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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 19, 2008

Richard Mark Heidel makes debut as director of the UI Symphony Band Oct. 1

Richard Mark Heidel, the new director of the University of Iowa Symphony Band, will make his UI concert debut with the band in a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Iowa City West High School Auditorium.

Heidel joined the UI faculty this fall as director of bands. He succeeds Myron Welch, who retired last year after more than 25 years at the UI.

"I am honored to have been appointed the new director of bands at the UI," Heidel said. "I have the deepest respect and admiration for Myron Welch and for the many wonderful contributions he made during his 28-year tenure at the university."

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. The Symphony Band is currently holding rehearsals and its performances at West High School, on Melrose Avenue on the west side of Iowa City.

The program for the Oct. 1 concert will feature six original compositions for band:

--"Masque" by Kenneth Hesketh.
--"A Hymn for the Lost and the Living (In Memoriam, September 11, 2001)" by Eric Ewazen.
--"Scotch Strathspey and Reel" by Percy Grainger.
--"Southern Harmony" by Donald Grantham.
--"Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H)" by Ron Nelson.
--"Wedding Dance" from "Hasseneh" by Jacques Press.

Heidel said about the program, "I am thrilled to be presenting my first concert with the Symphony Band, and I am confident the audience will enjoy the superb musicianship of the band members as well as the diversity of the program, ranging from traditional compositions by Grainger and Press to modern pieces by the highly respected composers Ron Nelson, Kenneth Hesketh, Eric Ewazen, and Donald Gratham.

"I chose to open the concert with Hesketh's 'Masque' because it is a relatively new and exciting addition to the wind band repertoire.

"An outstanding work from 1998, 'Southern Harmony' is based on tunes collected by William Walker in his 1835 anthology of the same title. The original tunes are singable and memorable, and have a distinct sound with the melody in the tenor voice supported by three-part harmony. Gratham's modern settings preserve the energy of the original tunes, while his use of complex harmony and extensive percussion presents them in a way that exploits the qualities of the modern wind band.

"The Passacaglia by Ron Nelson is the most contemporary and complex work on the program. It was conceived in a contrapuntal style reminiscent of J.S. Bach's great organ works, and it was written in homage to the great Baroque composer."

A native of Texas, Heidel he received bachelor's and masters' degrees from Texas Tech University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

At the UI he will direct the Symphony Band, teach graduate courses, guide the graduate band conducting program and coordinate the UI bands. He has been director of bands at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

He received the A. A. Harding award at the University of Illinois for the "highest possible achievement, service and devotion to the University Bands" and the Citation of Excellence from the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Band Association. He was recently elected to membership into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.

Ensembles under Heidel's direction have performed at state, regional and national conferences, and on tour in England, Ireland and the United States. He maintains a busy schedule as a guest conductor, adjudicator, clinician, guest lecturer, arranger and custom drill designer. His list of publications includes numerous articles in the National Band Association Journal and Teaching Music.

For more information, visit

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

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

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