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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 13, 2004

Music By UI Faculty Member To Be Featured On Jan. 23 Guest Recital

Pianist John Jensen of St. Paul, Minn., and baritone John Muriello from the University of Iowa music faculty will present music by Michael Eckert -- also on the UI faculty -- as part of a faculty/guest recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The program will comprise three of Eckert's pieces -- "Piano Variations" from 1981, his "Three Songs from the Chinese" of 1981 and "Tahngo" for piano from 2000 -- as well as "Muisca Ricercata" by Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti.

A versatile musician and composer, Eckert has taught music theory, counterpoint and composition at the UI School of Music since 1985 and is currently head of the composition/theory area. He has also headed the UI Collegium Musicum, an early-music performing group.

He studied composition 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 Renaissance composer Johnannes Ockeghem and 20th-century composer Luigi Dallapiccola.

Eckert's "Piano Variations" was composed in 1982, with the support of a 1980 Composer Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. "Tango" was composed February-March 2000 in Iowa City, and was first performed by graduate student Lucia Barranechea on April 9, 2000, at the UI Museum of Art, in a concert honoring the artist Mauricio Lasansky.

"Three Songs from the Chinese" was commissioned in 1983 by Music Teachers National Association -- North Carolina Music Teachers Association. Eckert received the 1983 MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Award for these songs.

Ligeti studied at the Budapest Academy, where he began teaching in 1950. His early music followed in the style of Hungarians Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly, often making use of folk songs. In 1956, as a result of the unrest that would lead to the Soviet invasion of Hungary, Ligeti fled to Vienna, and eventually settled in Hamburg. He worked in the electronic music studio at Cologne, and taught at the Darmstadt summer institute. He was a central figure in the European avant-garde.

For many years Ligeti was a visiting professor of composition at the Stockholm Academy of Music, and he was later appointed to the faculty of the Hamburg Music Academy. He also served as visiting professor and composer-in-residence at Stanford University in 1972. In 1975, Ligeti was awarded the German decoration "Pour le mérit" and the Bach Prize of the City of Hamburg. He was also the recipient of the Grawemeyer Prize in 1986.

Jensen received his musical training in Southern California, where he attended Occidental College and the University of Southern California. While in Los Angeles, he wore many hats, including that of operatic conductor-coach and pianist for the Andy Williams TV show. From 1975 to 1990 Jensen built his Iowa connections as pianist of the Mirecourt Trio, artists-in-residence at Grinnell College.

Jensen now lives in St. Paul, where he plays regularly with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble and the Dale Warland Singers. His resume also includes synthesizer work for touring Broadway musicals. In the Twin Cities, he serves as music director for the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis.

His connection with the University of Iowa has been highlighted by two solo compact discs on the Music and Arts label recorded at Clapp Recital Hall in 1989: the Charles Ives Piano Sonatas, and a solo jazz CD.

A singer whose work ranges from opera and operetta to concert and musical theater, Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997. His recent engagements include performances in the title role of the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater production of Tartuffe in 2001 and the Pontevedrian Ambassador in "Midnight at Maxim's: A Merry Night with the Merry Widow" in December, 2003.

Muriello has performed operatic and musical theater roles with Opera Carolina, the Banff Centre in Canada, L'Opera Francais of New York, Skylight Opera Theater, Ohio Light Opera and the Southeastern Savoyards of Atlanta. He has also performed in concert and recital throughout the Midwest and the Southeast, singing in performances of Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" and "Hodie," the Brahms "Requiem" and the Bach Mass in B minor.

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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