the Feb. 19 concert, the Symphony Band and the Chamber Wind Ensemble -- a smaller group within the band -- will play six works: a wind arrangement of the final movement of Howard Hanson's "Romantic" Symphony; the Concerto for Bassoon of English composer Gordon Jacob; "The Dream of Oenghus" by German composer Rolf Rudin; Igor Stravinsky's "Circus Polka"; "Dead Elvis" for bassoon and winds by Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty; and Donald Grantham's "Southern Harmony."

Gordon Jacob played a major role in British musical life of the mid-20th century. He studied at the Royal College of Music, then taught there for 40 years, from 1926 until his retirement in 1966. Although he never became famous outside England, at home he was recognized as a distinguished teacher -- particularly of instrumentation -- and a composer of economical, well-crafted and accessible works.

Jacob had a particular interest in wind instruments. He wrote several band pieces that are still performed regularly, and his orchestral works include concertos for oboe, bassoon, flute, horn and trombone, as well as a Suite for tuba and strings and a Rhapsody for English horn and strings. Originally composed for bassoon and strings, the Concerto has been transcribed for bassoon and winds by Mark Cray.

"The Dream of Oenghus" refers to an Irish legend, in which Prince Oenghus has a nightly vision when fast asleep. Each night he sees a girl who plays the flute, and he falls in love with her. Since she keeps disappearing, she remains unattainable for him until he sets out to search for her, and eventually finds her. According to the composer, the musical poem "is no musical retelling of the legend; in a way it rather invites reading the story, as there are only single phrases and atmospheres of the legend serving as extra-musical sources of imagination."

"The Dream on Oenghus" was written in two parts, the first in 1993-94 in response to a commission from the Confederation of German Band and Folk Music Associations, and the second in 1996 for the State Wind Orchestra of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

A composer who is known for incorporating popular culture into concert music, Daugherty has written several pieces about Elvis. "In 'Dead Elvis,'" he explains, "the bassoon soloist is an Elvis impersonator accompanied by a chamber ensemble. It is more than coincidence that 'Dead Elvis' is scored for the same instrumentation as Stravinsky's 'Histoire du soldat' (A soldier's tale), in which a soldier sells his violin, and his soul, to the devil for a magic book.

"I offer a new spin on this Faustian scenario: a rock start sells out to Hollywood, Colonel Parker, and Las Vegas for wealth and fame."

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 and Portugal.

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.

Coelho started studying bassoon at the age of 10 at the Tatui Conservatory in his native Brazil. He graduated with honors from the State University of New York at Purchase and received a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He is currently completing a doctorate at Indiana University.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band. Prior to joining the UI faculty he was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States.

A native of Muscatine, Leslie was a member of the Iowa Honor Band when he was a high school student, and later served as drum major with the Hawkeye Marching Band. He is currently director of bands for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV). An internationally recognized band director he has served as a guest conductor and competition judge in 34 states and in Australia, Japan, England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Canada.

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