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Release: Jan. 12, 2001

New trio featuring flute, viola and guitar to perform Jan. 27

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The New Opus Trio, a faculty and guest ensemble at the University of Iowa School of Music that features the unusual combination of flute, viola and guitar, will present its concert debut, featuring works both new and old at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. The concert will be free and open to the public.

The members of the trio -- violist Christine Rutledge, from the UI School of Music faculty; flutist Eugenia Moliner; and guitarist Denis Azabagic -- first got together several years ago to play the premiere of a piece that Rutledge had commissioned from composer Zae Munn. The players later discovered that there was a small but interesting repertoire for flute, viola and guitar that dated back to the classical period.

This past summer the members of the group got together again, decided to become an established, concert-giving ensemble and picked a name for their group.

"We discovered trio of flute, viola and guitar is not a new one!" Rutledge said. "The guitar was quite popular during Schubert’s time, due in part to the Viennese guitarist Wenceslas Matiegka, who was an associate of Schubert. Apparently there was an existing trio of flute, viola, and guitar, since Matiegka wrote several works for the combination, as did several other composers.

"Unfortunately the combination went out of fashion until the late 20th century, but there are still a few trios existing, and an abundance of new compositions. The New Opus Trio’s mission is to explore this repertoire, as well as the older works, and to record them."

The Jan. 27 program will feature the work that Rutledge commissioned, Munn’s "Nudged Along on Time’s Notched Stick," the Grand Trio Concertant by Valentin Molino, Grand Trio by Wenceslas Matiegka, "Towards the Sea" for alto flute and guitar by Toro Takamitsu. and the Duo for Flute and Viola by Malcom Arnold.

Munn, who is composer-in-residence at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., said, "The title (‘Nudged Along on Time’s Notched Stick’) is something of a mystery to me. It immediately seemed right for this piece when I stumbled across it, but the exact reasons eluded me then as now.

"There is some evidence in all three movements of an alternation between music which luxuriates in the present and music which is more agitated and eventful and which ‘nudges’ things along to a new place, or even the same place with a new perspective. . . . Clearly I do not always compose, or choose titles, deductively."

The score was premiered by Rutledge, Moliner and Azabagic in 1998 -- before they had named their group -- in Bloomington, Ind.

Born in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in November 1972, Denis Azabagic is considered today as one of the best guitarists of his generation. In 1993, at the age of 20, he became the youngest winner of the Jacinto e Inocencio Guerrero International Guitar Competition in Madrid, Spain. Since then he has won first prize in virtually every other international guitar competition, including contests in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada and the United States.

As a soloist Azabagic has performed as a soloist with orchestras and he performed solo recitals in Europe and the United States. He has recorded three solo CDs and appears on a video recording for Mel Bay’s Artist Series.

A review of his performance in the Koelnische Zeiting, Germany, described him as "a virtuoso artist of timbres, who masters, as it seems, easily all kind of expressions: from enchanting softness to passion, from deep emotions to enormous joy."

Moliner, described as " an artist of the highest calibre" by the British Flute Society Magazine, has performed solo recitals in Spain, the Netherlands and Bosnia. She has also performed throughout Europe and on Dutch national television as first flute of the Montebello Ensemble, conducted by Henk Guitaart. She was also first flute of the Baroque Ensemble of Rotterdam and played with the National Philharmonic of the Netherlands.

As a member of the Duo Cavatina with Azabagic, Moliner has performed throughout Europe and the United States. In 1996 the duo won the "Young Musicians of the Doelen" competition in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She has completed a CD recording with Azabagic, and her next solo CD will feature composers from South America.

Moliner has taught in Conservatory of Burriana in Valencia, Spain. Since 1997 she has given master classes in Spain and Bosnia, and she recently presented a concert and master class at the University of Northern Illinois.

Rutledge joined the UI faculty in 1998. She had previously been a faculty member at Notre Dame University, where she also played with the Notre Dame String Trio. She is a graduate of the UI School of Music, where she studied with William Preucil.

She has appeared as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. Her solo performances have included those before her professional peers at International Viola Congress meetings in Bloomington, Ind., Germany and Sweden. She has performed the standard viola repertoire, her own transcriptions of Baroque works, several lesser-known works for viola, and new works that were written specifically for her.

Rutledge is the former assistant principal viola of the Louisville Orchestra and violist of the Ceruti Chamber Players and the Kentucky Center Chamber Players. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Interlochen Arts Academy, where she was valedictorian of her class and recipient of the Young Artist Award. She is also a prizewinner in the Aspen Festival Viola Competition, and the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist’s Fellowship.

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