Contact: Victoria Winkelman or Kami Duncan
SMU Meadows School of the Arts
(214) 768-3785 or (214) 768-2788

March 17, 2003


Free Public Concert in Honor of Renowned Composer's 65th Birthday To Feature 5 World Premieres

DALLAS (SMU) -- Simon Sargon, renowned contemporary composer, pianist and professor at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, will celebrate his 65th birthday in a unique way: with a concert of eight of his original compositions, including five world premieres, performed by friends and colleagues from around the country. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 6, in Caruth Auditorium in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. The concert is FREE and open to the public, and the audience is invited to a birthday reception in the atrium after the concert. Parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley and in the garage beneath the Meadows Museum. For more information, please call the Division of Music at 214.768.1951.

The program will showcase the composer's musical diversity, from classical to jazz, from comic to serious, based on themes ranging from poetry to art to soap operas. The concert opens with "KlezMuzik" (1996), a joyful, dance-like piece performed by Mr. Sargon and Ross Powell, associate professor of clarinet at the Meadows School. The work is followed by the world premiere of "Sound the Flute," five short pieces based on the poetry of Langston Hughes, William Blake and others, including an anonymous poem found at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. Guest performers will include soprano Joan Heller, associate professor of voice at Meadows, and Helen Blackburn, principal flutist with the Dallas Opera Orchestra.

The world premiere of "Janus," a quartet for piano and strings, follows, featuring violinist Mark Miller, concertmaster of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra; Ute Miller, principal violist of the Dallas Opera Orchestra; cellist Elizabeth Morrow, associate professor of music at UT-Arlington; and Mr. Sargon. Next is the comic work "Take Five," with guest performer and bass-baritone Burr Phillips, assistant professor of voice at Meadows. "Take Five" is set to five humorous poems by New York poet Samuel Hoffenstein, whose witty verses are reminiscent of Dorothy Parker.

Following a brief intermission, Sargon and horn player Marcia Spence will present the world premiere of "Portraits of Vermeer," which captures the essence of five famous portraits by the Dutch painter, slides of which will accompany the performance. Ms. Spence is professor of music at the U. of Missouri- Columbia. The pace changes with the next work, "Dusting Around with Scott's Rag," a jazzy variation on ragtime performed by Mr. Sargon and Ms. Blackburn.

Pianist David Karp, Meadows School professor of piano, then presents the world premiere of "Triptik," a buoyant, breezy work in three short movements for piano solo.

The concert concludes on a lighthearted note with the world premiere of "Bubbles -- Scoping the Soaps," which presents digests of five famous soap operas -- "One Life to Live," "Days of Our Lives" and others -- set to music. Ms. Heller and Mr. Phillips return as guest "soap" singers.

About the Composer:

Simon Sargon was born in 1938 in Bombay, India, of Sephardic-Indian and Ashkenazic-Russian descent and came to the United States as an infant. He took private piano lessons with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and studied music theory at Brandeis University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He went on to study composition under Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School, where he earned an M.S. degree, and at the Aspen School of Music under Darius Milhaud. Mr. Sargon taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Juilliard between 1967 and 1971, and served as head of the voice department of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem from 1971-1974. In 1984 he joined the music faculty of the Meadows School, where he currently serves as professor of composition. He is also music director emeritus at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, where he served as director of music from 1974-2001.

Among Mr. Sargon's major works are Symphony No. 1: Holocaust (1985); the oratorio Psalms of Qumran (1990); several operas; Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra (1994); In Time of AIDS, for Chorus and Organ (1995); Implosions for Two Pianos (1996); and MoodSwings, 24 Preludes for Piano Solo (1998), as well as many song cycles and choral compositions. Mr. Sargon's orchestra work, Tapestries, was premiered by the Dallas Symphony under the direction of Andrew Litton in December 1998. The composer's latest commissions include Psalm 8, commissioned by Yale University in honor of its 300th birthday; The Search Unending, an oratorio commissioned by Susquehanna University; and A House for All Peoples, commissioned by Temple B'nai Israel in Oklahoma City.

Mr. Sargon's works are published by Boosey and Hawkes, Southern Music, Transcontinental Music and Lawson-Gould. He is listed in Baker's Biography and the International Who's Who in Music (Eleventh Edition). His work as both composer and pianist may be heard on the New World, Crystal, Ongaku and Gasparo labels. Three compact discs devoted entirely to his compositions have been issued by Gasparo: Shema, A Clear Midnight and Flame of the Lord. The newest Gasparo CD featuring his work is Threepenny, which includes a performance of his Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra by the Meadows Symphony.