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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 17, 2006

Iowa Woodwind Quintet Performs American Classics March 4

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet, a resident faculty ensemble at the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform two classic American works paired with lesser-known German Romantic works on a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The Iowa Woodwind Quintet has been in existence at the UI School of Music since about 1932. Its current members -- Tamara Thweatt, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet; Kristin Thelander, horn; and Benjamin Coelho, bassoon -- are members of the UI School of Music faculty.

The two American classics on the program March 4 will be the Woodwind Quintet by Elliott Carter and Quintet No. 9 by Alec Wilder. The lesser known works will be "Serenade, Theme with Variations" by Theodore Blumer and the Quintet in F, op. 9, by Johann Sobeck.

Elliott Carter has been the recipient of the highest honors a composer can receive: the Gold Medal for Music awarded by the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Medal of Arts, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and honorary degrees from many universities. Hailed by Aaron Copland as "one of America's most distinguished creative artists in any field", Carter has received two Pulitzer Prizes and commissions from many organizations.

Alec Wilder was born Alexander Lafayette Chew Wilder, in Rochester, N.Y., and stayed long enough to study briefly at the Eastman School of Music. Author Whitney Balliett called Wilder "The President of the Derriere Garde" in his book "Alec Wilder and His Friends." Diverse and characteristically American, Wilder's style is a synthesis of elements of Gershwin, French composer Francis Poulenc and Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. It is indicative of Wilder's appeal that an early fan was Frank Sinatra, who in 1945 persuaded Columbia Records to record some of Wilder's solo wind works with string orchestra for an album with Sinatra conducting.

Blumer graduated from the Dresden Conservatory and worked as a teacher, pianist and director of the Dresden Radio Orchestra and then the Middle German Radio Orchestra in Leipzig. His affinity with his contemporary Richard Strauss is clearly evident in all three of his woodwind quintets, including the "Serenade, Theme with Variations."

Sobeck was a virtuoso clarinetist who wrote a number of woodwind chamber works. Of his three woodwind quintets, only op. 9 is still in print. His style parallels that of Blumer. While Blumer was based in Dresden, Sobeck spent most of his career in Prague, gaining a reputation as a clarinetist. This work is big, rich with colors and follows the symphonic form of the Romantic period. Every instrument is exploited as a soloist, even the horn, which was just coming into its own with the addition of valves.

Thweatt came to the UI in 2003. She was a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 2000-2002 and has also performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and many regional ensembles. She has studied the Baroque flute and has performed the solo flute part in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 with the Michigan Chamber Players. She also enjoys chamber music of all styles and periods, and has performed George Crumb's "Vox Balaenae" (The voice of the whale) at Interlochen, Mich.

Since coming to Iowa in 1988 Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions and won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY). The first oboist to serve as an Artistic Ambassador through the U.S. Information Agency, Weiger performed recitals in Nepal, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Sri Lanka. He has recorded for the CRS, Crystal, Chandos and Centaur CD labels.

Mead has performed by invitation at International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the Southeastern Clarinet Workshop and the conference of the College Band Directors National Association. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony. As a chamber musician she has appeared with the Cleveland Quartet and other ensembles. She had made several recordings, including two CDs of Brazilian choros with pianist Rafael Dos Santos, a UI alumnus.

Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989 and was elected director of the School of Music in 2000. Since 2005 she is also director of the Division of Performing Arts. Active as soloist and chamber musician, she has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. As a guest artist she performed a solo with the Chinese National Opera Orchestra for the opening concert of the International Horn Symposium held in Beijing in July 2000. During the summer she performs with the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Ore.

Benjamin Coelho has worked extensively as performer and teacher of bassoon, in both the United States and his native Brazil. He was a founding member of the Manhattan Wind Quintet, with whom he played a sold-out concert in Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has played with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro and the Grupo de Musica Contemporanea of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He taught bassoon at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he served as the elected vice-dean of the School of Music.

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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