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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 11, 2002

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Maia Quartet Will Perform With Lecuona, Hyberger April 24

The Maia String Quartet from the University of Iowa will be joined by pianist Rene Lecuona from the School of Music faculty and mezzo-soprano Sarah Amanda Hyberger, a UI graduate student in music, to perform works of Brahms, Shostakovich and Hindemith in a free concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 24 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Hyberger, winner in the Maia Quartet's annual competition for student chamber music performers in the School of Music, will perform with the quartet in Paul Hindemith's "Melancholie" for voice and string quartet.

Other works on the program will be Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor and Brahms' Piano Trio in B major, op. 8, performed by Lecuona with quartet members Timothy Shiu, violin, and Hannah Holman, cello.

Shiu commented, "We are excited once again to have the pleasure of collaborating with one of the many remarkable colleagues we have at the School of Music, and also to be joined by a student who is the most recent winner of the Maia Quartet Competition. It is always a privilege to perform with Rene Lecuona, and we look forward to presenting perhaps Brahms' most beloved piano trio with her.

"We are pleased also to have the opportunity to present an intriguing and little-known score by Hindemith with a wonderful student vocalist, Sarah Amanda Hyberger.

"For the central string quartet on our program, we feel that Shostakovich's haunting Eighth Quartet, dedicated to the 'memory of the victims of fascism and war,' is particularly relevant in our current troubled times."

Brahms' Piano Trio in B major is both an early and a late work. Written in 1854, when the composer was 21, it was originally a large, extravagant work, with no fewer than five complete themes in the first movement alone. Much later, Brahms decided to revise the trio for a second edition and ended up completely rewriting the piece from beginning to end. Even in this "condensed" version it is a monumental work, laid out on a generous scale.

Shostakovich wrote 15 string quartets, all but one of them between the years of 1944, near the end of World War II, and 1974, the year before the composer's death. Like much of the music written in the last 30 years of Shostakovich's life, they are regarded as highly personal works, conforming outwardly to the expectations of the Soviet authorities but also containing deeply felt expressions of private feelings.

This is particularly true of the Eighth Quartet, regarded as one of the composer's finest works. Composed in 1960, it has been called "autobiographical" because its main theme is the composer's musical "signature," the notes d, e-flat, c, b natural, which in German musical terminology correspond to the letters D-S-C-H (for the German spelling, D. SCHostakovitch). Shostakovich had earlier used this theme as a signature in his Tenth Symphony, among other works, and the quartet also quotes from other of his earlier works, including the First Symphony and his controversial opera "Lady McBeth of Mtzensk," as if he were summarizing his career.

The quartet is in five connected movements. Written "in memory of the victims of fascism and war," it is intensely expressive and dirge-like in the slow sections, bitter and harsh in the fast ones.

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 65 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. She recently recorded two major chamber works of the composer Hans Gal with UI violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and cellist Fulbert Slenczka, and she recorded many of the songs of Arthur Honegger with UI soprano Rachel Joselson.

Lecuona has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. She has appeared as concerto soloist with orchestras in New York and Iowa. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she gave 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. She recently performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with Joselson.

An advocate of 20th-century music, Lecuona has appeared as solo pianist and chamber musicians in concerts of the UI Center for New Music. Her 20th-century repertoire includes several premieres of new works. Martin Jenni, recently retired from the UI School of Music, has written two solo piano works for her.

Founded in1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In 1999 they gave a concert at the German Embassy in Washington, in honor of the Czech Republic's entry into NATO. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School. Prior to coming to Iowa, they also taught on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.

The quartet has gained wide recognition for its educational outreach activities. It has participated in a three-year project in partnership with the Aspen Music Festival under a grant from the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation aimed at building adult audiences. The members of the quartet have shared their love of music with children under the auspices of Young Audiences, Inc., and the Midori Foundation, and they have given performances for families with children at Lincoln Center and the U.N. School in New York.

The Maia Quartet was founded when the four members were students at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The members were subsequently awarded fellowships at the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. They have also been awarded summer fellowships to the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies, where they worked with the Emerson, Tokyo, Cleveland and American string quartets. At Juilliard they worked closely with the Juilliard Quartet and served as their teaching assistants.

A doctoral student in the UI School of Music, Hyberger has performed major operatic roles in the UI productions of "Die Fledermaus," "The Marriage of Figaro," "The Elixir of Love" and "La Cantarina." She was also a soloist for the performance of J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" by the University Symphony and Choruses. She enjoys performing new works, and has frequently collaborated with student composers. Outside the UI, Hyberger has performed Gabriel Faure's "Requiem," Handel's "Messiah," Aaron Copland's "The Tender Land," Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" and the mid-west premiere of Robert Nelson's opera "A Room with a View."

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 <ur-acr@uiowa.edu>.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072, peter-alexander@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.