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REF NO.: 234

SUBJECT: New work by world-renowned percussionist to have international premiere at inaugural concert of new Petro- CanadaHall

DATE: March 10

Petropen, a new work by world renowned percussionist John Wyre, will have its international premiere at an upcoming inaugural concert to be held as part of the official opening celebrations of the Petro-Canada Hall, a new rehearsal and performance facility in Memorial University’s School of Music. Petro-Canada provided $1.2 million in support for the construction of the new $2 million hall.

Petro-Canada, operator of the Terra Nova offshore oil development and participant in the White Rose project, commissioned the work specifically for the opening concert, and Mr. Wyre wrote the work for the Neighbours Percussion Trio. Petropen’s instrumentation is marimba, vibraphone, Noah Bells (India), crotales (Tibet), and rin (Japanese temple bowls). “Although the intonation of the Noah Bells is funky, the interaction of the quality of sound between all the instruments fascinates me and creates new colours in my imagination,” Mr. Wyre said of his new work. “The technology in the new Petro-Canada Hall links our exploration of the music of many centuries and many cultures to music performance and education centres throughout the world. When we consider the many influences in the evolution of music here in Newfoundlandand Labrador, it is only fitting on the 17th day of March that we remember the strong Irish tradition that is here.”

Dr. Tom Gordon, director of MUN's School of Music, is excited that Petro-Canada Hall will open to the sounds of a new work by John Wyre. "One of the most remarkable 'traditions' in the music of Newfoundland and Labrador is the tradition of musical exploration,” he said. “Over the years, John has contributed richly to that legacy through his participation in Sound Symposium and by his encouragement of young musicians. His recent arrival as a permanent resident in the province has been instrumental in the renewal of the vibrant climate for exploratory music that we enjoy."

Biographical Notes

John Wyre

John Wyre was born in Philadelphia, Pa., where he began his percussion studies in 1954 with Fred Hinger. From 1959 to 1964 he pursued his studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with William Street.

After graduation he joined the Oklahoma City Symphony as timpanist for the 1964-65 season and then became timpanist of the Milwaukee Symphony for the 1965-66 season before moving to Canada in 1966 to become the Toronto Symphony timpanist under music director Seiji Ozawa. Mr. Wyre performed with the TSOas principal timpanist for 11 seasons. He has also been the timpanist for the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and for seven years was on call as acting timpanist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

As a performer he has also been part of the Marlboro Music Festival, which he participated in for eight consecutive seasons, 1961 through 1968. He returned to Marlboro for performances in 1996 and 1998.

Mr. Wyre was invited by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu to perform in the Contemporary Music Concert Series held at the Space Theatre of Osaka's Expo 70, and during this stay in Japan Mr. Wyre made his debut as a soloist and a composer with the Japan Philharmonic in his own composition, "Bells," conducted by Lucas Foss.

In 1971 Mr. Wyre was the soloist in Takemitsu's "Cassiopeia," a piece written for orchestra and solo percussionist, with the Boston Symphony . He toured with the San Francisco Symphony in 1973 and 1975.

John is one of the founding members of NEXUS, which began in 1971 as an improvisation ensemble and over the years has established itself as one of the most innovative chamber ensembles in the world. NEXUS was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999. Mr. Wyre resigned from the ensemble in October 2002 after 31 years to devote more time to composing.

As a composer, Mr. Wyre has received many commissions and his compositions have been performed around the world by NEXUS, the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the Japan Philharmonic, Finland’s Tampere Kaupungin-Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and many other orchestras in North America. His symphonic work “Connexus” has been recorded by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and NEXUS.

He is the recipient of the 2002 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, through the Canada Council for the Arts, in recognition of his exceptional talent and his achievements in music.

He has taught for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the University of Toronto, Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario), the Banff Summer School of the Performing Arts, and the Eastman School of Music, and has participated in workshops and master classes at universities and music festivals around the world.

He is artistic director of World Drums and has organized and directed international drum festivals since 1984, including: "Supercussion" in 1984 for the Toronto International Festival; World Drum Festivals for Expo 86 in Vancouver; the 1987 Calgary Winter Olympics; the Commonwealth Summit Conference in Vancouver in 1987; Expo 88 in Brisbane; Expo 98 in Lisbon; and Expo 2000 In Hannover. He was artistic director of the Musaïc Ensemble for Festival Canada in Ottawa in July 1998. In 1991 he created the music for an IMAX film on the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, using his world music ensemble, BUKA.

Mr. Wyre produced two concerts in Japan in October 1998, which brought together Japanese marimba player Mika Yoshida and Canada's Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, performing music from Japan, Indonesia, the Caribbean and South Americaas well as his own compositions.

Mr. Wyre and his wife, Jean, currently reside in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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For further information, please contact IvanMuzychka, manager, Memorial University News Service, 737-8665, 687-9433or


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