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Cornell singers, dean premiere work

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Diana Nollen  ::   UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 3:51 pm   ::  

When Boston vocal ensemble Tapestry takes its new piece on the road, composer James Falzone of Chicago will likely play the clarinet part.

But when "How Can Barren Be So Beautiful" has its world premiere Monday (1/28) night at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Dean Joe Dieker will wrap his artistry around the clarinet role.



Dieker, 55, Cornell's dean since July 1, 2010, holds a doctor of musical arts degree from Arizona State University and taught music for 25 years before becoming an administrator. He still flexes his musical muscles at Cornell, teaching clarinet there and playing with the school's orchestra, where he was featured  in a concerto performance last April.

"They're getting used to (hearing) me," he says with a laugh.

Such opportunities give him a chance to blend both of his career paths.

"Playing music is just what I do. Being the dean of the college is my job," he says. "This (concert) gives me a chance to get to know students. I wouldn't normally have as many chances sitting in my office."

The details


Tapestry, a five-woman ensemble formed in 1995, combines medieval, traditional and contemporary vibes. Falzone is known largely for jazz compositions, but has written across genres, Dieker says.

This piece, which runs about 8 minutes, is based on a series of poems by Margaret Chula of Portland, Ore. Dieker says “Barren” is contemporary in tone and reflects a style of music developed in the past 20 years. It features Tapestry's female vocalists; the group's male percussionist, Takaaki Masuko, on vibraphone; Cornell's Chamber Singers; and Dieker.

The commission and collaboration between Tapestry and Cornell were designed to give students an enrichment experience, in conjunction with the school's popular Music Mondays concert series.



"It's really good for our students," Dieker says. "First of all, they're singing with a really nationally famous group. Tapestry is a really top-notch group. Plus, they're singing a piece that's never been heard before.

"The composer, James Falzone, was out a few weeks before Christmas to rehearse with them, so he actually got to talk to them about how he conceived the piece, why he wrote it the way he wrote it and gave them some tips on how he wants it performed," Dieker says. "And then he and the Tapestry group will be backed next weekend, and we'll rehearse this before Monday night's concert. ...

"It's a pretty unique experience."

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