Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
at UCC Recital Hall

CNM guest artists
Unison Piano Duo

works by
Adams, Eckert, Joyce, Romig, Stravinsky and White


Three Tangos for piano four hands
        I. Tango Cromatico
        II. Tango Piccolo
        III. Tango Passacaglia
  Michael ECKERT
Variations   James ROMIG
Waves of Stone
        I. The Contemplation of Water
        II. The Still Point
        III. The Pipes of Heaven
  Brooke JOYCE
Double Helix   Daniel ADAMS
Presto Furioso   Danny WHITE
  Short Intermission  
Concerto for two pianos (1931-35)
        I. Con moto
        II. Notturno (Adagietto)
        III. Quattro variazioni
        IV. Preludio e Fuga



As the Unison Piano Duo, husband and wife pianists Du Huang and Xiao Hu have "dazzled and moved audiences with their heartfelt emotion and seamless ensemble....best piano duo concert heard in years", according to the Wuhan Morning Post in China. The New York Concert Review wrote "...fleet and sparkling...unusually high level of ensemble playing." The duo has performed in numerous concert halls in Europe, Asia, and America, including Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, United Nation in Vienna. The Unison Piano Duo performed numerous concerts in Czech Republic as part of the Vysočina Music Festival and the South Bohemia Music Festival. Live performances by the duo have been broadcasted by Minnesota Public Radio and Iowa Public Television. In recent years, the duo has combined performing and teaching with recitals and master classes at institutions such as the University of South Florida at Tampa, Texas A&M University at College Station, the Wuhan Conservatory of Music and the Guangzhou Xinghai Conservatory of Music in China. The duo has appeared as concerto soloists with orchestras in China, and in the United States. Du Huang and Xiao Hu received their early training at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and later graduated from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music as students of Professors Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff. Huang and Hu hold Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, under the guidance of pianist Gilbert Kalish. They have served on the piano faculty at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa since 2001.


Notes & Bios

Michael ECKERT

Three Tangos for piano four hands

Tango Cromatico dates from 2006, Tango Passacaglia from 2002. Both are inspired by the music of the Brazilian pianist and composer Ernesto Nazareth (1864-1934). The brief second piece, Tango Piccolo, is a revision of Two to Tango, an Argentine-style tango composed in the mid-1990's for my son Adam, whose piano teacher, Geneviève Smith, frequently had her students play four-hand pieces. Ketty Nez and Réne Lecuona gave the first complete performance of Three Tangos at Boston University on September 8, 2006.

Michael Eckert (b. 1950) has taught in the composition/theory area of the University of Iowa School of Music since 1985. His awards for composition include the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in composition, and the Music Teachers National Assn. Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. Eckert received second prize in the New York Virtuoso Singers 2006 choral composition contest for Echo's Song, recorded on the Albany CD Monsterology: New Music from Iowa.



is a four-hand piano transcription of a string quartet commissioned in 1999 by the Amabile Quartet (a graduate-student string quartet at Rutgers University coached by members of the Guarneri Quartet). The work comprises seven short movements lasting a total of about six minutes. The first six movements are variations of the seventh, modified by transposition, octave displacement, and various sorts of time-stretching schemes that affect--to varying degrees--only certain segments of music, resulting in non-linear motivic augmentation/diminution.

James Romig 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 Cincinnati Conservatory, the Juilliard School, and the American Academy in Rome, Italy. He taught at Rutgers University and Bucknell University before joining the music faculty of the Western Illinois University.

Brooke JOYCE

Waves of Stone

written for the Unison Piano Duo (Du Huang and Xiao Hu) in 2008, is an attempt to bridge different cultural traditions. Though my musical language owes much of its sound to contemporary composition techniques, my inspiration flows from the words and images of traditional Chinese philosophy. This work was recently recorded by the Unison Duo on the Innova label.

Born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, Brooke Joyce holds degrees in theory/composition from Princeton University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Lawrence University. His music has been performed by such ensembles as the Indianapolis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Brentano Quartet, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the Nash Ensemble. Brooke is the recipient of the Joseph Bearns Prize, the Wayne Peterson Prize, the Darius Milhaud Award, and many citations from the National Federation of Music Clubs and ASCAP. Brooke teaches theory, history and composition at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and is a faculty member at The Walden School, a summer music festival for young composers in New Hampshire.

Daniel ADAMS

Double Helix

is so named because the registral convergence of the two piano parts resembles the enigmatic and somewhat illusory eponymous geometrical shape. The part for Piano One begins in the extreme upper register of the instrument, while the part for Piano two begins in its lowest register. Over the course of the piece, the register of both players intersects and then become juxtaposed. Simultaneously, the rhythmic relationship between the two parts alternates between independence and unison.

Daniel Adams (b. 1956, Miami, FL) is a Professor of Music at Texas Southern University in Houston. Adams holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (1985) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign He is the composer of numerous published musical compositions and the author of several articles and reviews on various topics related to Twentieth Century percussion music, musical pedagogy, and the music of Texas. His music has been performed throughout the United States, and in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Turkey, Argentina, Canada, and South Korea. His book, "The Solo Snare Drum: A Critical Analysis of Contemporary Compositional Techniques" was released by HoneyRock Publishing in March of 2000 and his music is recorded on Capstone Records and Summit Records.


Presto Furioso

is a piece for two pianos, written during the fall ('08) semester of my senior year of undergraduate education at the University of Northern Iowa. The piece intentionally lacks finesse and is characterized by a raw sense of emotion and energy that can only be reflected by the unbridled force of two dynamic pianists.

Regarding its composition, there are a few melodies that are used (none that dominate), but the piece would definitely not be characterized as being "melodic". Rather, there are very few harmonic and rhythmic motives that are implemented in order to maintain a sense of unity. The overall purpose of the piece is twofold: first, it is to demonstrate the virtuosity of the performers; second, it is simply to be enjoyed on a number of levels by the audience.

It was originally written for the two piano professors at UNI: Sean Botkin and Genadi Zagor. It has received two performances from this duo.

Danny White was born and raised in the city of Bettendorf, Iowa. In May, he graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, where he earned bachelor's degrees in Piano Performance and Music: Theory-Composition. He has composed for ensembles on-campus at UNI such as the Bluff Street Brass Quintet, the UNI Men's Camerata, and the UNI Men's Glee Club. He has also composed works for his native Bettendorf High School Concert Chorale and Bettendorf Theater Department. He was also extremely active within musical activities on campus including singing in many ensembles, accompanying for many students and soloists, and performing solo works on piano and organ. In the fall of 2008, he won the collegiate division of the Student Composer's Competition held by the Iowa Composer's Forum with a piece for mezzo-soprano and piano. This fall he will pursue his master's degree in Composition at Florida International University in Miami.


Concerto for two pianos

In a letter to Robert Craft, Stravinsky said he had composed his Concerto for Two Pianos "for the love of pure art." Written between 1931 and 1935, he performed the work several times with his son, Soulima. This period of Stravinsky's musical output has been characterized as "neo-classic," and this work demonstrates Stravinsky's affinity for classical forms, such as sonata and theme and variations, and for baroque counterpoint. His use of the instrument, however, is clearly rooted in the 20th century, with dramatic gestures that treat the piano as a percussion instrument.

When the 20th century drew to a close, the inevitable "top ten" lists of the most important musical figures of the last 100 years often included Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). His output included seminal works for the theater, including the infamous ballet The Rite of Spring (1913) and an opera written with poet W. H. Auden, The Rake's Progress (1951), as well as solo, chamber, orchestral, and choral music. His musical styles reflected the eras in which he lived, from Russian folksong influences in his early period, through neo-classic musical structures in the middle period, and experiments with serialism towards the end of his career.