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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 3, 2008

Reading, performance of poetic texts by Franklin Reeve will be Sept. 12, 13

The University of Iowa Center for New Music will present "The Puzzle Master," a multimedia chamber opera with text by poet F. D. Reeve, who will also present a poetry reading in connection with the performance.

Reeve's reading will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The performance of "The Puzzle Master," with music by Eric Chasalow, will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, in Buchanan Auditorium of the UI Pappajohn Business Administration Building.

Professor emeritus at Wesleyan University, Reeve is the author of 10 volumes of poetry, seven books of fiction, three books of literary criticism, 12 books of translation, four libretti and countless uncollected essays, articles, stories, poems, reviews and translations. His most recent books, "The Toy Soldier and Other Poems" and "Blue Cat Walks the Earth," were published in 2007.

A retelling in modern mode of the classical Daedalus-Icarus myth, "The Puzzle Master" presents a penetrating look at the world's political performances and cultural values. The characters include: Delling (Daedalus), as world-famous engineer/inventor; Ingram (Icarus), his 12-year-old son; and Caribes, a mixed chorus containing all other roles including Delling's nephew Thane, Queen Prue, King Milo, their daughter Princess Arabella, her lover Theodore, and the islanders themselves as commentators and comforters.

The setting is an imaginary island in the Caribbean where Delling has ended up. The chorus begins by introducing him and his son Ingram. Scene by scene they present reenactments of the crucial events in Delling's life, including his son's fatal flight. At the end, Delling is left alone with his conscience on the island, his last stop. The chorus summarizes his life while he ponders the significance of new information technology for future engineering projects and blames himself for the loss of his son, who, like his father, "insisted on his immortal right to be free."

For more information, see program notes at

The cast features Jacob Lasseter as Delling, Karen Kanakis as Ingram, and Vivien Shotwell, Lynn Maxfield and John Rommereim as the three Caribes. The pianist will be Ann Duhamel, and the music director will be UI alumnus Joseph Dangerfield.

Chasalow composes both electro-acoustic music and music for traditional ensembles. His work has been performed throughout the world, with recent performances from Boston to Berlin and San Francisco to Seoul. Since 1990 he has been a member of the faculty at Brandeis University, where he directs the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio. He produces the biennial BEAMS Electronic Music Marathon, on the Boston CyberArts Festival. For more information visit

Reeve has had a varied career, for a while driving a combine in the Midwest wheat fields, later acting in summer theater, and then working as a longshoreman on the Hudson River docks. He learned Russian and spent a year in Moscow and Leningrad as an exchange professor between the American Council of Learned Societies and the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

When President Kennedy sent poet Robert Frost to Russia in 1962 to meet with Nikita Kruschchev as a cultural ambassador, Reeve served as Frost's personal translator, an experience Reeve recounts in his recently re-issued book "Robert Frost in Russia." After teaching in Columbia University's Slavic department and Wesleyan University's Russian department, Reeve became a professor of letters at Wesleyan until his retirement. He is the father of the late actor Christopher Reeve.

A flexible organization devoted to the presentation of the music of the past 100 years, the Center for New Music is directed by David Gompper, a faculty member in the theory and composition area of the UI School of Music. 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.

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, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),