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CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
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Release: June 15, 2001

UI Summer Orchestra will present a pops concert in the park June 28

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra will recreate a great American summer musical tradition -- the "pops" concert in the park -- at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 28 at the Riverside Festival Stage in City Park in Iowa City.

The free concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, will feature soprano Susan Jones and baritone John Muriello singing selections from Broadway musicals and operetta, as well as light classical favorites and orchestral arrangements of Broadway selections.

The first half of the concert will open with two of the most popular pieces from the light classical repertoire: The Hungarian March from "The Damnation of Faust" by Hector Berlioz and the "Blue Danube" Waltz by Johann Strauss, Jr.

Completing the first portion of the program, Jones and Muriello will sing selections from "A Little Night Music" by Stephen Sondheim, including Sondheim’s greatest popular hit, "Send in the Clowns."

After an intermission, the orchestra will return to perform Symphonic Impressions from Meredith Willson’s Broadway tribute to his Iowa boyhood, "The Music Man." Jones and Muriello will sing the "Fly" Duet from Jacques Offenbach’s "Orpheus in the Underworld," and the concert will conclude with selections from Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway classic, "West Side Story," as arranged for orchestra by Jack Mason.

In 1846, Berlioz was preparing for a concert tour in Hungary. To appeal to Hungarian nationalists he decided to include a Hungarian tune in his repertoire. He arranged a folk tune associated with a Hungarian national hero, Ferencz Rakoczy. Known to Hungarians as the "Rakoczy March," it had been used by a Hungarian regiment as they went into battle against Napoleon.

The orchestral version of this march was so successful that Berlioz later incorporated it into his opera/oratorio "The Damnation of Faust," even though the original Faust legend had nothing to do with Hungary. In Berlioz’s altered scenario, the opening scene takes place on a Hungarian plain, where Faust hears a Hungarian military band playing the march.

"An der schoenen, blauen Donau" (By the beautiful, blue Danube), Op. 314, written in 1867, is probably the most famous of all of the hundreds of pieces of dance music Johann Strauss wrote. As developed by Strauss, the waltz is more than a social dance; it's a more complex musical form, consisting of an introduction, a set of waltzes, and a closing coda.

In its original version for male chorus and orchestra, the "Blue Danube" Waltz was not a success, but when a purely orchestral version made its way to Paris and London, it became a hit that quickly spread all around the world and back to Vienna. One climax of its early history came in 1872, when for a fee of $100,000 plus expenses, Strauss went to Boston to conduct it in a festival program of his works in which 20, 000 musicians performed with 100 conductors, for an audience of more than 100,000 people.

The concert includes music from three of Broadway’s most highly regarded musicals, two of which -- "The Music Man" and "West Side Story" -- debuted on Broadway in the same year, 1957.

"The Music Man" was the brainchild of Meredith Willson, a Mason City native who wrote the books, lyrics and music based on his Iowa hometown and the musical styles that were popular in his boyhood. After graduation from high school, Willson had attended what is now the Juilliard School of Music and played flute and piccolo in the John Philip Sousa Band and the New York Philharmonic. During World War II he was the director of Armed Forces Radio, and later had a successful career as a composer, performer and director of music for several radio shows.

His greatest triumph, however, was with "The Music Man," which opened on Broadway Dec. 19, 1957, and was later made into a movie. Several of the songs in the show were extremely popular, including "Till There was You," "Marian the Librarian" and particularly the song for which he is best remembered, "76 Trombones." Willson is also known at the UI as the composer of the Hawkeye Fight Song.

"West Side Story," which opened on Broadway only a few months before "The Music Man," has remained one of the most popular and admired musical shows of all time. Its book, which transplanted Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" to New York, with rival ethnic street gangs in place of the warring families, provided both a literary quality and an emotional depth that most Broadway shows lack, while the music by one of America’s most versatile and talented musicians -- pianist, conductor, educator and composer of both Broadway and concert music, Leonard Bernstein -- is considered some the best and most compelling music ever written for the Broadway stage.

Bernstein, like Willson, never again achieved equivalent success on Broadway, although he was for many years one of the most prominent classical orchestral conductors in the world.

The lyricist for "West Side Story" was a 27-year-old prodigy making his first appearance on Broadway. Within five years, Stephen Sondheim had created the first of many musicals for which he wrote both lyrics and music -- "A Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Forum," produced on Broadway in 1962. One of his most successful shows, "A Little Night Music," is a sophisticated adaptation of the Ingmar Bergman film of adult relationships and betrayals, "Smiles of a Summer Night." Sondheim’s musical opened on Broadway in 1973 and ran for 600 performances.

The score is a nostalgic tribute to an earlier time, with each song a variation on the triple-meter of waltz time. The most popular song Sondheim ever wrote, "Send in the Clowns," was added at the last minute as a show-stopper for star Glynis Johns. The show won five Tony awards, "Send in the Clowns" won a Grammy in 1976, and Sondheim -- like Bernstein and Willson with their 1957 triumphs -- has never quite duplicated the popular success of "A Little Night Music."

An alumna of the UI School of Music, Susan Jones is an adjunct professor of voice and coordinator of the voice, opera and choral areas. She has had an extremely diverse professional career, having appeared in opera and oratorio throughout the Midwest, been a member of the renowned Dale Warland Singers and the Bach Society of Minnesota, and sung solo recitals with a variety of instrumental combinations.

Opera roles include Corisande in the Baroque opera "Amadis" by Jean-Baptiste Lully, Euridice in Offenbach's fanciful operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld," roles in contemporary operas by Hans Werner Henze and Giancarlo Menotti, and traditional operatic characters including all three major female roles in Mozart’s "Marriage of Figaro": the Countess, Susanna and Cherubino.

A great deal of her career has focused on the teaching of singing, beginning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Summer Music Clinic and extending to faculty appointments at the UW Parkside and the MacPhail Center for the Arts at the University of Minnesota. At the MacPhail Center she served as chair of the voice department and initiated a series of Artist Master Classes that has served as the model for similar programs throughout the country.

A singer whose work ranges from opera and operetta to concert and musical theater, Muriello joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997. His most recent engagements include performances as Captain Corcoran in "H.M.S. Pinafore" with the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee, and the Riverside theatre’s production of "Sweet and Hot."

Muriello has performed operatic and musical theater roles with Opera Carolina, the Banff Centre in Canada, L’Opera Francais of New York, Skylight Opera Theater, Ohio Light Opera and the Southeastern Savoyards of Atlanta. He performed as the Narrator and Mysterious Man in Sondheim’s "Into the Woods" and Marcello in "La Boheme" for Lyric Opera Cleveland. Other roles have ranged from Guglielmo in Mozart’s "Cosi fan tutte" to Voltaire in Bernstein’s "Candide."

A UI music alumnus, William LaRue 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. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

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>.