University of Iowa News Release
Nov. 5, 2004
New Tubist Will Unveil Innovative Mute -- A Dog Dish -- On Nov. 17 Concert
The Iowa Brass Quintet, a resident faculty ensemble of the University of Iowa School of Music, will introduce its newest member -- tubist John Manning, who joined the UI faculty in August -- in a free concert of American music at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
In turn, Manning will introduce a new tuba mute -- a $3 dog dish purchased at a local discount store -- during the concert.
Commercial tuba mutes can cost as much as $150, Manning said. But because there are more dogs in the world than there are tubists, dog dishes are pretty inexpensive. "The dog dish actually works better than most commercial mutes," Manning said.
The Iowa Brass Quintet (IBQ) performs on the UI campus each semester and for schools, universities, civic concert associations and professional meetings throughout the United States. In addition to Manning, its current members are David Greenhoe and Barbara Deur, trumpets; Jeff Agrell, horn; and David Gier, trombone.
"I am thrilled to be living in Iowa City with my wife, Susan, and daughter, Lilly, and we are grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the country," Manning said.
"I am honored to be the newest addition to this ensemble. I have been a member of the Atlantic Brass Quintet for almost 20 years -- I made recordings and traveled literally around the world with them since 1985 -- so you could say that brass chamber music is my life, and I admire the Iowa Brass Quintet for their commitment to excellence over the years.
"The fact that my colleagues in the IBQ have also dedicated their lives to their students is doubly impressive and inspiring. Although I feel that I have a lot to offer this group, I know that I will learn from them as well."
The quintet will play four works by American composers: Book II of "Urban Dances" by Richard Danielpour; "Copland Suite," a selection of three brass arrangements of music by Aaron Copland; Leonard Bernstein's "Dance Suite" for brass quintet; and "Four Sketches" by Antony Plog.
Manning said that all five members of the quintet contributed ideas for the program, but it was Danielpour's "Urban Dances" that was the starting point. "Dave Gier suggested 'Urban Dances,' and that became sort of the J.C. Penney of the mall," he commented. "We then added the other American pieces around it."
"I had the opportunity to work with the composer when the Atlantic Brass Quintet played Book I of the 'Urban Dances' at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, so I feel that I have a little bit of insight. The composer said these pieces represent the subconscious mental dance people do when they look at each other in an urban situation -- the sideways glance, people checking each other out, a little bit of intoxication here or anger there.
"The last movement is really beautiful. It features the tuba pretty prominently in the opening and at the end, and the middle is so hypnotic that we have trouble rehearsing it -- we get carried away."
The next piece added to the program was Bernstein's "Dance Suite" -- a piece Manning had heard recently in Korea but never played. "At this point we saw the American theme emerging, and so we found arrangements of three different pieces by Aaron Copland -- one from a ballet, one from a documentary film and one from the film of a play -- and put them together as a little suite."
The final piece on the program was the Plog. "I first played it in a brass quintet competition that we ended up winning, so it's an old friend to me," Manning said.
As for the mute, Manning said he would use it for two pieces on the program. "If people watch closely, they will probably see me slip my new dog dish into the bell of the tuba," he said. "I'll let them judge if it's worth the $3 I paid for it."
A founding member of the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Manning has toured across the United States and around the world with the group, including performances in Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, France, Kuwait, India, Pakistan, England, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The quintet has won six international chamber music competitions and performed at the White House, Tanglewood, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Savannah Onstage, the Sacramento Festival for New American Music, and other festivals and concert series around the country.
An active freelance musician, Manning has performed with the Boston Symphony, the Empire Brass and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He has also served as principal tubist with the Vermont Symphony and Albany (N.Y.) Symphony. Outside the realm of classical music, he has performed with the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, Naftule's Dream, Brass Planet, the Pee Wee Fist, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Arlo Guthrie and John Lithgow.
As a Yamaha solo artist he has appeared at Louisiana State University Octubafest, the International Tuba Euphonium Conferences 2000 and 2002, and Music Educators Conferences in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Prior to coming to the UI, Manning was on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, Boston University's School for the Arts, the Tanglewood Institute and the University of Massachusetts. He has conducted tuba master classes around the United States and worked with brass students in Japan, Costa Rica, Panama, Egypt and Oman.
Greenhoe has been on the faculty of the UI School of Music and the principal trumpeter of the Quad City Symphony since 1979. He is also chair of the brass area at the UI and is active as a soloist and recitalist. During summer seasons he performs as solo trumpeter with the Lake Placid (N.Y.) Sinfonietta, a post he has held since 1975.
Deur is a member of the Quad Cities Symphony and has been a trumpet instructor at UI. She has performed widely as a soloist and clinician, has been principal trumpet of the Des Moines Symphony and has been a member of the Cedar Rapids Symphony.
Gier came to the UI in August 1995. He has taught at Baylor University and Central Connecticut State University. He began his professional career in New England as a member of the Springfield (Mass.) Symphony and Orchestra New England. He has performed with numerous professional ensembles, including the New Haven, Hartford, Waco and San Angelo symphonies, and Keith Brion's Peerless Sousa Band. He is currently principal trombone of the Breckenridge (Colo.) Festival Orchestra.
Agrell joined the UI School of Music faculty in 2000 after a 25-year career as symphony musician. At the UI he teaches horn, directs the Horn Choir, coaches chamber music and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet. Before coming to Iowa, he was associate principal horn with the Lucerne (Switzerland) Symphony Orchestra 1975-2000, playing symphonic music, opera, operetta, ballet, musicals choral music and chamber music.
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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