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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 22, 2008

Johnson County Landmark will play Piazzolla March 9

Johnson County Landmark (JCL) jazz band from the University of Iowa School of Music will perform a program of the "Nuevo Tango" (New tango), music by the legendary Argentinean composer and performer Astor Piazzolla, at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of John Rapson, will be free and open to the public.

The program will be made up entirely of music by Piazzolla in jazz orchestra arrangements by Fred Sturm, director of jazz and improvisational music at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wis. Pieces will include "Tres Minutos Con La Realidad" (Three minutes with reality), "Milonga Loca" and "Libertango."

The program was workshopped by JCL with Pablo Ziegler, who was the pianist and arranger for Astor Piazzolla's innovative New Tango Quintet for more than a decade. Ziegler was on campus for a concert at Hancher Auditorium with his own ensemble and vocalist Claudio Acuña.

Tango is a dance music that developed in the barrios (or slums) of Buenos Aires during the late 19th century and roughly parallels the development of jazz in the United States. Piazzolla created the "Nuevo Tango" (New Tango) in the middle of the 20th century by adapting the traditional dance music and instrumentation to his knowledge of jazz and classical music.

He was a student of Nadia Boulanger, acclaimed as the greatest classically oriented composition teacher of the time. Piazzolla tried to hide his past playing tangos on the bandoneon (a traditional accordion-like instrument) from Boulanger, but she recognized his true talents. With her encouragement, Piazzolla turned the traditional dance of his native country into an art form that became a worldwide sensation.

"I have been aware of the New Tango and the jazz-tango fusion for more than 20 years," Rapson said. "I have listened to it with fascination and taught a portion of it in my jazz cultures class, but this is the first opportunity I have taken to perform it.

"The practical reason for the program is that Fred Sturm recently completed his orchestrations of Piazzolla's music for a German jazz orchestra, and he was willing to make them available to us.

"It is fantastic music and, of course, the band is absolutely in love with Sturm's orchestrations. The rhythms and the colors are so vibrant yet of a totally different order than mainstream jazz. I am always looking for literature that blends jazz elements with other traditions and with other genres, such as popular or classical music. The musicians of every age have fluidly crossed boundaries more easily than the marketing has and I want to push the same envelope with our students.

"In truth, nearly every type of ensemble one might be able to imagine has adapted Piazzolla's work for performance. So, we're in good company."

In addition to his teaching duties at Lawrence University, Sturm serves as a guest conductor with professional jazz ensembles and radio orchestras in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Norway; as director of university jazz ensembles and high school all-state jazz bands throughout the United States; and as a clinician at national educational conferences and festivals. For more information on Sturm, see his Web pages and

Rapson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music as director of jazz studies in August 1993. A recording artist for the Sound Aspects and Nine Winds labels, he is a composer and trombonist whose work mixes ethnic and experimental elements with more conventional jazz forms. For more information on Rapson, see

A major ensemble in the UI School of Music jazz program, JCL is a repertory ensemble devoted to the performance of original compositions by jazz masters. JCL has the standard big-band instrumentation, with full sections of reed, brass and rhythm instruments. It is made up largely of students in the UI School of Music majoring in performance or in the jazz area.

JCL tours throughout the Midwest. In addition to its free concerts on the UI campus, JCL makes frequent appearances at clubs in Iowa City. It is one of 11 ensembles in the jazz program of the UI School of Music. These diverse ensembles range from combos to big bands and differ in stylistic formats from experimental compositions to traditional repertoires.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 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),