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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 19, 2007

UI Symphony Band opens 2007-08 season Oct. 3

The University of Iowa Symphony Band will open its 2007-08 concert season with a program that covers a wide stylistic spectrum, from a unique piece of chamber music by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky to a rousing circus march by Iowan Karl L. King, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of Myron Welch, will be free and open to the public. Featured soloist for the concert will be Jeffrey Agrell, a member of the School of Music faculty, performing the Concerto in E-flat for horn by Richard Strauss.

In addition to the Strauss concerto, the program will feature the Octet for winds by Stravinsky, performed by eight graduate students from the band; Gustav Holst's "Moorside March," led by guest conductor Ward Miller, a second-year doctoral student in band conducting; "The Soaring Hawk" by UI alumnus Timothy Mahr; "Korean Dance" by Chang Su Koh; and one of the most famous circus marches ever written, King's "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite."

"It is always a pleasure to feature our fine wind faculty with our student ensembles," Welch commented.

"The students thoroughly enjoy working under our excellent doctoral student Ward Miller in the classic 'Moorside March' of Gustav Holst. And I believe the audience will be thrilled by the challenging and colorful new work for Wind Orchestra, the 'Korean Dances' by Chang Su Koh."

Stravinsky's Octet is the only major work in the wind repertory to call for the striking ensemble of flute, clarinet, two bassoons, two trumpets and two trombones. It was written in 1922, a time when the composer clearly preferred the clear sound of small ensembles to the lush sound of the large Romantic orchestra. He wrote of the Octet that the "wind instruments seem to me more able to give a certain rigidity of the form than other instruments. . . . The difference of volume of these instruments makes clearer the musical architecture."

"The Soaring Hawk" was commissioned by the Symphony Band for their appearance at the American Bandmasters National Convention in 1990. "The work was inspired by meditating (with some degree of jealousy) upon the various experiences in the life of a hawk, a creature that is certainly a proud symbol of many things that are good in the world," Mahr wrote. "Ah, that we could all soar above this earth!"

The Concerto in E-flat was written in 1885 when the composer was 23. It was written for his father, Franz Strauss, who was a renowned orchestral horn player. Because Franz Strauss had difficulty contending with the highest registers of the solo part, it was his student Gustav Leinhos, who gave the premiere performance.

Mahr, who was a doctoral student at the UI when "The Soaring Hawk" was written, is now professor of music and director of the band at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. More information about him is available at

King was conductor of the Fort Dodge Municipal Band for 51 years. During his long tenure, the band became one of the best-known bands in the country, pioneered musical radio broadcasts over station WHO in Des Moines, and appeared at nearly every Iowa State Fair beginning in 1920. King wrote nearly 300 marches, overtures and novelty numbers that were known and played by bands all over the world. He also worked with numerous high school bands and was one of the founders of the American Bandmasters Association.

"Barnum & Bailey's Favorite" was one of King's first compositions. It was written in 1913 when he was 22 years old and about to join the 32-piece Barnum & Bailey Circus Band as a euphonium player. The piece has been so successful that a 1980 survey ranked "Barnum & Bailey's Favorite" at fourth among the top 140 marches for band.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980 and is a Collegiate Fellow in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association, Welch is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States. See

Agrell joined the UI School of Music faculty in 2000 after a 25-year career as associate principal horn in the Lucerne (Switzerland) Symphony. Besides teaching horn, he currently directs the UI Horn Choir, teaches Introduction to Improvisation, and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet, and the contemporary classical improvising ensembles Duende (horn, cello, piano), and Cerberus (horn, trumpet, tuba). Agrell is also an award-winning writer and composer, and he has been active in bringing new approaches to improvisation to classical musicians. For more information see

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, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846;