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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 20, 2003

(Photos: Top, Daniel Moore, Percussion Ensemble director; Below, members of the UI Percussion Ensemble)

UI Percussion Ensemble Will Honor Lou Harrison On Oct. 31 Halloween Concert

The University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Daniel Moore will present "The Percussion Music of Lou Harrison," a tribute to the influential American composer who died this year, at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. The concert will be free and open to the public.

"Along with John Cage and Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison was an important figure in the development of the contemporary percussion ensemble," Moore explained. "We owe much to him for opening our ears to the music of non-Western cultures. In this concert we will focus on his early works for percussion ensemble."

Works by Harrison on the program include "Fugue for Percussion," "The Song of Quetzelcoatl," "Fifth Simfony" and Canticles No.1 and No. 3. "Double Music" by Harrison and the American iconoclast John Cage, who was both a friend and a collaborator with Harrison, will also be included.

While Moore stressed the seriousness of the tribute to Harrison, he suggested that percussionists like to break out of the mold at some point in a concert. "Anyone who has attended our concerts in the past knows that we can't remain totally serious for an entire evening," he said.

"There will be some Halloween fun -- how could we pass up that opportunity? We will have some good Halloween music and there may also be a special visit by some Clapp Recital Hall ghosts and goblins.

"If you've never seen a six foot tall Pop-tart playing a marimba or a blue-haired bongo player, then you won't want to miss this concert."

Formed in 1958, the UI Percussion Ensemble performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. With an extensive array of instruments, Percussion Ensemble performances are known for their variety and fast-paced programming, presented with humor, drama and old-fashioned showmanship.

Born in Portland, Ore., in 1917, Harrison grew up in the culturally diverse San Francisco Bay Area. There he was influenced by Cantonese opera, Gregorian chants and the music of California's Spanish and Mexican cultures. Harrison also developed an interest in Indonesian Gamelan music through early recordings.

As a young man, Harrison worked as a dancer and a dance accompanist. His early compositions included a large body of percussion music, combining Western, Asian, African and Latin American rhythmic influences with homemade 'junk' instruments. During this period, Harrison worked closely with Cage and began studies in Los Angeles with Arnold Schoenberg.

A move to New York in the 1940s brought Lou Harrison to the Herald Tribune as music critic. Here he helped to bring attention to the music of Charles Ives, then virtually unknown and today acknowledged as one of America's most significant composers. Harrison also embarked on a study of early European music during this period. By the early 1950s he had moved back to California, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Harrison's most significant contributions to the contemporary musical scene were his interest in Asian music, and particularly the Indonesian gamelan, and his promotion through compositions and performances of music for percussion alone. Harrison died suddenly in the evening of Feb. 2, 2003, while traveling on California Zephyr from the West Coast to Chicago, en route to a festival in his honor at the Ohio State University.

An extensive archive of information on Harrison and his music has been maintained on the web by San Jose State University, at .

One of the most active performing groups at the UI School of Music, the Percussion Ensemble presents concerts and educational programs on campus and across Iowa. Each year the group performs for hundreds of Iowa school children through the UI Arts Share program.

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic and multi-percussion, he is considered a "total percussionist."

In 1998 Moore received a grant from the UI Central Investment Fund for Research Excellence to produce a CD of his arrangements of the Percussion Pops music of legendary percussionist Dick Schory, a pioneer of the contemporary percussion ensemble. "Percussion Pops 2000 presents Jungle Fever: The Music of Dick Schory" was recorded by the UI Recording Studios and released in 1999.

Moore joined the UI music faculty in 1996. Only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI, he succeeded Thomas L. Davis, who taught percussion at the UI for more than 35 years. He is a performing artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America, Sabian Ltd., and Innovative Percussion. He has written for Jazz Player, Sticks and Mallets and Percussive Notes magazines.

Prior to coming to the UI, Moore taught percussion at Montana State University and completed work for a doctorate in percussion at the University of Kentucky.

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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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,

PHOTOS are available at