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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 26, 2006

UI Center For New Music Features Guest Composer Siskind In Feb. 5 Concert

The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present a concert featuring works by guest composer Paul Siskind at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, which will also feature a performance by double bass soloist Volkan Orhon of the School of Music faculty, will be free and open to the public.

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, including both faculty and students of the School of Music, and presents concerts of recent music by guest artists.

The Feb. 5 performance is the third concert of the CNM's 40th season. The four works by Siskind on the program are "Celli Celesti" for two cellos, composed in 2000; "Duo-Bagatelles" for clarinet and cello, composed in 1990; "Rituale" for soprano saxophone and percussion, composed in 1991; and "Memoriale" for alto saxophone and marimba, composed in 2003.

Completing the concert will be Franco Donatoni's "Lem II" for contrabass and 15 instruments from 1996, played by Orhon and the CNM ensemble under Gompper's direction.

Siskind is on the faculty of the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam. He has been a composer-in-residence for the education department of Minnesota Opera, Twin Cities chapter coordinator for the American Composers Forum, music director of One Voice Mixed Chorus and an auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts.

Siskind's music encompasses many genres and has been performed across the country and abroad by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Arditti String Quartet, the Dale Warland Singers and other ensembles.

He has received awards and grants from ASCAP, Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, the National Federation of Music Clubs and the McKnight, Jerome, Puffin and Dodge foundations. His works are published by G. Schirmer Inc., and have been recorded on labels including Innova and New Ariel.

"The cello has long been one of my favorite instruments," Siskind wrote of "Celli Celesti," giving as reasons the instrument's "luxuriant tone, its wide range, and the many interesting timbral effects that are available on it.

"I have also noticed over the years that there seem to be many more dual-cellist couples than among other instruments; I've sometimes wondered if this is due to the corporeal contour of the body of the instrument . . . and the way that players embrace their instruments as they play them. It thus seemed appropriate for me to write a duet for my cellist friends Lawrence and Jennifer Stomberg."

In further notes for the program, Siskind wrote that "Duo-Bagatelles" "displays an important aspect in the development of my musical style: a penchant for a terse and aphoristic sense of drama. Each of its five movements presents a concise, self-contained mood or gesture, with focus on the coloristic possibilities of the instruments rather than on motivic development."

"'Rituale,'" he explained, "is not intended to imitate or portray any specific ritual practices, but rather to merely evoke the feeling of observing some sort of unnamed ritual by incorporating free incantations, stately processionals and hypnotic ostinatos.

"'Memoriale' is a somber, lyrical piece. It was written in memory of percussionist Michael Hooley, a colleague who passed away in 2000 at a tragically young age. The main melodic and harmonic motifs of the piece are loosely based on musical spelling of the letters in Mike's name."

A member of the UI faculty since 2002, Orhon has a professional career that spans a variety of solo, orchestral and chamber music performing and teaching across the country and around the world. He has played with internationally recognized musicians including double bassist Gary Karr and the Emerson String Quartet. He has performed as soloist with orchestras across the country, including the El Paso Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Connecticut Orchestra, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra and Northern Westchester Symphony Orchestra.

Orhon was a finalist and prize winner in the Concert Artists Guild Solo Competition in New York City, and was the co-first place winner of the International Society of Bassists Solo Competition. He was the first double bass player ever to win the Grand Prize overall and first prize for double bass at the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition.

Orhon was born and raised in Turkey. He began playing the double bass at the age of 12, and spent much of his youth touring Europe. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Ankara State Conservatory, he became a member of the Ankara Presidential Symphony Orchestra. He came to the United States in 1991 to continue his studies with Karr at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., where he received an Artist Diploma and master's degree.

During the summer Orhon teaches at the Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont. He has served on the faculties of the University of Connecticut, Central Connecticut State University, University of Massachusetts, Hartt School Community Division of the University of Hartford, and Summer Strings Music Festival in Pocatello, Idaho. Orhon is a D'Addario Diamond Performing Artist, and performs exclusively on D'Addario Strings.

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. The Center for New Music is now supported by the UI Division of Performing Arts.

The School of Music and Center for New Music are part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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