CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
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Iowa City IA 52242
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Release: Oct. 27, 2000
Kantorei will sample the breadth and depth of American music in free concert
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- American music, from the hymns of the early settlers
and the spirituals of the first African-Americans to the latest work of the
University of Iowa faculty, will provide the program for Kantorei in their
first concert of the 2000-2001 season, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 in Clapp
Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The premier vocal ensemble of the UI School of Music, Kantorei performs
under the leadership of UI Director of Choral Activities Timothy Stalter.
Mezzo-soprano Kathryn Eberle, a member of the UI faculty, will be a soloist
on the concert, which will be free and open to the public.
Two of Americas most revered composers, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron
Copland, are represented on the program, along with a new piece by UI faculty
member David Gompper and arrangements of hymns and spirituals.
"We wanted to provide a sample -- and its only a sample -- of
American music, in all its diversity and hybrid vigor," Stalter said.
"Theres much more, of course, but these works are indicative of
the breadth and depth of American music."
The concert will be presented in four parts: the Missa Brevis (Short Mass)
of Leonard Bernstein; ""Cædmons Hymn" by David
Gompper; "In the Beginning" by Aaron Copland, performed in honor
of the 100th anniversary of the composers birth; and a selection of
"American Hymns and Spirituals" as arranged for mixed choir by Alice
Parker and conductor Robert Shaw.
"Shaw, who died last year, was one of the most influential American
musicians of his generation" Stalter commented. "Through his work
as conductor and teacher he helped raise the level of choral singing in America,
and he was associated with many of the most important musicians in this country
since the 1940s. This concert is dedicated to some of these associations."
A composer, conductor, author, lecturer and pianist, Bernstein had an extremely
eclectic compositional style that drew from American popular music and jazz
as well as classical models. In 1955 Bernstein wrote French and Latin choruses
for "The Lark," a play adapted by Lillian Hellman from an original
French play by Jean Anouilh. The incidental music for "The Lark"
was written in a medieval style in order to capture the ambiance of this story
of Joan of Arc.
Shaw attended one of the performances and suggested to Bernstein that this
music could become a Missa Brevis. Thirty-three years later Bernstein presented
Shaw with the completed Missa Brevis in honor of his retirement as Musical
Director of the Atlanta Symphony orchestra.
"Cædmons Hymn," the earliest known Old English poem,
was written between 657 and 680. The poet Cædmon, who was formerly unable
to sing, had a dream in which he sang this hymn. On awaking he made known
his new gift of song to the Abbess Hild, who instructed him to become a monk.
He did so, and wrote many other poems on religious subjects.
Gomppers setting of "Cædmons Hymn" is in three
main sections, attempting to mirror the three phrases of Cædmons
life; his life as a cowherd, the night in which he received the divine gift
of song and poetry, and his vocation to this passion for his remaining years.
Aaron Copland is one of the most popular and recognizably American composers
of the 20th century. In the 1930s and 40s, Copland gained attention
with a series of works with distinct American traits, including the use of
jazz and an "American sound" that used simple harmonies and folk
melodies. This harmonic language is evident in his composition "In the
Beginning," written in 1947 for the Harvard Symposium on Music Criticism.
The text is taken from the biblical account of creation, Genesis I:1 through
II:7. Among Coplands choral works "In the Beginning" is the
most difficult and the most significant.
Parker and Shaw have long been known in the choral profession as great arrangers
of folk tunes. The pieces on the Kantorei program are but just a few of the
many songs arranged for the Robert Shaw Chorale in the late 1950s and 60s.
For well over three decades these arrangements continue to be enjoyed for
their sincerity and lack of excessiveness in style. Alice Parker was first
a student of Robert Shaw and later became his conducting assistant for the
Robert Shaw Chorale.
Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999.
He directs Kantorei, teaches graduate conducting courses and administers the
graduate program in choral conducting. He has research interests in teaching
conducting to undergraduate and graduate students and historical music performance
practices. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association,
he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the
In addition to conducting and teaching choral music, Stalter is active as
a tenor soloist in the United States and abroad. A specialist in the music
of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, he is known for his performances
as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. He has
appeared as tenor soloist with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France
and the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, and he recorded as tenor soloist
with Shaw on two compact discs released on the Telarc label.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Eberle has performed internationally in opera,
concert and solo recitals. She has performed with the opera theater of Lille,
France, the Academy of the West, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Aspen Festival
Opera Theatre, the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria, and
at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She made her New York debut at Weill Recital
Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1993. In 1994 and 95 she toured as a musical
ambassador for the United States Information Agency, performing in South America
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. His "Lament for Bosnia" was premiered in 1998 by the
UI Symphony and Choruses as part of "Global Focus: Human Rights 98,"
the UIs year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. More recently, he presented a faculty recital
of his works in Clapp Recital Hall Sept. 27.
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