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University of Iowa News Release


March 16, 2007

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Dan Knight Reprises 'Whitman Suite' At Museum of Art April 1

The University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) will present composer/pianist Dan Knight (right) in a performance of his "Whitman Suite" at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 1, in the museum's Lasansky Gallery and Nancy and Craig Willis Atrium.

The performance will be free and open to the public.

Knight gave the world premiere of the "Whitman Suite" at the UIMA in November 2005, in conjunction with the exhibition "Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman."

"The 'Whitman Suite' is something I've dreamed of doing for more than 30 years, and something I've actively worked on for more than 10 of those years," Knight said at the time of the premiere. "Of all of the work I've done to this point in my creative career, I'm most proud of this work.

"I began reading 'Leaves of Grass' when I was 16 years old, and there were a few years during the '70s when I carried a copy with me wherever I went. From the beginning, I wanted to put some of the poems to music, but the music I was playing and composing then was too rigid. . . . Now, with a few years and a lot of life experience behind me, Whitman's words and the music I've constructed around them seem to fit like they've been there all along."

The piece pairs aural impressions of color, light, time and place in an attempt to embrace the emotional essences of the works that inspired them. Rather than seeking to be an accompaniment to the Whitman's poetry and prose, the music and the spoken word/visual art which inspired it are unified in a new and seamless whole.

The "Whitman Suite" has nine pieces, each based on segments from "Leaves of Grass" or Whitman's volume of "Prose Works":

1. "Song of the Broad-Axe"

2. "For You O Democracy"

3. "I Sing the Body Electric"

4. "Song of Myself" (numbers 6, 31 and 48)

5. "Specimen Days": Abraham Lincoln

6. "Drum Taps"

7. "When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd"

8. Preface to the 1855 edition of "Leaves of Grass"

9. "Good-Bye My Fancy"

"My intention in the composition of the 'Whitman Suite' is to wrap Whitman's great words in sound, not by arbitrary composition, but by finding in myself those parts of my musical soul that resonate with his," Knight says.

A Steinway Artist as well as a composer, educator and a respected improviser, Knight has built a worldwide reputation. He has made several CD recordings for After Hours Recordings, including "Dan Knight and the La Fosse Jazz Trio: Live from Studio III," recorded with the late UI violin faculty member Leopold La Fosse; "Dan Knight Duo: Live at Riverside Theatre"; and "Dan Knight Quartet: Live at the Cottonwood Club."

Knight has long had a relationship with the UI Museum of Art.  In 1999, he recorded and released a CD of music inspired by nine paintings in the museum's permanent collection, "Pictures at an Exhibition," and he played in the UIMA twice during the spring semester of 2004.

More information on Knight is available at his Web page,

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846; Writer: Emily Grosvenor