Music IC Festival
Where Music and Literature Meet
June 21-24, 2023
In 2022, MusicIC returned for its twelfth season with programming commemorating the 125th anniversary of Johannes Brahms’ death and the 100th anniversary of composer George Walker’s birth.
The festival, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization, was highlighted by a free June 17 concert that featured Walker’s Lilacs for Soprano and Piano (originally for orchestra), which was unanimously awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for music, the first to be awarded to an African-American composer. The concert was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City.
Walker’s Lilacs sets to music Walt Whitman’s 1865 poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” which was written as an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln after his death on April 15, 1865. Walker’s composition was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Faye Robinson on Feb. 1, 1996.
Joining MusicIC as a guest lecturer, Ed Folsom, prominent Whitman scholar and Roy J. Carver Professor of English at the University of Iowa. Folsom led a lecture discussion Thursday, June 16, focusing on Whitman’s poem and why musicians continue to set his poetry to music.
Centering on themes of death, grief, and the “ever-returning spring” of hope and new beginnings, lilacs permeated the remainder of the program with continued references in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 2 and Sonatensatz in C minor; and complementary vocal pieces die Mainacht, wie Melodien zieht es mir, Feldeinsamkeit, Meine Liebe ist grün, and Auf dem Kirchhofe; as well as Rachmaninoff’s Lilacs for solo piano. The concert featured violinist Tricia Park, pianist Dominic Cheli, and soprano Faylotte Joy Crayton.
On June 18, MusicIC returned to the Iowa City Public Library to perform its always popular family concert, featuring a program of musical storytelling for kids of all ages. MusicIC’s Artistic Director, violinist Tricia Park, and vocalist Meagan Amelia Brus, who also serves as the festival’s Managing Director, joined pianist Dominic Cheli to perform Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Copland’s Hoe-Down from Rodeo for violin and piano, and Alan Ridout’s Ferdinand the Bull, in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library children’s department.
MusicIC was inaugurated in 2010 by Artistic Director Tricia Park and Managing Director Judith Hurtig. In Park’s words, she and Hurtig created the festival “out of our deep love for Iowa City and the community, and we wanted to be sure that the festival reflects what the community is about and also that it be rooted in this place. Not to offer just another generic music festival, but a festival that the community could connect to and be invested in as well. The City of Literature designation was a strong inspiration for the genesis of MusicIC and our fruitful relationship with Amy Margolis and Summer Writing Festival has strengthened these musical and literary ties.” A secondary mission has been to bring “Iowa grown” musicians and artists back to Iowa City; young performers who have the potential for or are embarked upon major careers in music.
About the Participants
MEAGAN AMELIA BRUS
Iowa native Meagan Brus is delighted to serve as Managing Director of MusicIC, following her years as a featured MusicIC performer from 2012-2018, most recently as the soloist in a classical arrangement of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A dedicated ambassador for the arts, Ms. Brus performs with the charity organizations Sing for Hope, Musicians on Call, and Music for Autism, and previously held the position of Director of Marketing & Communications at The American Opera Project (AOP) from 2020-2022. During her tenure with AOP, Ms. Brus carried out additional leadership roles including associate producer, project and program manager, creative content producer and consultant, and founding member of the EDI Committee.
As a performer, Ms. Brus specialized in contemporary music both as a soloist and as part of the chamber group, sTem, having given the World Premiere performance of over three dozen works by living composers from around the world, including many written or arranged specifically for her. Ms. Brus has presented masterclasses, performance lectures, and new music workshops at Manhattan School of Music (2018), as the featured performer in residence at Cornell University (2017), Bucknell University (2018), the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the National Superior Conservatory in Mexico City (2014), and Millersville University (2015 and 2016). With sTem’s full-length 2016 album, Lieder|Canciones, Derek Emch from THE CLARINET writes, “Brus’s performance overflows with emotion from her opening line to her final portamento.” In 2015, sTem presented a Northeastern US tour of their commissioned transcription and original English translation of Schoenberg’s monodrama Erwartung.
Ms. Brus’ solo singing career spanned the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia, and encompassed a myriad of musical styles from Alessandro Scarlatti’s Venere, Amore e Ragione (Bourbon Baroque), Bizet’s Carmen (Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre), to the World Premiere of Carson Kievman’s Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman (SoBe Arts), which prompted Lawrence Budman of the Miami Herald to write, “In the title role, Meagan Brus dominates the stage with a frightening emotional intensity. Her brilliant flights of coloratura dazzle the ear but the strength of her middle voice evokes the woman’s pathos and helplessness. A vocal and dramatic tour de force, her performance is a singular triumph.” On the concert stage, Ms. Brus celebrated a variety of styles from Luigi Boccherini’s Stabat Mater, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Erwartung, to a classical arrangement of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Dominic Cheli’s playing has been described as “spontaneous yet perfect, the best of how a young person can play.” (Symphony Magazine). His rapidly advancing career included his Walt Disney Concert Hall Debut where Dominic was described as “mesmerizing, (he) transfixed the audience…his fingers were one with each key.” (LA Times). He gave his Carnegie Hall Recital Debut and has had a busy performing and recording career ever since. He recently recorded his 2nd CD on the Naxos label of the music of Liszt/Schubert, and a 3rd CD of the music of Erwin Schulhoff on the Delos Label featuring his collaboration on Piano Concerto no.2 with Maestro James Conlon. He also recently completed work as a composer, audio editor and performer on the documentary Defying Gravity (2021).
With a fascination and appreciation for the benefits of technology especially in our new virtual age, Dominic was appointed LIVE Director of Tonebase Piano in 2021. As a result, he is the host and presenter of numerous virtual lectures, performances and workshops each month to the 4,000+ subscribers on the platform. Dominic regularly performs at high schools, retirement homes, and gives both masterclasses and lectures for his younger audiences. Dominic has performed as an artist for Project: Music Heals Us, a non-profit organization that presents interactive classical music performances to diverse audiences in order to provide encouragement, education, and healing with a focus on elderly, disabled, rehabilitating, incarcerated, and homeless populations.
In his spare time, Dominic enjoys cooking and training for Ironman triathlons.
FAYLOTTE JOY CRAYTON
Soprano Faylotte Joy Crayton has performed at festivals including the Marlboro Music Festival, Bard Music Festival, Bard Summerscape, Aspen Music Festival and SongFest. She premiered the role of Masha in Elana Langer’s Four Sisters, at the Richard B. Fisher Center and made her American Symphony Orchestra debut, singing the soprano solo in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, conducted by Leon Botstein.
Ms. Crayton has premiered works by Yunzhuo Gan at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, and pieces by Conor Brown, John Boggs and Matthew Schickele, at The Morgan Library. Ms. Crayton holds a B.M. from The Juilliard School and an M.M. from Bard College Conservatory of Music, where she studied with soprano Dawn Upshaw. She is currently completing her D.M.A. at Stony Brook University.
Violinist | Writer | Educator
Praised by critics for her “astounding virtuosic gifts” (Boston Herald), “achingly pure sound” (The Toronto Star), and “impressive technical and interpretive control” (The New York Times), Tricia Park enjoys a diverse and eclectic career as a violinist, educator, writer, curator, and podcaster.
Tricia is the producer and host of the podcast, “Is it Recess Yet? Confessions of a Former Child Prodigy.” She is the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Fulbright grant, and was selected as one of “Korea’s World Leaders of Tomorrow” by the Korean Daily Central newspaper. Since appearing in her first orchestral engagement at age 13 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she has performed with the English Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa; the Montreal, Dallas, Cincinnati, Seattle, Honolulu, Nevada, and Lincoln Symphonies; and the Calgary, Buffalo, and Westchester and Naples Philharmonics. Tricia has given recitals throughout the United States and abroad, including a highly acclaimed performance at the Ravinia Rising Stars series. She also performs as half of the violin-fiddle duo, Tricia & Taylor, with fiddler-violinist, Taylor Morris.
Other career highlights include Tricia’s recital debut at the Kennedy Center, appearances at the Lincoln Center Festival, her Korean debut with the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) Orchestra and collaborations with composer Tan Dun. As First Violinist of the Maia Quartet from 2005-2011, she performed at Lincoln Center and the 92nd Street Y in New York and Beijing’s Forbidden City Hall and was on faculty at the University of Iowa.
Tricia is the founder of the Solera Quartet, winner of the Pro Musicis International Award and the first American chamber ensemble chosen for this distinction. The Soleras’ debut album, Every Moment Present, was hailed by The New York Times as “intoxicating….The quartet’s playing on the recording is sensitive and finely articulated throughout and the sound bright and vivid.”
Tricia received her Bachelor and Master of Music from the Juilliard School where she was a recipient of the Starling-DeLay Teaching Fellowship. She has performed chamber music with Pinchas Zukerman, Cho-Liang Lin, Michael Tree, Gary Hoffman, Paul Neubauer, Robert McDonald, and members of the American, Guarneri, Juilliard, Orion String Quartets and Eighth Blackbird. Former teachers include Dorothy DeLay, Felix Galimir, Cho-Liang Lin, Donald Weilerstein, Hyo Kang, and Piotr Milewski.
Passionate about arts education and community development, Tricia is the co-founder and artistic director of MusicIC. Tricia received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was awarded the New Artist Society Scholarship and a Writing Fellow Prize. She has taught writing for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at the University of Iowa and she is the co-lead of the Chicago chapter of Women Who Submit, an organization that seeks to empower women and non binary writers.
Currently, Tricia works for Graywolf Press, is Associate Director of Cleaver Magazine Workshops where she is also a Creative Non Fiction editor and faculty instructor, and maintains a private studio of violin/viola students and writing clients.
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