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Release: Feb. 11, 2000

Amos Yang, Maia Quartet cellist, will play unaccompanied recital Feb. 20 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Amos Yang, the cellist of the Maia Strung Quartet at the University of Iowa School of Music, will play a recital of music for unaccompanied cello at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

His performance will be free and open to the public.

Now in its second year as resident quartet of the School of Music, the Maia Quartet has established itself on the UI performance schedule, playing a series of concerts on campus each year. But Yang and the other members of the quartet have solo careers apart from the quartet, and they are beginning to make solo performances a part of the UI arts schedule as well.

After Yang, the next solo recital at the UI will be presented by first violinist Amy Kuhlmann Appold, performing with pianist Ksenia Nosikova at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 26. The quartet will play its third and final concert of the 1999-2000 season at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 9. Both performances will be in Clapp Recital Hall.

For his Feb. 20 solo recital Yang will perform two works that musically and technically are among the greatest challenges in the cello repertoire: the Suite in C major for solo cello of J.S. Bach, and the Sonata for solo cello of 20th-century Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly.

Bach's s six suites for solo cello, composed around 1720, are the earliest works to earn a permanent place in the virtuoso cello repertoire. They were written while Bach was music director at the court of Prince Leopold of Coethen. A number of Bach's greatest instrumental works were written about the same time, including the sonatas and partitas for solo violin and the Brandenburg Concertos.

In Bach's time there was already a long tradition of unaccompanied pieces for stringed instruments, but Bach far surpassed his predecessors. His works not only show an intimate understanding of the performance techniques and possibilities of each instrument, but they also maintain a high level of musical interest, while covering a wide range of rhythmic styles and expressive possibilities -- qualities that have made the solo suites an essential part of any cellist's education.

Kodaly is known to western audiences as a composer of music that reflects Hungarian folk styles, but he was also an important music educator and a serious collector and scholar of folk music. In fact, he was at the center of Hungary's musical life for most of the 20th century, and his influence in his native country is still strong. "Without Kodaly the composer, the teacher, the musicologist, today's musical life in Hungary could scarcely be imagined," author and critic Imre Fabian wrote.

Kodaly composed his Sonata for Solo Cello in 1915. Like Bach, he surpassed his predecessors, imagining new possibilities for the cello, both technically and expressively. Consequently, his Sonata has taken a place alongside the Bach suites among the essential works of the cello repertoire.

Asked about his program, Yang likes to quote cellist Janos Starker, who has recorded most of the cello repertoire several times over, including the Bach suites and the Kodaly Sonata. "The first cornerstone of the cello repertoire were the Bach Suite," Starker has written. "Kodaly uses the cello from top to bottom. All the fingers are busy. Three fingers are playing melodic ideas while the others are plucking chords. . . . And the limitless and extended use of the instrument's tonal range has influenced every composer since Kodaly."

The newest member of the Maia Quartet, Yang joined the group in 1996 after playing with the Deutsche Kammerakademie (German Academy of Chamber Music) in Dusseldorf and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He has won first prize in the Grace Vamos Cello Competition and the American String Teachers Association Cello Competition and was a finalist in the Pierre Fournier Cello Competition. He has performed a wide range of concertos and played chamber music with the Ying Quartet, pianist Ann Schein and violinists Perrin Yang and Earl Carlyss.

Yang holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Juilliard School. He also studied at the Eastman School of Music and in London, England, under a grant from the Beebe Foundation. He attended the Tanglewood Music Festival, where he received the CD Jackson Award for outstanding contribution to the festival in 1994.

Founded in1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In 1999 they gave a concert at the German Embassy in Washington, in honor of the Czech Republic's entry into NATO. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School. Prior to coming to Iowa, they also taught on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.

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