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University of Iowa News Release

March 12, 2004

UI Center For New Music Will Celebrate Messiaen March 28

The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present "Celebrating Messiaen," a free concert of chamber music by the esteemed 20th-century French composer Olivier Messiaen, at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 28 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the Center for New Music (CNM) is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music.

With UI faculty and students, the CNM will perform several works for small ensemble, ending with one of Messiaen's most famous scores, "Oiseaux exotiques" (Exotic birds), performed by Gompper conducting the CNM ensemble with pianist Ketty Nez. Based on years of serious study of birds, Messiaen's score is one of several he wrote incorporating elaborate transcriptions of bird songs.

In addition to his interest in birds, the other main theme of Messiaen's music is his devout Catholic faith. Many of his works are written for liturgical use, are inspired by the events of the liturgical year, or in other ways reflect his spirit of Catholic mysticism.

Other works on the March 28 concert program will be:
--Trois Melodies (Three songs) for soprano and piano, performed by Susan Bender and pianist Dennis Eppich;
--Piece for oboe and piano, performed by oboist Mark Weiger from the UI music faculty, with Gompper as pianist;
-- "Catalogue d'oiseaux" (Catalogue of birds) and "Vingt Regards" (Five glances), selections from "Etudes de rythme" (Rhythmic studies), performed by pianist Patricia von Blumroeder;
-- "Appel interstellaire" (Interstellar call) for solo horn, from "Des Canyons aux Etoiles" (From the canyons to the stars), performed by Kristin Thelander, director of the UI School of Music;
-- "Communion (Les oiseaux et les sources)" and "Sortie (Le vent de l'Esprit)" from "Messe de la Pentecote " (Mass for Pentecost), performed by organist Delbert Disselhorst from the UI music faculty; and
-- Theme and Variations for violin and piano, performed by Gompper with violinist Wolfgang David.

The concert is part of a series of events at the UI focusing on Messiaen's music. In another major musical performance, Antares, the young chamber music ensemble that won the 2002 Concert Artists Guild Competition, will perform Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" -- one of the landmarks of 20th-century music -- on a ticketed concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 25 in Clapp Recital Hall, presented by Hancher Auditorium.

During a week's residency in Iowa City, Antares will explore various aspects of Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," which was written in a POW camp during World War II, in a series of public activities on and off campus.

In conjunction with the Antares residency activities, the UI Department of French and Italian will present "Messiaen in Double Exposure," a free lecture by Walter Strauss, Treuhaft Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Case Western Reserve University, at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25, in the Iowa Room of the Iowa Memorial Union.

The CNM and the UI School of Music will present a symposium on Messiaen's music at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 26, in Harper Hall of the Voxman Music Building. The symposium, which will be open to the public free of charge, will feature lectures on various aspects of Messiaen's music by Strauss and School of Music faculty members Leslie Sprout, Ketty Nez, David Gompper, Greg Marion and Michael Eckert.

Messiaen studied at the Paris Conservatory, and taught there from 1941 to '78, while also serving as organist of La Trinite in Paris from 1931. His music is deeply influenced by his highly mystical Catholic faith, addressing the divine and creating the sense of the eternal. Most of his compositions were explicitly religious, shared between meditation, dance and the objective unfolding of arithmetical systems.

He is considered the first European composer of the 20th century whose works exist almost completely outside of the Western tradition. He adapted techniques from non-Western music and wrote without relying on traditional meter. This created a sense of stasis, and musical structures are often created by juxtaposing blocks of differing sonority, through repetition, the use of verse-refrain patterns and musical palindromes.

Bender has garnered numerous honors and critical acclaim performing operatic and musical theater roles, as well as on the concert stage. She has appeared as a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the Washington Opera, among others. She has recorded on the Norton Anthology and Albany labels, and currently teaches music at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point.

Pianist Dennis Eppich, who completed his doctoral studies in piano under John Simms at the UI, has performed several works of Messiaen in solo recitals.

Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions and won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY). He has solo and chamber music recordings out on the CRS, Crystal, Chandos and Centaur CD labels.

Pianist von Blumroeder, born in Oakland, Calif., studied at the University of Idaho and at the UI with James Avery. She completed her studies in Freiburg and has been living in Germany since 1980. Her repertoire encompasses all epochs, with special emphasis on the music of the 20th century. She has made several recordings for German radio and has produced a CD that features works by Messiaen and Stockhausen. She has performed throughout Europe.

Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989 and was elected director of the School of Music in 2000. She was the first-prize winner in the 1981 American Horn Competition, and she has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. She has been a featured artist at many regional and international horn workshops in recent years. She has recorded solo and chamber music for Crystal Records, CRI, Vienna Modern masters and Centaur Records.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has recorded the Organ Books of Ned Rorem and "Prophesies" by Daniel Pinkham on the Arkay Label.

David has played internationally as a recitalist and as a guest soloist with many of the world's leading orchestras, including a performance of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony, conducted by Kenneth Klein in the Great Assembly Hall at the United Nations. David concertizes widely in Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, India, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and South Africa.

Composer/pianist Ketty Nez, visiting assistant professor in composition at the UI, just completed a residency at the National Music School in Montbeliard, France, where she worked with faculty and students on projects of live electronics and improvisation. Her chamber opera "An Opera in Devolution: Drama in 540 Seconds" was premiered this year at the 7th Festival A*DEvantgarde in Munich.

Gompper joined the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1991. He has received numerous awards for his academic and musical achievements, including the Charles E. Ives Prize for composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Gompper has traveled to Moscow, Thessaloniki, Greece, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand to lecture on current American musical trends in composition. He has also served as a cultural specialist for the United States Information Agency in Kwangju, South Korea.

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks.

In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI Division of Performing Arts.

Cantebury Inn and Suites is the corporate sponsor of the Antares concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

The Strauss lecture is supported by Cultural Services, Consulate General of France, Chicago; the Bond Fund (UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); and the UI Department of French and Italian.

Tickets for Anatres' concert March 25 are $22 ($12 for UI students, $17.60 for senior citizens and $11 for youth) from the Hancher Auditorium box office.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

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,

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