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Release: Feb. 23, 2001

University Symphony will honor retiring UI Vice Provost Leslie Sims at concert March 7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will pay tribute to one of the university’s most enthusiastic arts supporters, UI Vice Provost Leslie Sims, at its concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert will also feature UI faculty and guest artists Annette-Barbara Vogel, violin; Fulbert Slenczka, cello; and Rene Lecuona, piano, in a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.

The concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, will be free and open to the public.

Sims, who will work for the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., next year and retire from the UI at the end of the 2001-02 academic year, will be featured with the symphony as narrator in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s "Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra." As a further tribute to Sims, whose son Stephen Sims was at one time concertmaster of the orchestra, the entire violin section will play the solo part of the popular "Meditation" from Massenet’s "Thais."

The University Symphony will open the concert with "Lollapolooza" by John Adams.

Sims came to the UI in 1991 as dean of the Graduate College. In that role he has helped support students in the arts and the arts programs at the UI. Outside of his professional responsibilities, he has shown support through attendance and participation in both university and community arts programs.

Jones commented, "What an honor it is to share the stage with one of the university’s most distinguished administrators who has been such a strong supporter of the arts, not only at the university but in the community at large for so many years. We are delighted to provide this special recognition for his years of service before he retires from the university."

Sims said, "It is a genuine honor to have been asked by the Division of Performing Arts and the conductor of the University Symphony to narrate Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.’ I have been a passionate supporter of the excellent arts programs at the UI, which makes this invitation especially meaningful to me."

One of the most accomplished English composers of the 20th century, Britten was enjoying his first major success in the years after World War II. Having earned a reputation as a brilliant orchestrator, he was commissioned in 1945 to write music for a film for the Ministry of Education about the instruments of the orchestra.

Britten was fascinated with the music of Henry Purcell, England’s most famous native-born composer and one of the greatest composers of the Baroque period. Britten had made numerous arrangements of songs and other works by Purcell, and for the film commission he wrote a set of variations on one of Purcell’s dance themes, each variation showing off the sound and capabilities of one of the orchestral instruments, from the violins all the way through to the percussion section.

When performed without narration, the score is known as "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Henry Purcell," but it is most often programmed under the title "The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra," with a narrator reading the film script. In this form it had its concert premiere by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting, on Oct. 15, 1946.

Prior to his appointment to the UI, Sims was associate vice chancellor for research and professor of chemistry at North Carolina State University. He has also served on the faculty of the University of Arkansas and Michigan State University, and held visiting appointments at Indiana University and the University of Sheffield, England.

His professional career in chemistry includes 28 articles in refereed journals and more than $1.5 million in National Science Foundation grants for his research on the dynamics of chemical reaction, kinetic isotope effects, gas-phase kinetics, unimolecular reactions and molecular vibrations. He has served on the boards of numerous professional organizations, and been listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in Technology Today, Men of Achievement, American Men and Women of Science and International Who’s Who in Engineering.

Vogel joined the UI faculty in January 1999. She teaches violin and is the artistic director of Magisterra, the UI International Chamber Music Festival and Academy that was inaugurated in May 2000. She has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, playing as a soloist with orchestra, a solo recitalist and chamber musician. She has appeared at the Aspen, Ravinia, Chautauqua, Menuhin and Schleswig-Holstein festivals, among others.

Prior to her appointment at the UI, Vogel taught at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen. She has taught master classes in Europe, the United States and Asia. At the recommendation of the Tokyo String Quartet she was appointed artist in residence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she taught on the faculty and was a member of the Monticello Trio. She has won numerous performance competitions, and has been serving on the jury of the "Jugend musiziert" (Young performers) competition in Germany since 1998.

Vogel has recorded on the Harmonia Mundi, Cybele and Highland labels, including music by Beethoven, Khachaturian, Smetana, Ravel, Richard Strauss and Alfred Schnittke. Future recording projects include a violin-cello duo CD and a violin-piano CD with Sonatas and pieces by Brahms, Enesco, Lutoslawksi and Reger.

Fulbert Slenczka was born in Heidelberg, Germany. Following studies with some of the leading artists teachers in Germany, he came to the United States in the late 1980s to study with Janos Starker at Indiana University, where he received his Artist Diploma. In addition he played in master classes for the major cellists and teachers, and his strong devotion to chamber music was supported by the Amadeus Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio throughout his early career.

Slenczka has won top prizes in many national and international competitions, including Jugend musiziert and Hochschulwettbewerb Essen in Germany and the Cello Competition of the Society of American Musicians. He received scholarships from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and the BDI (Cultural Foundation of Industry in Germany), and from Indiana University.

After receiving his Solo Diploma at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen, he was appointed principal cellist at the orchestra of Deutsche Oper am Rhein (German opera on the Rhine) in Duisburg/Düsseldorf. Slenczka also pursues an active career as soloist and recitalist throughout Germany, Western Europe and the United States, and is an avid teacher and competition judge. He has recorded for most of the major German Radio and TV stations. Most recently, he recorded a violin-cello duo CD that will be released in the spring of 2001.

Lecuona maintains an active teaching and performing schedule at the UI School of Music, including frequent collaborations with her faculty colleagues. Since joining the faculty in1990 she has appeared in more than 55 on-campus concerts. She is featured on several CD recordings, including one with double bassist Diana Gannett of chamber music by Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In a recent review of the CD in Bass World, Lecuona’s performance on the recording was described as "magnificent."

Lecuona has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Most recently she performed and presented master classes in Mexico. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in a chamber performance in Weill Recital Hall in 1993, and she has appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras in New York and Iowa. 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.

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.

Jones 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. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota, a music honorary society.

Jones 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 and been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>.