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University of Iowa News Release

Release: March 28, 2003

UI Center For New Music Presents Second 'American Experience(s)' Concert April 6

The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present "The American Experience(s) Part II," featuring works that respond to the events of 9/11, including the world premiere of a new piece by UI music faculty member Michael Eckert, at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 6 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The second of two Center for New Music performances this academic year reflecting the country's diverse musical cultures, the concert will be free and open to the public. The previous "American Experience(s)" concert opened the center's season on Sept. 22, 2002.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the Center for New Music (CNM) is directed for the 2002-03 season by Amelia Kaplan, a visiting faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. Part of the UI Division of Performing Arts, the center supports its own performing ensemble, including both faculty and students of the School of Music.

"The basic 'American Experience' theme is partly to be inclusive of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds," Kaplan said. "In setting the programs, I also tried to have different aesthetics represented."

The world premiere on the April 6 concert will be Eckert's "Point of No Return" for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano, and percussion, which was written over the past six months. Also on the program will be Jonathan Chennette's "Elegy and Affirmation" for violoncello and piano, which was commissioned by the Blanden Memorial Art Museum in Fort Dodge for a memorial event marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Another work on the program will be "Gottlieb Duo" for piano and percussion by the influential American composer Ralph Shapey, who taught both Eckert and Kaplan and who died in 2002.

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet will perform Katherine Hoover's "Homage to Bartok" for woodwind quintet. Part of the UI School of Music since about 1932, the Iowa Woodwind Quintet is made up of five UI faculty members: Robert Dick, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon.

The remaining works on the program will be "Once Upon a Time" for clarinet, viola, and piano by P.Q. Phan and "Fury" from "Sky Quartet" for strings by Jennifer Higdon.

Eckert has taught at the UI School of Music since 1985 and is currently head of the composition/theory area. He studied composition with John Richard Ronsheim at Antioch College and with Shapey at the University of Chicago, where he received a master's degree in music history and theory and a doctorate in composition.

His awards for composition include the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an NEA fellowship and the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. He is also active as a scholar, having published analytical articles on the music of Johnannes Ockeghem and Luigi Dallapiccola.

Eckert said, "I wrote most of the music for 'Point of No Return' between November 2002 and February 2003. The title alludes to the absence of literal repetition in the music, and indirectly to the psychological effects of the events of Sep. 11, 2001, and Feb.1, 2003.

A member of the faculty at Grinnell College, Chennette is the composer of an opera premiered in 1993, choral and chamber music published by Boosey & Hawkes and Theodore Presser, and orchestral music performed by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, the latter performance during the 1985 ISCM World Music Days in Amsterdam. In 2000, he completed Iowa's project for the national Continental Harmony program, a "Rural Symphony" based on interviews with Iowa farmers.

He said his "Elegy and Affirmation" takes its "inspiration from diverse sources: a conversation with the mother of a victim of the World Trade Center collapse, a snippet from a nostalgic Stephen Foster tune which serves as the culmination of Elegy, a song sung by Afghan girls returning to school which dominates Affirmation, melodies borrowed from repertories of various Asian bowed string instruments, and a poem by W.H. Auden. The piece seeks both to mourn our loss and to assert our interconnectedness in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks."

Kaplan completed her doctorate in composition at the University of Chicago as a Century Fellow, where her primary teachers included the distinguished composer/teachers Shulamit Ran, Marta Ptaszynska and Ralph Shapey. She was the recipient of a Whiting Dissertation Fellowship, which she used for study at the Milan Conservatory. She also received a diploma of merit from the Accademia Musicale Chigiana and diploma from the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. Her music has been performed around the United States. and in Europe at contemporary music events, including the Gaudeamus Festival, Darmstadt Festival, Klang, Sandpoint and others.

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks.

In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI Division of Performing Arts.

Preparation of "Point of No Return" was facilitated by computer equipment purchased under a 2001-02 University of Iowa Arts & Humanities Initiative grant.

The Center for New Music is on the World wide Web at Information on other UI arts events is available at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,