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Release: Nov. 15, 2002

Virtuoso flutist Robert Dick will 'play' masks and paintings Dec. 5

Most musicians play from printed music, but flutist Robert Dick has never settled for what "most musicians" do. Instead, the internationally known virtuoso performer, who is currently teaching at the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform from paintings and other works of art at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 in the UI Museum of Art.

"I will be 'playing' several of the museum's paintings and African sculptures, using them as graphic scores," Dick explained. " The underlying structure and logic that allows for inspired visual flight can also be used sonically."

Dick describes himself as "a musician with 21st century skills and 18th century attitudes" who continues the tradition of virtuoso composer/performers including Chopin, Paganini and Jimi Hendrix. He has gained international renown for both his technical accomplishment and his groundbreaking creativity.

The performance at the Museum of Art will not be the first time Dick has based performances on works of art. "On many concerts over the years I have used projections of some of Kandinsky's 'Improvisations' to spontaneously create 'Improvisations on the Improvisations of Wasily Kandinsky'," he said.

"When I first visited the UI Museum of Art, I was immediately taken by the 20th-century abstract collection, with Jackson Pollack's 'Mural' at its center, and by the marvelous collection of African art. Since two of my strongest loves in the visual and plastic art are indeed New York School Abstraction and African art, I felt right at home.

"I'll be 'playing' about a half dozen pieces, from short works based on masks to a very extensive exploration of the Pollack," he said "I'm going to use a range of flutes including the contrabass flute (which stands upright on a peg and towers over my head), the bass flute in F, openhole alto flute, flute and one or more piccolos. Seven octaves of range will be covered in a wide variety of sound color and gesture."

As a performer, Dick is particularly known for his mastery of extended techniques on the flute and for the high intensity of his concerts, which have earned a reputation as "the Hendrix of the flute." A highly versatile player, he also performs Classical repertoire and has recorded the Telemann "Fantasies" for flute alone.

As an improviser, Dick is a member of groups based both in New York and Europe. Based in Europe is the A.D.D. Trio (with Steve Arguelles, drums and Christy Doran, electric guitar); and in New York, he is a member of the ambient band King Chubby (with Ed Bialek, keyboards and samplers and Will Ryan, percussion).

Dick's multifaceted musical life also includes work on redesigning the flute itself. He is currently collaborating with Bickford Brannen of Brannen Brothers Flutemakers on the development of the "Robert Dick Glissando Headjoint", which does for the flute what the "whammy bar" does for the electric guitar.

Dick's current projects include solo recitals and residencies, duo concerts with pianist Anthony de Mare and a performance piece, "The Psychological Sonata," in collaboration with performance artist Rinde Eckert, an Iowa City native and UI graduate whose works have routinely been presented at the UI.

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

The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

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 <>.