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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 19, 2008

Center for New Music will perform new chamber music Dec. 7

The University of Iowa Center for New Music (CNM) will present a concert of new chamber works by four American composers, including UI faculty member Michael Eckert, at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, in the Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union on the UI campus.

The concert, under the direction of David Gompper, will be free and open to the public.

UI faculty members Maurita Murphy Mead, clarinet, and Shari Rhoads, piano, will perform two works by Eckert: "Three Choros" and "Three for the Road." Both works were written for Mead within the past two years.

Other works on the program will be played by members of the CNM Ensemble: "Awakening of the Heart" for piano trio by David Vayo; Oboe Quartet for oboe and string trio by Carson Cooman; and the Quintet for Piano and String Quartet by David Liptak. Complete program notes for the concert can be found at

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the CNM is part of the UI Division of Performing Arts. The center supports its own performing ensemble, including both faculty and students of the School of Music, and presents concerts of recent music by guest artists.

Michael Eckert has been on the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music since 1985. He has won many awards for composition, including a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an NEA fellowship and the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. For more information visit

"Three Choros "and "Three for the Road" are the first and third in a series of pieces Eckert has written for Mead. They are all in the style of the Brazilian choro, a type of urban popular instrumental music that began in Rio de Janeiro in the late 19th century. The characteristic choros ensemble features a flute, mandolin, saxophone or clarinet as lead instrument, with guitars, cavaquinho -- a small four-stringed guitar -- and a tambourine-like percussion instrument. The lead performer enjoys considerable freedom to vary ornamentation, articulation and rhythm; the accompaniment and bass line are normally improvised.

Vayo is professor and head of the composition department at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he teaches composition and contemporary music and coordinates the Symposium of Contemporary Music and the New Music Cafe concert series. For more information visit

"Awakening of the Heart" was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University and was premiered in April 2006 by the New York New Music Ensemble. In program notes, Vayo writes that the score "was composed during a period of turmoil and loneliness. My longing for tenderness and intimacy and my hope for the future fill the piece . . . My hopes were fulfilled several years later when I met Marie-Susanne, who I married and to whom I had been waiting to dedicate this composition."

Cooman is an American composer with a catalogue of works ranging from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes. He is currently the editor of Living Music Journal and serves as an active consultant on music business matters to composers and performing organizations. For more information visit

Cooman writes that the Oboe Quartet was inspired both by the music of composer Louis Karchin and by oboists whose playing he admires. He continues, "This work is cast in a single movement, controlled by a loose variation form . . . The music can be grouped broadly into three sections, each of which is a large-scale variation and each also containing a number of overlapping smaller variations."

Liptak's chamber music has been played by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Group for Contemporary Music, EARPLAY, the Ying and Cassatt string quartets, the New York New Music Ensemble, and many other soloists and chamber ensembles. He is professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. For more information visit

Liptak writes that his Piano Quintet "is written in three movements, and the movement titles each have a certain poetical or descriptive quality: 'Shaping the Invisible' plays with the elusive, vaporous, and, at the same time, physical quality of music. In 'Glaciers,' there is a certain timelessness, and the music appears to be silvery and frozen. 'Spring Images' is clear, sharp, and lively."

The Center for New Music was founded in 1966 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The center promotes the performance of new music by providing a core group of specialists in contemporary performance techniques. Its programming has included world premieres as well as acknowledged contemporary masterworks.

In 1986 the center received the Commendation of Excellence from Broadcast Music, Inc., the world's largest performing rights organization, and it recently received grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mead has been the artist performer and teacher of clarinet at the UI School of Music since 1983. She has performed by invitation at International Clarinet Association conferences, the Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the National Clarinet Symposium of Brazil and the College Band Directors National Association conference. She has been principal clarinet of several Midwestern orchestras, including the Cedar Rapids Symphony. A member of the Iowa Woodwind Quintet, she has performed with many chamber ensembles, including the Cleveland Quartet. For more information visit

Rhoads joined the UI School of Music faculty as opera coach in the fall of 2000. Before arriving at the UI she taught Lieder and interpretation at the Music Conservatory in Lucerne and the Conservatory of Lausanne in Switzerland. She was Kapellmeister at the Lucerne Theater and served as conductor and coach at the opera theater in Darmstadt, Germany, the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona, Spain, and the Teatro de las Zarzuela in Madrid. For more information visit

The School of Music and CNM are parts of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Visit the CNM Web site at

For UI arts information and calendar updates visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then 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),