Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Sunday, April 28, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
Riverside Recital Hall (map)

Composers Workshop II


|| download program ||


Portrait of Transition   Nima HAMIDI (b. 1984)
  Andrew Uhe, violin 1
Therese Slatter, violin 2
Manuel Tábora, viola
Tom Maples, violoncello
Shed (2012)   Justin COMER (b. 1990)
  Andrew Uhe, violin 1
Terese Slatter, violin 2
Manuel Tábora, viola
Tom Maples, violoncello
If/Then (2013)   Will HUFF (b. 1986)
  Katharine Sherman, playwright
Katharine Sherman and Caitlin Dorsett, actors
Andy Thierauf, percussion and electronics
Drumming on Ursonate (2013)   Andy THIERAUF (b. 1987)
  Andy Thierauf, percussion  
Grand Duo (2012)   Leonid IOGANSEN (b. 1981)
  Thiago Ancelmo de Souza, clarinet
Alexander Ponomorchuk, piano
Narcissus Chamber (2012)   Brian PENKROT (1978)
  Elliot Czaplewski, oboe
Megan Gray, viola
200 Uses for a paperclip (Soo D. Nihm) (2013)   Jason PALAMARA (1977)
  Janet Ziegler, soprano and percussion
Aaron Ziegler, voice and percussion


Program Notes


Portrait of Transition

is the third string quartet I have composed during my professional life and the first one during studying music in university of Iowa. After an obvious trend to formal structure in my earlier compositions, this piece plays a turning point role for discovering new musical ideas. Being surrounded by completely new musical environment and trying to discover special interpretation of sonata form led me to composer this piece. The piece is based on a two-measure musical idea that forms an eight-minute composition.

Nima Hamidi (b. 1984) lived as a composer in Tehran until 2011. Before studying composition in Iran he studied setar (Iranian traditional instrument) and guitar. Because of living in Tabriz for the most part of his life he has aural Knowledge of Azerbaijan folk music too. He studied his master degree in composition with several numbers of Iranian Professors and won first composition competition prize in International Fadjr Festival (the most important musical event in Iran) in 2008. Now he is studying composition in University of Iowa for the first year.

Justin COMER


was composed for a reading session with the JACK Quartet at the University of Iowa. The word "shed" can mean many different things: shedding fur, bloodshed, shedding tears, a tool shed, a watershed, shedding light, and so on. A piece of music can similarly express multiple meanings and evoke different emotional responses. Just as the word "shed" depends on context, music depends on a listener's experience and ideas. The goal of this piece is not to express a single concrete meaning, but to engage with listeners.

Justin Comer graduated in 2012 from Coe College with a B.M. in composition and saxophone performance. He is currently pursuing a M.A. at the University of Iowa. His composition teachers have included Joseph Dangerfield and David Gompper.



When I first got contacted by Andy about working on a project together, I thought, "No way--there's no way I'll have time for another project this semester." But when I got Kat's script and gave it a read-through, I couldn't resist--it's dark, witty, and smart. My aim was to stay out of the way of the actor's delivery, while complementing the text.

Will Huff's music draws its inspiration from as divergent sources as American and European minimalism to gamelan to indie rock. Recent focus has been devoted to collaboration where he has enjoyed interdisciplinary work with choreographers and playwrights. He has participated in ensembles devoted to new music including the JCFA Composer's Orchestra, Ensemble 48, the Outside Orchestra based out of Indianapolis and Bricklayer's Foundation in Chicago. Will Huff is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Iowa where he holds a TA in Theory/Composition as well as graduate assistant to the Electronic Music Studios directed by Lawrence Fritts. His composition teachers include Robert Mueller, Frank Felice, Michael Schelle, Lawrence Fritts, and David Gompper.


Drumming on Ursonate

is a setting of Kurt Schwitter's poetic work Ursonate. He was part of the Dadaist movement in Germany during the 1920s and his poetry reflects that sensibility. The poem is composed of nonsensical German syllables meant to suggest a speech-like cadence but never actually saying anything; possibly a satire on public orators of the time. He leaves interpretation up to the performer saying, "As with any printed music, many interpretations are possible. As with any other reading, correct reading requires the use of imagination." In this piece I've taken motives from the original poem and expressed them rhythmically on the drums. There are moments where the drums directly mimic the voice and at other times provide counterpoint.

Andy Thierauf is a percussionist and composer who specializes in the creation and performance of contemporary music. He is particularly interested in the commingling of percussion with theater and dance and was recently featured as the dancing percussion soloist for a commemorative video recording of Paul Elwood's Edgard Varése in the Gobi Desert. He continues to produce collaborative performances with various choreographers, and he also organizes and directs iHearIC, a concert series in Iowa City that features local performance artists. He has premiered many new works for percussion and has worked with composers such as Zach Zubow, David Gompper, and Paul Elwood. Andy is currently pursuing the DMA in percussion performance and pedagogy at The University of Iowa under the direction of Dr. Dan Moore. He received his B.M. from CCM and M.M. from OSU both in percussion performance.


Grand Duo

Written as a commission by a friend and a former classmate, Michael Spina, the work is virtuosic and asks for extended techniques and technical mastery from both players. The ideas revolve around a series of motives battling with each other across an ABA" form. Harmonic relationships and the emphasis on certain pitches through tension and release establish hierarchies of pitch classes in the piece.

Leonid Iogansen, born in St. Petersburg Russia in 1981, has received various commissions, most notably in 2006, from Shuang Yin International Music Festival, which has commissioned him a total of an hour of music for various ensembles. Leonid holds a Summa cum laude Bachelors of Music in violin and composition from Boston University, where he was a Trustee Scholar in 2001-2003, and a Masters degree with the same majors from Peabody Conservatory. Leonid is currently pursuing PhD in Composition at the University of Iowa as a student of Prof. David Gompper.


Narcissus Chamber

began with pondering the Narcissus and Echo myth. Though Narcissus's folly is explained visually - it is his reflection in the water - the other senses are less defined. According to the myth, what he hears is Echo, a being distinct from himself. In reality, he is hearing himself reflected in the same way he sees himself in the water. I began to imagine Narcissus as not a person that merely constructs a reality centered around himself but as someone who is incapable of experiencing physical reality. Narcissus is a captive in his character, the casualty in a war between the id and super-ego - the viola and oboe. The steadfast oboe repeats the narcissistic mantra, reinforcing itself with each pass. The impulsive viola echoes this melodic loop, attempting variation futilely. Both voices rest briefly, allowing a moment of reflection and self-awareness before both begin again, reconstructing the same resonant chamber of a perceived reality.

Brian Penkrot's music has been performed throughout the US, Asia, and Europe, including the La Pietra Forum and the SCI National Conference. Brian has attended numerous festivals and has had works performed by ensembles including ICE and ECCE. Brian is pursuing his PhD and studies with David Gompper. Brian is the SCI Iowa chapter president and teaches music theory at the Preucil School. He is also the business manager for Melos Music. Brian has his MM from UNLV and BM from Columbia College Chicago. His works and audio samples can be found at www.brianpenkrot.com.


200 Uses for a paperclip

Freelance poet Soo David Nihm wrote 200 Uses for a Paperclip after being inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's lecture entitled Changing Education Paradigms. In his lecture, Robinson details a study in which children were tested for divergent thinking at different ages from Kindergarten through high school. One of the questions on the test asked the schoolchildren to list how many uses they could think of for a paperclip. When given to adults, a small minority of respondents could list more than 200 uses, and adults who can do this usually score in the genius level on IQ tests. Surprisingly, 98% of Kindergarten students scored high enough on this test to be considered geniuses. However, the results of the study showed that as children progress through the American education system, their ability to think creatively diminishes, with the students scoring lower and lower as they approached adulthood. Nihm's poem, 200 Uses for a Paperclip, takes the form of a conversation between a person who is thinking imaginatively about the problem and a person who is not. This piece was commissioned by Janet and Aaron Ziegler.

Jason Palamara is a second year PhD student in music composition at the University of Iowa. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor's degree from Butler University. He has studied composition with Michael Schelle, Frank Felice, Krzysztof Wolek, Steve Rouse, Larry Fritts and David Gompper. Jason currently works as the sound designer for the University Of Iowa Department Of Dance. Specializing in electroacoustic music, collaboration and improvisation, Jason also composes music for many area dance projects.