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Release: Sept. 27, 2001

Baritone Muriello will sing 'beautiful works' for UI faculty recital

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Baritone John Muriello and pianist Shari Rhoads will present a free University of Iowa faculty recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

They will perform the song cycles "Before and After Summer" by Gerald Finzi and "Calligrammes" by Francis Poulenc, as well as selections from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" (The boy's magic horn) by Gustav Mahler.

Shy and retiring by nature, the early 20th-century English composer Gerald Finzi spent most of his life living in relative seclusion in the country. He was influenced by his older contemporaries, notably Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. In is own music, he developed an intimate style and concentrated on songs and choral works, with a particular fondness for texts by Thomas Hardy.

In assessing Finzi's s vocal works, Diana MacVeagh praised "the finesse of his response to the English language and imagery, (and) his vision of a world unsullied by sophistication or nostalgia." Writing in the New Grove Dictionary, she also noted that "Finzi unerringly found the live centre of his vocal texts, fusing vital declamation with a lyrical impulse in supple, poised lines. He was little concerned with word-painting, and his songs are virtually syllabic."

The French composer Francis Poulenc was associated with a group of modernist composers in Paris in the early years of the 20th century, although he personally favored a neo-classical style and avoided the more radical forms of musical experimentation. Consequently his music has always been considered highly accessible. He wrote songs, piano pieces and several sacred choral works.

One of the most important German poetic texts of the 19th century, "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" was a collection of folk poetry edited by Ludwig Archim von Arnem and Clemens Brentano and published 1805 to 1808. The magical evocation off Romanticism and the German national spirit attracted many composers, including Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms and Richard Strauss .

Mahler was the composer who turned to the collection most often. Between 1887 and 1901 he wrote more than 20 songs on texts from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" in settings for voice and piano or orchestra, and he also used texts from the collection in his second, third and fourth symphonies, written during roughly the same years.

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 in the title role of the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater production of Tartuffe in 2001, and the Riverside theatre's production of "Sweet and Hot." In the fall of 1998 he made his directing debut with the UI School of Music production of the musical comedy "The Fantasticks," and he directed the School of Music production of "She Loves Me" in 1999.

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 Captain Corcoran with Skylight Opera Theatre 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."

He has also performed in concert and recital throughout the lower 48 states, singing in performances of Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" and "Hodie," Mendelssohn's "Elijah," Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" and the Bach Mass in B minor.

He was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in North Carolina, in the Washington International Competition and the Louise D. McMahon International Song Competition in Oklahoma, and toured two seasons with the Mantovani Orchestra.

Rhoads joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 2000. She earned her degree in accompanying and has completed post-graduate studies in opera coaching/conducting at the University of Southern California. Before arriving at the UI she taught music history at the Musikhochschule (Music conservatory) in Lucerne and the Conservatory of Lausanne in Switzerland. Rhoads has also been Kapellmeister at the Lucerne Theater and conductor/coach at the opera theater in Darmstadt, Germany. She was coach at the Barcelona and Madrid opera theaters.

Her accompanying credentials include recitals with Jose Carreras, Luis Lima and Montserrat Caballe with whom she worked exclusively as coach/accompanist and orchestrator. She has accompanied master classes with a number of renowned artists including singer Gerard Souzay, cellist Lynn Harrell and violist William Primrose, and served as staff accompanist for the Francesco Vinas (Barcelona, Spain) and Munich International competitions.

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>.