The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Nov. 1, 2002


Volkan Orhon, the new string bass faculty member at the University of Iowa School of Music, will play music from a recently recorded CD as part of his UI debut recital, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The program will include music for solo double bass as well as accompanied pieces, performed with pianist Rosemary Chancler. The recital will be free and open to the public.

Orhon, who was born and raised in Turkey, joined the UI faculty at the beginning of the fall semester. His extensive career spans a wide variety of solo, orchestral and chamber music performing and teaching across the country and around the world. He has played with internationally recognized musicians including double bassist Gary Karr and the Emerson String Quartet and performed as soloist with orchestras across the country.

In addition to his solo playing, Orhon has been a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut Opera Orchestra and a freelance musician throughout New England. He recently completed a European tour with the Fazil Say and Kudsi Erguner Jazz Quartet, performing at the Montreux, Paris, Antibes, Montpellier, Istanbul and Izmir jazz festivals.

The first half of the Nov. 12 program, played with piano, will comprise four pieces: the Chaconne by contemporary composer Armand Russell; “Introduction and Gavotte” by 19th-century bass virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini; “Minstrel's Song” by Alexander Glazunov; and Bottesini’s “Tarantella.”

After intermission Orhon will play all music for unaccompanied bass: “Eclore” by Nicholas Walker; an arrangement of the Adagio for Strings by American composer Samuel Barber; the world premiere of Tom Schuttenhelm’s “Notes from Uncommon Ascent,” a piece that Orhon commissioned; and the Capriccio No. 2 for Solo Double Bass by David Anderson.

“I have a rather unique CD coming out in the beginning of November,” Orhon said. “The recording features bass ensembles in which I have recorded all the tracks -- ranging from 2 to 13 parts -- a particularly tricky thing to do.

“The CD has a couple of pieces that I arranged from other instruments, like Handel’s Cello Sonata in G minor, one of J.S Bach’s chorale preludes and the Aria from Heitor Villa-Lobos' ‘Bachianas Brasileiras’ No. 5, originally written for eight cellos.”

The recital includes two pieces from the CD, the Barber “Adagio for String” and Schuttenhelm’s “Notes from Uncommon Ascent.”

Schuttenhelm explained that “the title not only refers to the notes on the musical page, the C-sharps, the E-flats, etc. but also to the recording of the process, almost like a scientist’s notes. It also refers to an incomplete work, a sketch if you will, of a much larger project -- a reassessment of the capabilities and sound possibilities of the instrument. In writing this piece I experienced my own bias of the bass turn on itself and made a note of it.

“While it would have been easy to rest on a tradition of composing for four stringed instruments (the classical string quartet) or to retreat into experimentation and extended techniques of the modernists, I chose to find the sounds and characters of the instrument and of the player.

“Part of the process involved turning it upside down, literally. The instrument usually relegated to the bottom is released and allowed to ascend to the top to have lyrical lines and melodic outbursts, gestures usually reserved for the higher members of the string family, while the other parts, all basses, speak crisply and clearly in support of their own. Other times the bottom is the bottom --resounding and growling at levels unreachable on any other instrument except the piano.

“The form of the piece is a deliberate attempt to measure and balance these aspects -- highs and lows, traditions and developments, through contemplation (prelude and interlude) and celebration (dance).”

The composer of many virtuosic pieces for the double bass, Bottesini lived during the height of the 19th-century Romantic era. He was a successful opera composer and conductor who conducted the premiere of Verdi’s “Aida” and whose own operas played at the major Italian opera houses around the world. As a double bass virtuoso, Bottesini stunned audiences in Europe, South America and the United States. His technique was so dazzling that he was known as “the Paganini of the double bass.” His music has become an essential part of the virtuoso bass repertoire.

Orhon was born and raised in Turkey. He began playing the double bass at the age of 12, and spent much of his youth touring Europe. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Ankara State Conservatory, he became a member of the Ankara Presidential Symphony Orchestra. He came to the United States in 1991 to continue his studies with Karr at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., where he received an Artist Diploma and master’s degree.

Orhon was a finalist and prize-winner in the Concert Artists Guild Solo Competition in New York City, and was the co-first place winner of the International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. He was the first double bass player ever to win the Grand Prize overall and first prize for double bass at the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition.

Prior to joining the UI faculty Orhon served on the faculties of the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University, University of Massachusetts, Hartt School Community Division of the University of Hartford, and Summer Strings Music Festival in Pocatello, Idaho. Orhon is a D’Addario Diamond Performing Artist, and performs exclusively on D’Addario Strings.

Chancler has performed throughout the United States as both a soloist and a collaborative artist. She has played concertos and recitals in Alaska, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Oklahoma and Massachusetts. She has played chamber music performances with notable artists, including Paul Rosenthal, Jeffrey Solow and Harvey Pittel. She has been an invited guest artist and teacher at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and at Magisterra!, the first UI International Chamber Music Festival and Academy in May, 2000.

She has held teaching positions at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and the Baylor University School of Music, and she has been faculty accompanist at the Chautauqua Institution. She holds a bachelor's degree in piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin, and masters and doctoral degrees in piano performance and literature from the Eastman School in Rochester, NY. At Eastman her teacher was Rebecca Penneys, who was guest of the UI Piano Festival in 1999.

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

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.