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Release: Oct. 27, 2000

Clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead partners with UI alumnus in Brazilian program Nov. 9

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "A Nite from Brazil," the latest in an ongoing series of events growing out of an unusual relationship between the University of Iowa School of Music and the musical life of Brazil, will feature clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead and pianist Rafael Dos Santos in performance at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Mead, a School of Music faculty member, and Dos Santos, a UI alumnus and chair of the department of popular music at the Universidade de Campinas in Brazil, will perform concert pieces by Brazilian composers as well as a group of choros, a Brazilian form of improvisational popular music that has been featured in a number of UI performances in the past few years.

Their faculty/guest recital will be free and open to the public.

Mead and Dos Santos have performed together, both in the United States and in Brazil, and they have recorded two CDs of Brazilian music together. Their collaboration began when Dos Santos was a student at the UI, studying both piano performance and jazz. It led eventually to live performances and the recording of "Over the Fence," a CD of choros, in 1998. She and Dos Santos have recently completed their second CD, "Red Hot and Brazilian," which is due to be released in the spring of 2001.

A year ago Mead traveled to Brazil, where she and the other members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet gave performances and served as judges for the Curitiba International Chamber Music Competition. She gave additional concerts and classes on that trip, and she will return to Brazil during the spring semester 2001 for further study of the Brazilian choros.

Dos Santos returned to the UI this fall for several weeks of workshops and performances, including an appearance with the Johnson County Landmark (JCL) jazz band in October that also featured Mead.

The first part of the Nov. 9 program comprises four concert pieces for clarinet and piano, "Valsa Seresteira" and "Modinha" by J. Fuerra Vicento; the Sonatina of Ernest Mahle; and the Concertino of Francisco Mignone.

The second portion of the program will consist of choros by some of the leading Brazilian composers of that style: Jacob do Bandolim, Pixinguinha and Benedito Lacerda. Derived from a Portuguese word meaning "to cry," the word "choro" is used in Brazil to refer to instrumental ensemble music, often in a dance style. The performing groups include a flute, mandolin, saxophone or clarinet as lead instruments, which are accompanied by guitars, cavaquinho -- a Brazilian stringed instrument about the size of the ukulele -- and a tambourine-like percussion instrument called the pandeiro.

Choros began at the end of the 19th century as European dances performed in a melancholy or nostalgic style. It reached its apex in the 1940s, and today is considered almost a classical genre of Brazilian music. Many choros feature virtuoso improvisation of instrumental variations by one or more soloists, often in a manner that is similar to American jazz.

When it comes to the UI-Brazil connection, the recent UI concerts are only the tip of the iceberg. Many School of Music faculty members have played and taught in Brazil, including all the members of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet, violinist Leopold La Fosse, pianist Rene Lecuona, UI jazz program director John Rapson, composer/pianist David Gompper, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Eberle and double bassist Diana Gannett.

The presence of the UI faculty in Brazil has also attracted a large number of Brazilian students to the School of Music. Over the years, numerous Brazilian violinists who came to the UI to study with La Fosse have been members of the University Symphony. Two current members of the School of Music faculty are from Brazil -- bassoonist Coelho and his brother, flutist Tadeu Coelho.

When he was a student at the UI, Dos Santos was pianist for JCL for three years and a teaching assistant in jazz studies for four years. He received a doctorate in piano performance from the UI in 1997. In addition to his time with JCL, he performed regularly with the Iowa Jazztet, a jazz sextet made up of faculty and graduate students of the UI School of Music. He was selected teaching assistant of the year at the UI in 1996.

Rapson commented on Dos Santos’ contributions as a teaching assistant in the jazz program: "Rafael is a consummate performer, an effervescent spirit and a judicious leader. When he was a graduate assistant, it was in truth like having another faculty colleague."

Mead is in her 18th year teaching clarinet on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she is also associate director for graduate studies. Her many solo invitations have included International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony.

As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. Her "On The Fence" performance, combining jazz, jazz-influenced compositions and classical works on a single program, was a featured recital at the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium. That performance led indirectly to "Over the Fence," her first CD recorded with Dos Santos.

She is secretary of the International Clarinet Association. She has appeared by invitation as featured soloist at the 1997 and ‘98 ICA conventions, at ClarFest 99 in Belgium and ClarFest 2000. Most recently she was a featured guest artist at the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

As recipient of the UI Collegiate Teaching Award, Mead was the invited speaker at the UI College of Liberal Arts commencement in 1990. Her students have won first prize in competitions sponsored by the International Clarinet Association and ClarFest. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where she received the Performer’s Certificate, and from Michigan State University.

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