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Release: Sept. 8, 2000

The Flint Hills Trio from Emporia State University will present UI guest concert Sept. 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Flint Hills Trio, a faculty chamber ensemble from Emporia State University in Kansas, will present a University of Iowa guest concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. Their performance will be free and open to the public.

Members of the trio are Angela McComas, flute; Allan Comstock, bassoon; and Marie Miller, piano. Founded in 1995, the group performs a wide variety of repertoire ranging from the Baroque period -- roughly 1600 to 1750 -- to the 20th century. As an ongoing project, the trio commissions at least one new work per year.

The trio takes its name from the Flint Hills of Kansas, where Emporia State University is located.

For the Sept. 18 concert, the Flint Hills Trio will play four works: the Sonata in C major, BWV 1033 of J.S. Bach; the Trio in G major, WoO 37 of Ludwig van Beethoven; "Bachianas Brasileiras" No. 6 for flute and bassoon by Heitor Villa-Lobos; and the first movement of the Trio for flute, cello and piano by Bohuslav Martinu.

Bach’s eight sonatas for flute and continuo are among the most popular works in the flute repertory. Recent scholarship, however, suggests that three of them were written by other composers. The Sonata in C Major, BWV 1033, was probably written by one of Bach’s students, perhaps under the supervision of Bach himself. The sonata comprises the typical four-movement Baroque sonata scheme of andante, allegro, adagio and minuet.

Beethoven’s Trio in G Major, WoO 37, for piano, flute, and bassoon, like many of his earliest works, lay forgotten for many years. First published in 1888, it dates from Beethoven’s tenure as court organist in Bonn sometime between 1786 and 1790. It was written for members of one of Bonn’s noble families. Judging by the demands placed upon the performers the family must have included some very talented musicians. The Trio comprises three movements and reflects Mozart’s influence on the young Beethoven.

Villa-Lobos was one of the most original of 20th-century composers. His style combines the music of his native Brazil with traditional European compositional techniques. Today he is widely considered one of the landmark composers of the 20th century. His stature was reflected in the comments of Leonard Bernstein, who said that "he was not only a great composer but also a great Brazilian and an eminent personality of the world artistic community."

Among his finest and most characteristic works are the "Bachianas Brasileiras." The composer wrote, "The ‘Bachianas Brasileiras,’ comprising nine suites, were written in homage to the great genius of J.S. Bach. They were inspired by the musical atmosphere of Bach in respect to harmony and counterpoint, and by the melodic atmosphere of the folk music of Brazil’s northeastern region . . . (For the sixth suite) I chose the combination of flute and bassoon to suggest the old Brazilian serenade for two instruments."

Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu was born in a church bell-tower in the town of Policka, East Bohemia in 1890. He played the violin as a child and studied on and off at the Prague Conservatory, but with little success. After moving to Paris in 1923 he gradually became known in progressive music circles across Europe. In 1940 Martinu and his wife fled the city only four days ahead of the German army, leaving behind most of his scores. Within a year they had moved to the United States, where he remained for several years.

Martinu was an extremely prolific composer, producing works in every musical genre. The Trio for flute, cello, and piano -- performed by the Flint Hills Trio with bassoon in place of cello -- dates from the summer of 1944, while the composer was living in Ridgefield, Conn. The work was praised by American composer Virgil Thompson as "a gem of bright sound and cheerful sentiment."

McComas holds degrees in flute performance from the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, where she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in flute. McComas is the flute instructor at Emporia State University (ESU) and maintains private teaching studios in Lawrence and Olathe, Kansas; she has also recently taught flute at Baker University and Pittsburg State University (Kan.). She is the principal flute of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra and co-principal of the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra.

Comstock is professor of double reeds and director of orchestras at ESU. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Western Illinois University, and the University of Memphis. He has performed in numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in Oregon, New York, Illinois, Tennessee and Kansas. He is a member of the ESU Chamber Players and the ESU Woodwind Quintet and is the director of the Emporia Symphony Orchestra and the ESU Chamber Orchestra.

Miller, a pianist and elementary music specialist, holds degrees from Florida State University, Northwestern University, and Silver Lake College. She has taught elementary music in Wisconsin and held university positions at Silver Lake College, Southeast Missouri State University, Florida State University and ESU, where she serves as Chair of Music. Miller is active as a soloist, chamber musician, and ensemble performer.

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