News & Events

Newell to give classical piano concert at UMPI

Live classical music returns to the University of Maine at Presque Isle when contemporary classical composer and pianist John Newell plays in the Campus Center on Thursday, April 30, at 7 p.m. Presented by the UMPI Cultural Arts Committee, this special night of music is free and community members are invited to attend. Donations will be accepted at the door to support future cultural arts activities.

Newell’s program is slated to include three Sonatas (K. 197, 513 and 531) by the Baroque composer Domenico Scarlatti; Sonata No. 30 in E (Opus 109) by Ludwig van Beethoven; Companions (Book II) by John Newell; Lost Love, a romantic rag by Stephen Dankner; and selections from Children’s Corner by Claude Debussy. He will also share brief observations about the works he has chosen for this program.

Newell is what you might call a contemporary classical composer. Like many of his colleagues, though, he draws from a variety of musical traditions. His objective is to create works that arise from his personal journey and response to the world. His work has been commissioned by organizations from New York to Los Angeles, and has received support from the American Music Center, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Meet the Composer.

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Newell graduated from Duke University and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts. He completed his formal musical training at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied with Morton Feldman. While in Buffalo, he held the first Edgard Varese Fellowship in composition, earning his Ph.D. in composition in 1979. He studied piano with Loren Withers, Leonid Hambro and Yvar Mikhashoff.

Since completing his doctorate, Newell has pursued an independent path, finding inspiration in the beauty and wonder of nature, in poetic and visual imagery, and in what he learns from the world’s sacred traditions.

Organizations that have commissioned works include Eight Strings & a Whistle, Atlantic Sinfonietta and The Bowery Ensemble (New York), Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), the Enid Symphony Orchestra (Oklahoma), as well as a number of amateur groups. His works are self-published through Abierto Music.

An accomplished pianist, Newell’s natural interest is in the modern repertoire. He has participated in a number of premiere performances, including the solo part in his Concerto for piano and orchestra.

Newell is also experienced as a conductor and teacher. Currently, he serves on the piano faculty of the SummerKeys music program in Lubec, Maine, offers music classes at the Cobscook Community Learning Center, directs the music for St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Machias, and is the founding director of the choral group Quoddy Voices, based in Eastport.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call UMPI’s Community and Media Relations Office at 207-768-9452 or e-mail info@maine.edu. For more information about John Newell, please visit his website athttp://johnnewellmusic.com/Welcome.html.