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Release: Sept. 20, 2002


The University of Iowa Symphony Band and conductor Myron Welch will be joined by the groundbreaking flutist and composer Robert Dick for a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Currently a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music, Dick will perform Howard Hansons’s Serenade with the band. Other works on the program will be the “Moorside” March by Gustav Holst; “Parable for Band” by Vincent Persichetti; “Danza de los Duendes” (Dance of the goblins) by Nancy Galbraith; “Fete-Dieu a Seville” by Isaac Albeniz, transcribed for band by Lucien Cailliet; and “Masque” by Kenneth Hesketh.

A visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music for the 2002-03 academic year, Dick is internationally known as a performer, composer and improviser. He describes himself as “a musician with 21st century skills and 18th century attitudes” who continues the tradition of virtuoso composer/performers like Chopin, Paganini and Jimi Hendrix.

Howard Hanson was director of the Eastman School of Music for 40 years and the 1944 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in music. He wrote the Serenade in 1945 as a wedding present for his bride. The gentle, flowing lyricism of the Serenade is typical of the neo-Romantic style for which Hanson was known. The original version for flute, harp and strings has been transcribed for flute, harp and 19 winds by New York arranger Ruth Anderson.

One of America’s most important composers and music educators in the 20th century, Persichetti taught and was chair of composition at the Juilliard School in New York. He wrote many works in a wide variety of genres, of which his symphonies, his works for piano and works for band are considered most significant. His style combined elements of classicism, Romanticism and modernism, particularly combining lyrical melodic lines with contemporary tonal harmonies and vigorous rhythm. He wrote a series of 24 parables for a variety of instruments and ensembles, of which the Parable for Band was the ninth. It was written for the Drake University Band and premiered in Des Moines in 1973.

Composer Nancy Galbraith has written that her “Danza de los Duendes” “refers to elfin beings who are mischievous and mean spirited, victimizing children at play during siesta when their parents are asleep or inattentive. Hiding in trees and bushes, los duendes are often blamed for minor and sometimes major recreational accidents and are thought to be the spirits of dead children.” The work was arranged for winds by the composer after acclaimed orchestral performances by the Argentinean Orquesta Sinfonica de Tucuman and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

In his program notes, English composer Kenneth Hesketh quotes a definition of “masque” as “a form of revel in which mummers or masked folk come, with torches blazing, into the festival hall uninvited and call upon the company to dance and dice.” He continues, “The above description, I think, can also serve as a description to the piece. The main theme is certainly bravura and is often present, disguised, in the background. . . . Colorful scoring with a dash of wildness is the character of this piece -- I hope it may tease both player and listener to let their hair down a little.”

Robert Dick has received critical acclaim world wide for both his technical accomplishment and his groundbreaking creativity. The Washington Post wrote, “Dick held the audience in rapt attention with his spellbinding virtuosity,” and critic Bill Shoemaker wrote in JazzTimes, “There are few musicians that are truly revolutionary. Robert Dick is one of them.”

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. His 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.

As a composer in the classical world, Dick is one of only two Americans ever to be awarded both Composers’ Fellowships and a Solo Recitalist Grant by the NEA. His current projects include a performance piece, “The Psychological Sonata,” in collaboration with performance artist Rinde Eckert, an Iowa City native and UI graduate.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band. He was recently named a Collegiate Fellow in the UI College of Liberal Arts in recognition of years of distinguished teaching, research and service to the college.

Prior to joining the UI faculty Welch was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States.

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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