Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

April 8, 2003

Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Concert to Feature Performance, Discussion
of the Works of French Composer Erik Satie

Composer and music instructor Donivan Johnson will explore the music, mind and spirit of French composer Erik Satie during the 2003 Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Concert at Whitworth College. The concert will take place Monday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Building Recital Hall at Whitworth. The event is free and open to the public.A collection of photo reproductions, books by and about Satie, and facsimiles of the composer's musical calligraphy and numerous piano works will be on display in the foyer. For more information about the concert, please call (509) 777-3280.

During the concert Johnson will perform selections of Satie's works and will comment on his music and its historical context. Satie changed the course of musical history with three sets of piano miniatures: Sarabandes (1887), Gymnopedies (1888) and Gnossiennes (1890), according to Mark Prendergast in his book The Ambient Century, which chronicles the evolution of music in the 20th century.

"Satie blew away the pomp and rhetoric of the late 19th century with his compositions' clear melodic phrases, exquisite lightness, and fresh texture," Prendergast states.

Satie, who lived from 1866 to 1925, influenced such composers as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and American iconoclast John Cage, and is called the father of modern musical ambience and minimalism. The term "surrealist" was first coined as a response to his music. He invented such concepts as "furniture music" which evolved into Muzak or "elevator music." Satie's best-known composition, Gymnopedie No. 1, is still heard in commercials and films, and will be the opening and concluding piece of Johnson's concert. The current film About Schmidt uses Satie's Gnossienne No. 4 as a leitmotif for the main character, says Johnson, who has spent nearly four decades studying Satie's life and music.

"As a high-school freshman I first became entranced by this new world of sound created by one of the strangest composers who ever lived," Johnson says. "Satie's use of unusual titles and performance expressions is unique in music history. Such directions as 'like a nightingale with a toothache, swallow the sound, quite lost' and 'on the tip of the tongue' abound in his piano music. Satie once said of himself, 'I came into the world very young in a very old era.' His music is as 'young' today as it was a century ago."

Donivan Johnson holds a master of arts in composition from California State University, Northridge. He has served as music instructor for the Selkirk School District since 1991, and he also serves as music director for the Selkirk High School Theatre Arts program. Johnson is active in the Washington Music Educators Association and has served as chair of small schools and state chair of the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

This is Johnson's third appearance at Whitworth as the Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Concert guest lecturer and performer. He inaugurated the Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Concert in 1994 to honor the memory of world-renowned musicologist/archivist and Spokane resident Hans Moldenhauer (1906-1987).

Moldenhauer was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1938. After serving in the U.S. Army, he settled in Spokane and was the first student to attend Whitworth College under the G.I. Bill. Moldenhauer earned a B.A. in music in 1945 and was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree at Whitworth in 1986.

The annual Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Concert focuses on contemporary music and its place in society and music education. Moldenhauer's widow, Mary, is an avid and generous supporter of the annual concert and of the arts in Spokane.

 

Contacts:

Donivan Johnson, music instructor, donivan_j@hotmail.com.

Dan Keberle, professor of music, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4582 or dkeberle@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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