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Release: Jan. 28, 2000

Diana Gannett will perform solo, chamber music on double bass Feb. 13

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Diana Gannett will present the double bass as both a solo instrument and as a part of a variety of chamber ensembles in her University of Iowa School of Music faculty recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Gannett will be assisted on the recital by guest artists Lyda Cruden, violin; Nathalie Cruden, viola; and Cora Kuyvenhoven, cello; and by fellow UI faculty member Carole Thomas, piano.

The recital will be a homecoming for Lyda and Nathalie Cruden, sisters who grew up in Iowa City, who began their musical studies at the Preucil School of Music, and have gone on to play professionally.

A doctoral candidate at the UI School of Music, Kuyvenhoven has had an extensive professional career in Canada.

In the seven years since she joined the UI faculty, Gannett's faculty recitals have become annual events, showcasing a wide variety of repertoire for the double bass. This year the program consists almost entirely of music by double bass player/composers, including Eldon Obrecht, Gannett's own teacher at the UI and a long-time Iowa City resident.

Known locally as a double bass player -- and as the teacher for many years of the UI's popular course "Masterpieces of Music" -- Obrecht studied composition with the late UI School of Music director, Philip Greeley Clapp. In addition to works for the double bass, he has written three symphonies and a variety of chamber music for wind instruments.

Gannett will perform Obrecht's Suite for Solo Double Bass, inspired by the suites of dances that were composed in the 17th century. "Those suites were written for the pleasure of the performers and possibly a few listeners," Obrecht states in his notes to the suite. "Although it does not contain specific dances, it retains some of the intimacy of its 17th-century predecessors."

The next work on the program is the Duo for cello and double bass of Domenico Dragonetti, one of the first players to turn the double bass into a solo instrument. A prodigy, Dragonetti was principal bass player of the Opera Buffa in Venice, Italy, at the age of 13. He was later principal bass of the King's Theatre Orchestra in London for more than 50 years, but he tired of only playing bass parts and was known for performing cello and even violin parts on his bass. He once played Beethoven's Cello Sonata, Op. 5 No. 2, with the composer playing the piano part.

Gannett will conclude the first half of the recital with the Serenade for violin, viola, cello and double bass of Giampalo Bracali. The only non-bass playing composer on the program, Bracali has been on the composition faculty of the Manhattan School of Music since 1972. Commissioned for

the 1996 La Musica Internationale Chamber Music Festival, the Serenade was played in Iowa City last June during the convention of the International Society of Bassists.

Two works -- both by virtuoso bassists -- will comprise the second half of the program: the Sonata for viola and double bass by Johannes Matthis Sperger, and the Grand Duo Concertante for violin and double bass by Giovanni Battista Bottesini.

Sperger was part of what has been called "the Golden Age of double-bass virtuosity," the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Vienna. This was a time when Vienna -- the home of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven -- was the most important musical city in Europe. The greatest instrumental players gravitated to Vienna, including a remarkable group of bass players. Sperger's death in 1812 marked the end of the "Golden Age," as the quality of bass playing fell dramatically.

Bottesini lived during the height of the 19th-century Romantic era. He was a successful opera composer and conductor who conducted the premiere of Verdi's "Aida" and whose own operas played at the major Italian opera houses around the world. As a double bass virtuoso, Bottesini stunned audiences in Europe, South America and the United States. His technique was so dazzling that he was known as "the Paganini of the double bass." His music has become an essential part of the virtuoso bass repertoire -- so much so that Gannett always includes at least one piece by Bottesini on her recitals.

A graduate of the UI School of Music, Gannett returned to the UI to teach double bass in the fall of 1992. She also is the principal double bass of the Quad City Symphony.

As a teacher and performer she has had an active career including appointments at Yale University, the Hartt School of Music, Oberlin College and the University of South Florida. She has been principal double bass of the Gulf Coast Symphony, the Black Hills Festival Orchestra, the Eastern Music Festival and the Bronx Symphony, and been a member of the New Haven and
New Jersey symphonies.

As a chamber musician she has performed with members of the Guarneri, Emerson, Laurentian and Stanford string quartets and the Borodin Trio. Her frequent solo appearances have included many premieres and solo improvisations as well as traditional repertoire. She has recorded for Irida Records and has a solo CD, "Ladybass."

Thomas joined the School of Music faculty in 1970. She has performed extensively in the Midwest and in Austria and has been a presenter/performer at numerous state and national conventions of the Music Teachers National Association. As a member of the duo "Piano by Two," she has toured throughout Iowa and the Midwest and shared in a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to work on the Arts To Go touring program. Before coming to Iowa, Thomas taught at the University of Illinois.

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