Season 51 Concert II

John C. Ross, composer


The CNM Ensemble

performing works of guest composer and UI alumnus John C. Ross
with works by Hervig, Jenni and Gompper

Read the concert program and program notes

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 7:30pm at the Recital Hall


My Time at Iowa, by John Ross

When I think back over my time at the University of Iowa, I feel lucky that I had the chance to attend such a school.  While there, I had the opportunity to do things that proved to be invaluable for my future.  Iowa was the perfect stepping stone for launching my career as a university music professor, giving me a breadth of experiences that, I believe, allowed my résumé to stand out from others who would be applying for the same jobs.  For example, in my very first semester, I received a commission from the Center for New Music.  The work that resulted--first performed and recorded in Clapp Hall--won other awards and led to other significant performances. For three years, I was a graduate theory assistant where I got plenty of classroom teaching experience, the very thing that would help me to secure my first tenure-track job.  Every year I was at Iowa, the performances of my music at the Midwest Composers' Forum gave me irreplaceable professional experience and several outstanding recordings.  Also while at Iowa, I felt privileged to be a part of an experimental class, Words and Music--the brain child of David Gompper and Marvin Bell--where 10 composers worked with 10 poets from Iowa's famed Writers' Workshop, a class that could not have existed anywhere else.  Finally, the Fulbright I received, enabling me to study in France, could not have happened at all were it not for the support I received--financial and otherwise--from the School of Music and the U of Iowa administration.  While in France, I worked on a piece for soprano and orchestra, "After a Line By Theodore Roethke," which, subsequently, has received some attention: a professional orchestra reading in NYC, a major award, multiple performances, and it has been recorded on CD.  Its success, however, is entirely rooted in Iowa.  The work is a setting of a poem by Marvin Bell, a professor of Iowa's Writers' Workshop; it was completed in Iowa, and was my dissertation for my Ph.D in 1997.

In addition to the professional experience I received, the fellow students I worked with--musicologists, performers, and yes, even composers--were unforgettable, often at the top of their field. We would get into after-class discussions that were engrossing; topics brought up in musicology classes inspired future research; composition seminar, although often contentious, was also eye-opening; in short, graduate school at Iowa made music seem endlessly fascinating. It was a heady time. My graduate years at Iowa proved to be a high point in my life that, although provident for my career path, would be hard to duplicate later. It is with a mixture of nostalgia and pride that I think back on those days. I am grateful to the University of Iowa School of Music and all the professors, staff, and fellow students that were part of it. 


Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 7:30pm-9:30pm (ended)


The UI School of Music Recital Hall