I first met the late Arthur Canter about five years ago, shortly after arriving in Iowa City. He would come to the library every few months and check out a stack of recordings and books to aid in his writing of program notes for a number of performing organizations around town. Arthur liked to stop by my office and chat about local performances, painting, the workings of the mind, principles of a good program note, and his love of music. The first thing I learned about the Canters was that they went to just about everything. They attended Symphony concerts, faculty recitals, Hancher performances, art shows, Libraries’ Friends events, all with a fervent interest. However, Arthur’s enduring love was opera. He saw his first live opera, Gounod’s Faust, in 1938 at the Met. “Looking back at it, I hardly think Faust is an ideal choice for a first opera, but I had no choice and no advice. I went and ate it up. I was positively thrilled…and became a confirmed opera lover ever since.” Biographies of opera singers and books on the extravagant art formed the core of his personal music library, which he donated to the Music Library just a few weeks ago.
I was surprised to learn that Arthur was not a practicing musician. His knowledge and experience of music came from listening to recordings, attending concerts, and reading books and articles. Arthur was well versed in Western art music repertory, but was aware of its exclusivity. To that end, he often donated sound recordings of underrepresented or lost works to the Music Library, including music by women composers, and Holocaust victims and survivors. In 2014 (my first year on the job), I learned that a group of friends had raised funds so that the Rare Book Room could be named in honor of the Canters. Arthur walked up to me soon afterwards with a twinkle in his eye and pronounced, “I’m a rare book!” Arthur was accurate in a more literal sense; he is the author of a book in the Rare Book Room titled Tonight’s Program which includes twenty years of his program notes, written for performances at Hancher Auditorium. I remember unlocking the door of the Canter Rare Book Room two years later in 2016 so Arthur and Miriam could see it for the first time. Arthur was wearing musical suspenders and both he and Miriam were beaming. I made sure to show him Tonight’s Program, his rare book, on the shelf.
In the last year or so, Arthur and Miriam attended few programs around town. Arthur’s hearing was in serious decline, and it broke his heart that he could no longer hear the music he loved. He returned to exploring the visual arts, mostly producing pencil sketches and watercolors, several with musicians as their subject. Arthur believed that the visual and musical arts were more deeply entwined than most believe, and would talk at length about the role of color or timbre in musical perception. Even when he couldn’t hear music, he never stopped thinking about it or wanting to talk about it. This dogged curiosity and thirst for knowledge, for connection, is what I will miss most about Arthur. To my mind, there could hardly be a more fitting space to bear the Canter name than a room that melds together music, libraries, and a persistent pursuit of learning. It will be a privilege to share Arthur’s story and passion for music with Library patrons for many years to come.
In the summer of 2018, the Rita Benton Music Library “adopted” Wülfie Parsons, who belonged previously to Dr. Donna Parsons.
He’s a born and bred Iowa pup, and is settling in nicely to his new home here in Voxman.
Wülfie will be around the Music Library, usually near the Service Desk, so be sure to stop by and say hello! In the meantime, here are Wülfie’s top five things to know about using the Music Library in 2018.
1. Check out some music
There are over 200,000 items in the library stacks, most of which are scores.
Find something that you want to play, hear, or read and use your Iowa One card to borrow it from the Library.
2. Find a great place to study
There are large tables, windows, benches, weird 50s looking chair pod things, and Wülfie’s personal favorite seats, the study carrels. Get comfortable, bring a cup of coffee, and a stack of books or scores, and study in the Music Library.
3. Use library equipment to record music
The Music Library has two Zoom H4n digital audio recorders and one Zoom Q8 video recorder available for check out that can be used to record practice sessions, recitals, lessons, or other musical endeavors. Items circulate for one day.
4. Check out library exhibits
The Library exhibits materials from the School of Music Archives, its vast collections, and much more. This fall, the Library will mount an exhibit highlighting theses and dissertations by School of Music graduates, including critical editions, compositions, recording projects, and historical research on music in the Midwest, Iowa, and the School of Music. This spring, there will be two exhibits mounted by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in music classes. Right now, the case is empty, but Wülfie thought he would make an engaging exhibit item.
5. Make a new friend
Wülfie thinks the Music Library is a pretty great place to study with friends, and even make new friends. You’ll meet other students in the School and students from other programs, see faculty looking for new music to play or a book for their latest research project, your friendly neighborhood Music Library staff members, and of course, Wülfie!
University of Iowa School of Music concert recordings are archived by the Rita Benton Music Library. The Library maintains a streaming audio digital collection of current performance recordings that is available to current University of Iowa faculty, students, and staff. Patrons must have a valid HawkID and password to stream recordings.
Here are just a few highlights from concerts this October in the School of Music:
Olivier Latry, organ (guest artist recital)
You may have heard about this concert from just about everyone who attended. Olivier Latry, organist at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and professor at the Paris Conservatory, delivers a masterful performance on the Concert Hall’s Klais organ. Of particular note is the 20+ minute improvisation on the Dies Irae and “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” Really, this actually happened and it was amazing. Listen >
Oboe Music from Portugal: Courtney Miller, oboe; Minji Kwon, piano
Enjoy a mixture of old and new works from Portugal, including Os Contos do Oboé, op. 73 by Ricardo Matosinhos and composed for Iowa’s oboe professor Courtney Miller, in this faculty recital featuring professors Conklin, Arnone, Wolfe, and Rutledge. Listen >
GIRLS A-Z: A Hodgepodge of Songs: Stephen Swanson, voice; Alan Huckleberry, piano
This concert consists of 26 songs featuring the name of a woman, one for each letter of the alphabet. Broken into two long tracks (13 apiece), enjoy this recital that features many genres, styles, and languages, delivered magnificently by Iowa’s own superb interpreter of song literature, Stephen Swanson. Be sure to read the program notes by Marilyn Swanson for some background on how this curious program came to be and a detailed bibliography of all the songs. Listen >
Whether you’re new to campus or returning for another year, the Rita Benton Music Library is excited to welcome you!
Here are a handful of news, tips & tricks, and resources that can get your 2017 school year off to a great start.
Check it out, plug it in
The Music Library now has the following equipment available for circulation:
Audio Technica Headphones (quantity: 5)
Dell Optical Drives (for use with Mac or PC) (quantity: 2)
ZOOM H4N Digital Audio Recorders (quantity: 2)
Little Bits Synth Kits with MIDI bits and cables (quantity: 2)
All items are available for 2 hour checkout, in building use only.
Listen to School of Music Recordings Online
All School of Music faculty recitals and ensemble concerts are now available to stream online in the Iowa Digital Library from 2003-present. Access is limited to University personnel with a valid HawkID and password. Additional recordings will become available, as the Library will continue its efforts to preserve and digitize recordings pre-2003. Thanks to former Library Assistant Megan Small for her hard work on this project.
Christine Burke joined the staff of the Rita Benton Music Library as Library Assistant III on Friday, June 16. She is responsible for course reserves, digital projects, supervising the library in the evenings, and some collections processing.
Christine recently graduated with a Master of Music Degree (Composition) from the University of Iowa, with additional studies in clarinet and organ. Recently, her music has been performed by the Chicago Civic Orchestra, JACK Quartet, UNK New Music Ensemble, and at various festivals and conferences throughout the country, with upcoming performances by the Talea Ensemble (Time Spans Festival 2017/Earle Brown Music Foundation’s International Summer Academy), The Living Earth Show, and Kamratōn Ensemble.
Take a look at some 2016 stats and highlights
See how many pages were scanned, items were circulated, and learn the top reasons patrons visit the Music Library.
Starting on March 31, 2017, the School of Music will host three Collage concerts celebrating the opening of the Voxman Music Building at 93. E. Burlington St. “Coming Home” is the theme of the year, especially for the many alumni who have journeyed to see the new space and hear music fills its halls. Historically, the University of Iowa School of Music has often grappled with the concept of “home,” especially since the program has spent only 37 years of a 110+ year existence in a centralized location.
1906-1971: Seeking a home
When the School of Music, Affiliated was established in 1906, it occupied space in what became Unity Hall (close to present day Phillips Hall). However, faculty studios were also in homes and ensembles rehearsed in MacBride or the Armory (near the current English Philosophy Building). In its second year, the school took over space in the Dey Building across from Unity Hall on the corner of Iowa and Clinton.
In a 1920 memo addressed to University president Walter A. Jessup, newly appointed School of Music director Philip Greeley Clapp outlined the dire facilities situation, including lack of soundproofing, “doors that will stay neither open nor shut,” a lack of practice rooms, no dedicated performance and rehearsal spaces for large ensembles, and insufficient security. He was pragmatic, recommending that the School would be happy to be “tucked into new or old building with other departments” but warns that “perhaps the others may not care for our company!”
These are not “frills” but crying needs…I cannot omit to point out that developing a department of music under present conditions is almost like building a house without tools. Certainly a ten years’ delay would stifle all growth!
By the 1930s, Clapp felt the School was reasonably well served by its facilities, especially with the addition in 1931 of what became known as the “School of Music Building” on the corner of Gilbert and Jefferson. In 1954, Clapp stepped down as director and was succeeded by Himie Voxman. Documentation shows that Himie started advocating for a new building early on in his tenure as Director. It was time for the Department to teach, practice, learn, rehearse, study, and perform under one roof.
1971-2008: A place to call home
In 1968, it was announced that a new fine arts complex would be constructed on the west bank of the Iowa River to house the School of Music and several other arts venues. The state supplied 2.7 million and several federal grants totaling 1.5 million funded the School of Music portion, though the entire complex would end up costing around 11 million. Architect Max Abramovitz (New York) designed the complex, which included a 700-seat recital hall named for P. G. Clapp, a 200-seat hall named for administrator Earl Harper, and a large 2,5000+ seat performance space that would be named in memory of UIowa president Virgil Hancher. The School opened in 1971 and Hancher Auditorium rolled out the red carpet in the fall of 1972. A headline in the Iowa Press-Citizen read, “Makeshift Days Ending at Iowa School of Music” – for the first time in its 60+ year history, the School had a place to call home.
The Building carried a generic title for many years. However, in 1995 the Board of Regents, at the urging of what Himie Voxman called, “a small but very determined and energetic group of my friends,” named the School of Music Building in honor of Mr. Voxman and his many accomplishments on behalf of the University of Iowa’s music programs. Mr. Voxman’s speech at the May 2, 1995 building dedication ceremony recognized that:
Most awards and honors are destined to be placed on the lapels of jackets, hung on walls, displayed on shelves or, in some cases, deposited in banks. I believe my honor is something special. It is so great and so significant it can only be worn in one place – my heart.
2008-2016: The loss of a home
The 2008 Flood of the Iowa River ended in tragedy for the Voxman Music Building. Deemed a loss by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Voxman Music Building was razed in 2013 with plans for a replacement facility launched in 2009. Over the next eight years, the School occupied over 20 different campus and community buildings in order to supply studios, office, practice rooms, classes, rehearsal and recording spaces, performance venues, and library services. After much discussion, the decision was made to separate Hancher Auditorium and the School of Music, the latter of which returned to a mere three blocks south on Clinton Street from its first home in Unity Hall on Clinton and Iowa.
2016-present: Coming home
In August 2016, the School of Music moved into its new home on the corner of Burlington and Clinton in downtown Iowa City. The 184,000 square foot building includes a 700-seat concert hall, 200-seat recital hall, organ recital hall, rehearsal rooms, the Rita Benton Music Library, practice rooms, classrooms, studios, offices, and a student commons. More importantly, it houses all of the faculty, staff, and students of the School of Music under a single roof, right in heart of Iowa City.
Be sure to check out the “Building a School of Music” exhibit, which will be on display from April-July in the first floor hallway case located outside of the School of Music offices and across from the Rita Benton Music Library.
2016 was a momentous year for the Rita Benton Music Library at the University of Iowa, largely defined by the move into a beautiful, new facility in the Voxman Music Building eight. Here is our review of the year’s events at the Library, including highlights, predicaments, and a few peculiarities.
The Music Library’s student workers and full time staff separated non-folio scores from folio scores, thereby sorting 90,000 items in preparation for the move into the new library. Non-folio scores are now shelved in mechanical compact shelving, while the folio scores are shelved in open stacks.
The School of Music’s Center for New Music donated its papers and library of scores to the Music Library in 2013. Most of the scores and all of the papers have been processed, but as of January, there were still some loose ends.
In order to organize scores that were separated from parts or otherwise incomplete, the music librarian and catalogers unboxed and sorted over 800 scores in a single day. Many scores from the Center’s collection are now cataloged and available in the stacks (search for “Center for New Music, donor” in InfoHawk+).
The Library staff met with campus planners and the local architects and designers to review swatches and furniture selections for the new Library. Some selections changed – for example, the red and brown fabric was dropped for the upholstery on the library’s large chairs and replaced with a taupe covering and the heavy red felt for the window benches replaced with a neutral gray, but the bright red wall finishes, striped carpet, and smooth black and gray finishes for the stools remained.
In March, music librarian Katie Buehner went on a tour of the Voxman construction site. The Library was still very much a work in progress. Changes made since her previous visit in June 2015 included drywall throughout and compact shelving track being laid in the workroom for the media stacks.
Adding a newly purchased item to the Library’s Rare Book Room collection is always exciting. In April, the Music Library purchased a set of parts for arrangements of Mozart’s operas for string quartet. This marvelous set includes arrangements of Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, La Clemenza di Tito, Cosi Fan Tutte, La Nozze di Figaro, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Overall, the parts are in quite good shape, especially considering their tentative dating of 1799.
In May, music librarian Katie Buehner gave a lecture on the history of the School of Music at the Iowa City Public Library as part of their “Music is the Word!” programming series, celebrating the School of Music’s move to downtown Iowa City. The lecture is available for viewing via the Iowa City Public Library’s On Demand streaming platform.
June was the first month of work for the Library’s new full-time staff member, Megan Small.
Megan oversees course reserves and works on digital projects, such as adding streaming audio recordings to the Iowa Sounds collection in the Iowa Digital Library. She supervises the Library during evenings and on the weekend.
Megan worked previously in the library as a Graduate Assistant before heading to Hungary in 2014-2015 on a Fulbright Scholarship.
On July 26th, the very first cart of books made the trip from the second floor of the Main Library to the first floor of the Voxman Music Building. Professional movers used gondolas, or deep shelving units on wheels, to transport the Library’s 205,000 books, scores, journals, microfilms, and recordings a mere three blocks away to the corner of Burlington and Clinton.
In the first few days of the move, the library staff members reset the height of almost every shelf in the Library to facilitate the offloading of the gondolas. Excess shelving was temporarily stacked by the west window that overlooks the loading dock.
On August 5th, the final book was shelved in the new Music Library. The Library’s temporary shelving in the Main Library was already being reconfigured to hold different collections.
The Music Library was closed to the public from July 26-August 21 because the Voxman Music Building was still an inaccessible construction site. In that time, the staff worked to prepare the collection and facility for the Fall semester and most the new furniture was installed. And on August 18, Arthur and Miriam Canter stepped foot in the new Rare Book Room which now bears their names.
On August 22nd, the Rita Benton Library welcomed its first patrons to the new library.
Voice students from School of Music and the Chamber Singers of Iowa City performed three recitals as part of “Noon Tunes” during the Main Library Gallery exhibition “First Folio: the book that gave us Shakespeare.” Songs featuring texts by the Bard are plentiful, and attendees were treated to old favorites as well as contemporary settings.
September was also when the School of Music Recording Archive (1971-present), which includes reel-to-reel tapes, DATs, cassettes, and CDs, moved from the old recording studio on Riverside to the Music Library. The collection will be inventoried and the long-term goal is to digitally preserve this archive for access by this and future generations. Select recordings from 2008-2016 are already available to stream, with a HawkID and password, via the Iowa Digital Library.
The Grand Open House and Ribbon Cutting for the Voxman Music Building took place on October 21st.
The Music Library created a popup exhibit of items drawn from the history of the School, displayed information about the people for whom rooms are named in the Library, and had a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
October was also the month where we experienced some of the growing pains of being in a new building. During a significant temperature change, condensation started to drip from heating and cooling units above the stacks. Double bass professor Volkan Orhon reported moisture in the stacks, and the library staff hustled to respond, including members of the Libraries’ excellent Preservation and Conservation departments. No scores or books were damaged.
A key piece of equipment was added to the Music Library this Fall: a high speed, heavy duty scanner. It is highly used and popular with faculty, students, and members of the public. The Music Library is thankful to the Coke fund, which funded the purchase of the scanner.
Currently, the Music Library is gearing up for 2017. Plans for the coming year include several efforts to preserve and digitize portions of the School of Music’s many archives, completion of a finding aid for the Frederick Crane Papers (marvelous resource for musical history in Iowa, study of the Jew’s Harp, musical instrument iconography, and more), partnering with Dr. Wilson Kimber and her class on Music and Cultures of Print in the Eighteenth Century (which will draw upon many items held in the Canter Rare Book Room, and hosting the Midwest Music Library Association annual meeting in October.
We hope you will visit the Rita Benton Music Library, use its collections, draw upon the expertise of its staff, and enjoy our beautiful new facility in the Voxman Music Building.
On Wednesday evening, the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra and Choirs will perform Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor-E flat major, “Resurrection”, marking the first School of Music ensemble performance in the new Hancher Auditorium.
The selection of this work is a powerful reminiscence for many, as it was performed during the opening weekend of the old Auditorium in 1972 under the direction of James Dixon (UI Symphony Orchestra Director, 1962-1997).
For that performance, the Orchestra was 141 players strong and included many faculty players: Bill Hibbard, viola; Eldon Obrecht, bass; Tom Ayres, clarinet; Ronald Tyree, bassoon; Paul Anderson, horn; Delbert Disselhorst, organ. Kathryn Harvey (soprano) and Janice Roché (mezzo-soprano) were the vocal soloists and the choirs totaled 197 singers. All in all, that placed over 325 performers on stage.
There were two other works performed on the concert; Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture and a world premiere work by Charles Wuorinen, Grand Bamboula for String Orchestra.
Listen to the 1972 recording of Mahler’s Second Symphony
The Daily Iowan reported that, “Thunderous applause greeted Dixon at the finish of the first piece, and the new world premiere of the Grand Bamboula presented a haunting, mystical, and unique element to the concert. But nothing could surpass the excitement and magnificence of Dixon’s conduction of the symphony by Gustav Mahler. It was truly one of the most incredible moments of music in the history of the University of Iowa…bravos and cheers filled the auditorium at the closing bars…as Dixon reappeared on stage, the audience gave him a 10 minute standing ovation.”
This was not the first time Mahler’s Second Symphony was performed at the University. In 1942, Philip Greeley Clapp (School of Music Director, 1919-1953) led the University Orchestra and Choirs in the work. The 1972 program book reprinted a segment of Dr. Clapp’s program notes for this concert, which were then augmented by student David Lasocki.
“It was a great moment in the lives of the 2,680 audience members – being part of the opening of Hancher Auditorium. The brilliance and magnificence of the evening of September 30, 1972, will make the future years of culture in Iowa more memorable, more meaningful, and historically significant as a ‘new beginning’ for the arts of the midwest,” concluded The Daily Iowan. Now in 2016, 1,800 audience members will have the opportunity to relive that historical moment while creating one of their own on September 28th.
Eight years after the 1,000 year flood, the Rita Benton Music Library has moved from its temporary home on the second floor of the Main Library into the new Voxman Music Building. The Library is located on the first floor near the Clinton St. entrance and occupies about 10,000 square feet.
Books, Bound Journals, non-folio Scores, Miniature Scores, and Theses and Dissertations are in a 22 aisle compact shelving bay against the west wall. The shelves are electronically wired to move at the push of a button. If you have questions about how to use the compact shelving, library staff will be happy to provide a quick demonstration.
Eble Seminar Room
The Music Library is now home to a 16 seat classroom that will be used for academic classes, library workshops, and that will be made available for students to use for group study. The room is named for Charles Eble, longtime owner and proprietor of sheet music shop Eble Music in Iowa City.
School of Music Recording Archive
The Music Library is in the process of ingesting the School of Music Recording Archive into its collections. The long term goal is to digitize all reel-to-reel and DAT tapes contained in the Archive and to make them available to faculty, students and staff at the University.
New Scanner – coming soon!
One great perk of being in the Main Library was having access to their top-notch scanners. We do have a flatbed scanner right now, but will be adding an overhead scanner, like those at the Main Library, sometime during the Fall semester.
Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery
If you would like to check out ILL requests from the Music Library, you will need to change your desired Pick-Up Location in your ILL account. Log into ILL and you can change your account information in the left-hand menu. If you do change the location, expect each delivery to take more time; usually at least a day.
The Canter Rare Book Room
Our marvelous rare collection now resides in a space named for longtime Iowa arts patrons Arthur and Miriam Canter. If you would like to view an item from the rare collection, please ask for staff assistance at the Service Desk. Items may now be viewed on any day that the Music Library is open EXCEPT for Saturday.
Windows and sculptures
The Music Library has large windows facing south and west that let in stunning natural light and give the space an open and inviting atmosphere. The south window stretches a full two stories, and hanging from the ceiling is a Chihuly glass sculpture, which was purchased with funds set aside by the State of Iowa for the installation of art in all state buildings.
What’s the Same
The Music Library’s hours are still Monday-Thursday, 8am-9pm; Friday, 8am-5pm; Saturday, 12pm-5pm; Sunday, 12pm-9pm.
Our three full-time staff members – Amy McBeth, Megan Small, and librarian Katie Buehner – are all here to help you find with your research and answer your questions about how the Library works. If you have a question or concern, please ask!
In eight years, the Music Library’s collection has seen significant growth so that it now contains over 205,000 items, over 90,000 of which are scores. If there’s something you think the Library should add to its collection, please contact Music Librarian Katie Buehner <firstname.lastname@example.org> with your recommendation.
The Rita Benton Music Library retains its name, which was put in place in 1980 following the death of Iowa’s first music librarian, Dr. Rita Benton. Our two long window seat benches are also named in her honor, thanks to support from her family.
Be sure to stop in, take a look, check something out, and say hello!
The University of Iowa Libraries will play host to a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio August 29-September 25. The Folio and accompanying exhibit, featuring items from the Folger Library and University of Iowa Special Collections, will be housed in the Libraries’ Gallery (located on the first floor near the north entrance).
The Grand Opening event will take place on August 29th at 10am in the North Lobby of the Main Library.
A series of noontime recitals will take place throughout the month of September featuring music from the era of Shakespeare or compositions inspired by the Bard.
Chamber Singers of Iowa City on September 14th, 12:10pm-12:45pm
Students from the School of Music Voice Studios on September 21st and 28th, 12:10pm-12:45pm
Come hear some great music and while viewing this cultural treasure!
The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall video streams classical music concerts, current and historic, to your PC. The mobile app is not included in our subscription.
This resource features the orchestra under the baton of famed conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, and Herbert Karajan and also includes interviews with conductors & soloists and program notes.
The first time you use Digital Concert Hall you must register, then log in to subsequent sessions. Only five users can be logged in simultaneously, so please log out of the DCH after you are done using it.