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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 3, 2005

UI Center For New Music Presents Free Concert Feb. 13

Three works varied in style and instrumental sound will be featured when the University of Iowa Center for New Music (CNM) presents its third concert of the academic year, at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of David Gompper with viola soloist Christine Rutledge, will be free and open to the public. Other performers will include UI alumna Patricia von Blumroeder as a guest pianist, and UI music faculty as members of the CNM ensemble: Tamara Thweatt, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Benjamin Coelho, bassoon; David Greenhoe, trumpet; David Gier, trombone; and Volkan Orhon, double bass.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the CNM supports its own performing ensemble, including both faculty and students of the School of Music.

The major work on the Feb. 13 concert will be "Lines of Life II: Voices/Kinderscenen" (Scenes of childhood) for viola and instrumental ensemble by Jeremy Dale Roberts, comprising the second half of the program.

Forming the first half of the program are two works that feature titles and content that recall the music of J.S. Bach: the "Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera" (Little music notebook of Annalibera) for piano by Luigi Dallapiccola, recalling the "Little Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach"; and "Praeludium" for instrumental ensemble by John Berners, recalling Bach's many keyboard preludes.

"The focused piece on the concert is Jeremy's 'Lines of Life II'," Gompper said. "Practically speaking it is a viola concerto, with elements borrowed from the chamber concerto, in that members of the ensemble all have solos, and all are treated as individuals with unique lines. The composition itself is a good representation of the kind music currently being heard throughout Europe, modern and crystallized yet extremely lyrical and harmonic."

Roberts, who recently retired as head of composition at the Royal College of Music in London, was a visiting professor of composition at the UI for the 1999-2000 academic year. His compositions have been played worldwide, including performances at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve, and the festivals of Avignon and Paris.

The composer has written that the title, "Lines of Life," comes from a poetic fragment by Friedrich Hoelderlin: "The lines of life are various, as roads are, and the mountains' boundaries. What here we are, yonder a god can complete with harmonies, eternal recompense, and peace."

"The narrative, or reverie, unfolds in a succession of lyric episodes, most of them reflective, which are harshly obtruded upon, with increasing force, by four chorale-like ritornelli," Roberts wrote. "Also interleaved are two more densely crowded developments for the ensemble, as well as more playful material."

One of the most prominent Italian composers of the 20th century, Dallapiccola has never been well known to American audiences. Sometimes known as the "Italian dodecaphonist," he used Schoenberg's 12-tone techniques, at first only to write melodies in an otherwise tonal style. Over the years, however, his style became more strictly atonal, so that his works encompass a variety of sounds and styles.

The "Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera" was composed during the period of political turbulence after Italy's defeat in the World War II. It was named for his daughter, Annalibera, who received that name because the liberation of Florence occurred the year she was born, 1944. An important work for the composer, it became the basis for subsequent works, including the "Variations for Orchestra" of 1954. It is noteworthy for its use of contrapuntal techniques comparable to some of Bach's works, and its use of the B-A-C-H motive (the notes b-flat, a, c and b natural) in homage to the Baroque composer.

Berners studied composition at the University of Michigan, where he earned a master's degree in composition and a doctorate in composition and music theory. His works have been played by the Detroit Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, the Boston Symphony brass section, the Tanglewood Festival Brass, the Kalamazoo Symphony, Brave New Works and many university ensembles. He currently lives in Iowa City and is adjunct faculty member at the UI.

"Praeludium" was composed for the new music ensemble Brave New Works, to be among a group of new pieces inspired by J.S. Bach's "Art of Fugue." "As a companion for a set of fugues, a prelude seemed to be in order," Berners writes.

"This piece begins with a texture of flowing arpeggios like many of Bach's preludes. As it continues, 'Praeludium' makes free reference to other music by Bach, including suggestions of the Brandenburg concertos and a brief quote from 'Contrapunctus IX' (from 'The Art of Fugue'). However, unlike Bach's movements, the mood of this piece soon takes a definite turn for the worse. The agreeable surface of the opening gives way to a harsher musical environment, where fragments of Baroque-style melodies struggle to continue their tunes in bleak surroundings. . . . The distortion of Baroque style in this piece laments, in a way, our inevitable loss of contact with a beautiful and expressive era in music."

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks.

In November, 1998, an east-coast tour by the Center included a performance at Merkin Hall in New York City and by invitation at the final performance of the Region I Conference of Society of Composers, Inc., at Connecticut College in New London. Critic Paul Griffiths opened his New York Times review of the Merkin Hall concert by observing that "an ensemble of faculty and graduate students from the University of Iowa performed strongly Tuesday night," and he praised Gompper for "the concert's clarity and directness."

In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the Center for New Music is supported by the UI Division of Performing Arts.

Gompper 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 he 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 has received numerous awards for his academic and musical achievements, including the Charles E. Ives Prize for composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A UI alumna, Rutledge joined the UI music faculty in 1998. She has appeared as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She performs as a member of the Fontana Chamber Music Festival ensemble. She has performed the standard viola repertoire, her own transcriptions of Baroque works, several lesser known works for viola, and new works that were written specifically for her.

She is also a prizewinner in the Aspen Festival Viola Competition, and the recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist's Fellowship, an Eli Lilly Foundation grant for undergraduate teaching development, and awards from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at Notre Dame. She received a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Initiative at the UI, to assist in a solo CD recording of "Early 20th-Century English Works for Viola and Piano." In 2002-03 she played a series of recitals at the UI covering the viola repertoire of J.S. Bach.

Blumroeder studied piano at the University of Idaho, the UI and the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik (State music conservatory) in Freiburg, Germany. Concerts, radio broadcasts and television appearances in Europe and America have given her a reputation as an artist with a broad repertoire, including the new music of the 20th and 21st centuries. She has been acclaimed in performances of works by Stockhausen, Messiaen, Boulez and Cage. She has performed these and other compositions as a guest artist at music festivals in Paris, Lille, Leipzig, Hamburg, Salzburg, Fribourg and Zagreb, at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt am Main and at the Berliner Festwochen.

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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