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Release: Feb. 2, 2001

UI Symphony Band concert Feb. 17 highlights Honor Band Weekend at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Band will present a concert at
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus. Myron Welch, director of UI bands, will conduct the concert, which is free and open to the public. Clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead, a faculty member of the UI School of Music, will be the soloist.

The concert is part of the annual Honor Band Weekend at the UI. Each year approximately 135 high school musicians from around the state are invited to campus to play with a distinguished guest conductor and to attend clinics on their individual instruments.

The high school Honor Band will present its own free concert, with guest conductor William Wakefield, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18 in Hancher Auditorium.

For the Feb. 17 concert, the Symphony Band will play five works -- a band arrangement by Mark H. Hindsley of the Overture to Richard Wagner’s grand opera "The Flying Dutchman"; "Dreamcatcher" by Walter Mays; the Concertino of Francisco Mignone, featuring Mead as soloist; "Yiddish Dances" by Adam Gorb; and "J’ai ete au bal" (I have been to the dance) by Donald Grantham.

Wagner was inspired to write "The Flying Dutchman" during a particularly stormy voyage. Based on the legend of the sea captain doomed to sail the stormy seas forever, unless freed from a curse by love faithful unto death, the opera was Wagner’s first great success. The overture weaves together music portraying the storm with music sung by the sailors and the haunting ballad sung by the opera’s heroine, Senta. A popular orchestral concert opener, the overture makes a challenging piece for band.

"Dreamcatcher" is based on the well-known Ojibwe legend that both good and bad dreams float through the night air. A magic hoop criss-crossed by animal sinews and feathers, hung above a sleeper’s head, will catch the bad dreams, while the good dreams know the way through. Mays’ score includes rhythms and melodic motives inspired by Native American music.

"Dreamcatcher" was commissioned by Victor Markovich and the Wichita State Symphonic Band for the 1996 Music Educators National Convention. It was the winner of the National Band Association/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest in 1996.

The Concertino by Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone was written for clarinet and orchestra. The Feb. 17 concert will be the first performance of a new transcription by Kevin Kastens, assistant director of bands at the UI and director of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

Gorb directs the school of composition and contemporary music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. "Yiddish Dances" was composed for the 60th birthday of Timothy Reynish, conductor of the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra.

The composer has written, "‘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 set Klezmer dances."

Grantham has written that "jai ete au bal" is "a celebration of some of the popular/folk music styles of Louisiana -- in particular Cajun music and the brass band tradition of New Orleans. The dance flavor of the music is suggested by the title, and two traditional Cajun dance tunes are employed."

Mead is in her 19th 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. It was followed by "Over the Fence," a CD of Brazilian choros she recorded with pianist Rafael Dos Santos, a UI alumnus. 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.

Recently she was a featured guest artist at the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil in
Rio de Janeiro and has toured Brazil as a soloist and teacher. Currently Mead is on sabbatical leave for the spring semester, in order to research and perform choro, a form of Brazilian popular music.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band. 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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