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Noted Composer Premieres Work at UW-RF

APRIL 8, 2005--The world premiere of a new work, "Jubilate!," by acclaimed composer Stephen Paulus, will be performed by the UW-RF Concert Choir on April 21 at 8 p.m. in the William Abbott Concert Hall in Kleinpell Fine Arts Building. The choir is conducted by conducted by assistant Professor of music J.W. Park. The performance is free and open to the public.

Paulus has been hailed by the New Yorker as "...a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift." His output of more than 200 works is represented in many genres, including music for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, solo voice, keyboard and opera. One of America's most prolific and accomplished composers, he is among the few who support themselves on commissions from their compositions.

A recipient of both Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Paulus is a strong advocate for the music of his colleagues. He is co-founder and a current board vice president of the highly esteemed American Composers Forum, the largest composer service organization in the world. Paulus serves on the ASCAP Board of Directors as the Concert Music Representative, a post he has held since 1990.

The UW-RF annual Commissioned Composer program is in its 39th consecutive year, arguably the longest-running university series of its kind in the nation. Over the years it has brought a veritable "who’s who" of 20th-century American composers to campus, including John Cage, Mary Ellen Childs, Pulitzer-prize winner Henry Brandt, and others.

How the program started
Conrad De Jong, a faculty member of the UW-RF music department from 1959 to 1990, shared an interest with others in the department for the contemporary music scene. In 1967, they created the New Music Ensemble, which today still plays and promotes music being written by and for today’s musicians. The next step—inviting the composers of the music—to campus was a logical extension of the ensemble.

With the support of then music department chair William Abbott and UW-RF President Eugene Kleinpell—and money from a cigarette machine fund back in the 1960s—the Commissioned Composer program debuted in 1967 with the premiere of "Celebration" by noted pianist, composer and educator Vincent Persichetti.

Today, composers publish and/or record the pieces they write and include the coda: "Commissioned for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls."

Each year music department faculty meet to decide on a contemporary composer to invite. A contract is signed in which the composer agrees to write a piece for one of the University’s vocal or instrumental groups (nearly all ensembles have been featured through the years).

In addition, the composer agrees to spend several days on campus—presenting a public lecture, rehearsing with students, meeting with classes, and attending the world premiere of his/her composition. Expenses and fees for the composition and appearance come from the UW-River Falls Student Senate through the Musical Arts Committee under the Leadership Development and Programming Board. Student funds have supported the program from the beginning.

About this year's composer
Paulus' commissions have been received from the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, with subsequent performances coming from the orchestras of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, the National Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Radio Orchestra. He has served as composer in residence for the orchestras in Atlanta, Minnesota, Tucson and Annapolis, and his works have been championed by such eminent conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Christoph von Dohanyi, Leonard Slatkin, Yoel Levi, the late Robert Shaw, and others.

Paulus has been commissioned to write works for some of the world’s great solo artists, including Thomas Hampson, Håkan Hagegård, Doc Severinsen, William Preucil, Cynthia Phelps, Evelyn Lear, Leo Kottke and Robert McDuffie. Chamber music commissions have resulted in works for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Friends of Music at the Supreme Court, the Cleveland Quartet and Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. He has been a featured guest composer at the festivals of Aspen, Santa Fe, Tanglewood, and, in the U.K., the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals.

As one of today’s pre-eminent composers of opera, Paulus has written eight works for the dramatic stage. "The Postman Always Rings Twice" was the first American production to be presented at the Edinburgh Festival, and has received nine productions to date. Commissions and performances have come from such companies as the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Washington Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Berkshire Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, and Fort Worth Opera, among others, as well as many universities and colleges.

His choral works have been performed and recorded by some of the most distinguished choruses in the United States, including the New York Concert Singers, Dale Warland Singers, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Robert Shaw Festival Singers, New Music Group of Philadelphia, Master Chorale of Washington DC, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and dozens of other professional, community, church and college choirs. He is one of the most frequently recorded contemporary composers with his music being represented on more than 50 recordings.

Paulus’ music has been described by critics and program annotators as rugged, angular, lyrical, lean, rhythmically aggressive, original, often gorgeous, moving and uniquely American. He writes in a musical language that has been characterized by the Cleveland Plain Delaer as "...irresistible in kinetic energy and haunting in lyrical design." The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Paulus often finds melodic patterns that are fresh and familiar at the same time.... His scoring is invariably expert and exceptionally imaginative in textures and use of instruments."


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