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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 29, 2004

Iowa Composers Workshop Presents New Works Nov. 7

The Iowa Composers Workshop at the University of Iowa School of Music will present a concert of new works by student composers at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, featuring new works by five graduate students in composition, will be free and open to the public.

The Composers Workshop is a collaborative project between composers and performers in the UI School of Music. It is devoted to the performance of music written at the UI and aims to foster greater co-operation and interplay between composers and performers in the Iowa City area. The workshop is directed by David Gompper, professor of music in the Theory and Composition Department of the School of Music and director of the Center for New Music.

The pieces on the Nov. 7 program will be:

-- "Tangent IV and V" for solo piano by Luke Dahn;

-- Vier Bagatellen (Four bagatelles) for flute, clarinet, violin and cello by Brian Vlasak;

-- "Enwrapt" for flute, viola and cello by Evan Kuchar;

-- "An Interlude for Morning" for tenor voice and piano by Scott Shoemaker; and

-- "Zdravoye Zrenia" (Sound sight, or Logical vision) for small ensemble by Joseph Dangerfield.

Dahn, the graduate assistant coordinator of the workshop, is in his second year of doctoral studies in composition. He received a master's degree in composition from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and a bachelor's in music theory and composition from Houston Baptist University in Texas.

His "Tangent IV" and "Tangent V" are deliberately contrasting pieces. With the exception of two chords, all the pitches in "Tangent IV" come from the highest 19 notes of the piano. At this extreme register pitch content is less significant than rhythm and timbre: even the percussive sound of the wood of the piano keys hitting the key frame is part of the intended sound. The contrasting "Tangent V" is in two very separate halves: the first half contains a recurring rumbling figure almost resembling distant thunder, while the second half is marked by agitated passages and an obstinate F-sharp major chord.

Vlasak is from Johnson City, NY. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in composition from the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York in Potsdam. His Vier Bagatellen is a short work composed in the miniturist style of composer Anton Webern. The piece itself is an abstract homage to Bach, as each movement contains an 11-note tone row whose missing pitches spell his name.

Evan Kuchar is in his final year of a master's degree in composition. Also active as a pianist, he has performed on several recitals and concerts, playing both written and improvised music. His written music often reflects the spirit of improvisation as it moves within controlled structures.

"Enwrapt" was originally written to coincide with an art gallery opening where the artist had transformed the small space of the gallery by creating the image of a fence moving around its four walls. On the far end of the room, the fence faded into the distance according to the laws of perspective.

The composer explained that the fence raised several questions: "Is it protecting us from the outside, or protecting the outside from us? Are we being punished by captivity, or rewarded by the forward outlet? Who has created the fence? Is it natural or human-created? These questions helped shape the mood of the piece, as well as the course of its progress through time. When we get to the end, however, it is still unclear: as we move forward through the opening, does the fence continue or do we find ourselves in the terrifying and exhilarating world of no restraints?"

Shoemaker is a doctoral candidate in composition. He holds a bachelor's degree from Coe College and master's from the University of Nebraska, where he was the winner of the prestigious Ida M. Vreeland Prize. His works have been performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe and Africa.

"An Interlude for Morning" was commissioned by the University of Nebraska Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts in Celebration of its 10th Anniversary. The text is drawn from the poems of the Nebraska Poet Laureate William Kloeffkorn. The two poems were chosen for their similarity in tone, each with a theme of nostalgia, and the title of the set is taken from the first poem.

Joseph Dangerfield received a bachelor's degree Marshall University and a master's degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He is currently a doctoral candidate in composition. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Central Europe. He was recently accepted for study at the Moscow Conservatory, where he will also research the music of Edison Denisov, Alfred Schnittke and Vladimir Tarnopolski in the recently opened Soviet Archives.

"Zdravoye Zrenia" grew out of his research into the relationship of color and music. "Both of these phenomena are measured in cycles per second, but are found at different positions of the spectrum," Dangerfield explained. "Although the physical quanta of color and sound differ, their association can be explored through the statistical representation of the colors found in paintings, which are subsequently translated into the audio domain and reinterpreted as elements of musical composition. In order to capture the non-teleological nature of visual perception, this piece is designed so that it will not be performed exactly the same way twice -- in effect, changing the way that the piece may be perceived by different individuals at different hearings, much like the way a painting may appear to different observers."

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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