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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 26, 2007

Iowa Brass Quintet opens concert season Nov. 7

The Iowa Brass Quintet will open its 2007-08-performance season with music from 17th-century Germany, part of a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

The Iowa Brass Quintet (IBQ), a resident faculty ensemble at the UI School of Music, performs on campus each semester and for schools, universities, civic concert associations, and professional meetings throughout the United States. Its current members are David Greenhoe and Brian Umlah, trumpets; Jeffrey Agrell, horn; David Gier, trombone; and John Manning, tuba. Greenhoe, Agrell, Gier and Manning are School of Music faculty members; Umlah is a doctoral student.

The IBQ will open the Nov. 7 concert with "Canzona Bergamasca" by early Baroque composer Samuel Scheidt, arranged for brass by Conrad De Jong. Other works on the concert will be the Brass Quintet No. 3 by Alec Wilder; "Seasons: A Symphony for Brass Quintet" by John Stevens; and the "Capriccio" of the 20th-century Austrian composer Karl Pilss.

Scheidt was prominent among the first generation of German Baroque composers. His canzonas -- literally "songs" -- exemplify his instrumental works, composed largely for viols. He achieved contrast by changes in tempo and meter, and by pitting instruments against one another in the antiphonal style. The "Bergamasca" dance originated during the 16th and 17th centuries in the Northern Italian district of Bergamo, where the local peasants were alleged to be clumsy and backward. Composers of the period occasionally included "bergamasca" movements in their dance suites.

After studying privately at the Eastman School, Wilder became active in the early 1930s as a songwriter and arranger in New York. His songs were composed for and/or performed by Mildred Bailey, Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Ethel Waters, Mabel Mercer and, in the 1940s, Frank Sinatra. In the early 1950s Wilder turned from the world of popular song to chamber and orchestral music and opera.

Wilder wrote a great deal of music of remarkable originality in many forms: sonatas, suites, concertos, operas, ballets, art songs, woodwind quintets, brass quintets, jazz suites -- and hundreds of popular songs.

John Stevens teaches tuba and euphonium at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and plays in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. He has enjoyed a varied career as an orchestral, chamber music, solo and jazz performer and recording artist, composer/arranger, conductor and administrator. More information on the composer is available at

"Seasons" was written for the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. When Stevens moved to the north country of Wisconsin after living in Florida for four years, he was inspired by the changes in the northern climes of the United States. The music depicts a seasonal mood in each movement: the growth and warmth of spring; a joyous dance of summer; the colors of autumn, tinged with melancholy foreshadowing the coming of winter; and the cold and stark nature of the northern winter. At the end, the music returns to the music of spring, completing the year's cycle.

Pilss was born in 1902 in Vienna, where he was educated as a pianist, conductor, and composer. He taught at Viennese conservatories and worked at the Vienna State Opera and at the Salzburg Festival, among many other musical activities. He composed 85 works for wind instruments and 10 for orchestra, plus many songs and choral works. His "Capriccio" is a quick and quirky one-movement piece that moves abruptly between tonalities and meters, creating a variety of instrumental colors and moods in a relatively brief work.

Founded in the early 1950s, the IBQ has been widely acclaimed for its artistry in the performance of music of all periods and premieres of new compositions. The quintet's CD "Americana: A University of Iowa Celebration" features works by composers associated with the UI, either as faculty or students in the School of Music, or whose works have been favorites of the group over the years. It was released as part of the celebration of the UI Sesquicentennial in 1997.

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

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),