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University of Iowa News Release

March 31, 2005

Center For New Music Presents World Premieres, German Composer April 10

The University of Iowa Center for New Music will feature the music of German composer Robert H.P. Platz, who will have a two-week residency at the UI School of Music, as part of a concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in Clapp Recital Hall.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will also feature world premieres of works by Ketty Nez, a visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music, and Evan Kuchar, a UI graduate student in composition.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the Center for New Music (CNM) is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. Part of the UI Division of Performing Arts, the center supports its own performing ensemble and frequently presents concerts of recent music by guest artists.

The April 10 concert features performances by UI faculty, students and other performers associated with the CNM.

"Platz is well-known throughout Europe," Gompper explained. "He is one of the leading German composers born in the 1950s, but his work is rarely played in the United States. So I thought it would be good for the CNM to offer a concert featuring his works."

The concert will open with the premiere performance of ". . . on my mind . . ." by Nez, performed by the UI faculty members for whom it was written: Kenneth Tse, baritone saxophone, with violinist Margaret Soper Gutierrez, violist Elizabeth Oakes and cellist Hannah Holman from the Maia Quartet. Nez will conduct the performance.

"'. . . on my mind . . .' was inspired by the palpable rhythmic energy of James Brown, as well as bebop, blues and other popular traditions," Nez said. "Such music can be heard to only begin with the notes, going on to everything else, both musical and otherwise: the expressive glissandi, traditional syncopations, heightened emotions, such as Brown's terse, taught singing. The overtones of funk reflect the unique charisma of my colleagues, including the theatrical and sartorial flair of the Maias' stage presence."

Next will be the premiere of Kuchar's "Heat Death," played by a 14-player mixed instrumental ensemble conducted by Gompper.

Kuchar explained the title: "Heat tends to move away from hot sources and to be absorbed by colder objects. . . . One possible fate of the universe is that all of the energy will eventually reach a state of maximal evenness, called 'heat death.' In this state, there will no longer be energy flow, and the universe will be dead.

"My piece depicts the flow of energy between objects. High- and low-energy themes exchange energy until becoming maximally even. This interchange takes place over an eternally unchanging background that occurs at the beginning and ending, with references to it made throughout. Eventually both themes suffer transmogrification beyond recognition, and the sharp contrast between them is lost in the process."

The remainder of the concert will be devoted to a series of solo and chamber scores by Platz:

--"Up (Klavierstueck 4)" (Piano piece 4) for piano solo, composed 1997-98.

--"Danach I" for solo flute, composed in 2003.

--"Senko-hana-bi (In Yoshitake's garden)" for solo cello, composed 1997-2000.

--"Ikar" for violin solo, composed in 2001.

--"Steine" (stones) for 2 pianos, composed in 1989-93).

--"Dense (Echo I)" for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, composed 1994-96.

Having studied music theory, composition, musicology, piano, conducting and computer music, Platz has been teaching composition at the conservatory in Maastricht, Netherlands, since 1990. He presents workshops and master classes in Japan, Poland, Netherlands, Italy and the United States, and he has taught many times at the Darmstadt Summer Festival for New Music.

A central idea in Platz's music has been "formal polyphony," a term that first referred to several distinct musics existing concurrently in a single piece. Later it came to mean several separate but overlapping sub-pieces within a larger piece. From 1990 onwards, Platz developed the idea of a potentially infinite chain of works, each of which stands on its own, even though it overlaps with the end of the previous piece in the chain, and the beginning of the next.

In 2003, Nez 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. In the fall she will join the faculty of Boston University.

Her music has been played at festivals in the US as well as abroad, including Bulgaria, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland and Japan.

Kuchar is currently finishing a master's degree, where he studies composition with Gompper, and has studied electro-acoustic music with Lawrence Fritts. Before coming to Iowa, Kuchar studied music and French at Augustana College in the Quad Cities and spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. He also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Chicago organizing a tutoring program in a public elementary school.

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."

Complete program notes for the April 10 concert are available through the CNM Web page, at

Platz's visit to the UI is supported in part by a grant from the Deutsche Akademische Austauchdienst (German academic exchange service, DAAD).

The CNM and the School of Music are parts of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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