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UW-Eau Claire Music Professor Receives
Commission to Compose New Work

RELEASED: Nov. 30, 2007

Dr. Ethan Wickman
Dr. Ethan Wickman

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Ethan Wickman, assistant professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recently received a $6,000 commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University to compose a new work for the Avalon String Quartet.

The Barlow commissions, awarded annually, are highly competitive. Only 12 composers were awarded commissions this year out of 135 applicants in the general and LDS program categories.

Wickman met members of the Avalon String quartet, described by The Washington Post as "one of the most exciting young string quartets in America," when he was a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University South Bend. The Avalon String Quartet was in residence there at the time. Currently they are in residence at Northern Illinois University and perform frequently in Chicago.

The idea for the contemporary piece Wickman said he was planning grew out of his interest in the artistic implications of Eastern religion and yoga practice. Wickman's wife is a yoga instructor.

"The piece will be a conceptual one, inspired in part by the Hindu greeting Namaste, which roughly means the light (or divine) within me salutes the light within you," Wickman said. "I started thinking about a piece in which the color of one instrument anticipates and salutes the color of the next."

Wickman said the piece also will have to do with the Hindu idea of Devi, the mother or supreme goddess representing the female aspect of the divine, which Hindus believe balances the male aspect and provides protection. He has started the first movement of the piece, which he expects will be 12-15 minutes long when completed.

"I have been envisioning that one movement will be quieter and more meditative than the others," Wickman said.

According to Wickman, he is expected to complete the composition in time for an April 2008 premiere of the work at NIU and Chicago's Symphony Center.

"The Avalon Quartet also will come to UW-Eau Claire to perform the piece next spring," said Wickman, noting that the quartet will conduct a master class for UW-Eau Claire string and composition students while on campus.

Wickman joined the UW-Eau Claire music faculty in 2006 and teaches music theory and applied composition. He currently works with nine students majoring in music composition and three other music majors. More information about his background and accomplishments is available at on the music and theatre arts Web pages.

This will be the second Barlow commission for Wickman, who composed a piece titled "Atomic Variations" for Flexible Music, a New York-based chamber ensemble, in 2005.

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NW

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