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University of Iowa News Release

March 25, 2004

Orhon Presents Bass Recital April 10 At UI

A transposed favorite from the violin repertoire and two pieces for solo string bass will be part of the program when double bass professor Volkan Orhon from the University of Iowa School of Music and pianist Eugene Gaub from Grinnell College present a joint recital at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 10, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Their performance will be free and open to the public.

Of interest to the Iowa City audience will be the Suite for solo double bass by Eldon Obrecht, a long-time member of the UI faculty and well known Iowa City resident.

The other solo piece on the program will be "Games" by Nicholas Walker, from his "EADG for Solo Bass."

Works with piano will be the "Elegia in Re" (Elegy in D) by 19th-century bass virtuoso Giovanni Bottesini; "Nocturne" by Heinrich Taube; Allegretto in E minor by 18th-century bass virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti; and closing the program, a double-bass version of Cesar Franck's popular Sonata in A major, originally composed for violin and piano.

Obrecht's suite, a contemporary interpretation of the dance suites from the Baroque era, is in six movements: Prelude, Allegretto, Capriccio, Song, Variation and Epilogue. "I decided to play this work, not only because I really like the piece but also knowing that it would be such a great opportunity and pleasure to work first hand with a former double bass professor from our university," Orhon said.

Obrecht taught at the UI School of Music from 1947 until his retirement in 1990. Although he was the school's double bass teacher, he was best known to many students for the popular course "Masterpieces of Music," which he taught for more than 30 years. Obrecht lives in Iowa City and still composes and performs as a member of the Quad City Symphony.

Walker, who often features the string bass in chamber music and improvisational contexts, won the International Society of Bassists Grand Prize for composition in 1998 for his "EADG for Solo Bass." Walker said that the score was written as a teaching tool, "to create a musical context for learning the techniques I studied with my teachers. I use these pieces to pass on these teachings to my own students as well."

"Games" "has a great variety of colors and virtuosic passages," Orhon said. "In the middle section it also gives the performer a chance to improvise. For a classically trained musician like me, this is one of the hardest things to achieve in a live performance.

The composer of many virtuosic pieces for the double bass, Bottesini lived during the height of the 19th-century Romantic era. He was a successful opera composer and conductor who conducted the premiere of Verdi's "Aida" and whose own operas played at the major Italian opera houses around the world. As a double bass virtuoso, Bottesini stunned audiences in Europe, South America and the United States.

Orhon commented, "The list of his works is known as flashy and difficult for the double bass. There is no doubt in my mind that not only all the bass players but also every musician in the world would recognize his name by his compositions for double bass."

Dragonetti was a renowned double bassist and composer for the instrument. He grew up in Venice, where his father is believed to have been a gondolier, but spent most of his professional life in London and on tour around Europe as a virtuoso soloist. When he died at the age of 83 in 1846, the Musical World commented: "Dragonetti was not only the greatest performer of his age on the double bass -- possessing the finest instinct of true excellence in all that concerns his art -- but he had moral qualities of a high order; a benevolent and generous disposition, and an inclination to friendship, which he exercised with judgment and discrimination in men and things."

Franck's Violin Sonata was written in 1886 when the composer -- one of the leaders of Romanticism in France -- was 63. Franck made his career principally as an organist, playing at the church of Ste.-Clotilde in Paris for more than 30 years and teaching organ at the Paris Conservatory. In addition to music for organ, he composed operas and oratorios, as well as a limited number of orchestral and chamber pieces.

The Violin Sonata was composed as a wedding gift for the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye. Today it is considered one of the major works in the violin repertoire. Because of its popularity, it has been transcribed for many other instruments, including popular versions for cello and flute, and there are currently two published versions for double bass. Because the sonata is quickly gaining popularity for double bass players, Orhon said he has decided to include the Franck Sonata in his second, upcoming CD project.

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.

In addition to his solo playing, he has been a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut Opera Orchestra and a freelance musician throughout New England. He recently completed a European tour with the Fazil Say and Kudsi Erguner Jazz Quartet, performing at the Montreux, Paris, Antibes, Montpellier, Istanbul and Izmir jazz festivals.

Orhon was a finalist and prize winner in the Concert Artists Guild Solo Competition in New York City, and was the co-first place winner of the International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. He was the first double bass player ever to win the Grand Prize overall and first prize for double bass at the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition.

Orhon was born and raised in Turkey. He began playing the double bass at the age of 12, and spent much of his youth touring Europe. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Ankara State Conservatory, he became a member of the Ankara Presidential Symphony Orchestra. He came to the United States in 1991 to continue his studies with Gary Karr at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., where he received an artist diploma and master's degree.

Orhon joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002. During the summer he teaches at the Kinhaven Music School in western Vermont. He has served on the faculties of the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University, University of Massachusetts, Hartt School Community Division of the University of Hartford, and Summer Strings Music Festival in Pocatello, Idaho. Orhon is a D'Addario Diamond Performing Artist and performs exclusively on D'Addario Strings.

A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, Eugene Gaub received a doctorate in music from the Eastman School of Music, where he was also awarded the Performer's Certificate. Since his New York debut playing the First Piano Concerto of Bela Bartok, he has performed throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, and in major cities of Europe, including Vienna and Salzburg. His performance of W.A. Mozart's Piano Concerto in G major, K. 453, with the Buffalo Philharmonic was cited as one of the year's best by the Buffalo News.

Eugene Gaub has worked closely with many American composers, including John Adams, whose "Phrygian Gates" he was invited to perform at the 1997 National Conference of the College Music Society. Passionate about chamber music, he and his wife, the violinist Nancy McFarland Gaub, organized the Roycroft Chamber Music Festival in East Aurora, N.Y., which presented its 10th season in June 2003. He appeared on the UI campus in 2003 in a program of Bach sonatas with violist Christine Rutledge, as part of her year-long Bach performance series, and in March of this year as part of the Iowa Chamber Music Coalition performance of Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire.".

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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