MusicIC Festival to celebrate space and light during June 20-23

Special performance of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ highlights schedule

IOWA CITY – The MusicIC festival returns for an eighth season from June 20-23, 2018. Over the course of four programs, MusicIC will gaze skyward, finding inspiration in the stars and beyond. The Festival is presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization.

The festival program, curated by MusicIC Artistic Director Tricia Park, features great string quartets of Beethoven, Bartok and Mozart. In addition, this summer’s programming will feature contemporary works by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov and American composer Christopher Cerrone. The final evening concert blurs the lines between classical and pop music with a chamber arrangement of Pink Floyd’s classic The Dark Side of the Moon. Local writers will share brief original pieces that touch on the themes in that work. This concert at the Englert Theatre that will bring MusicIC’s 2018 summer programming to an exciting and inventive finale.

Music during the festival will be performed by the Solera Quartet, with Tricia Park and Miki-Sophia Cloud on violin, Molly Carr on viola, and Andrew Janss on cello. Amanda Grimm (viola) and Laura Usiskin (cello), who have performed with Orchestra Iowa, as well as local musicians Minji Kwon (piano) and Eric Douglas (drums) will join the quartet for some of the performances. Iowa City native Meagan Brus will be vocalist during the festival as well. The musicians will be joined at the Friday, June 23 concert by writers including Jan Weissmiller, Daniel Khalastchi, and Tameka Cage Conley.

The festival begins on Wednesday, June 20, with “Stargazing,” a program that includes classics from Beethoven and Bartok, as well as Cerrone’s How to Breathe Underwater, a work for string quartet and electronics that was inspired by a character in the Jonathan Franzen novel, Freedom. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, and is free and open to the public.

Things continue on Thursday, June 21, with “Night Music,” a program that includes multiple pieces by Brahms and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night) Op 4, inspired by poetry of Richard Dehmel. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, and is free and open to the public.

The festival’s only ticketed event will be Friday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Englert Theatre, where the Solera Quartet will be joined by drummer Eric Douglas and vocalist Meagan Brus to perform an arrangement by Andrew Janss (cellist of the Solera Quartet) of the Pink Floyd progressive rock classic, The Dark Side of the Moon. Also on the bill is Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, a piece the quartet has performed at a past MusicIC festival and which has been brought back by popular demand.

For the Pink Floyd piece, local writers will join the performance to read original work on the themes of money, madness, and mortality, echoing the themes of the album.

Accompanying the performance of the Pink Floyd piece will be a projection of the filmed light improvisation “Invisible Writing” by famed ‘60s light show pioneers Single Wing Turquoise Bird.

Tickets are available at the Englert box office or at

The festival closes on Saturday, June 23, at 10:30 a.m. with a free family concert at the Iowa City Public Library in Meeting Room A. The Solera Quartet will play music from the festival program interspersed with student writers from the Iowa Youth Writing Project, who will read work inspired by the music and the festival’s themes.

Festival sponsors are the University of Iowa, Iowa Public Radio, MidWestOne, Dunn Investments, and Toyota-Scion of Iowa City.

One Community, One Book 2018

Kathrina Litchfield of the UI Center for Human Rights is pleased to announce that this fall she will be offering her annual 1-credit-hour course on UICHR’s One Community, One Book on-site at IMCC Oakdale. Half of the students will be UI LABB students, and half of them coming in from the UI campus. The class will be examining the theme of “Redesigning the American Dream” through reading the 2018 OCOB selection Reading with Patrick: A Student, a Teacher, and a Life-Changing Friendship and several other texts. OCOB author Michelle Kuo will not only be visiting our campus for a community lecture in early November, she will partner with Litchfield in teaching the last two weeks of the course inside the prison.
Registration for the UI fall 2018 semester has begun, so please share information about the course with undergraduates who might be interested. The course helps to fulfill requirements for the Certificate in Human Rights but is also open to all majors. Interested students should contact Litchfield via email at
The course number is HRTS:3905:0001 Topics in Human Rights. Class meetings are September 20-November 1, Thursdays, 5-7pm. A link to ICON course info is here:
Attention: This course will be taught on-site at the IMCC Oakdale Correctional Facility. UI campus student enrollment is limited to 12, plus 12 UI LABB students from the facility. Students must contact the instructor before their enrollment will be processed. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the facility (7.7 miles each way). Students must contact the instructor for permission to enroll in the course.

Iowa City hosts UNESCO Cities of Literature conference

“It’s been an outstanding conference and an exceptional experience. It is incredible how unique our cities are and how much we can learn from each other.” – Justyna Jochym, Chair of the UNESCO Cities of Literature and Head of Development & International Cooperation, Krakow UNESCO City of Literature

 36 delegates representing 23 countries came together for a four-day conference showcasing activity in their literary cities and to discuss projects and potential collaborations for the future. The conference ran from the 3rd to the 6th April and it was the first time this prestigious international forum had taken place in the USA. Literature is one of the seven fields that form the UNESCO Creative City Network which currently consists of 180 members from 72 countries.

Representatives from 23 of the 28 designated UNESCO Cities of Literature attended the meeting: Baghdad, Bucheon, Dublin, Durban, Edinburgh, Granada, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Lillehammer, Ljubljana, Lviv, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, Norwich, Nottingham, Obidos, Prague, Quebec City, Reykjavik, Seattle, and Tartu, with the meeting chaired by Krakow City of Literature.

Children’s Author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Author/Illustrator Claudia McGehee Win the John Burroughs Riverby Award

New York, NY – Children’s book writer Jacqueline Briggs Martin and author/illustrator Claudia McGehee have been honored by the John Burroughs Association with the Riverby Award. The award is given to exceptional natural history books for young readers. Briggs Martin and McGehee wrote and illustrated Creekfinding, A True Story (published by the University of Minnesota, 2017) which was recognized at the Association’s annual event at the Yale Club in New York City, Monday, April 2, 2018. Claudia McGehee accepted the award on behalf of the team. “Because of this honor, our book about a restored creek will meander its way to many more readers”, she said.

The John Burroughs Riverby Award has been given annually since 1988 to books that present perceptive and artistic accounts of direct experiences in the world of nature, demonstrating a respect for nature, accuracy of information, and quality of prose and illustrations.

Publisher Weekly said of Creekfinding, A True Story, “The story springs to life through Martin’s (Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious) buoyant, personified language. McGehee’s (North Woods Girl) vibrant, stylized illustrations show nearly smiling fish, birds, and insects populating their new environment.” 

Annual Meeting of UNESCO Cities of Literature coming April 3-6

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Cities of Literature will be held in Iowa City from April 3-6.

The meeting will gather representatives from most of the 28 Cities of Literature for a series of working meetings, discussions, tours and more.

In addition, representatives of the nine U.S. members of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network will meet for the first time to learn more about one another’s cities and to discuss potential collaborative projects.

John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, said the meeting is an opportunity to show literary leaders from around the world some of the many reasons why Iowa City holds the City of Literature designation.

“It’s one thing to hear it from me each time we meet,” Kenyon said. “The greater impact comes when our guests meet the writers, publishers, translators, librarians, administrators and others who contribute to the literary life of our community.”