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Release: Jan. 17, 2001

Photo: The Meridian Trio --pianist Rene Lecuona of the University of Iowa School of Music faculty, violinist Davis Brooks and cellist Kurt Fowler -- will perform "Over the Top," a new work written for them by visiting UI faculty member Amelia Kaplan, as part of a free public concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The Meridian Trio Will Perform A Free Concert Jan. 30

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 "Over the Top," a new work written for them by visiting UI faculty member Amelia Kaplan, as part of a free public concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

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.

All three members of the group have active careers as both performers and teachers, so they have to carefully coordinate their very full schedules to find time for their concert appearances. Lecuona teaches at the UI and performs around the world; Brooks is on the faculty of Butler University in Indianapolis and is associate concertmaster of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra; and Fowler teaches at Indiana State University and is principal cellist of the Terre Haute Symphony.

In addition to Kaplan’s "Over the Top," the Jan. 30 concert of the Meridian Trio will include the Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, op. 63, by Robert Schumann; and an arrangement for piano trio of Arnold Schoenberg’s late-Romantic classic "Verklaerte Nacht" (Transfigured night).

Amelia Kaplan is in her second year as a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music. Her music has been programmed by the UI Center for New Music, and her "Bat Out of Hell" was recently premiered by the Iowa Woodwind Quintet.

"Unlike most of my works," Kaplan wrote, "’Over the Top’ is not influenced by extra-musical ideas; but like my more recent works it is an exploration of gesture and large scale. On the surface, ‘Over The Top’ is quite conventional: a moderately fast first movement, a slow second movement, a scherzo-like third movement, followed by a very fast final movement. All of the material for the piece is introduced in the first movement, and most of the individual motives are built out of a four note set (G, G#, F,A).

"The title comes from the fact that in each of the movements all gestures are to be grossly exaggerated in a sort of reference to romanticism, of which the (piano trio) genre itself is a product."

Kaplan received a doctorate in music composition from the University of Chicago, where she studied with one of the 20th century’s legendary composer/teachers, Ralph Shapey. She was the recipient of a Whiting Dissertation Fellowship which she used for study at the Milan Conservatory Her music has been performed around the United States and in Europe.

Considered one of Schoenberg’s greatest works, "Verklaerte Nacht" (Transfigured night) was composed in 1899 for string sextet and arranged for piano trio by Edward Steuermann, a close friend and associate of the composer, in 1932. It was inspired by a lyric-narrative poem of the same title by the Austrian expressionist poet Richard Dehmel and written in an emotionally intense, highly chromatic late Romantic style.

Although written for a chamber ensemble, the score is virtually a symphonic poem that closely follows the structure of the literary text, with an introduction, coda and apotheosis. Knowledge of the poem’s narrative, in which a woman makes a confession to her lover and the night is transfigured by his forgiving love, is not necessary for the listener, since Schoenberg’s powerfully expressive music stands on its own.

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 in1990 she has appeared in more than 65 on-campus concerts. She recently performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with UI soprano Rachel Joselson. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she gave 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. She recently recorded two major chamber works of the composer Hans Gal with UI violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and cellist Fulbert Slenczka, and she recorded many of the songs of Arthur Honegger with Joselson.

Brooks comes from a diverse musical background as soloist, pedagogue, orchestral musician, studio musician, concertmaster on Broadway, conductor and chamber musician. He was a member of the Mostly Mozart Orchestra at Lincoln Center for 10 years, and the New York Chamber Symphony. He previously taught at Baylor, Wayne State, the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, and Bucknell, in addition to maintaining a private studio for 27 years. He is also a member of the Linden String Quartet.

Fowler has performed throughout the United States and in Europe as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. He 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.

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

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