Monday, June 15, 2015

CNM ensemble

featuring the works of UI alumni

Clapp Recital Hall
Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.

|| download program ||


Four Songs on Poems by William Blake (1986)
    I. The Lamb
    II. The Rose
    III. The Tyger
    IV. Ah, Sunflower
  Jerry M. OWEN
  Michelle Crouch, soprano
Marian Lee, piano
Two Octave Etudes (1978)   Alex LUBET
  Liang-fang Chang, piano  
Seeing Those Hours   Paul PACCIONE
  Marc Graham, saxophone
Liang-fang Chang, piano
Small Worlds   James ROMIG
  Emily Fenton, flute
Tasondra Huyck, clarinet
Kelley Arney, violin
Amy Phelps, violoncello
Liang-fang Chang, piano
Chamber Concerto (2007)
  Brian VLASAK
  Gro Sandvik, flute soloist
CNM Ensemble
David Gompper, conductor


Notes & Bios


Four Songs on Poems by William Blake (1986)

The four poems selected for this cycle are representative of Blake's constant preoccupation with the mysterious contradiction between Christian faith and human doubt. Each of the poems focuses on a natural "object" that symbolizes his quest for answers to questions like: Are we divine? Are we just of this Earth? Does being of this Earth make us divine? In the first poem, "The Lamb", Blake assumes an unabashedly naive and fatherly role toward this Christian symbol of innocence. "The Rose" is the symbol for faith, and it has succumbed to the insidious preying of the worm which is doubt. All doubt, evil and darkness are rolled into one vilely energetic package in the third poem of the set "The Tyger." But the most mysterious is "Ah, Sunflower", linking cosmic and carnal images, where the flower called "pale virgin" is juxtaposed as a human pale virgin, thereby hinting at Blake's resignation to the fact that "being of this Earth" has its rewards, too.

Jerry M. Owen (b. 1944), founder of the composer residencies with the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra in 1984 and serving from 1984-92, was most recently composer-in-resident with the Iowa-based Red Cedar Chamber Music (2002-05). The many awards and special performances given his music include two full-length Iowa Public Television specials: Dances of the Mind, and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Commissioners include the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Coe College, the Iowa Composers Forum, Red Cedar Chamber Music, Iowa String Teacher's Association, and the Iowa Arts Council. The third compact disk of his music Soundscapes of the Heartland (Fleur De Son Classics, FDS 57984) is scheduled for release in the spring of 2007.

Dr. Owen (Ph.D. composition, University of Iowa, '74) taught for 37 years at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is the Alma A. Turechek Professor Emeritus of Music (May, 2006). In addition to conducting the Coe College Symphony Orchestra, he directed the music theory/composition area.

Michelle Crouch is a recent resident of Iowa who began her musical career on the Canadian prairies. She earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music from the University of Alberta, and completed the Summer Vocology Institute at the National Center for Voice and Speech at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in 2003.


Two Octave Etudes (1978)

was composed in 1978-79, the last work I wrote at the University of Iowa before receiving my Ph. D. in 1979. It was premiered in 1979 by pianist Todd Welbourne on a Center for New Music program. Its most salient characteristics, clarity of melody and rhythm and a broad palette of cross-cultural influences, have characterized my work ever since. Its use of drones, rhythmic cycles, and simple scales are a reflection of my travels in India in 1975. Much of the same, along with such influences as traditional Jewish music and blues, characterize my most recent compositions, solo guitar pieces written for my own performance.

Alex Lubet (b. 1954) is Morse Alumni/Graduate & Professional Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music, American Studies, and Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota, whose faculty he joined in 1979. He teaches composition and popular culture. He is a composer, performer, and author whose works have received over 400 performances on six continents. He is currently recording two CDs of original compositions for guitar for the MMC label. "Richard Wagner for the New Millennium: Essays in Music and Culture," a collection of essays he edited with Matthew Bribitzer-Stull and Gottfried Wagner (Palgrave) will be released August 2007. His scholarly works in progress include books on disability issues in music and on Bob Dylan as composer. He is currently preparing for a concert with his wife, composer and multi-instrumentalist Iris Shiraish, and Mu Daiko, Twin Cities- based Japanese drumming ensemble.


Seeing Those Hours

The title alludes to the poem, "Sharp In My Heart," by the late American poet Kenneth Rexroth. Based on a Beech Mountain folk song, Rexroth's ballad-like poem interweaves the subjects of love, reminiscence, transience and the changing seasons. The composition "Seeing Those Hours" is a reflection of the poem's simple beauty and lyricism. It consists of a succession of musical "verses" or moods, each delineated by a chorale-like fermata. The varied repetition of musical material is a reflection and characterization of various shadings of poetic mood and musical reminiscence.

I do not know the original Beech Mountain folk tune that inspired Rexroth's poem. My composition ends with my own waltz-like musical setting of the first verse of the text. It is meant to evoke the sense of a melody heard sometime long ago.

      Come oh my love and lay you down.
      Come oh my love and lay you down.
      The summer is gone,
      And the leaves turn brown.
(from Sharp In My Heart, by Kenneth Rexroth)

Paul Paccione, Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Western Illinois University, received a Ph. D. from the University of Iowa in 1983. Paccione's music is published by Frog Peak Music, Lingua Press and European American Music. Recordings of his music are available on the Frog Peak and Capstone labels. His writings about music have been published in Perspectives of New Music, College Music Symposium, the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and ex tempore. He was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award in the College of Fine Arts in 1988 and is the recipient of six university Faculty Excellence Awards (1990-95). He was named the 2002 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer at Western Illinois University.


Small Worlds for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

is the result of a joint commission from the Luna Nova Ensemble and Ensemble Anura. The work, completed in spring of 2006, lasts approximately nine minutes. The title refers to the work of Mark Buchanan, who writes about small world network theory, expanding on the idea of "six degrees of separation" (also known, popularly, as the "Kevin Bacon Principle"). Theories of networks are in many ways applicable to theories of music, and Small Worlds explores some possible intersections and interactions between two different "networks" of pitch and rhythm--one articulated primarily by the flute, clarinet, and violin; the other articulated primarily by the cello and piano.

James Romig (b. 1971) studied at the University of Iowa and Rutgers University, where he earned a Ph.D. under the tutelage of Charles Wuorinen and Milton Babbitt. His works--commissioned by soloists, ensembles, and arts organizations--have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Recent guest composer visits include Northwestern University, Columbia University, the University of Illinois, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory, and The Juilliard School. He has taught at Rutgers University, Bucknell University, and is currently on faculty at Western Illinois University. As a presenter of new music, Romig performs as conductor of the Luna Nova Ensemble and is co-director of The Society for Chromatic Art, a NYC-based ensemble/organization founded in 1997. His works are available from Parallax Music Press, Curving Walkway Publications, Flute World, and


Chamber Concerto (2007)

was composed for Norwegian flautist Gro Sandvik. The work has both a three movement construction and a ritornello, recalling many of Vivaldi's flute concerti; unlike Vivaldi, however, the ritornello asserts itself across the entire length of the work as opposed to only one movement. Interleaved between the three appearances of the rhythmic ritornelli are several episodes which explore the sonic possibilities presented by the opening sonority. The flute seemed like a natural choice for this piece because close approximations of its sound can be found throughout the natural world. Examples of this could be the sound of the wind whistling through the trees on a cold, snowy evening, or that of birds singing back and forth to one another on a placid spring day.

Brian Vlasak (b. 1979) was born in Binghamton, NY. He earned both his BM (2003) and MM (2004) degrees at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, where studied composition with David Heinick and Paul Siskind. During his Ph.D. studies at the University of Iowa, Brian's principal composition teacher was David Gompper, while additional studies were pursued with Lawrence Fritts and Ketty Nez. He also served as a teaching assistant and received the Henry and Parker Pelzer Composition Prize/Fellowship for the 2005-2006 academic year. In February 2007, his chamber work Three Miniatures was presented at the SCI Region V Conference and in November 2005, his percussion quintet Disintegrated Amalgamation was performed at the SCI National Student Conference. During July 2006, he served as music director for and conducted a full-scale production of Sullivan's operetta The Yeomen of the Guard with the Binghamton-based light opera company, The Summer Savoyards. Brian's music has been performed throughout both the United States and Australia.