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Release: Sept. 8, 2000

Meridian Trio, a UI faculty guest ensemble, will play Beethoven, Bloch and Ravel Sept. 22

(BROADCASTERS: Rene Lecuona is pronounced RAY-nee leh-QUO-nah.)

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Meridian Trio, featuring pianist Rene Lecuona of the University of Iowa School of Music faculty with violinist Davis Brooks and cellist Kurt Fowler, will perform music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Ernest Bloch and Maurice Ravel on a faculty/guest concert at
8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 in Clapp Recital Hall. The concert will be free and open to the public.

A relatively new ensemble, the Meridian Trio gave its public debut concert on the UI campus in October 1999. The musicians had met at a recording session in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the previous January and found the experience of playing together so enjoyable that they decided to present a series of concerts during the 1999-2000 season. Since that initial series of concerts they have continued to perform together as an established ensemble.

Three works are on the program for the Sept. 22 concert: Beethoven Trio in E-flat major, op. 1 no. 1; Three Nocturnes for trio by Ernest Bloch; and the Trio in A minor of Maurice Ravel.

The Beethoven Trio was the composer’s very first published composition, part of a set of three trios written around 1793-94. Composed when Beethoven was still living in Bonn, Germany, the trios were probably selected for his first publication because they represented a particularly popular performance form among the young composer’s aristocratic patrons.

There is a well-known story that Beethoven performed the trios for Haydn, who was on his way to, or from, his visit to London in 1794-95.

"The Trio in E-flat is a wonderful example of Beethoven’s early style, full of youthful exuberance and playfulness," Lecuona said. "Bloch’s Nocturnes, which range in mood from nostalgic and peaceful to darkly menacing, will provide a dramatic contrast to the high-spirited Beethoven Trio."

"To finish the program we will play the virtuosic and evocative Ravel Trio, which uses the full range of instrumental colors. I particularly like the way Ravel uses the low register of the piano," she said.

Composed in 1914, the Trio is one of Ravel’s most accessible pieces. Although he is often paired with Debussy as an Impressionist, Ravel was actually much more classical in style and outlook. In this respect, the Trio is characteristic of his music, in that an emphasis on sound and instrumental color is combined with an underlying structure based on classical models and a preference for clear textures.

Lecuona maintains an active teaching and performing schedule at the UI School of Music, including frequent collaborations with her faculty colleagues. Since joining the faculty in 1990 she has appeared in more than 55 on-campus concerts. She is featured on several CD recordings, including one with double bassist Diana Gannett of chamber music by Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In a recent review of the CD in Bass World, Lecuona’s performance on the recording was described as "magnificent."

Lecuona has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Most recently she performed and presented master classes in Mexico. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in a chamber performance in Weill Recital Hall in 1993, and she has appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras in New York and Iowa. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she has given concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also performed solo recitals and given master classes at many universities in Brazil.

An advocate of 20th-century music, Lecuona has appeared as solo pianist and chamber musician in concerts of the UI Center for New Music. Her 20th-century repertoire includes several premieres of new works. Martin Jenni, recently retired from the UI School of Music, has written two solo piano works for her.

Brooks comes from a diverse musical background as soloist, pedagogue, orchestral musician, studio musician, concertmaster on Broadway, conductor and chamber musician. Recently appointed associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Brooks was a member of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center for 10 years, and the New York Chamber Symphony. He currently teaches violin at Butler University in Indianapolis. An active and committed chamber musician, he is currently a member of the Linden String Quartet. He is a founding member of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble. He has been concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of New England, the Harrisburg Symphony and the Waco (Texas) Symphony.

Fowler teaches at Indiana State University and is principal cellist of the Terre Haute Symphony. He has performed throughout the United States and in Europe as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Fowler has served as principal cellist of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, and the Heidelberg Castle Festival in Germany. He is a founding member of the Timaeus Ensemble, a six-member chamber ensemble that specializes in 20th-century music, and is the cellist for the Chicago 20th-Century Music Ensemble.

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