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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 16, 2008

Iowa Percussion goes 'back to the future' with Nov. 2 concert

Iowa Percussion, the performance arm of the percussion area in the University of Iowa School of Music, will present a world premiere and music by some "pioneers of percussion" at a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, in the auditorium of Iowa City West High School.

The performance, under the direction of UI School of Music Professor Dan Moore, will be free and open to the public.

Due to the closure of the Voxman Music Building and Hancher Auditorium following the record floods in June, the School of Music does not have access to many of its usual performance venues during the 2008-09 season. Iowa Percussion will hold performances in several locations, including West High School on Melrose Avenue in Iowa City.

"In our first percussion ensemble concert since the flood, Iowa Percussion is going back to the future of percussion with a tribute to the pioneers of percussion," Moore said. "These are the innovators who changed the face of music by bringing percussion from the back of the orchestra to the front of the stage.

"This past June, with the help of faculty, staff, students, alumni, family and friends we were able to save 99.9 percent of our percussion inventory from the flood waters, so I hope everyone will come to see us use almost all of it on this concert."

One of the most active performing groups at the UI School of Music, Iowa Percussion presents concerts and educational programs on campus and across Iowa. During the floods, they gave a free concert on the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall to show that the arts are still alive at the university. Photos of the uplifting event can be seen at Moore's Web page:

The Nov. 2 program will feature the world premiere performance of "By Any Other Name: a marimba quartet" by Robert Moran, who has written several pieces for Iowa Percussion in the past few years. The composer describes "By Any Other Name" as a "short, goofy marimba quartet."

Other works on the concert are by pioneering composers whose names are well known to percussionists, including some of the most influential musicians of the 20th century:
--"Introduction and Allegro" by Richard L. "Dick" Schory.
--"music for pieces of wood" by Steve Reich.
-- "Canticle No. 1" by Lou Harrison.
--"Trio" by John Cage.
--"Ionisation" by Edgard Varese.
--"Dance of the Octopus" by Red Norvo, as arranged by Bill Cahn and featuring Pamela Weest-Carrasco, harp.

The UI Steel Band II with director Lucas Bernier will perform music before the formal concert, and Moore's PanAmerican Steel Band will play afterward.

Schory and his collaborators, including UI Professor Emeritus Thomas L. Davis, introduced the percussion ensemble to the masses through performances and recordings by Dick Schory and his Percussion Pops Orchestra. Schory also helped to popularize the percussion ensemble with music published by his own Creative Music Company.

Reich has been hailed as "America's greatest living composer" (The Village Voice), "our greatest living composer" (The New York Times) and "the most original musical thinker of our time" (The New Yorker). At once simple and complex, meditative and exhilarating, "music for pieces of wood" is considered one of the most important works in the percussion repertoire.

Although inspired by Asian musical concepts and sounds, Lou Harrison was a classic American composer. He incorporated elements of non-Western cultures into his music, and used American ingenuity to construct instruments from nontraditional materials.

Trio, written in 1936, was the second percussion work by Cage. It is a composition in three movements of fixed rhythmic patterns.

Composed in 1931, "Ionisation" is widely thought to be the first complete composition for an ensemble of percussion instruments. It is a remarkably complex piece written for thirteen performers and many instruments.

In the 1930s, jazz musician Red Norvo was creating some very interesting and innovative music for the xylophone and vibraphone. His music was propelled by jazz, but informed by contemporary music. Norvo recorded "Dance of the Octopus" at night so Decca Records owner Jack Camp wouldn't hear this very unusual session. In a review of a CD release, Ted Gioia wrote, "This is no mere novelty number, but true jazz chamber music of the highest order."

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic, multi-percussion and electronic instruments, he is considered a "total percussionist." He joined the UI music faculty in 1996 as only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI. For more information, visit

Formed in 1958 as the UI Percussion Ensemble, Iowa Percussion performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. In addition to the standard percussion repertoire, the ensemble regularly performs the newest music written by both professional composers and students.

With an extensive array of instruments -- from traditional drums, xylophones and cymbals to just about anything that can be struck, scraped, shaken or smashed together -- Iowa Percussion performances are known for their variety and fast-paced programming, presented with humor, drama and old-fashioned showmanship.

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, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office) 319-541-2846 (cell),

PHOTOS are available at