Faculty Artist Series Luther's Murasaki Duo to perform piano and cello recital March 16

The Murasaki Duo, Luther College ensemble-in-residence, will perform a recital titled, "The Commissions," at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in the Noble Recital Hall of the Jenson-Noble Hall of Music on the Luther campus.

The event is open to the public with no charge for admission.

The Murasaki Duo has been commissioning works since their founding in 1996 and recently decided that they had a collection of five terrific pieces that would work well together as a program.

The five works commissioned for the duo include Robert Pound's "Goes Around," Brooke Joyce's "Dark Waters," Jerry Owen's "Mr. Raggity's Sublime Dance," Jocelyn Hagen's "Elegy" and Maria Newman's "Peccavi Duo."

The Murasaki Duo consists of husband and wife team Eric Kutz, Luther associate professor of music, on cello, and Miko Kominami, Luther adjunct faculty in music, on piano. The duo formed in 1996 at the Juilliard School and has been dedicated to performing cello and piano literature as chamber music ever since.

The concert begins with Robert Pound's piece, "Goes Around," which speaks to the lighthearted side of life and was inspired in part by Pound's experience visiting Kutz, Kominami and their young children. The relationship between the duo and Pound began when Kutz was a student at the Juilliard School and Pound served as his resident hall assistant. In 2010 Pound performed as a guest composer for the Luther College semi-annual "Music in the Shape of a Pear" concert.

"Dark Waters" by Luther College associate professor of music and composer-in-residence Brooke Joyce follows. The duo met Joyce when he joined the Luther faculty in 2005. They commissioned a piece from him in 2007 and formed a friendship with Joyce based on discussion about many of the elements that inspired the creation of the piece, including artist Mark Rothko and the New York School of painting, and Kutz canoeing as a child around Bemidji, Minn.

"Mr. Raggity's Sublime Dance," by Jerry Owen, professor emeritus at Coe College, incorporates a jazz style that the duo has always especially appreciated and enjoyed performing. The duo has performed several of Owen's pieces over the years, including a piano sonata for a retrospective concert performed at Coe to celebrate Owen's 35 years at the college.

The next piece, "Elegy," by Jocelyn Hagen, incorporates the name of the Duo, Murasaki, into the piece itself.  Murasaki Shikibu was the author of what is believed to be the world's first real novel, "The Tale of Genji," written around the year 1000 in Japan. The inspiration for Hagen's "Elegy" is a chapter in the novel that focuses on the death of Genji titled, "Vanished into the Clouds."

The performance concludes with a piece by Maria Newman titled "Peccavi Duo." The Muraski Duo premiered "Peccavi Duo" in 2009 at the Malibu Coast Music Festival in California, an event that features the duo annually.

The Murasaki Duo, known for performing more than the classics, are advocates for new music and actively commission new work.

The pair has performed throughout the United States and Canada, including concerts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto. In 2005, the duo gave a six-concert tour in Scandinavia.

The Murasaki Duo released its debut CD, featuring works of Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, on the Centaur Records label. The disc was described as "ebullient… brilliant throughout," by the "Journal of the Atlanta Audio Society."