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Camerata Singers will honor Brahms and Schubert anniversaries Oct. 26

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Camerata Singers, a choral group made up of University of Iowa students and members of the local community, will honor anniversaries of two major composers of the Romantic period in a free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The program will feature two choral works by Franz Schubert, who was born in 1797, and two works by Johannes Brahms, who died in 1897. Also on the program are two works by the eccentric Australian/American composer Percy Grainger.

Camerata is directed by Richard Bloesch from the UI School of Music faculty.

Rene Lecuona from the piano faculty will also perform with the ensemble in one group of pieces by Brahms.

The programming is based on early-late pairs. To begin with, Schubert and Brahms come from the early and late ends of 19th-century Romanticism, with Schubert working near the beginning of the century and Brahms extending to near the end. Further, each composer is represented on the program by an early work and a late work from their own lifetimes.

The early Schubert work is the Latin gradual "Benedictus es, Domine," written in 1815 when the composer was just 18. Thirteen years later Schubert wrote the offertory "Intende voci," one of the last works he completed before his death at the age of 31 in November 1828. Both works were scored for orchestra and chorus and will be performed with organ accompaniment played by UI graduate student Stephen Cook. Tenor John Des Marias will be soloist in the second piece.

The early Brahms work is the "Begraebnisgesang" op. 13, a funeral hymn composed in 1858 when Brahms was 25. For his setting, Brahms used seven stanzas of the Bohemian Brothers' hymn, which is still in use in the Lutheran hymnal. Brahms set the hymn for a small wind ensemble and chorus, an instrumentation that will be used for the Camerata performance.

Brahms wrote his "Zigeunerlieder" (Gypsy songs) op. 103 in 1887, when the composer was 54. A set of 11 songs with the colorful quality of gypsy music, the "Zigeunerlieder" were written for piano with vocal quartet or chorus. Lecuona will perform with Camerata, and both a smaller select group and the full chorus will be used in the performance.

A celebrated pianist and composer, Percy Grainger was born in Australia in 1882 and died in White Plains, N.Y., in 1961. A bizarre and eccentric personality, Grainger had a great interest in folk music, which influenced his own compositions deeply. He wrote many settings of folk songs, which are often flavored by his penchant for unusual or unexpected harmonies. He also wrote a number of original works for instrumental ensembles or keyboard including the once-popular parlor piano favorite "Country Gardens."

Camerata will perform two little-known works by Grainger: "Near Woodstock Town," an arrangement of an English folk song, and "Love Verses from the 'Song of Solomon'," an original work. The latter will be accompanied by piano four-hands, with Camerata accompanist David Shaler and choral conducting doctoral student Matt Faerber playing the piano part.

Bloesch received his doctorate in choral conducting and choral literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He teaches the history of choral literature in the UI School of Music, conducts the Camerata Singers and advises doctoral students. He is CD review editor for the Choral Journal, and he held the national chair of the Repertoire and Standards Committee for Colleges and Universities in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). He is co-author of an annotated bibliography of 20th-century choral music that was recently published by the ACDA.

Lecuona has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, as well as in South America and the Caribbean. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she has given concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also performed solo recitals and given master classes at many universities in Brazil.

In 1993, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in a chamber performance in Weill Recital Hall. She has appeared as soloist with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Orchard Park Symphony, the Vivaldi Traveling Orchestra, the Eastman Philharmonia and the University of Iowa Symphony. In collaboration with her UI faculty colleagues, she has appeared in numerous chamber music concerts on the UI campus.

10/10/97