University of Iowa News Release
Oct. 29, 2004
Three Premieres Showcased Nov. 9 By Violin-Piano Duo
Violinist Wolfgang David will play three world premieres on a concert with David Gompper, pianist and director of the University of Iowa Center for New Music, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The concert is the opening performance of an international tour that will include performances at Connecticut College, the Frankfurter Kuenstlerclub (Frankfurt Artists' Club) in Germany and the Union of Composers in Moscow, Russia.
The program will include three standard repertoire pieces from the first half of the 20th century, each pitted against a new piece that was composed this year specifically for the duo -- including one by Gompper.
"Wolfgang and I asked our friends to write new works for us for our forthcoming tour," Gompper said. "Each of the premieres will be wildly different -- from a steely modern work by Noel Zahler, to a lyrically romantic work by Ching-chu Hu. We enjoy premiering new works, but especially, to juxtapose them against more familiar compositions."
The complete program will be:
-- the Sonata for violin and piano of 1917 by Claude Debussy;
-- the world premiere of "for violin and piano" by Noel Zahler;
-- "Theme et Variations" composed in 1932 by Olivier Messiaen;
-- the world premiere of "Glaciers Red: Vistas Veiled" by Iowa City native and UI alumnus Ching-chu Hu;
-- the Rhapsody for violin and piano No. 1 from 1928 by Bela Bartok; and
-- the world premiere of Gompper's "Music in the Glen."
A scholar and music theorist as well as a composer, Zahler is director of the University of Minnesota School of Music. His "for violin and piano" was written for and dedicated to David and Gompper. "It is a work in three major parts that moves in the traditional fast, slow, fast pattern," Zahler wrote. "Its material is minimal. It revolves around a motive composed of a half step and a tritone. Almost all the material in the work is derived from that motive. . . .
"No matter how you slice this composition one aspect is certain, it is a technical 'tour de force' for its performers. All their gifts are exposed and this is what the work was meant to do, show the very highly skilled musicians, technically and interpretively, who are Wolfgang David and David Gompper!"
A former student of Gompper's, Hu has enjoyed significant success since his graduation from the UI. He was selected composer-in-residence at the 2002 Piccolo Spoleto Festival and guest composer at the American Music Week Festival in Bulgaria, and has been a composition fellow at the Aspen and Bowdoin Music Festivals, and the Banff Centre for the Arts.
"Glaciers Red: Vistas Veiled" was inspired by his residency in Banff, during a time when wildfires ranged out of control nearby. He wrote, "As I was in my residency at the Leighton Studios at Banff Centre for the Arts, I was awe-struck by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies as well as the destructive force of man and Mother Nature. Some days, the skies were clear blue; other days had a veil of smoke and raining snowflake-like ash from the fires nearby. I recall the burning smell in the air and feeling as though it was simultaneously nearby and far away. . . .
"'Glaciers Red: Vistas Veiled' represents my recollections of the various experiences of the senses that summer as man and nature collided and obscured my views."
"'Music in the Glen' serves as a companion piece to 'Finnegan's Wake,' an earlier work for violin and piano, and is based on the Irish fiddle reel of the same name," Gompper said. "In one movement, its four sections begin with a slow introduction leading to a lively statement of the main theme, and followed by a broader response as bells toll in the background, ending with coda in the choral style. Recently, I have been interested to combine abstract tonal relationships with music that is familiar. This work is a marriage between the opening hexachord . . . based on perfect fourths, and the reel that is made up of major and minor thirds."
David has performed on the international stage, both as a recitalist and as a guest soloist with leading orchestras, including a 1999 performance of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony in the Great Assembly Hall at the United Nations. Thomas Frost, senior executive producer at SONY Classical, predicted "a significant international concert and recording career" for David, and the Washington Post reports that he has "scaled the heights of music making."
David concertizes widely in Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, India, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and South Africa. He is the winner of competitions and prizes including the University of Vienna's "Foundation Stefanie Hohl" award, top prize in the Kulenkampff International Competition (Cologne) and the International Music Competition of Pretoria, South Africa.
David performs on a violin built in 1731 by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, Cremona, on exclusive loan to him from the Austrian National Bank.
Known to local artists primarily as a composer and in his role as director of the Center for New Music, Gompper has worked professionally as a pianist, a conductor and a composer in New York, San Diego, London, Nigeria, Michigan and Texas.
He studied at the Royal College of Music in London, and after teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan, taught at the University of Texas, Arlington, and since 1991 has been professor of composition and director of the Center for New Music at the UI. In 2002-03 he was in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, performing and conducting at the Moscow Conservatory.
Gompper's compositions are performed throughout the United States and Europe. In 1999 his "Transitus" for wind ensemble premiered at Carnegie Hall. A number of his works have premiered in London's Wigmore Hall, including "Hommage a W. A. (William Albright)" for piano and "Shades of Love," a song cycle on the poetry of Constantin Cavafy. He is currently completing a violin concerto, the first movement of which was performed in April 2003 at the Moscow Conservatory.
Tickets for the concert by David and Gompper are $10 ($5 for UI students and youth) and are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office. 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.
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