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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 28, 2003

Bassoonist Coelho, Maia Quartet, Colleagues Play Nov. 6 Concert

Benjamin Coelho and the Maia String Quartet will join forces to present a program of some unusual repertoire for bassoon and strings at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus. Also performing on that free concert will be three of their UI faculty colleagues: pianist Alan Huckleberry, violist Christine Rutledge and double bassist Volkan Orhon.

The resident string quartet at the UI School of Music, the Maia Quartet participates in a series of chamber music concerts on campus each year. Its members -- violinists Amy Appold and Margaret Soper Gutierrez, violist Elizabeth Oakes and cellist Hannah Holman -- are all members of the School of Music faculty.

As the traditional bass instrument of the orchestral wind section and woodwind groups, the bassoon has long been an important ensemble instrument. But if it is less frequently thought of as a solo or melodic chamber-music instrument, the Nov. 6 program should change that: the bassoon is featured in a variety of roles, from solo instrument with piano, to equal ensemble member with other instruments, to its more usual role providing a solid bass in the group.

The concert will open with a Quartet for bassoon with violin, viola and cello, arranged from the Duet for bassoon and cello, K. 292, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The score was adapted by composer and former Chicago Symphony principal bassoonist Willard Elliot. A relatively early work, the Duet for bassoon and cello was written for Baron Thaddeus von Duernitz of Munich, an enthusiastic music patron, amateur bassoonist and harpsichordist. In Elliot's arrangement, the bassoon emerges as a leading player in the ensemble.

English composer Gordon Jacob wrote his Suite for bassoon and string quartet in 1969 for the bassoonist William Waterhouse. The composer wrote, "The bassoon is now well established as a serious and noble instrument. It has outlived its reputation as a vehicle mainly of musical humor, and full use is made of its expressive qualities in the slow movements, the second of which makes use of its high register. The second movement, Caprice, calls for technical and rhythmic dexterity and the last movement partakes of the character of a tarantella."

A native of Brazil, Coelho often programs works by Brazilian composers. One of the most prolific and original of these is Heitor Villa Lobos, described by Leonard Bernstein as "not only a great composer but also a great Brazilian and an eminent personality of the world artistic community." The Nov. 6 concert will include Villa Lobos' "Corrupio" for bassoon and string quintet (two violins, viola, cello and double bass). Based on a children's dance, the "Corrupio" showcases the violin as a solo instrument while the bassoon plays its traditional role as a bass accompanying instrument.

Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Six Studies in English Folk-Song," originally written for cello and piano, will be played by Coelho and Huckleberry. English folksong was crucial in the development of Vaughan Williams' personal voice, and he incorporated folk songs into a number of his works. The six studies are all brief and are not simply transcriptions of the folk songs used, but elaborations on them that provide an opportunity to display the sensitive and eloquent facets of the bassoon.

The final work of the program will be the Quintet, op. 52 no. 1 by Johann Evangelist Brandl, for the unusual combination of bassoon, violin, two violas and cello. A composer who is better known by bassoonists than most audience members, Brandl was born in 1760 in Bavaria. When he was five his parents sent him to a monastery, where he received voice, violin and piano instruction. In 1779 he moved to Freiburg, intending to study law, but lack of financial support forced him to earn a living by giving music lessons. A self-taught composer, Brandl wrote several works for the bassoon.

Although the two op. 52 Quintets were composed in 1824, when the romantic era had already begun, neither of them seems to take notice of the newer style. Clear classical forms prevail and harmonic relationships are well within the expectations of the late 18th century.

Coelho has worked extensively as performer and teacher of bassoon, in both the United States and his native Brazil. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Wind Quintet, with whom he played a sold-out concert in Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. The quintet won various chamber music competitions including Artists International, Coleman, and Monterey Peninsula chamber music competitions. As a soloist, Coelho has played recitals and concertos in Brazil, the United States, Canada and Portugal.

In Brazil, Coelho has played principal bassoon with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais and the Gramado Woodwind Quintet. He taught bassoon at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he served as the elected vice-dean of the School of Music.

Founded in 1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School.

The quartet has gained wide recognition for its educational outreach activities. It has participated in a three-year project in partnership with the Aspen Music Festival under a grant from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation aimed at building adult audiences. The members of the quartet have shared their love of music with children under the auspices of Young Audiences, Inc., and the Midori Foundation.

Huckleberry is an active solo pianist and chamber musician. He has performed both in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras in Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Spain, France and the United States. He is also a prizewinner of numerous national and international piano competitions, including the first prizes in the German National Competition and the University of Michigan concerto competition.

As a chamber musician Huckleberry was the featured pianist at flutist Amy Porter's 2003 summer workshop at the University of Michigan. For the past three summers he has been the faculty chamber music coordinator and faculty pianist for the University of Michigan's All-State program at Interlochen. Prior to his appointment this fall at the UI, Huckleberry taught at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany, the University of Michigan, and at Albion College in Michigan.

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.

Rutledge has appeared as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She performs as a member of the Fontana Chamber Music Festival ensemble. Her performances and recordings with the Notre Dame String Trio have earned glowing reviews from The Strad, Fanfare and other music publications. She has performed the standard viola repertoire, her own transcriptions of Baroque works, several lesser known works for viola, and new works that were written specifically for her. In 2002-03 she played a series of recitals at the UI covering the viola repertoire of J.S. Bach.

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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NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Coelho is pronounced "QUAIL-yo."