CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
University Symphony plays music by John Adams, Gordon Jacob, Mahler
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will perform music
by contemporary American composer John Adams, British composer Gordon Jacob
and Gustav Mahler on it second concert of the 1998-99 season at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.
The concert, directed by William LaRue Jones, will be free and open
to the public. Horn player Kristin Thelander will be the featured soloist
in Jacobs' Concerto for Horn and strings. Other works on the program will
be Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" and Mahler's Symphony
A native of Worcester, Mass. and a graduate of Harvard, John Adams is
one of the most active and successful composers of concert music in the
United States. In the 1970s and early '80s he was first a teacher at the
San Francisco Conservatory of Music and then composer-in-residence with
the San Francisco Symphony. During this period he established his reputation
with several orchestral works, including "Hamonielehre" "Shaker
Loops" and "The Chairman Dances." His two operas "Nixon
in China" (1987) and "The Death of Klinghoffer" (1991) have
also been highly successful.
Adams' style has been aptly described as harnessing "the rhythmic
energy of Minimalism to the harmonies and orchestral colors of late Romanticism."
His brisk, exhilarating fanfare "Short Ride in a Fast Machine"
was composed in 1986 for the Pittsburgh Symphony and premiered by them
at the opening of the Great Woods Festival that summer. It has been one
of his most frequently performed orchestral scores.
Gordon Jacob played a major role in British musical life of the mid-20th
century. He studied at the Royal College of Music, then taught there for
40 years, from 1926 until his retirement in 1966. Although he never became
famous outside England, at home he was recognized as a distinguished teacher
-- particularly of instrumentation -- and a composer of economical, well
crafted and accessible works.
Jacob had a particular interest in wind instruments. He wrote several
band pieces that are still performed regularly, and his orchestral works
include concertos for oboe, bassoon, flute, horn and trombone, as well
as a Suite for tuba and strings and a Rhapsody for English horn and strings.
The Concerto for Horn and strings was written in 1951 for the great British
horn virtuoso Dennis Brain.
The first of Mahler's nine completed symphonies was composed from 1884
to 1888 and thus belongs both chronologically and stylistically to the
19th century. It was first conceived as a symphonic poem in five movements,
divided in two parts. The score even had at one time the semi-programmatic
title "Titan," which placed it in the tradition of the Romantic
symphonic poem. Before the first performance, which took place in Budapest
in 1889, Mahler discarded one movement and recast the work as a traditional
symphony in four movements.
The symphony begins mysteriously, with an introduction that emerges
out of silence with falling figures that recall the beginning of Beethoven's
9th Symphony. This leads into a large-scale movement that includes many
of the composer's stylistic hallmarks: brass fanfares, march-like rhythms,
diatonic themes contained in a richly chromatic fabric, a large orchestra
employed for both delicate coloristic effects and massive climaxes. Subsequent
movements likewise touch upon many of Mahler's favorite devices: a movement
based on the Laendler, an Austrian folk dance; a set of variations on a
minor-key version of "Frere Jacques," with many touches of the
grotesque; and a stormy, dramatic finale that suggests a highly emotional
journey from anguish to triumph.
Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989. Active
as both soloist and chamber musician, she is a member of the Iowa Brass
Quintet. During the summer she performs with the Britt Festival Orchestra
in Jacksonville, Ore. She was the first prize-winner in the 1981 American
Horn Competition, and she has performed throughout the United States, Europe,
Mexico, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. She has performed
as soloist with the La Crosse Symphony, the Heartland of America Air Force
Band, the Lake Agassiz Concert Band, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the
Iowa Baroque Orchestra, the Greeley (Colo.) Philharmonic and the Santa
Thelander has recorded two CDs for Crystal Records, one with the New
Mexico Brass Quintet and one as natural horn soloist with Carol lei Breckenridge.
In 1997 the Iowa Brass Quintet released its first CD, featuring music celebrating
the UI Sesquicentennial, and they recently released a recording of the
Fisher Tull Concerto da Camerata for saxophone and brass quintet for the
Centaur label. Thelander has been a member of the Advisory Council and
the vice-president of the International Horn Society.
A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music
in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral
studies. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music
director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities
Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. He is a highly honored
musician, having received the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Art Award, the
American String Teachers Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award
and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award.
Jones is conductor of the Bloomington (Minn.) Symphony and has appeared
as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber
Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras
around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in
46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence
at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).