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April 5, 2002

Guest Composer Prepares UW-RF Students for Concert

Guest composer Anthony Braxton visited with student members of the UW-RF Jazz Ensemble in the music department at UW-River Falls last week to begin rehearsal on the composition he created for the annual Commissioned Composer concert coming up this spring. The concert is scheduled for April 25 at 8 p.m. in the William Abbott Concert Hall of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Center.

Braxton, who is a professor of composition at Weslyan University in Middletown, Conn., calls the piece he created for the concert "Composition Number 30." The style of his music, he says, is "creative American" music; it is not of one idiom, but of many idioms.

"I have been working with modern music for 30 years," he said. "My work would be representative of the 7th restructural cycle music developments that occurred in the mid-1960s. My work is directed toward exploring the interrelationship between improvisation and composition."

I wanted to come to River Falls now to rehearse with the students so they would have plenty of time to prepare for the premiere performance. The piece has aspects that are somewhat difficult, and I thought it would be worth the extra effort for me to come here ahead of time."

The commissioned composer program provides an opportunity for students to work with major composers, and the music department at UW-RF has become well known as a result of it.

The program was begun by former UW-RF music Professor Conrad DeJong in 1967. Each year a composer is commissioned to write a composition for students to perform, then he or she comes to campus for two or three days to speak to students in class, attend rehearsals of the composition, and spend some social time with students and faculty.

Some of the biggest names in music have come to campus in River Falls; Vincent Persichetti in 1967, John Cage in 1977 and Morton Feldman in 1987.

Said UW-RF Associate Professor of music David Milne, "The annual commissioned composer event is one of the longest continuously running and most distinctive programs at UW-RF. Annually since 1967, students have worked with internationally-prominent composers in unique realizations of works especially composed for the Universityıs performing music ensembles."

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