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Violinist Leopold La Fosse celebrates 25th anniversary with recital series

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Violinist Leopold La Fosse will celebrate his 25th anniversary as a member of the University of Iowa School of Music faculty with a series of recitals that show his remarkable diversity as a performer -- appearing as soloist, chamber musician, historical instrument performer and jazz musician -- on the first four Sundays in November.

The performances, at 3 p.m. Sundays Nov. 2, 9, 16 and 23, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus, will be free and open to the public.

The first recital will be a solo recital with pianist Rene Lecuona, duplicating La Fosse's first faculty recital on the UI campus in November 1972. Subsequent performances will feature La Fosse as a member of the International Trio on Nov. 9; as director and soloist with the La Fosse Baroque Orchestra on Nov. 16; and with the La Fosse Jazz Trio on Nov. 23.

In a time of increasing specialization in musical performance, as in many other fields, La Fosse's versatility marks him as an exception to the trend. But in each area of performance, he is pursuing a personal interest.

Solo performance has been a cornerstone of his performing career from the time he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio at the age of eight. His solo performances have included both the great virtuoso showpieces and works for the deepest musical content, from Paganini etudes to the Bach solo sonatas and partitas.

Chamber music, the most collaborative of musical endeavors, has also been important for La Fosse, who has performed with most of his faculty colleagues at the UI School of Music. "You can't be a complete musician without chamber music experience," La Fosse says. "It's important to engage in the give-and-take of close collaboration with other musicians. I urge my students to play chamber music, and I make it a priority in my own life as well."

Since joining the UI faculty, La Fosse has made a special effort to learn and teach Baroque performance practice and techniques. He founded the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble, a group specializing in the performance of Baroque music using copies of Baroque instruments and bows. He has made several trips to Vienna to study Baroque performance techniques, and he has performed the cycle of Bach solo sonatas and partitas on both the modern violin and historical instruments.

As for his interest in jazz, La Fosse has said "I love jazz and love playing it. Improvisation, which is the essence of jazz performance, is an important part of the history of classical music. In the Baroque period, good performers were expected to improvise, but it's become kind of a lost art for classical players.

"Improvising in a jazz group is so different from the kind of note-by-note accuracy you aim for in classical playing, and the give and take with the other players is really fun for me."

In addition to his performing career, La Fosse has been a highly successful teacher, attracting students from throughout Iowa, across the Midwest and around the world. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform, teach, and give master classes. His success there has been so great that many students have traveled from Brazil to Iowa to continue their studies with him.

The programs of the four anniversary performances, all Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. in Clapp Recital Hall, will be:

-- Nov. 2, La Fosse with Lecuona: "Devil's Trill" sonata by Tartini, featuring the virtuoso cadenza of violinist Fritz Kreisler; Bartok's Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944; Brahms' Sonata No. 1 in G major for violin and piano; Ravel's gypsy violin showpiece, "Tzigane"; and an arrangement of Paganini's "La Campanella."

-- Nov. 9, The International Trio of La Fosse, pianist Howard Abel and cellist Terry King: Beethoven's Trio in D major, op. 70 no. 1 ("Ghost"); Duo for violin and cello by Zoltan Kodaly; and Arensky's Trio in D minor, op. 32.

-- Nov. 16, The La Fosse Baroque Ensemble: Quartet for violin, flute oboe and bassoon by Telemann, featuring La Fosse with guest artists Taadeu Coelho, flute; Mark Weiger, oboe; and Ron Tyree, bassoon; Concerto for Four Violins ("L'estro Armonico" op. 3, no. 10, by Antonio Vivaldi; J.S. Bach's Concerto for Three Violins, BWV 1064; and one of the most popular Baroque concerto cycles, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," with La Fosse as soloist.

-- Nov. 23, The La Fosse Jazz Trio, with La Fosse, pianist Dan Knight and string bassist Gary Palmer: program of jazz standards including "Star Dust," Honeysuckle Rose," "Lady Be Good," "All of Me" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love."

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His extensive performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. He made his first public appearance at the age of four. He later studied at the New England Conservatory. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

La Fosse continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had recent performances at Wigmore Hall in London, Sala Ceclila Mireles in Rio de Janiero, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

1A member of the UI School of Music faculty, 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.

10/17/97