CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
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Release: Release: August
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Our research suggests that the Millennium
Festival at the University of Iowa is the most ambitious and extensive new-performing-arts
celebration of the millennium in the U.S. So please dont forget us in
your millennium coverage. For information about the entire season visit www.uiowa.edu.~hancher.)
UI Millennium Festival is one of world's most ambitious
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 1999-2000 performing arts season
at the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will contribute to the world-wide
celebration of the millennium with an ambitious Millennium Festival, featuring
16 major commissions in music, theater and dance. Fifteen of the commissioned
works and productions will be given their world or American premieres in Hancher,
making the UI festival one of the most extensive performing-art programs to
celebrate the new millennium anywhere in the world.
New works have been created -- or will be created -- by
choreographers Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall,
Bill T. Jones, Ushio Amagatsu and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Canadian theater
visionary Robert Lepage; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty,
Paul Schoenfield, UI alumnus David Lang and Mexicos Gabriela Ortiz.
Performances of the commissioned works will be presented
by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, the Kronos Quartet,
the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, Sankai Juku, the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theatre, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Paul
Taylor Dance Company, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and
the Ethos Percussion Group.
Several of the commissioned works will be presented in
the midst of residencies that will feature extensive arts education efforts,
including events cabled statewide on the Iowa Communication Network (ICN).
The ICN is a unique, state-owned fiber-optic network linking educational institutions,
libraries, community centers and government agencies for real-time audio-visual
"Why a Millennium Festival?" Hancher director
Wallace Chappell asks. "Why not! The world seems to be intent on marking
this moment, so we decided to join the party by doing what we know how to
do, which is to nurture the creation and enable the presentation of the performing
During the 80s and 90s, Hancher has commissioned
more than 50 works in music, theater, and dance -- including the Joffrey Ballet
mega-productions of "The Nutcracker" and "Billboards"
-- drawing world-wide recognition, and building Hanchers international
reputation as an innovative leader in commissioning and presenter networking.
Even with that rich history,
the Millennium Festival will represent nearly a quarter of the commissioning
projects in Hanchers history -- in a single season.
Despite the fact that the calendars fulcrum represents
a religious event for many people, and the turn of the millennium is fraught
with apocalyptic prophesies, Chappell is careful to note that Hanchers
celebration carries no religious or philosophical baggage. "Whatever
the millennium is -- or isnt -- we expect it to mean SOMETHING,"
he says. "We expect something extraordinary to occur. So our purpose
in marking the millennium is to actually MAKE something significant occur
in the arts.
"Hancher is taking positive action in order to confirm
the value of the arts in the next millennium and to strengthen our commitment
as a research and development center for artistry, a long-standing concern
of the UI. The UI was the first university to integrate academics and the
creative arts, so we have a venerable tradition to draw from, and to live
Since Chappells intention was neither to summarize
the past millennium nor predict the next, he approached many artists who are
old friends of the auditorium, artists whose track records made them ideal
choices for commissions. Chappell spiced that list just a bit with artists
that he knew well but had not yet presented in Hancher.
The festival will actually open Sept. 10-12 with an American
premiere by one of those artists, French-Canadian theater director Robert
Lepage. His "Geometry of Miracles" was inspired by one of Americas
greatest architectural visionaries, Frank Lloyd Wright, whose structures dot
the landscape of Iowa and the Midwest. LePage is renowned for startling images
of his own, making him one of theaters most potent visionaries.
But the Millennium Festivals official kick-off event
will be an occasion worthy of Klieg lights, the Sept. 17-18 American premiere
of Twyla Tharps new "Diabelli," set to the famous Beethoven
"Diabelli Variations." "I was totally captivated by the seamless,
enticing communication between the dancing and the playing," the critic
for the Spectator wrote of the London premiere. "Diabelli
shows clearly that her creative genius is back in full force and at its best."
Clement Crisp wrote in Londons Financial Times, "Diabelli
is dance uncompromising, bold. ... Tharps view of Beethoven is both
honest and honourable and, no greater praise, illuminating."
Hancher has played an important role in the career of
the Kronos Quartet, the iconoclastic ensemble that has revolutionized the
contemporary definition of the string quartet. Building on numerous past commissions
and premieres, Hancher will present the Kronos Quartet both on
Sept. 15, 1999 and on May 3, 2000 -- each time with commissioned world premieres.
In September Kronos will present the debut of "Traveling Music,"
a far-ranging journey through world music and exotic instruments; and in May
Kronos will be joined by diva Dawn Upshaw for a world premiere by Mexican
composer Gabriela Ortiz.
Hancher has presented the apocalyptic Japanese dance company
Sankai Juku on several occasions, but now the auditorium is becoming the companys
first American commissioner, with the American premiere of Ushio Amagatsus
"Hibiki," Oct. 1-2.
Most of the new works in
the Millennium Festival are the creations of the moment, with no explicit
connection with the particular calendrical observance. An exception is choreographer
Susan Marshalls "The Descent Beckons." Marshall has
taken her inspiration from celebrations of natural
cycles, specifically the rituals of the winter solstice.
These rituals, which often involve journeys into the underworld, spiritual
or physical transformations, and miracles of resurrection, are found in cultures
around the world. This full-evening work, which Marshall describes as "outrageously
good fun," views the last millennium through this process of birth, death,
transformation, resurrection and hope. The production, featuring music by
UI graduate David Lang, will be given its world premiere in Hancher Oct. 8-9.
Like Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor has been one of the defining
creators of modern dance for several decades, and his companies performances
have been Hancher audience favorites. His young Taylor 2 company is in the
midst of a three-season residency program that links Hancher with presenters
in Burlington, Decorah and Pella through a grant from the Lila Wallace-Readers
Digest Fund. For the Millennium Festival, the master is creating a new work
for a Oct. 15-16 world premiere.
Bill T. Jones is another American choreographer with whom
Hancher has had a long and productive relationship, and he has also been in
residence in Waterloo/Cedar Falls through the Cedar Arts Forum. Hancher has
co-commissioned some of Jones most famous and controversial works --
ambitious, full-evening productions tackling wrenching issues of race, faith,
homosexuality and disease. Jones first work for the Millennium Festival
will offer something strikingly different, a rare solo evening on Oct. 26.
He will return in March with the world premiere of "Oh! You walk?"
Choreographer Lar Lubovitch is one of the UIs most
distinguished alumni in the arts, recognized as one of his generations
most important dance creators. He is a fitting component of the Millennium
Festival because he found the inspiration for his dance career in a Hancher
performance he attended as a UI student. Hanchers commission pairs him
with one of Americas most venerable dance institutions, American Ballet
Theatre, in Nov. 2-3 performances.
The collaboration of Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa
Jo Zollar and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company brings together two old Hancher
friends who exemplify the power and spirituality of African-American dance.
Their world premiere will be presented in Hancher Nov. 19-20.
The spring season of the Millennium Festival will open
with the Ahn Trios world premiere of a composition by Paul Schoenfield,
whose "Tales From Chelm" was performed in Hancher by the Everest
Quartet. The Ahn Trio is one of three ensembles participating in Hanchers
four-city residency program, and the Schoenfield composition will be performed
for audiences in each city during the season.
Two more UI alums will play a central role in the April
8, 2000, collaboration between New Yorks Bang on a Can and Sydneys
Australian Chamber Orchestra. School of Music alumnus David Lang is the founder,
and one of the primary composers, of Bang on a Can, and one of the ensembles
performers is percussionist Steven Schick, who was a fixture in the UI Center
for New Music for several years.
In April, the Millennium Festival will present world premieres
of works by two of Americas most in-demand composers, Pultizer Prize-winner
Richard Danielpour and Cedar Rapids, Ia., native Michael Daugherty. The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson
Trio will present the Danielpour composition on April 13, and Daughertys
new work will be premiered by the Ethos Percussion Group (another ensemble
with UI alumni connections) on April 18.
Major commissioning sponsors include Procter & Gamble,
the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music Americas "A
Musical Celebration of the Millennium."
* * *
The Millennium Festival at Hancher Auditorium, The University
of Iowa, Iowa City
9 -11 Thurs-Sat *Robert Lepage, "Geometry of Miracles,"
8 pm, Hancher Loft
15 Wed *Kronos Quartet, "Traveling Music,"
8 pm. World premiere.
17 & 18 Fri & Sat *Twyla
Tharp Dancers, "Diabelli Variations," 8 pm. American premiere
1 & 2 Fri & Sat *Sankai Juku, "Hibiki,"
8 pm. American premiere.
8 Fri *Susan Marshall
& Company, "The Descent Beckons," 8 pm
15 & 16 Fri & Sat *Paul Taylor Dance Company,
8 pm. World premiere.
23 Sat *"The Breathing
ShowBill T. Jones Solo," 8 pm. World Premiere.
2 & 3 Tues & Wed *American Ballet Theatre/Lar
Lubovitch commission, 8 pm.
19 & 20 Fri & Sat *Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theater, 8 pm.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar world premiere
31 Fri Millennium
Eve, The Glenn Miller Orchestra. 9 pm-1 am
27 Thurs *Ahn Trio, 8 pm, Clapp Recital Hall.
Schoenfield world premiere.
3 & 4 Fri & Sat The Guthrie Theater, "A
Midsummer Nights Dream," 8 pm
24 - 25 Fri & Sat *"Oh! You Walk?" Bill
T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, 8 pm
8 Sat *Australian Chamber Orchestra with Bang on a
Can, 8 pm.
David Lang world premiere.
13 Thurs *Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, 8 pm, Clapp
Richard Danielpour world premiere.
18 Tues *Ethos Percussion Group, 8 pm, Clapp Recital
Michael Daugherty world premiere.
3 Wed *Dawn Upshaw and Kronos Quartet, 8 pm.
Ortiz world premiere.