LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2013) — University of Kentucky Libraries will present one of the earliest works by composer Joseph Baber in the second program of the Joseph Baber Recital Series this week. The series recognizes Professor Baber’s 75th birthday, 40 years as professor of music and composer-in-residence in the UK School of Music, and the 2012 opening of the Joseph Baber Papers in UK Special Collections. The recital, which is free and open to the public, will be begin 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Niles Gallery, at the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center.
The second Baber recital will feature one of the composer’s very early works, Virginia Dances, Op. 3. Performing Virginia Dances will be a string quartet comprised of violinists Kyle VanArsdalen and Amyr Joyner, violist Lubitza Braikova, and cellist Geoffrey Hershberger, all of the UK School of Music.
First written between 1953 and 1956 by Baber as a simple trio to be played by the Thomas Jefferson High School string ensemble in Richmond, Va., Virginia Dances has been reconsidered, edited and extended over the years and has emerged in present form as six pieces for string quartet.
The Joseph Baber Papers housed in UK Special Collections holds the manuscripts for Virginia Dances beginning with the original hand inscribed score by the novice teenage composer. These manuscript materials will be on display following the recital.
Born in 1937, Baber began composing at an early age. He is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he worked with Gomer Jones and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the Eastman School of Music, where his mentors were Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers and John LaMontaine.
After a number of years in Japan as principal violist with the Tokyo Philharmonic, Baber returned to the U.S. and took a position for several years at Southern Illinois University. This was followed by a year as composer-in-residence for a Ford Foundation College Co-operative venture in Kansas, after which he assumed his present position as composer-in-residence at the UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts.
Although he has written in all the major genres, Baber is perhaps best known for his collaborations with the novelist John Gardner on three operas, "Frankenstein," "Rumpelstiltskin" and "Samson and the Witch." In addition to operas and songs, Baber has a sizable body of orchestral music, including overtures, suites, two symphonies, several marches and two tone poems. He has also written works for solo instruments with orchestra, as well as keyboard, chamber and choral music. An award-winning member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) since 1971, Baber has received a number of national prizes and commissions.
Thursday’s recital will include remarks by the composer and will be followed by a reception and exhibition of materials from the Joseph Baber Papers in the lobby of Little Fine Arts Library. Thursday's recital is the second of four recitals of Baber’s music that will be presented in the Niles Gallery. The final two recitals are planned for Feb. 21 and March 28.
UK Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, the Kentuckian, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
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