Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

Feb. 18, 2009

Hans Moldenhauer Lecture March 2 to Examine Life of Influential French Composer

What: The 2009 Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture, "Crystal Liturgy: The World of Olivier Messiaen," by Donivan Johnson

When: Monday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Music Recital Hall at Whitworth University

Cost: Free admission. For more information, please call (509) 777-3280.

Composer and music instructor Donivan Johnson will explore the life and music of French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen during the 2009 Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture at Whitworth University. The annual lecture focuses on contemporary music and its place in society and music education.

Two special guests will join Johnson during his lecture. Cellist Kevin Hekmatpanah, an associate professor of music at Gonzaga University, will perform In Praise of the Eternity of Jesus from Messiaen's best known work Quartet for the End of Time, which he composed in 1940 while imprisoned in a German war camp. Spokane soprano Christina Thomas will premiere Whispered Litanies, a piece that Johnson composed in celebration of Messiaen.

The morning of March 2, Johnson will be a guest on KPBX 91.1 FM Public Radio during the program "Classical Music with Verne Windham." Johnson will accompany Kevin Hekmatpanah on the piano in a performance of In Praise of the Eternity of Jesus.

Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) was a French composer and organist whose works primarily originated from his deep Roman Catholic faith and his fascination with birdsong. At age 11, Messiaen began studying at Le Conservatoire de Paris, where he won numerous awards for his musical ability. Messiaen created more than 75 compositions and spent six decades as the organist of the Parisian church La Trinité.

"Messiaen's influence as a composer of extreme originality and teacher of future prominent composers such as Boulez, Stockhausen and Xenakis make him one of the most important figures in 20th-century music," Johnson says.

The Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture Series was inaugurated by Johnson in 1994 to honor world-renowned musicologist/archivist and Spokane resident Hans Moldenhauer (1906-87). Moldenhauer founded the Spokane Conservatory of Music and the Allied Arts in 1942. After World War II, Moldenhauer and his second wife, Rosaleen, began assembling a collection of music manuscripts to provide musicians and scholars with the opportunity to view music history from primary sources. The Moldenhauer Archives now include more than 10,000 items covering 400 years of music history. The archives are housed in nine public collections in the U.S. and Europe, including one at Whitworth University. The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial Collection is located at the Library of Congress.

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 under the G.I. Bill. Moldenhauer earned a B.A. in music in 1945 and was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree by Whitworth in 1986. Mary Moldenhauer, Hans' widow, is an avid and generous supporter of this annual lecture and of the arts in Spokane.

This is Johnson's ninth appearance since 2000 as Whitworth's Hans Moldenhauer guest lecturer. He holds a master of arts degree in composition from California State University, Northridge. Since 1991 he has served as the K-12 music instructor for the Selkirk School District. In March 2008 he participated in a conference on Hugo Distler at Luther Seminary, in St. Paul, Minn. This spring Johnson will deliver two lectures, "American Popular Song" and "The Life and Music of J.S. Bach," for the Elderhostel program at Clearwater Lodge. Johnson has four entries in Music History from Primary Sources: A Guide to the Moldenhauer Archives, published by the Library of Congress. 

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Donivan Johnson, music instructor, Selkirk School District, (509) 446-3505 or   donivan_j@hotmail.com or djohnson@selkirk.k12.wa.us.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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