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Percussion performance to pay tribute to late KU professor


It wasn’t until Steve Riley took a music theory class from John Pozdro that his own music-writing career started to take shape.Pozdro pushed his skills, Riley says. And he was funny.“He had this dry sense of humor,” Riley recalls. “He reminded me a little of Bob Hope.”Riley graduated from Kansas University in 1988 and has had a successful career as a composer and music educator, currently serving as an adjunct percussion instructor at Baker University.He kept in touch with Pozdro (pictured above) some through the years. But it wasn’t until October 2007 that the two truly renewed their friendship.Pozdro called Riley, who lives in Lawrence. He was sick, and didn’t know how much time he had to live.“He wanted something creative to work on,” Riley says. “He had an idea to take one of his movements of a piano sonata and have it arranged for percussion ensemble.”So over the next six months, the two percussionists got together periodically to work on the project. They finished in May and called the work “Transmogrifications.”“He was just thrilled,” Riley says.They looked for a venue to perform the piece, eventually settling on a series of faculty recitals by Riley and Kurt Gartner, another KU alumnus now teaching at Kansas State University.But Pozdro won’t be there. He died Jan. 1.“We were looking forward to the opportunity of hearing our work together,” Riley says. “Sadly, he didn’t make it to the performance.”But Riley will be thinking of his colleague and former teacher during the recital, which will feature a variety of percussion works. The Lawrence concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Room 130 of KU’s Murphy Hall. Admission is free.There also will be performances at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Baker University and at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at Kansas State University.


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