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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 17, 2007

Harpsichordist ranges across Baroque Europe with Nov. 4 recital

Edward Parmentier, an acclaimed harpsichordist and head of the Early Music Ensemble at the University of Michigan, will present a free recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, in Harper Hall of the University of Iowa Voxman Music Building.

Parmentier's recital, which is presented jointly by the UI School of Music and the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society, will be free and open to the public.

During his visit to the UI campus, Parmentier will also offer a master class in organ performance at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, in the Krapf Organ Studio of the Voxman Music Building.

Europe in the Baroque period was a colorful kaleidoscope of national styles in music, as well as a crazy quilt of religious and political divisions. Like several of the composers it features, Parmentier's program ranges across both the stylistic and geographical spectrum, with works by the great French harpsichordist/composer Francois Couperin; the Dutch composer Jan-Pieterszoon Sweelinck; an exiled English Catholic in the Low Countries, John Bull; an English Catholic who stayed at home, William Byrd; the German-Lutheran J.S. Bach; the Italian-Catholic Girolamo Frescobaldi; and Domenico Scarlatti, an Italian in service to the court of Spain.

"Couperin's Suite in F is a perfect musical buffet with the highest quality ingredients," Parmentier wrote. "Sweelinck is an architectural sculpture in music. Its suggestiveness comes from purity; from that comes power.

"Bull is a reclusive, daring personality. His victory is a personal one, finding his own artistic voice in the Catholic Low Countries after fleeing Protestant England. His is unbalanced music, for the moment, with volatile changes.

"Bach's music is a blend of French, Italian, German and English styles. He has invented a new music -- an unprecedented rigor of musical complexity and depth.

"Frescobaldi's toccatas are warm, ecstatic, prayerful as befits the Counterreformation, impatient, restless. This is the time of Caravaggio, of Galileo and revolutionary ideas about the solar system.

"Byrd's victory is a golden symmetry, balance, maturity, careful choice of materials. It has the grace of early Italian Renaissance architecture. Accepted by the throne although a Catholic, Byrd was a kind of 'composer laureate' in Shakespeare's London.

"Scarlatti's victory is freedom, due to having as much fun with music as possible. He's like a taxi driver who takes you, instead of directly to your destination, on a tour of the delights of the town."

Parmentier has performed throughout the United States, Russia, Western Europe, Japan and Korea on harpsichord and on historic organs. He is a frequent recitalist, lecturer and adjudicator at symposia and festivals, and appears frequently in ensemble settings as both continuo player and concerto soloist. Recent recordings include J.S. Bach's partitas, French 17th-century harpsichord music, sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and music of the English virginalists.

His University of Michigan Web page can be seen at

The School of Music is 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

The Iowa City Early Keyboard Society has a Web page at

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 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),