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IOWA CITY EARLY KEYBOARD SOCIETY
NEWSLETTER -- SUMMER 2017
ALICE DAVISON (1940-2017)
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of ICEKS President Alice Davison on March 3.
Alice Louise Davison was born in Washington, DC on September 10, 1940. She grew up in Washington and eventually attended Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania). She completed her Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Chicago and began her teaching career at SUNY Stoney Brook. At Chicago, she developed an interest in South Asian culture and Languages, which became her primary focus in Linguistics. The majority of her academic career was spent at the University of Iowa, where she achieved the rank of Associate Professor of Linguistics before her retirement in 2016.
Alice always possessed a strong interest in music, and was a longtime member of the Trinity Episcopal Church choir. She joined the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society in 1996 and her enthusiastic participation earned her a seat on the Board of Directors in 1997. In 1998, Alice was elected President of ICEKS, a position she held until her death.
We will miss Alice’s inspirational leadership, her generous and giving spirit, and her wonderfully dry sense of humor. She leaves us with heavy hearts, but with joy in the memories we carry, and the continuing legacy of her work in spreading the joy of music.
The Board of Directors has elected David Kelzenberg and Jeanne Cadoret to serve as President and Vice President, respectively. We have vacancies on our Board of Directors, so if you are interested in helping to manage the organization, we would love to hear from you. Elections for the Board of Directors will be held at our Annual Business Meeting (see below).
Please plan to join us for our Annual Business Meeting! The meeting will take place on Sunday, July 30, at 2:00 PM, at the home of Danny and Jennifer Bissell, 2872 Pine Circle, Coralville, IA 52241. We will have a brief business meeting with election of board members, followed by an informal reception with refreshments. We will have the opportunity to hear and try Danny’s and Jen’s “new” Zuckermann harpsichord, which had belonged to Alice Davison and which was improved by the late Peter O’Donnell. Members will play and the keyboard will be “open,” so bring some music if you’d like to play it!
2017-2018 CONCERT SERIES ANNOUNCED
We are pleased to announce an exciting lineup of concerts for the upcoming year:
On Saturday, August 26, 2017, at 7:30 PM, we will welcome the brilliant Seattle-based harpsichordist Byron Schenkman for a solo harpsichord concert. Byron is in great demand as a soloist and ensemble performer, has a number of highly acclaimed commercial recordings available, and was a featured artist at the recent conclave of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America. Our concert will be Byron’s Iowa City debut. The concert will take place at Agudas Achim Synagogue in Coralville.
On Sunday, October 15, 2017, at 3:00 PM, two Iowa City favorites will return for a joint performance. Marcia Hadjimarkos, who has thrilled us with wonderful clavichord performances several times in the past, will be joined by Trevor Stephenson, whose fortepiano concert was a highlight of our last season. Marcia and Trevor will join forces for a joint concert of fortepiano music. As he did this year, Trevor will bring his fine Stein-copy 5-octave fortepiano for this special event.
Finally, on Sunday, April 15, 2018, at 3:00 PM, we will present the wonderful California-based harpsichordist and organist Margaret Irwin-Brandon in a solo harpsichord concert. Meg is a phenomenal teacher and performer, and leads the celebrated ‘Desert Baroque’ events in Palm Springs.
As you can see, we have yet another stellar lineup of early music greats, and you won’t want to miss these very special concerts.
As this newsletter “goes to press,” we have not yet secured locations for the last two concerts. Please stay tuned (or keep checking our website) for up-to-date concert location information. As soon as we have our venues secured, we will publicize the information. And, if you are a current member of ICEKS, you will receive a reminder postcard prior to each concert.
As always, ICEKS concerts are free and open to the public. Please put these dates on your calendar and plan to bring a friend or two. Also, as always, these free concerts are supported almost entirely by membership dues and contributions. Please consider joining or rejoining ICEKS. If you enjoy these concerts, your support is critical to keep them happening!
UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENT
On Sunday, August 27, 2017, at 3:00 PM, ICEKS Board member and longtime chair of the UI organ department Delbert Disselhorst will present an Emeritus Faculty Concert in the Organ Recital Hall (Room 001) in the UI’s Voxman Music Building.
SCHUBERT, FRANZ: Sonata and Dances. Marcia Hadjimarkos, fortepiano. Contains: 16 German Dances D. 783, Sonata in D major D. 860, 6 German Dances D. 820. Arabesque Z6830 (compact disc).
Here is another example of how everything Marcia Hadjimarkos touches turns to gold. In several live performances and in recordings, she has never failed to delight and entertain this reviewer. Her performances are always stylish and interesting, with seemingly effortless technical facility, albeit always at the service of the music. This recording is no exception.
For this outing Hadjimarkos turns to piano music of Franz Schubert, and an instrument that suits it perfectly. Franz Schubert was one of those miraculous composers from whose very pores music seemed to flow. Like Mozart, Schubert died at a very young age, but, also like Mozart, he left in his wake a vast quantity of beautiful music. If his piano music has never quite achieved the popularity of his symphonies, chamber music, and song cycles, it is not due to any inherent shortcomings.
The centerpiece of this recording is the D-major sonata, a massive work in four movements comparable in size and duration to the largest of Beethoven's sonatas (over forty minutes). Yet the sheer inventiveness of Schubert--the sudden shifts of modality, the abrupt changes in style or rhythm, the marvelous flair for melody--allows the work to never become tiresome. Credit must also be given to the pianist, whose keyboard technique (no doubt aided by her considerable experience as a performer on the clavichord) is both subtle and nuanced.
Surrounding and contrasting with this dramatic piece of high art is a more down-to earth and folksy music, in the form of two sets of German Dances. While the big sonata would have appealed to the dilettante and the intellectual, these dances would have had a universal appeal. Country dances of this type were extremely popular at the time, with the likes of Mozart and Beethoven also composing them for the piano. These dances are all waltzes reminiscent of the landler, and in them I see the seeds of the Opus 39 waltzes of Brahms and the many magnificent waltzes of Chopin.
One senses that Schubert was in high spirits when he composed these works, and that Hadjimarkos is having great fun with them. In the first set she unabashedly makes use of this fortepiano's janissary stops, which I'd guess to be drum, cymbal, and triangle, as well as the bassoon stop and moderator. At times this ends up sounding like a one-man band, and is quite shocking if you are not expecting it!
A word about the fortepiano: It is a modern replica by Christopher Clarke of an original by Johann Fritz from about 1814, with Viennese action and six octave compass. It sounds absolutely wonderful in this music, with an almost snarly bass, a mid-range that sounds--how to describe it? "papery?", "woody?"--I'm not really sure what adjective is appropriate! And, a ringing (but not piercing) treble. The extra effects heard in some of the dances are just frosting on the cake! In short, this instrument is vastly different from the modern concert grand piano, and far more interesting and satisfying in this music, which seems to demand a rustic, earthy sound. The modern piano, while beautiful in its own right, is simply too sterile and homogenized to project this music in its best light.
Kudos also must be extended to engineer Jean-Claude Gaberel, who provides a warm, realistic, and very pleasant soundscape. Highly recommended.
David C. Kelzenberg
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Would you like to be more involved in the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society? Help us plan our concert series? Meet our artists “up close and personal?” Socialize with other early music lovers? Here’s your chance! We often need help with housing/hosting visiting artists, providing local and airport transportation to artists, hosting member meetings, etc. If you would be interested in helping with any of these activities, please so indicate on your membership form, or contact Martha Ollivier, Secretary-Treasurer, at (319) 337-3681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s time to renew your membership for 2017-2018! Your membership dues and contributions allow us to continue to present these exceptional early music concerts in eastern Iowa. I hope you will take a moment to complete the membership application on the next page, and return it with your check. Thank you for your continuing support!
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