Composer & alumnus David Ott to premiere concerto

March 25, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE-As a highlight of the North American Saxophone Alliance Region V Conference, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, UWP will have the prestigious honor of premiering award-winning composer and alumnus David Ott's "Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Winds."

Commissioned specially for the conference, the concerto will be performed by renowned saxophonist Joseph Lulloff and the UWP Symphonic Wind Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall of the Center for the Arts.

"David has established himself as a very distinguished composer and has composed music for major ensembles throughout the United States," said Barry Ellis, UWP director of bands and music professor. "Premiering a concerto by a major composer is not an everyday occurrence. It's an honor very few musician experience. We're not only excited to perform his work, but were excited to have David here for the premiere."

In addition to being the University's special guest for the concert, Ott will be speaking with several classes at UWP, discussing his life, how he developed his career as a composer and answering questions students may have about pursuing careers in music composition.

Born in Michigan but raised in Janesville, Ott came to UWP as an undergraduate student from a family of amateur musicians, his mother being a church organist and his father playing guitar and harmonica. Ott received a bachelor's degree in music from UWP in 1969 and went on to earn a master's degree in piano performance from Indiana University in 1971. Ott planned to pursue a career as a high school band director until meeting a friend who composed music.

"When I met a friend who was a composer, it made me think, 'I could do that,' and from there I got the buzz and started composing music myself in the early '70s," Ott said.

Influenced by composers such as Aaron Copeland, Dmitri Shostakovich and George Crumb, Ott continued his education in music at the University of Kentucky, receiving his doctorate in music theory and composition in 1982.

Over the years, Ott has composed numerous musical pieces, including a dedicatory work in 1983 for the opening of the UWP Center for the Arts. In addition to composing concertos and symphony pieces, Ott has composed music for various operas, gaining inspiration through the stories.

"When I sit down to write a piece of music, I think and think about what the piece is going to be about," Ott said. "Once a thought comes to me and I begin composing, the music takes on a life of its own."

Ott's talent, dedication and love of music have not gone unnoticed. Among his prestigious awards are the 1986 Fisher Fellowship, the Lancaster Symphony's 1995 Symphony Composer of the Year Award, the 2003 Music Alive Award and most recently he was named the Pace Eminent Scholar.

Ott has served as the composer-in-residence of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the music director/conductor for the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and he currently teaches at the University of West Florida. Ott said he and his wife are looking forward to visiting Platteville.

"I'm very excited to see all the new things happening at UW-Platteville and renew old friendships," Ott said. "I owe a great deal to the University. My music history professor, Gerald Darrow and my piano teacher Joan Orbis, who has since passed away, were very influential and really changed my life. Coming back to UW-Platteville will be a nice reunion."

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