Monthly Archives: January 2011

Designers make opera’s visual aspects sing

Renowned scenic and costume designer Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer and others in the UI Performing Arts Production Unit have taken an epic opera, La Traviata, and scaled it to fit a more intimate performance venue, the Englert Theatre. The production, which opens tonight and runs through January 30, is staged by former opera singer Valorie Goodall.

Click here for the complete article, as seen in UI’s online publication FYI.

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University of Iowa Finalizes Property Purchase for School of Music

Article by B.A. Morelli, posted in the Press Citizen, January 27, 2011:

University of Iowa has finally put together the puzzle pieces in its music school and recital hall relocation project.

After a year of negotiations, UI is ready to close on the last piece of property needed for the relocation project: MidWestOne Bank, 325 S. Clinton St., which the school plans to purchase for $4.6 million, plus relocation and other costs, according to the docket released today for Thursday’s Iowa state Board of Regents board meeting.

Months ago, UI purchased the Iowa City School District Central Administration Building for $4.5 million saying it was connected to the music school project, but UI officials never made it clear how it fit. Also, on the docket for the meeting, UI plans to enter into a real estate option contract to allow MidWestOne to buy the school district building, 509 S. Dubuque St., for $80 a square foot. The actual price was not disclosed in the docket.

In December, regents signed off on a $3.1 million purchase of Bank of the West, which is adjacent to MidWestOne. At Thursday’s meeting, UI will seek permission to demolish those buildings in preparation for the music school project.

The music school is slated to have 4.5 floors in a yet-to-be-built 12-story residential-commercial mix high rise at the southeast corner of Clinton and Burlington Streets. A skywalk will connect the building to a recital hall complex at the southwest corner of the intersection where the banks are currently located.

The project is estimated to cost $125 million with a portion of the costs covered by federal flood recovery money.

The facilities that housed the School of Music and Clapp Recital Hall were closed by the 2008 flood.

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The School of Music Names Consultants for New Building

The School of Music has finalized the selection of consultants for the new building. Russ Cooper from JaffeHolden will be the acoustic consultant, and Bob Campbell from Fisher Dachs Associates will assist with theatre planning and design. “I think that we have the best possible team assembled,” said David Gier, director of the School of Music. These consultants will work with the architect, Seattle-based LMN Architects, to design a performance space that fits the needs of the diverse performing ensembles in music.

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Maia Quartet presents “Democracy in Music – The String Quartet” in Iowa City Schools


The Maia Quartet, UI’s string quartet-in-residence, is bringing professional performances to every 5th and 6th grader in the Iowa City school district. In a series of concerts that began in December, the “Democracy in Music – The String Quartet” program focuses on how the string quartet functions as a democracy, without an official leader. The Maia’s program compliments the district-wide early democracy curriculum for this age group.

All Iowa City School District fifth and sixth grade students study early democracies, and the string quartet is an excellent medium to bring this concept to life. Over the past hundred years, the string quartet has evolved into a group where decisions have to be made by consensus. During the course of the program, the Quartet explores many concepts related to democracy, including the following:

1.)  How do you start and play together if no one is in charge?
2.)  How do you make decisions about how to play that music if without a leader?
3.)  Since there is an even number in the group, how do you resolve things when two people want one thing and two people want something else?
4.) What happens in a democracy if people do not care or are not involved?
5.)  How has the kind of music written for quartet changed over the past two hundred years to reflect our idea of democracy?

In an interactive and entertaining program, students see first-hand in a very practical and engaging fashion the many challenges and the incredible benefits and possibilities associated with being a democracy.

Once the project is completed in March, the Quartet will have reached nearly 800 students in the Iowa City Community School District.

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UI Saxophone Ensemble Wows Audience at Midwest Clinic

UI Saxophone EnsembleThe University of Iowa’s award-winning Saxophone Ensemble, directed by Professor Kenneth Tse, performed on Thursday, December 16, 2010 at the 64th annual Midwest Clinic Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago. They executed beautifully a diverse repertoire to a full hall. Their very enthusiastic audience erupted into a standing ovation at the end of a performance that demonstrated musical sensitivity and polished technical skill, in addition to excellent coaching.  As one alumnus in attendance stated, “They made me proud of my University!”

Approximately 80 alumni and friends of The University of Iowa School of Music assembled for a UI reception following the concert.  The UI Saxophone Quartet, Axius, made a command performance to the delight of all gathered. Iowa has clearly populated music programs across the country! Dave Gier, Director of the School of Music, and other faculty attending enjoyed meeting alumni and reconnecting with old friends.

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