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Release: March 17, 2000

Australian Chamber Orchestra/Bang on a Can residency returns alumni to UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Australian Chamber Orchestra, American pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, Australian trumpeter Jeffrey Segal and New York's barrier-breaking Bang on a Can will join forces for a week of music-making, both conventional and adventurous, at the University of Iowa, highlighted by concerts at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6 and Saturday, April 8 in Hancher Auditorium. The collaboration will include the return of two distinguished alumni of the UI School of Music, composer and Bang on a Can co-founder David Lang, and world-renowned percussionist Steven Shick, a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

The more-or-less conventional April 6 concert will feature the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) and McDermott under the direction of violinist Richard Togneti in performances of "Asciugate i belgi occhie," transcribed from a madrigal by Carlo Gesualdo; "Carlo," a tribute to Gesualdo by Australian composer Brett Dean; Janacek's String Quartet No. 1 "The Kreutzer Sonata"; an arrangement for piano and strings of Prokofiev's "Visions Fugitives"; and the Concerto No. 1 for piano and trumpet by Shostakovich.

McDermott returns to the UI in mid-career, having performed at the UI many years ago on the Young Concert Artists series. Segal is the principal trumpet of the Tonhall-Orchester Zurich.

The April 8 concert, featuring both the ACO and Bang on a Can All-Stars, is a part of Hancher's Millennium Festival, and will include three world premieres. The commissioned works are Brett Dean's "Game Over"; the Hancher-commissioned "Haircut" by the Bang on a Can triumvirate of David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon; and "Hard Times" by British composer Steven Martland. The concert will also feature the ACO performance of William Walton's Sonata for Strings, and the Bang on a Can performances of Lang's "Anvil Chorus"; "Arapua" by the godfather of Brazilian jazz, Hermeto Pascoal; and "ProMotion" by Elena Kats-Chernin.

April 8 ticketholders are welcome to attend a pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m. in the Hancher Greenroom, featuring Bang On a Can co-directors Lang, Wolfe and Gordon.

The ACO, the vibrant young ensemble that is the leading chamber orchestra in Australia and hailed by the Times of London as "the best chamber orchestra on earth," has performed in Hancher on several occasions, but the April 8 concert will be the UI debut for Bang on a Can.

Lang, Gordon and Wolfe founded Bang on a Can in the late 1980s as a renegade New York street festival, presented in locations and with attitudes that could not be mistaken for the conventional concert setting and decorum. Of the Bang on a Can pun, Wolfe explains, "We wanted to break down any serious, elitist, highbrow image. You would feel that you were coming to something that was fun and that would be open to anybody. We wanted to get rid of the idea that new music by living composers is an isolationist activity.

The festival, which blithely disregarded conventional musical and ideological boundaries, soon became New York's most important annual showcase for contemporary composition, mixing academic serialists and minimalists with ethnic music, rock and jazz in an atmosphere of cheerful anarchy. Eventually, the festival was invited to invade the bastion of New York culture, Lincoln Center, and it brought its attitude with it.

"For me, one of the unpleasant things about most concerts is that you feel oppressed by millions of rules of etiquette that have nothing to do with the music," Lang says. "We wanted people to be very comfortable, as if they were sitting in their living room with their friends. There was only one rule: You had to listen really carefully."

The Bang on a Can All-Stars ensemble eventually brought together Lang, a graduate of the UI School of Music, with virtuoso percussionist Steven Shick, who was for several years a mainstay of the UI Center for New Music before taking his career to Europe.

The Bang on a Can commission was made possible with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hancher's season-spanning Millennium Festival, America's most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration, features more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions receiving their world or American premieres in Hancher. In addition to the Bang on a Can commissions, new works have been created by artists including theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, Bill T. Jones, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty and Paul Schoenfield.

Performances of the commissioned works have involved prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Kronos Quartet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.

Tickets for the April 6 ACO concert are $35, $33 and $31. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Tickets for the April 8 ACO/Bang on a Can concert are $25, $23 and $21. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area dial 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For information and calendar updates on UI arts, visit <> on the World Wide Web. To learn more about the ACO, visit <>, and the learn more about Bang on a Can visit <>.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: The national press representative for this event is Nancy Shear at 212-496-9418. Her e-mail address is <>.)