Duo to make Carnegie Hall debut

Contact: Maridith Geuder

Music from the Czech Republic, some never performed in the U.S., will highlight the debut of two Mississippi State University musicians at New York City's premier performance hall.

The Oct. 12 Carnegie Hall recital will feature flutist Lana Johns and pianist Joel Harrison. Their 2 p.m. program includes contemporary Czech and American music, much based on research the two conducted while artists in residence at the Prague Conservatory.

The music education professors have performed as the Johns-Harrison Duo since 1992. Last year, they represented Mississippi in a concert commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. They also have performed in Germany, as well as in a variety of United States locations.

In 1994, they were part of a cultural exchange program in Prague, where they presented recitals, met with Czech composers, and pursued research interests.

Their research yielded "a tremendous amount of music virtually unavailable in the United States," Harrison said. "We found a great deal of music we liked, including a number of very fine works that have not been performed."

For that reason, they chose the major American venue of Carnegie Hall to present the unusual program. Much of the music selected for the recital was written during Communist domination, when the country had little contact with contemporary Western composers.

"The music is harmonically and structurally conservative and very much in a European idiom," Harrison observed.

"American Sonatina," written for the duo by Czech composer Jindrich Feld, will receive its premiere performance. Feld has been music director for national radio in the Czech Republic and is a highly regarded contemporary composer. Johns and Harrison also will perform Feld's "Sonata," which they have performed previously in Prague.

Also featured will be "Sonatina for Flute and Piano" by Petr Eben of Prague. Eben has composed major works for organ and chorus, but this sonatina is not widely known in the United States, Harrison said.

Rounding out the program will be the "Partita for Flute and Piano" by Eduard Drizga and "Sonata for Piano and Flute" by American composer Lowell Liebermann. Johns describes the selections as "musically outstanding."

Lana Johns studied at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and Florida State University. Joel Harrison studied at Northwestern University, Indiana University, and the University of North Carolina and has been a Mississippi Touring Artist.

Advance tickets may be purchased with most major credit cards from CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800. Tickets also are available at the Carnegie Hall box office at 154 West 57th Street in New York.