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KU Jazz Enemble I & Wind Ensemble perform at the Lied Center Feb 1st: Concert features Steven Spooner, pianist, and Steve Leisring, trumpet

Thursday, January 24, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS — The KU Jazz Ensemble I and the KU Wind Ensemble present an evening of jazz at the Lied Center on Friday, February, 1 at 7:30pm. The performances feature KU School of Music faculty soloists Steven Spooner, associate professor of piano, and Steve Leisring, associate professor of trumpet.

The KU Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dan Gailey, professor of music, will open the performance with Cole Porter’s “I Love You” and will conclude its performance with “Fandango,” featuring Leisring.

“Fandango” was first co-composed by KU student James Henry and Leisring for the KU Trumpet Ensemble, and was premiered at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in 2010 in Sydney, Australia, by the KU Trumpet Ensemble, directed by Leisring. This new arrangement for the trumpet/flugelhorn soloist and Jazz Band was commissioned by Leisring for this concert, which coincides with the 2013 Prairie Winds Festival. The original concept of the work was inspired by the flamenco music of Spain and the many Spanish-themed big band compositions of the 1960s and 1970s, often performed by groups such as the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson orchestras. The arranger, former KU trumpet student and Downbeat Award-Winning Composer, Andrew Linn, has taken the original form and concept of the trumpet ensemble work and re-worked it for full jazz ensemble, bringing it even closer to its original inspiration.

The Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul Popiel, KU director of bands, will perform Frank Ticheli’s “Blue Shades.” Spooner will then join the Wind Ensemble on stage for the performance of Gershwin’s beloved “Rhapsody in Blue.” Tickets to this concert will be $7/general admission and $5/students and seniors and can be purchased at the Lied Center Box Office, 785-864-2787 or www.lied.ku.edu.

Steve Leisring
Leisring, associate professor of trumpet, came to KU in 2003 after performing for 14 seasons with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Canary Islands, Spain. As a member of that orchestra, he can be heard on more than 35 commercial CDs on labels such as Deutsche-Grammophon, Decca, and Auvidis-Valois. He has performed in major halls in Europe, including London, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Segovia, Zaragoza, Valencia, etc. Festival performances included the Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg festivals in Germany; as well as those in Santander, Granada, San Sebastian and the Canary Islands. He has been heard on radio and television broadcasts of live concerts and recordings by the Tenerife Symphony that have been programmed throughout the world on networks such as NPR, BBC, NDR (Germany), ABC (Australia), and RNE (Spain).

As a professional trumpeter, Leisring has performed with more than 100 world-class soloists and conductors, including vocalists Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, Barbara Hendricks, Frederica Von Stade, Arlene Auger, Alfredo Kraus and Brigitte Fassbaender; violinists Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Gil Shaham, Shlomo Mintz, Silvia Marcovici and Frank Peter Zimmerman; pianists Murray Perahia, Phillippe Entremont, Bela Davidovich, Alicia de Larrocha, Ivo Pogorelich, Krystian Zimerman, Emanuel Ax and Leon Fleischer; and conductors Neemi Yarvi, Raymond Leppard, Jesus Lopez Cobos, Yoel Levi, Gerard Schwarz, Osmo Vanska, Clas Peter Flor and Maxim Shostakovich, to name a few.

Outside of the classical music realm, Leisring has performed with the likes of jazz legends Phil Woods, Gary Foster, Steve Houghton, and vocalists Michael Feinstein and Englebert Humperdinck. While in Spain, he was an active studio/session musician and served as musical director/soloist of the Swing Big Band of the Canary Islands, an 18-piece big band.

Leisring has been a featured soloist and principal trumpet on two world premiere recordings by Spanish composer Enrique Guimera. Other orchestral performances include concerts with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (Sweden), Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Gran Canaria Philharmonic and Galicia Symphony Orchestra. He also was a member of the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra in Durango/Pagaso Springs, Colo. from 2001-2007.

Former students of Leisring’s have gone on to perform with the New York Philharmonic, as well as several professional orchestras in Spain, and have been selected for positions in the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, European Youth Orchestra, World Youth Orchestra, Pacific Music Festival, Spanish National Youth Orchestra and the Tanglewood Young Artists Orchestra. Trumpet ensembles from KU have been named Finalists at the National Trumpet Competition in two consecutive appearances in 2006 and 2007.

Leisring has given master classes at the Beijing Central Conservatory, Sichuan Conservatory and Kunming Arts Academy in China; in Helsinki, Finland; and the Puerto Rico Conservatory in San Juan; as well as the Hartt College of Music and the Universities of Illinois, Oregon, Connecticut, Texas/Arlington and North Texas in the U.S. He is on the Advisory Board of the National Trumpet Competition and was invited to adjudicate the First Asian-Pacific Trumpet Competition in Guangzhou, China in 2008.

Since coming to KU, he has been invited to China four times, performing at the First International Trumpet Conference at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 2006, and at China's Inaugural China ITG Conference in 2008. He also led a successful tour of China with the KU Trumpet Ensemble in 2008. In 2006 and 2008, he was invited to be a featured artist at the International Trumpet Days in Riga, Latvia.

As a soloist and recitalist, Leisring has performed in Europe, Asia, Central America and the US, and maintains an active schedule as Principal Trumpet of the Kansas Brass Quintet, ensemble in Residence at the University of Kansas.

While in Spain, Leisring played and coached in Spain's premier National Baseball League, and has a keen interest in the connection between peak performance in music and in sports. He has written pedagogical articles published by the International Trumpet Guild Journal and the International Musician Magazine.

Professor Leisring is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds degrees in performance and education from the University of North Texas and the Mannes College of Music in New York. Former teachers include Vincent Penzarella of the NY Philharmonic, Rick Giangiulio and Bert Truax (formerly of the Dallas Symphony), Don Jacoby, and Keith Johnson and Leonard Candelaria (University of North Texas).

Steven Spooner
Described as “dazzling” (Washington Post), critics have hailed the powerful performances of pianist Steven Spooner and noted that the “American had everything: polished technique, musical intelligence, innate sensitivity, and a personality that reaches across the keyboard.” Steven has performed around the world and is quickly becoming one of the more noted American pianists of his generation. He has given solo recitals at prestigious venues such as the Salle Cortot in Paris, Holland’s Vredenburg Centre, Budapest’s Great Hall of the Liszt Academy, Geneva’s Fete de la Musique and numerous halls across Europe, Latin America, South America and the United States. Recently, he made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in a tour sponsored by the Hungarian Government, and this season will perform in Rome (Academia Santa Cecilia), New York (Carnegie Weill Recital Hall), Washington D.C. (National Gallery of Art), Jakarta, Singapore (Esplanade Recital Hall), Budapest, Italy, and throughout Asia.

Spooner has been unusually successful in the limited number of international piano competitions in which he participated—he is prizewinner at each of the seven international piano competitions he has entered and top prizewinner at both the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Artlivre International Piano Competition. He captured First Prize and was recipient of the Niekamp Career Grant as most outstanding pianist in French music at the Paris Conservatory. Spooner is an active chamber collaborator and has performed with a diverse and distinguished list of vocalists and instrumentalists, including Silk Road Ensemble Bassist Daxun Zhang, former Philadelphia Orchestra trombonist M. Dee Stewart, baritone Chris Thompson and prize-winning violinist Leor Maltinsky. Spooner’s orchestral engagements include performances with the Danubia Symphony Orchestra, Brevard Symphony Orchestra, Crescent City Symphony, New Orleans Civic Symphony, Ozark Chamber Orchestra, and recent performances with the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin during their tour of North America.

Spooner has released 14 recordings on the EMR Classics, Everythingmusic and IU recording labels. He has studied at Paris Conservatory, Moscow and Tbilisi Conservatories in the former Soviet Union, and earned his doctorate at Indiana University, Bloomington. Steven was the final recipient of the Ivory Classics Foundation prize that enabled him to study with the legendary virtuoso Earl Wild.

He has served as guest artist-in-residence at Paris Conservatory Summer Sessions and has been appointed to the Artist Faculty of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy, the International Institute for Young Musicians and the Adam Gyorgy Castle Academy in Budapest. Spooner is increasingly in demand for his engaging and energetic masterclasses at major music institutions all over the world, such as the Paris Conservatory, Milan Conservatory, Liszt Academy of Music, and the Shanghai and Beijing Conservatories. Spooner currently serves on the piano faculty at the University of Kansas and specializes in workshops and lectures on a variety of performance and pedagogical topics. A dedicated and caring teacher, his students have been named winners of several prizes at national and international piano competitions. Spooner is a Steinway Artist.

Dan Gailey Gailey, saxophonist/composer/arranger, is the director of jazz studies and professor of music at the University of Kansas, where he directs Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo I and produces the annual KU Jazz Festival. Gailey is the recipient of the 1996 IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, an annual award which identifies an emerging jazz composer from an international field of candidates. Under his direction, the KU Jazz Studies program has been the recipient of ten DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I's award as Best College Big Band in the United States or Canada in 1997. Jazz Ensemble I has appeared under his direction at IAJE Conferences in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, the 1992 Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago and the 2008 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Gailey holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Music degree in Theory/Composition from the University of Northern Colorado. His compositions can be heard on numerous professional and college big band albums and are published exclusively through UNC Jazz Press. What Did You Dream?, his debut CD with the Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra, was released in July 2010 on Origin/OA2 Records, and features all original compositions.

He has been active as a freelance saxophonist in Seattle, Denver and Kansas City, performing with Kevin Mahogany, Eric Marienthal, Red Richards, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, and many others, and has appeared as a guest artist/clinician throughout the United States, Canada and Sweden. Gailey was a guest artist and clinician at the 2012 China First Jazz Festival in Shanghai – China’s first-ever educational jazz festival. He is an original member of the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band, and has been commissioned twice to write new compositions for the band. Gailey has directed numerous festival honor groups, including all-state jazz ensembles in California, Colorado, Washington, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Minnesota, and the 1996 NBA National Honors Jazz Ensemble.

Paul W. Popiel
As the director of bands at the University of Kansas, Popiel is only the seventh person to hold this position in the band's storied 125-year history. He conducts the KU Wind Ensemble, directs the graduate program in wind conducting and guides all aspects of the university band program. His previous appointments include the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Oklahoma State University. He also enjoyed six years teaching in the public schools of Texas and Michigan.

Popiel has lectured and performed throughout North America, Europe, Singapore and Japan. He has produced several CDs for the Wind Band Classics series on the Naxos label, leading the KU Wind Ensemble on the latest Naxos project, Landscapes, featuring the music of Michael Torke, Aaron Copland and Frank Ticheli, to be released in the spring of 2013.

A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for wind ensemble and chamber winds, including works by composers Michael Torke, Mohammed Fairouz, Steven Bryant, David Dzubay, Kevin Walczyk, Kevin Wilt, Tamar Diesendruck and Joni Greene.

Popiel holds degrees from Truman State University, the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University. A recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, he also earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Twentieth-Century Music at the University of Bristol, England. Popiel was the 2003 Frank L. Battisti Conducting Fellow, serving as the Resident Conductor of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436. music.ku.edu.

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KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
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