One of America's most distinguished composers will be spending a week with Hope College students, culminating in two performances featuring his work.
Chicago native John Downey, now Composer-in- Residence and Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will also give a lecture on Thursday, April 10, at 11 a.m. in Wichers Auditorium of Nykerk Hall of Music. All the events are part of what the college is calling a Downey Festival.
On Saturday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, his music will be featured in a combined Wind Symphony and Orchestra/Symphonette concert, and his work will be the focus of the final Hope College Faculty Recital for the season on Sunday, April 13, at 3 p.m. in Wichers Auditorium.
The public is invited to the lecture and the two concerts. Admission is free.
The April 12 concert by the Hope College Orchestra/Symphonette and the Hope College Wind Symphony will feature three of Downey's pieces.
The Orchestra/Symphonette will be performing "Chant to Michaelangelo," a work written in 1958 while the composer was in Aspen, Colo. The second work on the program features the Wind Symphony performing "Call for Freedom," a composition written in 1990. To close, the Orchestra/Symphonette will perform one of Downey's frequently performed works, "Declamations," written in 1985 at the MacDowell Colony.
The April 13 Faculty Recital will feature four works. Vocalist Margaret Kennedy-Dygas and pianist Charles Aschbrenner will perform "Come Away Death" (1971), featuring a poem by William Shakespeare. "Prayer for String Trio" (1984) will be performed by violinist Chris Martin, violist Barbara Corbato and cellist Richard Piippo. "Two Songs" (1996), with poems by Irusha Downey, will be performed by soprano Linda Dykstra and pianist Mansoon Han Kim. The program will close with "Eastlake Terrace" (1960), performed by Aschbrenner. A reception with Downey will follow the recital.
Downey is an alumnus of DePaul University and of the Chicago Musical College. He also studied at Le Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris and the University of Paris, where he studied with such masters as Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Darius Milhaud, and Olivier Messiaen.
A frequent Fellow at the MacDowell Colony for the Arts in New Hampshire as well as the Millay Colony in New York, Downey has composed for a variety of media, including works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, voice, choirs, orchestra, synthesizer, electronic tape with light sculpturing, and partially controlled improvisation.
He has also received a number of awards and honors from such groups as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, Copley Foundation, ASCAP, the Wisconsin Art Board, Meet the Composer, and the American Academy of the Arts and Letters.
Downey has had commissions and grants from the University of Wisconsin, the Hartt School of Music, the MacDowell Colony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Fine Arts Quartet, the Woodwind Art Quintet, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, The MacDowell Club, the Wisconsin Music Teacher's Association, and many individual artists of renown.
His music has been recorded by many distinguished artists, including Yolanda Marculescu; Erie Mills; George Sopkin; Robert Thompson; Le Trio Pasquier; Le Quartuor Parrenin; the Fine Arts Quartet; the Woodwind Art Quartet; the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra; Musica Nova of Brazil; the Brooklyn Philharmonic; the Chicago Chamber Orchestra; the London Symphony Orchestra; the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra; the Warsaw Philharmonic; the Kiev Philharmonic in Ukraine; the Queen's Philharmonic Orchestra of Brisbane, Australia; the Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Sacramento, Albany and Sydney Symphony Orchestras; and the Israel Sinfonietta.
Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located on College Avenue at 12th Street. Nykerk Hall of Music is located between College and Columbia avenues along the former 12th Street.