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Release: Sept. 6, 2001

UI Symphony to open 2001-2001 season with free concert Sept. 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will open its 2001-2002 season with a free concert featuring the music of two of the leading composers of the 19th century, Felix Mendelssohn and Ludwig van Beethoven, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The performance will be under the direction of William LaRue Jones and will feature pianist Uriel Tsachor in a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor"). The orchestra will also perform Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5 in D minor ("Reformation").

Each year the University Symphony presents a series of free concerts on the UI campus. Also on the schedule for the current year is an Oct. 17 ticketed concert with famed mezzo-soprano Fredericka von Stade, a collaborative presentation between the UI School of Music and Hancher Auditorium. Tickets for this performance are available from the Hancher box office.

Born into one of the historically most prominent Jewish families in Berlin, Mendelssohn and his family converted to Christianity. As a composer, Mendelssohn showed a strong interest in the Lutheran musical tradition. He helped revive the religious works of J.S. Bach, which were not widely known in the early 19th century, and he composed several works on Protestant themes, including the oratorios "Elijah" and "St. Paul," among others.

He was just 20 years old when he began his D minor symphony. Actually the second symphony that he completed chronologically, it was labeled his Fifth Symphony because of the order of publication. It was composed for the 300th anniversary of the "Augsburg Confession," a statement outlining the basic tenets of the Protestant faith. The planned celebration was cancelled, due to the revolutions that spread through Europe in 1830, and the symphony was given its first performance in November 1832 with Mendelssohn conducting the Berlin Singakademie.

The composer's fascination with the Protestant musical tradition is evident in the symphony. The introduction to the first movement includes a reference to the so-called "Dresden Amen," and later Mendelssohn uses the well known Lutheran chorale melody "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott ("A Mighty Fortress is our God"), which is attributed to Martin Luther himself.

In English-speaking countries, Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto is called the "Emperor." The origins of the name are obscure, although there is a story, unauthenticated and unlikely, that at the first Vienna performance a French officer exclaimed at some point, "C'est l'Empereur!"

One of Beethoven's most popular works, the concerto was composed in 1809, at a time when the composer was a familiar public figure in Vienna. This was also a time when deafness had begun to take its toll on both his daily personal life and his performing career. It was his last piano concerto, most likely because he gave up performing in public and had no more need for concertos.

The concerto was also written at the culmination of what historians later came to refer to as Beethoven's "heroic" decade, representing the most fertile period of the composer's life. Between 1802 and 1808 he had written the second through the sixth symphonies; the three "Rasumovsky" string quartets and the two trios, op. 70; four sonatas for violin, including the "Kreutzer," and the Cello Sonata, op. 69; six piano sonatas, among them the "Waldstein" and the "Appassionata"; the third and fourth piano concertos, the Violin Concerto and the Triple Concerto; the opera "Fidelio" in its original form and its first revision; the oratorio "Christ on the Mount of Olives," the C-major Mass and the Choral Fantasy -- to mention only the large-scale works!

Composition took place amidst the turmoil of the Napoleonic siege and occupation of Vienna. At the height of the French attack, Beethoven is said to have taken refuge in the cellar of his brother Carl's house during an artillery bombardment of the city, covering his head with pillows in order to protect the little hearing that remained.

Uriel Tsachor joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in the fall of 1988. A Steinway artist, Tsachor was a winner of the Bosendorfer Empire International Competition in 1986 and the Busoni Competition in 1985, and a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in 1983. He is a graduate of the Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Juilliard School in New York. He has performed as a soloist in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, New York, Chicago, Vienna, Paris and other cities around the world.

Tsachor has performed with the Israel Philharmonic by invitation from Zubin Mehta. He has also appeared as soloist with the New York City Symphony, the Teatro La Fenice Symphony in Venice and the National Orchestra of Belgium, among others. He has performed both live and in recordings for radio and television stations in Israel, Europe and the United States, and he has made 18 recordings for the EMI, Musical Heritage Society, PHONIC, DIVOX, Olympia and EMS labels. In November 1999 the Paris-based label CALLIOPE released a two-CD set of the complete violin and piano sonatas and arrangements by Brahms, featuring Tsachor and violinist Andrew Hardy.

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 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.).

Tickets to the Oct. 17 concert of the University Symphony with Fredericka von Stade are $40, 37 and 32, with discounted tickets available for UI students, seniors and youth under 18. Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's site on the World Wide Web: <http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher>.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

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

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>.