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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 27, 2006

Guest Artists Will Play Iconic 20th-Century Works Feb. 6

The University of Missouri Chamber Ensemble will present "Summer in Winter," a guest concert at the University of Iowa School of Music, at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in Harper Recital Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building.

The ensemble consists of four performers: pianists Peter Miyamoto and Ayako Tsuruta, and percussionists Julia Gaines and Brian Tate. They will perform two landmark works from the 20th century, one of which gives its name to the concert: "Music for a Summer Evening" (Makrokosmos III) for two amplified pianos and percussion, composed in 1974 by George Crumb; and the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, composed in 1937 by Bela Bartok.

The combination of two pianos and percussion was entirely Bartok's invention: The Sonata was written for a commission for an unspecified piece of chamber music. The first performance was given in Basel, Switzerland, in January 1938 by the composer and his wife with percussionists Fritz Schiesser and Philipp Ruehlig.

Bartok apparently worried about the difficulty of the music, which requires great precision from the performers. Following the example set by his first two piano concertos, Bartok wrote for the piano in a percussive style, rather than the lyrical approach typical of the romantic era.

The composer wrote, "The two percussion parts are fully equal in rank to one of the piano parts. The timbre of the percussion instruments has various roles: in many cases it only colors the piano tone, in others it enhances the more important accents; occasionally the percussion instruments introduce contrapuntal motives against the piano parts, and the timpani and xylophone frequently play themes even as solos."

Crumb's "Music for a Summer Evening" was written specifically for pianists Gilbert Kalish and James Freeman, and percussionists Raymond DesRoches and Richard Fitz, who gave the first performance at Swarthmore College on March 30, 1974.

In writing the score, Crumb was very conscious of Bartok's Sonata. "It is curious that other composers (after Bartok) did not subsequently contribute to the genre" of works for piano and percussion, Crumb wrote.

"Music for a Summer Evening" requires an exceptionally large number of percussion instruments, including vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, tubular bells, crotales (antique cymbals), bell tree, claves, maracas, sleighbells, wood blocks and temple blocks, triangles, and several varieties of drums, tam-tams, and cymbals. Even more exotic instruments are occasionally employed for their special sound quality, including slide-whistles, a metal thunder-sheet, African log drum, Tibetan prayer stones, musical jug, and African thumb piano and guiro played by the pianists.

Some of the more ethereal sounds are produced by drawing a contrabass bow over tam-tams, crotales and vibraphone plates. This kaleidoscopic range of percussion sounds is combined with a great variety of special sounds produced by the pianists.

"As in several of my other works, the musical fabric of Summer Evening results largely from the elaboration of tiny cells into a sort of mosaic design," Crumb writes. "I feel that 'Summer Evening' projects a clearly articulated large expressive curve over its approximately 40-minute duration."

"The first, third, and fifth movements (out of five), which are scored for the full ensemble of instruments and laid out on a large scale, would seem to define the primary import of the work," he explains. In contrast, the second movement, mostly for the pianos, and the fourth, for percussion, "were conceived of as dream-like pieces functioning as intermezzos within the overall sequence of movements."

Miyamoto and Gaines Teach on the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Taite is a student in the UM School of Music, and Tsuruta is music director of the Odyssey Chamber Music Series at First Baptist Church in Columbia.

Miyamoto has performed in recital and as soloist in Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, China, and Japan, and in major U. S. cities. He has performed with the Florida Philharmonic, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, Boise Philharmonic, Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and Chautauqua Symphony among many others, appearing with conductors Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Lawrence Leighton-Smith, William Henry Curry James Ogle, and Kirk Trevor, among others.

An avid chamber musician, Tsuruta has performed around the United States, including the UI Magisterra International Chamber Music Festival. She has given concerts throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East. Winner of many concerto competitions, she has appeared as soloist with the Juilliard Symphony, Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut Chamber, and Wallingford Symphony orchestras in the United States, and the University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Malcolm Forsyth in Edmonton, Canada.

Gaines conducts the UM Percussion Ensemble, World Percussion Ensemble, and the MU Steel Drum Band, the Tiger Pans. As a student she won the concerto competition at the University of Oklahoma. She also won the Young Artist Concerto Competition, which covered an eight-state region, sponsored by the Oklahoma City Orchestra League. She has performed with the Missouri Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fox Valley (Wisc.) Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Idaho/Washington Symphony. She has also given solo performances in England and Wales.

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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