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Release: Jan. 21, 2000

Davis Brooks, Rene Lecuona will perform music for violin, piano Feb. 2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pianist Rene Lecuona from the University of Iowa School of Music faculty will perform with guest artist Davis Brooks in a program of music for violin and piano at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Their recital will be free and open to the public.

The program will explore some of the less familiar areas of the violin-piano repertoire, including three works from the 20th century. They will play the Sonata for violin and piano of Czech composer Leos Janacek (1922); the Partita for violin and piano (1984) of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski; "Inscriptions" for solo violin (1991) by Shulamit Ran; and the Sonata No. 1 in D minor for violin and piano (1885) by Camille Saint-Saens.

The two most recent works -- those by Lutoslawski and Ran -- are also certainly the least familiar to most classical music audiences.

Lutoslawski is widely regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. Born in Warsaw in 1913, he studied composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. During World War II he underwent military training, followed by imprisonment by the Germans and escape back to Warsaw. After the war, the Stalinist regime banned his first symphony, but Lutoslawski continued to compose and in 1958 his "Musique Funebre" established his international reputation. He developed his own personal style, giving the performers freedom to improvise within controlled parameters. A genuinely modest man, Lutoslawski received many international prizes and awards, including the Inamori Foundation Prize, Kyoto, for his outstanding contribution to contemporary European music.

"I composed Partita in the Autumn of 1984 at the request of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, for Pinchas Zuckerman and Marc Neikrug," Lutoslawski wrote. " The three main movements follow, rhythmically at least, the tradition of pre-Classical, 18th-century keyboard music. This, however, is no more than an allusion. Harmonically and melodically, Partita clearly belongs (with my) recent compositions."

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Shulamit Ran came to the United States at the age of 14 to study, having received scholarships from the Mannes College of Music in New York and the America Israel Cultural Foundation. She has performed extensively as a pianist in the United States, Europe, Israel and elsewhere, and she is presently the William H. Colvin Professor in the department of music at the University of Chicago, where she has taught since 1973.

In 1990 Ran was appointed composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as part of the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residencies Program, a position she held for seven seasons. She has won awards, fellowships and commissions from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among many others. Her symphony, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991.

Ran commented in her notes on "Inscriptions," "Composing for a solo, essentially melodic-line instrument such as the violin is a challenge I have found myself drawn back to time and again . . . The challenge for me, all the more intriguing in the context of what is considered non-tonal language, seems to be in creating a sense of presence, concreteness, centeredness and direction, with just a horizontal line to work with."

Saint-Saens was the most internationally prominent French composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A prolific and professional composer, he wrote in all the standard genres of the 19th century, including symphonies, sonatas, concertos, operas, character pieces for piano and so forth. Many of his best known and most highly regarded pieces were written in the 1870s and '80s, including his Third Symphony, Fourth Piano Concerto, "Carnival of the Animals," the opera "Samson and Delilah" and the First Violin Sonata.

One of the most original, independent and recognizable composers of the 20th century, Janacek had a long a successful musical career. His most successful compositions, however, all date from about the last 12 years of his life (1916-28): the operas "Jenufa" (1916), "Katya Kabanova" (1921), "The Cunning Little Vixen" (1923) and "The Makropulos Affair" (1925); his first and second string quartets (1923 and '27) and Sinfonietta for orchestra (1926); and his choral works "The Diary of One Who Vanished" (1919) and the "Glagolitic Mass" (1926). His Violin Sonata, written in 1922, comes from this same incredibly fertile period of the composer's life.

Brooks comes from a diverse musical background as soloist, pedagogue, orchestral musician, studio musician, concertmaster on Broadway, conductor, and chamber musician. Recently appointed associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Brooks was a member of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center for 10 years, and the New York Chamber Symphony. He currently teaches violin at Butler University in Indianapolis.

An active and committed chamber musician, he is currently a member of the Linden String Quartet. He is a founding member of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble. He has been concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of New England, the Harrisburg Symphony and the Waco (Tex.) Symphony.

Lecuona maintains an active teaching and performing schedule at the UI School of Music, including frequent collaborations with her faculty colleagues. Since joining the faculty in1990 she has appeared in more than 55 on-campus concerts. An advocate of 20th-century music, Lecuona has appeared as solo pianist and chamber musician in concerts of the UI Center for New Music.

She has also given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Most recently she performed and presented master classes in Mexico. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in a chamber performance in Weill Recital Hall in 1993, and she has appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras in New York and Iowa. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she has given concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also performed solo recitals and given master classes at many universities in Brazil.

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