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University of Iowa News Release

April 20, 2005

Composer/Pianist Ketty Nez Assumes Both Roles For UI Farewell Recital May 2

Ketty Nez knows how to make an exit.

Before leaving the University of Iowa to join the faculty of Boston University in the fall, she will appear as both composer and pianist on a free concert at 8 p.m. Monday, May 2, in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building. And that is the third concert at the UI featuring her music in less than a month.

The multi-skilled composer/pianist has been a visiting faculty member in composition at the UI School of Music for the past two years. For the May 2 concert, she will perform with her UI colleagues Rene Lecuona, piano, and Katie Wolfe, violin.

Earlier, the UI Center for New Music presented the world premiere of Nez's ". . . on my mind . . .," composed for UI faculty members saxophonist Kenneth Tse and three players from the Maia String Quartet, on its concert April 10. And on April 26, the members of the Maia Quartet repeated that performance and played Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 25, with Nez as pianist.

The program of the May 2 concert features Nez as pianist throughout. And in addition to her own music, it ranges from Beethoven to the music of her UI faculty colleague David Gompper. The complete program comprises four pieces:

-- "La Valse" by Maurice Ravel, arranged for two pianos and played by Nez and Lecuona;

-- Nez's "uns(t)able (re)verb(s)" for two pianos, written for Lecuona and played by her and Nez;

-- "Music in the Glen" by Gompper, performed by Nez and Wolfe; and

-- Beethoven's Sonata in A major for violin and piano, op. 47 ("Kreutzer"), also played by Nez and Wolfe.

"This performance provided a wonderful opportunity to work with several of my colleagues at the university, whom I wish to thank warmly for their expertise, enthusiasm and friendship," Nez said.

Ravel composed "La Valse" for the famed ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, who presented several of the most important works of the early 20th century, including Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" and Stravinsky's "Petroushka" and "Rite of Spring" ballets. First performed in 1920, the colorful score, described by Ravel as "a sort of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz mingled with, in my mind, the impression of a fantastic, fatal whirling," has remained a popular concert piece for orchestras.

Nez and Lecuona will play the composer's own two-piano version of the score. "A daunting challenge for pianists with this work -- or any transcription -- is to capture the depth and range of the orchestra, which has been flattened, literally, onto the one-dimensional keyboard," Nez said.

Nez wrote of "uns(t)able (re)verb(s)," "In this piece I explore notions of (p)reverberation, fore/backshadowing, the play of echoes that bounce restlessly back and forth between the two pianos.

"Creating a polyphonic texture, continuous melodic lines toss themselves back and forth, thin out to splotchy patches of erasure, momentarily squeeze themselves into quicker grace-note groups and viscously solidify into chordal sonorities. Wandering through realms of diatonic scales and chromatic noodling, including non-tonal chordal progressions, these adventurous lines also occasionally get stuck in jazzy riffs. An incessant interplay of fleeting stylistic associations allows a 'theater of the ear,' to borrow the term loosely from electroacoustic genres and the capture and manipulation of external sound objects -- here, of other musics."

Gompper's "Music in the Glen" was written as a companion piece to an earlier work for violin and piano "Finnegan's Wake," and is based on an Irish fiddle reel of the same name. "Recently, I have been interested to combine abstract tonal relationships with music that is familiar," Gompper wrote "This work is a marriage between the opening hexachord found in Pierre Boulez's 'Sur Incise,' which is based on perfect fourths, and the reel that is made up of major and minor thirds."

One of the most celebrated -- and challenging -- works in the solo violin repertoire, Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata was written in early 1803. It was finished barely in time for the first performance, given May 24 by Beethoven and the traveling violin virtuoso George Polgreen Bridgetower, who had recently arrived in Vienna. After the concert, Beethoven decided to dedicate the sonata to the French virtuoso Rodolphe Kreutzer, probably in the hope that he would make the sonata well known in Paris. Kreutzer, however, never played and probably never even saw the sonata that carries his name.

Nez is a visiting assistant professor of composition and theory at the UI School of Music. In 2003 she completed a residency at the Ecole Nationale de Musique (National School of Music) in Montbeliard, France, where she worked with faculty and students on projects of live electronics and improvisation. In 2001 she was a visiting composer at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and in 1998, she participated in the computer music course at the Institute de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris. Prior to her studies at IRCAM, she worked for two years with the composer Louis Andriessen in Amsterdam, where she co-founded the international contemporary music series Concerten Tot and Met.

Her music has been played at festivals in the US as well as abroad, including Bulgaria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland and Japan. She holds a master's degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music, a bachelor's degree in piano performance from the Curtis Institute of Music and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Bryn Mawr College.

Lecuona is an associate professor of piano at the UI. Since joining the faculty in 1990 she has appeared in numerous on-campus recitals and chamber music concerts. She has performed solo and chamber music throughout the United States and South America, in Mexico and in the Caribbean. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she gave concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago.

Lecuona made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall in 1993 with her UI faculty colleague mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and has also performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with soprano Rachel Joselson, also from the UI faculty. Her playing has been featured on many compact discs, including a recording of the music of Margaret Brouwer on the CRI label, which won the 2000 Contemporary Art Music Burton Award. She may also be heard on CDs from Centaur Records, Innova Recordings, Capstone Records, Cybele Recording and Composers Recording International.

Originally from Minnesota, Wolfe joined the string faculty of the UI School of Music in August 2004. She has had a diverse career as a soloist, teacher, chamber and orchestral musician on the national and international stage. She has performed in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, the Soviet Union, Spain and the Netherlands.

After graduation from college, Wolfe received a Fulbright Lecture Award to teach and perform in Bolivia. She formed a string quartet that performed educational and public concerts throughout the country, taught at the National Conservatory, and served as Associate Concertmaster of the National Symphony of Bolivia.

As a chamber musician, she has performed with many noted musicians. Broadening her experiences and musical career as a freelance artist in New York City, she has performed and toured with the Jupiter Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, the S.E.M. Ensemble, City Island Baroque Ensemble, in Broadway pit orchestras and with many other ensembles.

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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