CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 1, 2001
A YEAR AFTER THE MILLENNIUM (FESTIVAL)
Millennium Festival commission took Cedar Rapids used-car-lot culture
to Carnegie Hall
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 1999-2000 Hancher Millennium Festival at the University
of Iowa provided an answer to the age-old question, "Would you buy a
Used Car Salesman from this man?" The answer was, "Yes"
-- as long as the man was award-winning composer Michael Daugherty, whose
father, Willis Daugherty, worked as a used car salesman at Rapids Chevrolet
in Cedar Rapids.
The Ethos Percussion Group premiered "Used Car Salesman," Daughertys
theatrical and comic tribute to his fathers much-maligned profession
-- as well as his moonlighting career as a percussionist for a local dance
band -- at the UI on April 18, 2000. And a month later Ethos took this slice
of Iowa used-car-lot culture to one of the nations Meccas of high culture,
Carnegie Hall in New York. Featured in the array of Ethos percussion pummeled
on the Carnegie Hall stage were auto parts salvaged from Ace Auto Recyclers
in Iowa City specifically for use in the premiere.
Some members of the Carnegie Hall audience undoubtedly already knew the
story behind the piece, and even the source of the reverberating brake drums
and cymbal-splashing hub caps, because National Public Radios "Morning
Edition" carried a feature about the unusual composition -- including
ambient sound from the salvage yard as Ethos member Michale Sgouros searched
for the right resonances and timbres -- produced and hosted at UI radio station
WSUI by Gayane Torosyan.
"The season has been going well for us and Used Car Salesman
has been on just about every program so far this season," Sgouros reports.
"We will be recording the piece in a few months as well."
Ethos touring this season has taken its piece to Pennsylvania, West Virginia,
Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Bermuda, Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland.
One New York City audience last fall got a more choreographed perspective
on the piece when the Ethos Percussion Group participated in the Silver Anniversary
Gala of Jonathan Hollanders Battery Dance Company at the John Jay College
Theater of the City University of New York.
Vanessa Page-Swanson wrote in the Dance Insider, "Used Car Salesman,
the program opener, features two slick con men, hawking their wares to live
percussion composed by Michael Daugherty and performed by Ethos Percussion
Group. Garishly lit and costumed in bright blues and greens, the men gleefully
attempt to win our trust through energetic dancing and mimed social gestures.
Repeated phrases such as I never lie and kick the tires
create a literal foil for subtle undertones of loneliness and fatigue."
The homecoming of Michael Daugherty and the Rapids Chevrolet career of dance-band
drummer Willis Daugherty were not the only Cedar Rapids connections for the
Ethos premiere. Yousif Sheronick, one of the members of Ethos quartet, is
both a Cedar Rapids native and an alumnus of the UI. Sheronick was even a
stagehand at Hancher during his student days in the mid-1980s, when he studied
percussion with long-time UI music professor Tom Davis.
Daugherty, who has been appointed composer-in-residence by the Detroit Symphony
and won the prestigious Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln
Center, has emerged as one of Americas most successful and in-demand
contemporary composers, noted for his affinity for both pop culture and humor.
Other of his works have been inspired by pop-culture icons including Superman
comics, J. Edgar Hoover, Liberace, Motown Records and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
A faculty member at the University of Michigan, Daugherty has won a Fulbright
Fellowship and a Friedheim Award from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
One of North Americas most active touring percussion ensembles, the
Ethos Percussion Group has been dedicated to the advancement of the percussive
arts in performance and education. Embracing musical styles from around the
globe, the ensembles programming highlights both their musicianship
and their extensive and unique collection of instruments.
Daugherty sees a bright future for the percussion piece inspired by his
dads vocation and avocation, predicting that "Used Car Salesman
is a work that will be performed for years to come."
Ethos has been the resident ensemble of the Childrens Museum of Manhattan,
and has performed at Lincoln Center and other major venues, as well as in
educational residencies throughout the country.
The Daugherty commission was made possible by the support of the National
Endowment for the Arts.
Hanchers season-spanning Millennium Festival -- the nations
most ambitious and extensive performing-arts millennium celebration -- featured
more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance.
In addition to the "Used Car Salesman," new works were created
by artists including theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla
Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, Bill T. Jones, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall,
Paul Taylor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour,
Paul Schoenfield and UI alumnus David Lang with his Bang on a Can associates.
Performances have involved American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the
Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, Dawn Upshaw,
the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai
Juku, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Ahn Trio and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson
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