A Dvorak in Iowa project

A Dvorak Sighting

A project of Czech-Inspired Music.

In January-April, 2010, a series of concerts celebrated Dvorak in Iowa. Conceived by Red Cedar Chamber music directors/artists Jan Boland and John Dowdall, the project reached traditional concert-goers, rural audiences, children in the classroom, workers in the workplace, and eventually even went to Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.

Why do we call this project a Dvorak Sighting? Because Antonin Dvorak lived in Spillville, Iowa in the summer of 1893. It was here that he wrote his famous string quartet, now known as the American Quartet.

Composer Harvey Sollberger used Dvorak’s string quartet as his inspiration when he wrote Spillville for flute, viola and guitar. Each of Sollberger’s four movements are, in essence, a “variation” of Dvorak’s four movements. Between each movement, Sollberger arranged a short familiar (to the Czechs) Czech folk tune.

Harvey Sollberger, Avalon Quartet, Jan Boland, John Dowdall

Red Cedar Trio (Jan Boland, flute, David Miller, viola – also Michael Kimber, viola – and John Dowdall, guitar) premiered the work in 2006. Red Cedar brought the project back again in 2010 and paired Sollberger’s Spillville with a performance of Dvorak’s American String Quartet. Artists performing Spillville were Jan Boland (flute), Anthony Devroye (viola) and John Dowdall (guitar). The Avalon Quartet (Northern Illinois University) performed Dvorak’s String Quartet on the second half of the program. Members of the Avalon Quartet are Blaise Magniere (vln), Marie Wang (vln), Anthony Devroye (vla) and Cheng-Hou Lee (cello). Violist Lisa Ponton also participated in January-March events.

Concert sponsor was the Iowa Arts Council. Artist sponsors were Margaret Haupt and Max Naxera.

John Dowdall, Avalon Quartet, Jan Boland

From left: John Dowdall (guitar), Cheng-Hou Lee (cello), Marie Wang (vln),
Blaise Magniere (vln), Anthony Devroye (vla), and Jan Boland (flute),


Spillville Trio was recorded in July, 2011 on a disc titled Spillville and Gilead: Chamber Music by Harvey Sollberger and released by Fleur-de-Son Classics in October, 2012. Recording artists are Tony Devroye (viola), Jan Boland (flute), and John Dowdall (guitar). The Sollberger “Gang-of-Five” helped to fund the compact disc recording – that “gang” included Chuck Peters, Joanne Chadima, Grinnell College, Laird & Patricia Addis and Clara “Peach” Moore.

John Dowdall, Tony Devroye, Jan Boland

ALRY Publications Spillville Variations

Music Publication

Spillville Variations on a Theme by Dvorak __ a trio for flute, guitar, viola (or cello) __ was published by ALRY Publications in May, 2017.

<A HREF=”http://www.chamber-music.org” target=”_blank”><font size=”2″ face=”Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif”>Chamber
Music America</font></A>

Concert Schedule: 2010

• December 14–18, 2009 • 5-day Residency
Music for Kids. At Francis Marion Intermediate School, Marion, IA
• January 11–14, 2010 • 4-day Residency
Music for Kids. At Johnson School for the Arts, Cedar Rapids, IA
• January 15 • 2 p.m. (Friday)
Music for Seniors. At Village Place, Marion, IA.
• January 16 • 2 p.m. (Saturday)
Music for Seniors. At Summit Pointe, Marion, IA..
• February 20 • 12 noon (Saturday)
Music in Libraries:. At Hiawatha Library, Hiawatha, IA.
• February 20 • 7 p.m. (Saturday)
Music for Seniors. In Sedlacek Hall at Cottage Grove Place, Cedar Rapids, IA
• March 25 • 9–12 a.m. (Thursday)
Music for Kids. At Starry or Emerson Elem. School, Marion, IA
• March 25 • 7 p.m. (Thursday)
Music for Marion. Family Concert at Lowe Park Arts & Environment Center, Marion, IA.
• April 7 • 2 p.m. (Wednesday)
Open Rehearsal. In the Great Room at Cottage Grove Place, Cedar Rapids, IA
• April 7 • 7 p.m. (Wednesday)
Rural Outreach. At the United Church of Monticello, Monticello, IA. Tkt.
• April 8 • 12 noon (Thursday )
Production Floor Performance. Marion City Hall, Marion, IA.
• April 8 • 7 p.m. (Thursday)
Rural Outreach Concert. At Ainsworth Opera House, Ainsworth, IA. Tkt.
.• April 9 • 2 p.m. (Friday )
Music for Seniors. At Meth-Wick, Cedar Rapids, IA
• April 9 • 8 p.m. (Friday )
Outreach Concert. At the Sondheim Center, Fairfield, IA. Tkt.
• April 10 • 8 p.m. (Saturday )
Main Stage Concert. A Dvorak Sighting. At First Presbyterian Church, 310 5th Street SE. Tkt

John Dowdall, Jan Boland, Harvey Sollberger, Lisa Ponton

In Vegas

Pictured from left: John Dowdall (guitar), Jan Boland (flute) Harvey Sollberger (composer) Lisa Ponton (viola).
In August, 2012 Red Cedar Chamber Music was invited to perform Sollberger’s Spillville Trio at the national convention of the National Flute Association. The concert was held in Las Vegas on August 9, 2012 on a program devoted to a retrospective of the music of composer Harvey Sollberger.

About Spillville

Harvey Sollberger’s Spillville (2006) is a trio for flute, viola and guitar based on Antonin Dvorak’s beloved String Quartet in F, Op. 96 – nicknamed the American Quartet. Dvorak wrote the quartet while living in Spillville, Iowa in the summer of 1893.

In 2003, Red Cedar Chamber Music asked Harvey to join a consortium of Iowa composers who each wrote a one-minute variation on the opening theme of Dvorak’s Scherzo movement of the American Quartet. The resulting work, consisting of a theme and 15 variations, is titled Spillville Variations on a Theme by Dvorak. That project met with great success. A series of educational events and outreach concerts over a 12 month period culminated in a 2004 U.S. premiere at the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, followed by performances in New York City under the auspices of the Czech Center of New York, at the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C., at the National Gallery in Prague, and at the Brno Conservatory of Music in Brno, The Czech Republic. The work was recorded on a compact disc on the Fleur de Son Classics label titled Czech-Inspired.

At the conclusion of that project, Harvey was inspired to write a new trio for Red Cedar Chamber Music, which he titled simply Spillville. The four-movement work is based on the four movements of Dvorak’s Quartet. The third movement of this extended work is the same as the variation Sollberger wrote for the 2003 project described above. Between each movement is a little serenade – Sollberger’s arrangement of a Czech folk song – scored for two instruments. Spillville is a fascinating reinterpretation of Dvorák’s musical language as refracted through Sollberger’s twenty-first century prism.

Sollberger writes, “ I feel especially close – in an almost mystical way – to Dvorak’s Turkey River sojourn. Just a year before Dvorak’s 1893 visit to Iowa, my 20-year-old grandfather, Fritz Dennler, emigrated from Switzerland to Elgin, Iowa, a few miles downstream from Spillville. In a way I can’t explain, his and Dvorak’s being “neighbors” brings Dvorak closer to me: Dvorak is MY neighbor.”

The work was released on compact disc recording in 2012 by Fleur de Son Classics.

Audience Comments:
A Dvorak Sighting concerts 2010

Extraordinary! Your music is inspirational.
Makes me want to go home and practice! Harvey’s ‘Spillville’—wonderful.”

“I just loved it! –As did the rest of the audience from 8 to 80+.
I’ve lived in cities all over the country and have never had the chance to hear such
lovely music in such an intimate setting.” J.S.

“The music is beautiful beyond ordinary description.
It swells the heart and goes directly to the soul.” G.D.

“Music was played with much power and love by the players.”
“Amazing musicians—Red Cedar and Avalon.” M.P.

“Wonderful variety, superb musicianship, and a personal touch.
Fabulous concert.” C.S.


Miera Kim, Executive Director

Carey Bostian, Artistic Director


Phone to (319) 338-0307

Red Cedar Chamber Music
PO Box 154
Marion IA 52302