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Release: Jan. 21, 2000

Bowling Green faculty to present UI guest recital of 20th-century viola music

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A faculty duo from Bowling Green State University in Ohio will present a program of 20th-century music for viola and piano at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6 in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

The performers -- violist Nancy Buck and pianist Laura Melton -- are appearing as guests of the UI School of Music. Their performance will be free and open to the public.

Their program comprises five pieces: "Passacaglia" by Rebecca Clarke; "Pastoral" by Elliot Carter; the Sonata of George Rochberg; William Bergsma's "Fantastic Variations on a Theme from 'Tristan'" and the Sonata ,Op. 11 no. 4, of Paul Hindemith.

Buck is quick to point out that, although the pieces all come from the 20th century, they do not conform to any stereotype of "difficult" contemporary music.

"For one thing, the repertoire spans most of the century," she said. "The Hindemith piece comes from 1919, Rebecca Clarke from 1941, Carter later in the '40s, Bergsma from the 1960s and Rochberg from 1979."

The styles cover an equally wide range of 20th-century possibilities.

"Hindemith's Sonata is generally conservative and is one of his early works for viola," Buck explained. "This Sonata is quite impressionistic, taking off from the harmonic language of Debussy and Ravel. At the other end of the century, Rochberg wrote music that is post-Romantic, extending the harmonic language of Brahms.

"Clarke, a British violist who came to the United States in the 1940s, writes so well for the viola, since it was her instrument. Her 'Passacaglia' is a short, enjoyable piece that is a great recital opener. It really captures the viola's true character and range of sound.

"The piece by Bergsma is probably the most challenging, for both the player and the listener. It was commissioned by the Harvard Musical Association for William Primrose, who was a great violist. In this piece there is a challenge, too, trying to find that theme from 'Tristan.' It's actually pretty obscure -- you just don't hear any obvious quotes from Wagner."

Buck teaches viola and is assistant chair of music performance studies at Bowling Green. She holds a bachelor's degree in violin performance from the Oberlin Conservatory and a master's degree in viola performance from the Cleveland Institute, where she was a teaching assistant for the respected viola teacher Heidi Castleman. She has presented recitals throughout Europe and the United States and performs regularly with the Toledo Symphony and the Michigan Chamber Symphony. She is also a member of the Bowling Green String Quartet.

Melton is a new member of the Bowling Green faculty. She was a prizewinner in several international competitions, including the Clara Haskil Competition in Switzerland and the Mendelssohn Competition in Germany. She has performed with the National Symphony, the orchestra of the Freiburg (Germany) Musikhochschule and the San Francisco Chamber Players. Melton holds a doctorate from Rice University, a master's degree from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland.

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