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A festival of new music

BY CASSIDY RILEY | FEBRUARY 13, 2014 5:00 AM

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The locally grown food movement not only puts money in the economy, it also provokes pride in growers and consumers alike to know the food served on kitchen tables around Iowa come from right here. The same can be said for music.

On Saturday, the University of Iowa School of Music will host the Iowa Composers Forum’s Festival of New Music, which will feature pieces created by composers throughout the state.

Brooke Joyce, the head of the forum’s Board of Directors, said enjoying local music is just as important as enjoying local food.

“Composers are part of the fabric that makes up our cultural landscape, and this festival is a way to sample some of the wonderful music that may have been made just down the road,” he wrote in an email.

The festival will feature three concerts: 10:30 a.m. in the University Capitol Center Recital Hall, 3 p.m. in the recital hall, and 7:30 p.m. in the Riverside Recital Hall. Admission is free.

Composers featured in the concert range from professionals to high-school students.

UI music Professor Michael Eckert, a member of the forum’s board, said festivals such as this help local composers who may not otherwise have their music performed.

“The composer writes the music on a score, but we don’t find out what it sounds like until it gets performed,” he said.” It’s like a play. You can read a play, but you don’t really know what it’s like until it gets performed.”

The festival will feature a variety of different pieces that push the boundaries of the term “classical music.” UI graduate student and composer forum member Jonathan Wilson’s clarinet piece will explore the different ranges of the instrument.

“What I like about composing is that I like to express my creative aspects as a musician,” he said. “Creating beautiful moments — that’s what I like to strive for as a composer.”

Composer Michael Kimber said he also enjoys the creative liberty that comes with the art. His piece for the festival is for a solo violist, and he said it has a mix of contemporary and older elements of classical music that he believes will appeal to a wide audience.

“Because I’m not an academic composer, I can write the music I want to write,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about ‘Oh, will this look good on my résumé.’ I don’t have to please anybody except myself.”

Kimber said composing music has been a great joy in his life, and he looks forward to sharing it with Iowa City residents this weekend. He iterated Joyce’s belief about the importance of exposing one’s self to local music.

“A lot of people have the impression that great music is only composed in places like New York City or over in Europe some place, and they don’t realize what’s happening in their own backyard,” he said. “I think it’s neat to know that there’s this kind of talent right here.”


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