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Release: April 6, 2001

Iowa City high school bands, UI Symphony Band perform April 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Bands from City High School and West High School in Iowa City will share the program with the University of Iowa Symphony Band in a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The West High Wind Ensemble under director Robert Medd will play the "Commando March" by Samuel Barber and "Armenian Dances," Part I, by Alfred Reed. The City High Wind Ensemble will play "Yiddish Dances" by Adam Gorb.

To conclude the program, the UI Symphony Band will play "Aegean Festival Overture" by Andreas Makris, "Red Cape Tango" by Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty, and "Into the Air!" by UI alumnus Timothy Mahr.

"For several years we have been inviting a guest band to perform on the spring concert with the Symphony Band," Welch said. "Two of the finest high school bands in the state are right here in Iowa City. I am very proud of these bands, especially since both Rob Medd and Steve Stickney are UI graduates and former members of the Symphony Band."

Samuel Barber was one of the most successful American composers of the 20th century. His music has been played and sung by leading performers throughout the United States and around the world. Barber wrote the "Commando March," his only piece for military band, in 1943, while he was assigned to the Army Air Force Band in Washington, D.C.

Alfred Reed's "Armenian Dances" for band is based largely on authentic folk tunes collected by Gormidas Vartabad, an early 20th-century scholar and ethnomusicologist. Part I of "Armenian Dances" comprises five movements. Four are based on folk songs that Gormidas recorded and later arranged, while one movement is based on an original song in folk style by Gormidas.

Gorb directs the school of composition and contemporary music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He wrote, " 'Yiddish Dances' is very much a party piece. It brings together two of my abiding musical passions: the Wind Orchestra and the Klezmer -- the folk music of the Yiddish-speaking people. The five movements are all based on Klezmer dances."

Mahr earned his doctorate in conducting from the UI and was a trombonist in the Symphony Band. He is director of bands at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. A successful composer of music for concert band, he has had works performed around the country and on broadcasts on Minnesota Public Radio. "Into the Air!" was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Band and premiered by them.

Daugherty has created a distinct niche in the music world, composing concert music inspired by American popular culture. His works include "Elvis Everywhere," composed for the Kronos Quartet and the Elvis impersonators, "Dead Elvis" for bassoon and winds, which was performed by the Symphony Band last year, and the opera "Jackie O," premiered by the Houston Grand Opera.

"Red Cape Tango" was inspired by the Superman mythology. It is conceived as a dance of death in the form of a tango, and makes use of the medieval "Dies irae" chant from the Latin mass for the dead.

Medd, in his eighth year as band director and chair of the Music Department at West High School, directs the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band I and the Freshmen Concert Band, co-directs the Trojan Marching Band and teaches instrumental lessons. Under his direction the Jazz Band recently won the Iowa Jazz Championship in Des Moines, the Wind Ensemble has consistently received the top ranking at state festivals, and the West High School band program has tripled in size.

Medd previously taught at Northwest Junior High and Kirkwood Elementary in Iowa City for six years. He received a bachelor's degree in music education from the UI with distinction in 1986. He serves as adjudicator and guest conductor throughout eastern Iowa, having conducted at the UI All-State Music Camp and several district honor bands, as well as the Iowa City Community Band.

Stickney is chair of the City High School Music Department, director of the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Bands II and III, is co-director of the Little Hawk Marching Band, teaches music theory and gives instrumental lessons. Stickney has taken both the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble to performances at the Iowa Bandmasters Conference, and the Marching Band has received superior ratings at the State Marching Contest for 10 consecutive years. Last year the City High School Music Department was recognized nationally as one of 10 schools to receive the Grammy Signature Gold School Award for exemplary high school music programs.

Prior to his appointment at City High, Stickney was director of bands at Muscatine High School and Williamsburg High School. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the UI. He has served as adjudicator and clinician at concert band and jazz band festivals in Iowa and Illinois, a guest conductor for the UI All-State Music Camp, and district and conference honor bands.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, he teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band. He was recently named a Collegiate Fellow in the UI College of Liberal Arts in recognition of years of distinguished teaching, research and service to the college. Prior to joining the UI faculty he was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

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