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World premiere will be part of 'Global Focus' concert by UI Symphony and Choruses

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony and Choruses will present the world premiere of "Lament for Bosnia" by David Gompper, director of the UI Center for New Music, as part of a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus. The concert is part of "Global Focus: Human Rights '98," the UI's yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The performance will be conducted by William Hatcher, director of choral activities at the UI School of Music. Other works on the program will be "Cantata Misericordium" by Benjamin Britten, written in 1963 for the centennial celebration of the International Red Cross, and "Dona Nobis Pacem" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Vocal soloists for the performance will be UI voice faculty members Susan Sandrol Jones, soprano; Stephen Swanson, baritone; and John Muriello, baritone; and guest artist Kurt R. Hansen, tenor. The chorus for the concert will be made up of several choral ensembles in the UI School of Music: Kantorei, the University Choir, Women's Chorale and Camerata Singers.

Gompper teaches composition at the School of Music in addition to directing the Center for New Music (CNM). CNM just returned from a tour that included concerts at Merkin Hall in New York, on the campuses of Harvard and Yale Universities, and by invitation at the Region I Conference of the Society of Composers, Inc., at Connecticut College in New London.

Gompper's "Lament for Bosnia" is a setting of an ancient text that is used in the funeral rite of the Greek Orthodox church. In the Greek text, the souls of the dead return to the beauty from which they came. The writer wonders why some among the living give in to self destruction and looks, on behalf of the departed, to a final transformation to that place of peace.

The musical score incorporates a chant melody written by the medieval Greek composer Koukouzeles not long before Bosnia fell to the Turks in 1463. The score also uses a solo cello, in reference to Vedran Smailovic, a cellist who, during the 1992 siege of Sarajevo, for many days played in the street in Sarajevo where civilians had been killed in an artillery attack. Phrases of the piece Smailovic played -- the Adagio of Baroque composer Tomasso Albinoni -- are heard in the "Lament for Bosnia," which concludes with the cellist playing the end of the medieval chant.

The "Lament for Bosnia" is scored for chorus, two pianos, cello solo and percussion. It will be performed by Kantorei, the premiere vocal ensemble of the UI School of Music, with a faculty ensemble.

Britten's "Cantata Misericordium" is a setting of a Latin text telling the story of the good Samaritan. It will be performed by the University Symphony, a combined chorus of Kantorei and the University Choir, and soloists Hansen and Muriello.

Vaughan Williams wrote "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Give us peace) in 1936 in fearful reaction to the warlike rise of fascism in Europe. The text draws upon passages from the Roman Catholic Mass, writings of Walt Whitman and John Bright, and various passages from the Old Testament. It includes passages about the terrors of war and concludes with a plea for a peaceful world with the text "Nation shall not lift a sword against nation."

It will be performed by the University Symphony with combined choirs and soloists Jones and Swanson.

Hansen's career in opera, oratorio and song recitals has taken him to Europe, the Far East and South America, as well as across the United States. His repertoire includes music from the Baroque through the Romantic era to the music of the 20th century. He has received rave reviews for his performances as the evangelist in Bach's Passions, singing tenor solos in Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and "Das Lied von der Erde'" (The Song of the Earth), and the Requiems of Mozart and Verdi.

His operatic roles range from Tamino in Mozart's "Magic Flute" to Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata," Hoffhausmeister in Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier" and the simpleton in Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov." He was chosen to sing Rodrigo in Verdi's "Otello" with the Chicago Symphony for an internationally telecast performance celebrating the late Sir Georg Solti's 75th birthday. He has sung with major symphony orchestras around the world and leading conductors including Edo deWaart, Claudio Abbado and Robert Shaw.

Hansen is currently on the faculty of the School of Music at Northwestern University.

The newest member of the voice faculty at the UI School of Music, Jones has appeared in opera and oratorio throughout the upper Midwest and has been a member of the renowned Dale Warland Singers and the Bach Society of Minnesota. Her operatic roles show great diversity, from the comic operettas of Offenbach to contemporary works by Hans Werner Henze, and include all three major female roles -- Countess Almaviva, Susanna and Cherubino -- in different productions of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro."

A graduate of the UI, Jones has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the MacPhail Center for the Arts/University of Minnesota, where she was chair of the voice department.

A singer whose work has ranged from opera and operetta to concert and musical theater, Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997. His work in operetta and musical theater has been extensive. He performed in the off-Broadway production of "Terra Incognita" by Roberto Sierra and as Alidoro in Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella) with Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee. This past summer he appeared with Lyric Opera Cleveland as the narrator and mysterious man in Sondheim's "Into the Woods" and Marcello in "La Boheme."

Swanson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1994. For nearly 20 years before that date he had an active operatic career in Europe. During that time his repertoire grew to more than 70 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has been a featured soloist in European festivals including the Berliner Festwochen, the Days of Contemporary Music in Dresden and the Festa Musica Pro in Assisi, Italy. He recently appeared in operas by Viktor Ullman, a victim of the Nazi death camps whose music is being rediscovered, in performances in Prague, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Martyr's Memorial and Museum in Los Angeles.

Gompper joined the music theory and composition faculty of the UI School of Music in 1991. He has received numerous awards for his academic and musical achievements, including the Charles E. Ives Prize for composition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His "Transitus" was premiered at Carnegie Hall and his "Flip" was premiered by the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.

Gompper was invited to perform several of his works and lecture on current American musical trends in composition in Thessaloniki, Greece, and will do so again at the Music College in Thessaloniki , as well as in Russian at the Moscow Conservatory of Music and at Auckland University in New Zealand. He has also served as a cultural specialist for the United States Information Agency in Kwangju, South Korea.

Hatcher has served as director of choral activities at the UI School of Music since 1988. He directs the graduate choral conducting program, conducts choral ensembles in the School of Music and frequently appears as music director of productions by the UI Opera Theater.

Under his direction Kantorei participated in an International Choral Competition in Tolosa, Spain in 1996. Prior to that honor, Kantorei was one of only five choirs chosen to participate in the 1994 World Choral Festival in Seoul, South Korea, where they presented concerts over an eight-day period. In 1990 Kantorei performed the Mozart "Requiem" with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and other orchestras in the former Soviet Union, and also gave concerts in Russia, Estonia and Finland. Kantorei has also performed for regional and national conventions of the ACDA in 1992 and 1993.

Hatcher has published materials on choral skills and choral arrangements, and he appears frequently as a choral clinician and festival choir director.

"Global Focus: Human Rights '98" is a cross-disciplinary program of teaching, research and action of the UI and its surrounding communities designed to address the problems and prospects of human rights as the 21st century approaches. The program features distinguished speakers, scholarly lectures, panel discussions, published research, curricular innovations, community forums, radio broadcasts, artistic displays, theatrical events, films and musical offerings.

Global Focus has included visits by Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng; human rights lawyer Jerome Shestack, president of the American Bar Association; Cambodian "Killing Fields" photographer Dith Pran; and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. For more information, visit the Global Focus website at < http://www.uiowa.edu/~hr98/>

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.

11/13/98