Whitney Hale


College: Fine Arts

UK Libraries to Present Joseph Baber Recital Series

Published: Oct 24, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 24, 2012)University of Kentucky Libraries will open the Joseph Baber Recital Series this week, recognizing Professor Joseph 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 first recital, which is free and open to the public, will feature Baber’s most recent work, Six Humoresques for Cello and Piano, Op. 106, and will begin 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Niles Gallery, in the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center.


Thursday's recital is one of four recitals of Baber’s music that will be presented in the Niles Gallery of the Little Fine Arts Library. Six Humoresques for Cello and Piano, Op. 106 was commissioned by the Kentucky Music Teachers Association for performance at the organization's conference held Oct. 21, in Morehead, Ky.


Baber describes this work as based “on the six wonderfully elusive Humoresques of Sibelius for violin and orchestra. In mine, I allowed the fancifulness of the title to create in me a certain whimsical, even dancelike, freedom. So, you will hear a tango in number two, and a quiet bolero in number five. Number six turned into a rather clownish polka.  The fourth is a gigue with a kind of clockwork quality. In the third, I return to my beginnings with a sort of Virginia Dance, related to the ones I did in my childhood (in Richmond, Va.) for my teacher, John Powell, who used styles like the Virginia Reel and the expressive spirituals of the state's past to create his own aesthetic voice.”


Performing Six Humoresques, will be cellist Geoffrey Hershberger, a doctoral student, and pianist John Greer, visiting associate professor and head vocal coach at UK School of Music and UK Opera Theatre.


Hershberger began his collegiate studies at the Eastman School of Music and completed bachelor's degree at the San Francisco Conservatory, studying with Jean-Michel Fonteneau. He received his master's from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Mary Peckham. Hershberger has studied the art of chamber music intensively with the Cavani, Ying and Alexander string quartets and has performed as soloist with the UK Symphony Orchestra, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, and the Orange County Youth Symphony.


Greer is an active accompanist, vocal coach, arranger, composer and conductor, and is heard regularly in these capacities throughout the U. S., Canada and abroad. Making his conducting debut in 1983, he has worked with numerous companies and is an accomplished composer, with 10 song cycles and two operas to his credit. Before coming to Kentucky this fall, Greer was director and chair of opera studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.


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.


Compositions by Baber, who was for many years principal viola of the Lexington Philharmonic, have been frequently performed by that orchestra and the composer has received several commissions from them. A 2006 appearance by the orchestra on KET's "In Performance at the Governor’s Mansion" featured Baber’s works, including "Heartland: September Towns," a piece written for conductor George Zack’s 25th anniversary with the Lexington Philharmonic. 


In October 2009, Baber wrote the score for "River of Time," a new American folk opera about Lincoln's early years in Kentucky first performed in Lexington by UK Opera Theatre at the Lexington Opera House. Earlier that same year, Baber presented highlights from "River of Time" at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Kentucky Humanities Council and UK Opera Theatre’s "Our Lincoln" production.


This recital will include remarks by the composer and will be followed by a reception in the lobby of the Little Fine Arts Library. The recital and reception are free and open to the public. Future programs in the Joseph Baber Recital Series will be held in November 2012, and February and March 2013. 




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu


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