University of Iowa News Release
Oct. 30, 2003
UI Symphony Band Will Feature Cedar Rapidian Daugherty On Nov. 10 Concert
The University of Iowa Symphony Band will present a program of original band music by American composers -- and one arrangement of a traditional American fiddle tune -- on a free concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10 in Clapp Recital Hall.
The performance will be under the direction of UI Director of Bands Myron Welch and guest conductor Michael Knight, a graduate student in the UI School of Music. The complete program will be composed of five works: "Celebration Overture" by Paul Creston; "Niagara Falls" by Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty; Knight conducting Frank Ticheli's "Postcard"; "Apocalyptic Dreams" by David Gillingham; and "Spoon River," an arrangement of an archaic fiddle tune by the eccentric Australian-American composer Percy Grainger.
"Celebration Overture" was commissioned in 1955 by Edwin Frank Goldman, a renowned band leader and composer, for the American Bandmaster Association. With an emphasis on short and highly rhythmic melodies, the overture creates a bright and festive effect. It is not about anything in particular, however, as the composer wrote: "I was preoccupied with matters of melodic design, harmonic coloring, rhythmic pulse and formal progression, not with limitations of nature or narrations of fairy tales."
In contrast, Daugherty had some specific images in mind in writing "Niagara Falls." He wrote, "Niagara Falls is a Mecca for honeymooners and tourists who come to visit one of the most scenic waterfalls in North America. The Niagara River also generates electricity for towns on both sides of the border, where visitors are lured into haunted houses, motels, wax museums and candy stores, as well as countless stores that sell Niagara Falls postcards, T-shirts and souvenirs.
"This composition is another souvenir, inspired by my many trips to Niagara Falls. It is a 10-minute musical ride over the Niagara River with an occasional stop at a haunted house or wax museum along the way. Its principal musical motive is a haunting chromatic phrase of four tones corresponding to the syllables of 'Niagara Falls.'"
Daugherty has created a distinct niche in the music world, composing concert music inspired by American popular culture. His works include "Elvis Everywhere," composed for the Kronos Quartet and thee Elvis impersonators: "Used Car Salesman," a tribute to his father that was premiered in Hancher Auditorium by the Ethos Percussion Group; and "Dead Elvis" for bassoon and winds, which was performed by the Symphony Band in 2000. "Niagara Falls" was commissioned by the University of Michigan Symphony Band, which gave the first performance under director H. Robert Reynolds in 1997.
Tichelli's "Postcard" was also commissioned by Reynolds and first performed by him with the University of Michigan Symphony Band. It was written in memory of Reynolds' mother. Ticheli said that Reynolds requested "not an elegy commemorating her death, but a short, energetic piece celebrating her life. In response, I have composed this brief 'postcard' as a musical celebration of her character -- vibrant, whimsical, succinct."
"Apocalyptic Dreams" is another work with a Michigan connection: The composer, David Gillingham, teaches at Central Michigan University. A prolific composer, Gilingham has written numerous pieces of chamber music, works for chorus and percussion, percussion ensemble, and pieces for solo winds with band, as well major works for band. "Apocalyptic Dreams" is structured as a three-movement symphony inspired by the Biblical Book of Revelation. The three movements, titled "The Vision," "Cataclysmic Events" and "Messianic Kingdom" parallel the events foreseen in the Book of Revelation.
An eccentric personality and a sensational pianist, Percy Grainger was born in Australia. He came to the United States in 1915 and served in the U.S. Army Music School during World War I, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1919. He lived near New York City and was for many years the head of the music department at New York University. He was one of the first composers to write original works for the modern concert band.
Captain Charles Robinson heard the tune "Spoon River" played at a country dance in 1857. When Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Anthology" was published in 1914, Robinson sent a copy of the tune to Masters, who passed it on to Grainger. The composer wrote, "The tune is very archaic in character; typically American, yet akin to certain Scottish and English dance-tune types. My setting aims at preserving a pioneer blend of lonesome wistfulness and sturdy persistence."
The top concert band at the UI School of Music, the Symphony Band performs many of its own full-length concerts during the year, both on campus and on tour throughout Iowa and the Midwest. Past performances include concerts by invitation at national meetings of the Music Educators National Conference and the American Bandmasters' Association. The band's repertoire includes contemporary works and transcriptions as well as standard band repertoire.
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 and Sciences 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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