David GOMPPER has lived and worked in the US, the UK and Nigeria; as a Fulbright Scholar he has also taught at the Moscow Conservatory. A recipient of an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of a Fromm Commission from Harvard University, Gompper has accompanied many singers and instrumentalists. His compositions have been performed at Carnegie and Lincoln Center (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna) and the Bolshoi Hall (Moscow). His Violin Concerto can be heard on a Naxos recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; he is currently composing two concerti, for clarinet and cello. Since 1991, he has been a professor of Composition and Director of the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa.
A film documenting this tour, A Legend in My Heart (K. Busbee, 2015), can be found here.
Stephen KUUSISTO is the author of the memoirs Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light, and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and The Ohio State University. He currently directs the Renée Crown Honors Program at Syracuse University where he holds a professorship in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and is a frequent speaker on disability and diversity issues around the US and abroad.
Michelle PEARSON is a choreographer, dancer, and master teacher working in North Carolina and abroad. She makes dances with people of all ages and abilities including veterans, inmates, politicians, active duty marines, corporate executives, shipyard workers, retired nuns, and professional dancers. A former member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, she is now an Artistic Associate with the company. Previously, she danced with the Doris Humphrey Repertory Company and the American Dance Ensemble in NYC, and was a member of Raleigh’s Even Exchange Dance Theater; she is now the Artistic Curator of the Black Box Dance there. Guest faculty at many institutions, most recently in a pilot program in healing arts at Harvard Medical School, she has been recognized by the North Carolina Arts Council, and named a William Friday Fellow for her commitment to improving human relations in that state.
Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many works of translation and edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War. His work has been translated into nearly forty languages, his honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government, and his journalism appears in many publications. As director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries.
IWP Staff Coordinator:
Kelly BEDEIAN received a degree in Linguistics from the University of Iowa, after which she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, then went on to work on a variety of professional development and exchange programs, including as a Country Manager for Armenia and the Caucasus Region with IREX. She joined the IWP in 2004, where she is an Administrative and Program Coordinator.