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University of Iowa News Release

March 18, 2005

Dan Knight Goes Classical At UI Museum Of Art April 1

Jazz pianist Dan Knight continues his ongoing series of performances at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) with "Classical Jazz: A New Approach to Improvisation" at 5 p.m. Friday, April 1 in the museum's Nancy and Craig Willis Atrium.

Joining Knight for the performance will be Kevin Williams, a 16-year-old pianist from Cedar Rapids who has been one of Knight's students for the past two years.

"I've been known internationally for doing this kind of thing, but have not really had the opportunity to do a program like this one at home," Knight said of the improvisations based on classical melodies. "What better day to do it than April 1?"

"The term improvisation has become almost synonymous with jazz," Knight explained. "But Baroque musicians, people like Bach, used to improvise prodigiously and proficiently. Improvisation, in the classical piano sense, perhaps reached its zenith with the performances and improvisations of Franz Liszt, one of the greatest of the great virtuoso pianists.

"Improvisation went out of style in classical music in the early 20th century, as jazz was just beginning. It was unfortunate for both musical genres."

In the performance on April 1, Knight plans to improvise on several familiar classical works and to perform some of his own works that he considers to be in the avant-garde of the modern classical tradition.

Titles on the program will include the Prelude and Fugue in C minor, S999, by J.S. Bach; "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Mozart; the "Variations on a Theme of Paganini" by Rachmaninoff; the "The Great Gate of Kiev" from "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky; and Knight's "Les Jardins de Monet" (The gardens of Monet).

Williams will play an improvisation on Ravel's "Pavane."

Knight has a regular date, playing at the UIMA on the first Friday of each month. Knight, who has a longstanding relationship with the museum, will conclude his spring semester series May 6.

Knight has often played in the museum. In 1999 he recorded and released a CD of music inspired by nine paintings in the museum's permanent collection, "Pictures at an Exhibition," and he played in the UIMA twice during the spring semester of 2004.

A Steinway Artist as well as a composer, educator and a respected improviser, Knight has built a worldwide reputation. He has made several CD recordings for After Hours Recordings, including "Dan Knight and the La Fosse Jazz Trio: Live from Studio III," recorded with the late UI violin faculty member Leopold La Fosse; "Dan Knight Duo: Live at Riverside Theatre"; and "Dan Knight Quartet: Live at the Cottonwood Club."

More information on Knight is available at his web page,

Williams was recently the youngest award winner and the only high school sophomore to win Outstanding Soloist at the Northeast Iowa Band Masters Association jazz band competition. He traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, last August where he participated in the Edinburgh International Jazz Summer School and performed with his ensemble in the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival where he represented Iowa and the United States.

Admission to UIMA is free. Admission to the performance -- $5 for museum members and $10 for non-members -- will be collected at the door of the Nancy and Craig Willis Atrium. There will be light refreshments and a cash bar available in the atrium during the performance.

Museum memberships are available for contributions of $25 or more. Contributions support exhibitions, programs and acquisitions by the museum. For further information, contact Buffie Tucker, at 319-353-2847 or by email at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 9 p.m. Fridays. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

PHOTOS are available at