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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 10, 2003

UI String Bass Teacher Volkan Orhon Will Perform Virtuoso Program Oct. 19

Volkan Orhon, now in his second year teaching string bass at the University of Iowa School of Music, will be joined by one of his UI faculty colleagues, pianist Rene Lecuona, to present a program of virtuoso music for string bass at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Their UI faculty recital will be free and open to the public.

"Despite the high level of technical and musical capability, the double bass is rarely regarded as a solo instrument equal to the musical achievements of violin and cello" Orhon commented. "Historically, the double bass has been seen as the slow, lumbering cousin of the string family. To address this misperception, I have chosen a program that is fun to play and shows off the virtuoso capabilities of the double bass."

To stress the comparative musical and expressive capabilities of the bass, Orhon will play a program of music originally composed for other instruments. All of it is music that Orhon heard at one time or another that "seemed to ring true for the double bass."

"Sometimes a transcription already exists for the bass, but more often I need to study the music to be sure it works on the instrument, and then make my own transcription," he said.

Two of the works on the program will place the double bass in the company of the two stringed instruments most likely to be heard in a solo capacity: cello and violin. In fact, his opening work will come from one of the most musically and technically demanding groups of works in the entire string repertoire -- J.S. Bach's suites for solo cello. Orhon will play a transcription of the Suite No. 2 in D minor.

Because the soloist plays these works without any accompaniment, the entire musical interest must be carried by the one instrument. This places extraordinary demands on composer and performer alike, demands that Bach met by calling upon the full range of the performance techniques and possibilities of the cello. The challenge to the performer is not any easier on the string bass, which has longer strings and requires considerable dexterity to move across the wide range covered by Bach's pieces.

The violin is represented on the program by the closing piece, Aaron Copland's Sonata for violin and piano, which has special meaning for Orhon.

"Late in Copland's career, renowned double bass soloist Gary Karr approached him to commission a piece for double bass, but he never had the time to pursue it," Orhon, who studied with Karr, explained. "Finally Copland suggested Gary transcribe his Sonata for violin and piano for the double bass. Gary did just this, and sat down with Copland himself to discuss technical considerations such as octave replacements in the transcription.

"There has never been a double bass transcription published for this sonata; the music that I use is the same violin part that Gary used by transposing right on the spot."

Other works on the program will be the "Fantasy Pieces," op.2, originally composed for oboe and piano by Carl Nielsen, and the Adagio from the film score "The Unforgettable Year 1919" by Dmitri Shostakovich

Orhon's professional 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. He has performed as soloist with orchestras across the country, including the El Paso Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Connecticut Orchestra, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra and Northern Westchester Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to his solo playing, he 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.

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.

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 joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002. He has 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.

Lecuona maintains an active teaching and performing schedule at the UI School of Music, including frequent collaborations with her faculty colleagues. Since joining the faculty in1990 she has appeared in more than 65 on-campus concerts. She is featured on several CD recordings, including one with double bassist Diana Gannett of chamber music by Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. She recently recorded two major chamber works of the composer Hans Gal with UI violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and cellist Fulbert Slenczka, and she recorded many of the songs of Arthur Honegger with UI soprano Rachel Joselson.

Lecuona has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. She has appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras in New York and Iowa. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she gave concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also performed solo recitals and given master classes at many universities in Brazil. She recently performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with Joselson.

An advocate of 20th-century music, Lecuona has appeared as solo pianist and chamber musicians in concerts of the UI Center for New Music. Her 20th-century repertoire includes several premieres of new works. Martin Jenni, who retired from the composition area of the UI School of Music, has written two solo piano works for her.

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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