Oct. 19, 2006
Iowa Percussion Presents Music From Near And Far Nov. 5
Iowa Percussion, the performance organization of the percussion area in the University of Iowa School of Music, will present music from near and far -- from Iowa City to China -- on a typically varied program at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The concert, under director Dan Moore, head of the percussion area at the School of Music, will be free and open to the public.
Going beyond the standard concert, the Nov. 5 performance will include a dance piece performed on the Clapp Hall stage to live musical accompaniment, and the School of Music's Steel Band II playing in the lobby during intermission.
One local connection -- the "near" part of the program -- will be a performance of "Sam Mbira" by D. Martin Jenni, played as a tribute to the late School of Music faculty member, who died last spring.
Moore recalled that "When I came to Iowa, Martin was among the first of my new colleagues to bring me into his office for a good long chat on one of his favorite subjects -- percussion. He enjoyed manipulating rhythms and words in what he called 'metrical games.' 'Sam Mbira' includes metrical games written into the score, and you might also notice that the title of this work for marimba quartet is an anagram for marimbas."
Another performance originating in Iowa City will be "Kboco," a new piece for percussion ensemble by composer Robert Moran that was commissioned by Moore and UI Dance faculty member Armando Duarte. Duarte's choreography for eight dancers, titled "De Furia e Felicidade" (Of rage and bliss), will be premiered on the annual Dance Gala in Hancher Auditorium Nov. 3 and 4, with live music by Iowa Percussion, and repeated on the Clapp Hall performance Nov. 5.
Both music and choreography of "Kboco" are abstract interpretations of Brazilian graffiti photographed by Duarte near his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sao Paulo is considered the graffiti capital of the world and Kboco is one of its most famous artists. "Kboco" was commissioned with support from the UI Division of Performing Arts.
The "far" part of the program will be represented by percussion arrangements of three Chinese traditional pieces: "Into the Mountain," "Gong Celebration" and "Slithering Dragon, Leaping Tiger."
"In 2001 Iowa Percussion began a rewarding relationship with musicians from the People's Republic of China, and the study of Chinese percussion music," Moore explained. "Professor Jiao Shanlin of the China Conservatory in Beijing taught us 'Slithering Dragon, Leaping Tiger' during his visit to Iowa City in 2005. 'Into the Mountain' and 'Gong Celebration' were taught to us by Professor Jiao's teacher, Wong Yi Dong -- also a professor at the China Conservatory -- during our visit to China during the Summer of 2006."
Two other pieces will complete the Iowa Percussion program: "Mas Fuerte" by Stephen Rush, director of the Digital Music Ensemble and music director at the Dance Department of the University of Michigan; and "Celebration" by Tom Gauger, percussionist with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestra.
Rush has written that "Mas Fuerte" "loosely translated means 'more loudness' or more force.' The title is the Spanish version of a rather clumsy working title, 'Louder and ... (louder and ... ).' The piece is a study in non-pitched loudness, and reflects a strong Afro-Caribbean influence, specifically influences of Congolese dance music and the Costa Rican version of the Calypso."
Gauger wrote about "Celebration" that "I wanted to write a piece that could be used as an overture with more excitement and energy from the very beginning," to which Moore adds, "We chose to end our concert with the overture to celebrate the School of Music's 100th Anniversary."
Formed in 1958 as the UI Percussion Ensemble, the organization performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. In addition to the standard percussion repertoire, the ensemble regularly performs the newest music written by both professional composers and students.
Starting as a single volunteer group in 1994, the UI steel band has grown to the point that Iowa Pecussion now maintains two complete steel bands. The steel pans, or steel drums as they are variously known, are actually 55-gallon oil barrels that have been carefully crafted into tuned musical instruments. Originating on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, these tuned drums have a remarkable timbre that is immediately recognizable as a Caribbean sound.
An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic, multi-percussion and electronic instruments, he is considered a "total percussionist." He joined the UI music faculty in 1996 as only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI. For more information see: http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/PERCmoore.htm
Duarte has toured the world extensively as a founding member of the internationally known Cisne Negro (Black Swan) Dance Company from Sao Paulo, where he worked for 14 years. Since coming to the University of Iowa in 1993, he has choreographed 24 original dance pieces and has restaged four works from his own repertory in which he continues to perform. For more information, see: www.uiowa.edu/~dance/faculty/duarte.htm
The School of Music and the Department of Dance are part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/, and the Department of Dance at www.uiowa.edu/~dance/.
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