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Release: Oct. 11, 2002

Guest Conductor Leads UI Symphony Band Oct. 25

Guest conductor Andrew Mast will lead the University of Iowa Symphony Band in a concert including a 9/11 memorial piece by UI graduate Andrew Boysen, Jr., at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Mast, who is director of bands and music education specialist at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is standing in for Myron Welch, UI director of bands, who is on sabbatical. The concert will be free and open to the public.

Mast has selected five works for the program: the “Smetana Fanfare” by Karel Husa; Theme and Variations, op 43a, by Arnold Schoenberg; Boysen’s “Grant Them Eternal Rest”; Donald Hunsberger’s band arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor; and the Fantasia in G by UI alumnus and former Symphony Band trombonist Timothy Mahr.

The director of bands at the University of New Hampshire, Boysen has an undergraduate degree from the UI and is a former member of the Symphony Band. “Grant Them Eternal Rest” was commissioned by Mast and the St. Ambrose band and is dedicated to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The piece follows the general outline of a Requiem Mass, but without voices, with five movements based on liturgical texts: Introit, Kyrie, Dies Irae, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.

Boysen explained the origin of his score: “Mast and I are very good friends and I was extremely honored when he asked me to write a piece for him and his ensemble. He and I discussed various approaches to the commission and eventually we settled on a multi-movement work that would reflect various aspects of childhood. I was almost ready to begin the work and spent part of the Sept. 8-9 weekend finalizing ideas. All of that changed, of course, on the 11th.

“The overwhelming emotions that I experienced on that Tuesday were something that I had never before experienced in relationship to an event outside my personal sphere. I simply can’t explain them. I simply knew that I wanted to express them somehow. Mast agreed that changing the focus of the pieces might be a worthy and appropriate thing to do, so I set to work on the new plan.

“The concept of the piece is expressed clearly in the title. I have no interest in exploring or re-living the moments of that day. Instead the work is simply a prayer to bless those who died so needlessly. Each movement is intended to reflect the text of the Requiem Mass. I chose the five movements whose text most accurately reflected the emotions that I wished to convey.”

Mahr, who has doctorate from the UI, is now director of bands at St. Olaf College. He was playing in the UI Symphony Band when he wrote his Fantasia in G, which was written for the St. Olaf College Band and was first performed by them in January, 1983. Mahr describes the Fantasia as “a joyful celebration for winds and percussion.” He wrote, “the piece was inspired by the opening line of Johann von Schiller’s poem ‘Ode to Joy’: ‘Joy, bright spark of divinity.’ This same text was used by Beethoven in his famed Symphony No. 9.”

Schoenberg's Theme and Variations, op. 43a, was written in 1943, ten years after the composer escaped from Nazi Germany and came to the United States. It was commissioned by Schoenberg’s American publisher to help raise the quality of music available for American bands. In the composer’s words, it was written “to give a group of amateurs -- in this case, wind bands -- something better to play.” Nevertheless, it has proven very difficult and is considered one of the major repertoire pieces for leading symphonic wind groups.

The score comprises a 21-bar theme and seven variations that are played continuously. Written after Schoenberg had abandoned an exclusively atonal approach to composition, the Theme and Variations have a clearly defined G-minor tonality.

Mast has been at St. Ambrose University since 1999. He conducts the university’s Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble, serves as department chair, and teaches conducting, music education methods and instrumental technique courses. In the spring of 1999 he was named music director of the Quad City Wind Ensemble and is founder and music director of the new Quad City Area Youth Wind Symphony.

Mast received a doctorate and undergraduate degrees from the UI, as well as with a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He has taught instrumental music in the Urbandale and Madrid, Ia., schools, and was director of bands at Shakopee High School in Minnesota. He belongs to professional associations including the Iowa Bandmasters’ Association, College Band Director’s National Association, National Band Association, Music Educator’s National Conference, International Tuba and Euphonium Association and the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.

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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