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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 25, 2003

UI Symphony Band Presents Concert With Choruses May 7

The University of Iowa Symphony Band will be joined by baritone Stephen Swanson and combined choruses from the UI School of Music for an unusual program featuring music for winds and singers at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 7 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The program will be shared by two conductors: Timothy Stalter, head of the choral conducting area at the School of Music, will lead a performance of Anton Bruckner's Mass in E minor for winds and choir; and Kevin Kastens, director of the Hawkeye Marching Band and associate director of bands at the UI, will conduct David Holsinger's "The Deathtree" for concert band and baritone.

Other works on Kastens' portion of the program will be "Folk Festival" by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich; and "Lagan Love" by Luigi Zaninelli, an American composer who is composer-in-residence at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Bruckner's three extant masses were written between 1856 and 1868, when the composer was organist at the cathedral in Linz, Austria. These masses are considered the beginning of his major compositional output. His first symphony was written around the same time. After Linz, Bruckner moved to Vienna in 1868 where he served as a professor of organ, theory, and counterpoint in the Vienna Conservatory and wrote 8 more symphonies.

The Mass in E minor was composed in 1867 and first performed Sept. 29, 1869, in the outdoor courtyard of Linz Cathedral for the opening of a new votive chapel at the cathedral. The work is distinctive in two ways: its use of winds and brass without strings, and its use of counterpoint inspired by the great Renaissance composer Palestrina.

Stalter says that Bruckner's Mass, with the unusual combination of winds and voices, is one of his favorite works from the 19th-century. "Even though this Mass is only 40 minutes in length it is one of the most unusual and most beautiful of the masses from the Romantic period," he commented. "I consider the 'Kyrie' and the 'Agnus dei' movements as some of the most beautiful of all mass movements in the history of European music."

In 1988 David Holsinger received a commission from the Marine Corps Historical Foundation to compose a work for the United States Marine Band. The result of this commission was "The Deathtree" for winds, percussion and solo baritone voice. It was conceived as the middle movement of a future three-part symphony. Although Holsinger completed the remaining outer movements of his Easter Symphony in 1995, "The Deathtree" continues to be the most frequently performed movement of the symphony.

Holsinger describes "The Deathtree," a musical depiction of the Easter story, as one of his most intricate compositions.

Shostakovich is one of the most enigmatic musical personalities of the 20th century. His music, written under the tight artistic controls of Stalin's Soviet Union, has bafflingly complex and often contradictory layers of meaning. Sometimes reviled and sometimes celebrated by Soviet authorities, Shostakovich was forced to do a constant balancing act between the official doctrine of "Soviet Realism" and the dictates of personal expression.

The composer's output includes operas, ballets, 15 symphonies, concertos, numerous pieces of chamber music including 15 string quartets, songs, and the music for 15 films. Because the films came from the official state studios, writing music for them was relatively safe, and Shostakovich wrote some highly entertaining and expressive music in his film scores. "Folk Festival" is light-hearted music written for "The Gadfly," a film based on the novel by E.L. Voynich. Donald Hunsberger, an eminent composer and conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble for more than 35 years, has scored this work for wind band.

With more than 300 published works to his credit, Zaninelli received commissions for many different musical genres, including opera, ballet, chamber music, orchestra, works for wind band, chorus and solo songs. "Lagan Love" is based on an ancient Ulster air, with the title referring to the Lagan river which flows through Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The composer wrote: "While in Dublin, Ireland, for the world premier of my Five American Gospel Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, I heard a melody of such extraordinary beauty that I felt compelled to set it. Its haunting mystical melancholy was unlike anything I had ever heard. It continues to beguile me."

Swanson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1994. For nearly 20 years before that date he had an active operatic career in Europe. During that time his repertoire grew to 91 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in European festivals including the Berliner Festwochen, the Days of Contemporary Music in Dresden and the Festa Musica Pro in Assisi, Italy.

Swanson has also had an extensive career as a concert singer, appearing as featured soloist with many U.S. orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti, Raphael Fruehbeck de Burgos and Margaret Hillis. Since coming to Iowa City, he has presented solo recitals, appeared in and directed UI Opera Theater productions, and performed with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City.

Kastens is associate professor of music and associate director of bands at the UI. He directs the Hawkeye Marching Band and the Concert Band, teaches band arranging and marching band techniques, and is the director of the All-State Music Camp.

Kastens has presented workshops and clinics on marching band techniques and computer drill design and appeared as guest conductor throughout the Midwest and Canada. He has had numerous articles published on instrumental music education in The Instrumentalist and other professional publications. A leader in the field of computer-assisted marching band drill design, he helped develop "Drill Quest," a drill-writing software program

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999. He directs Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music, teaches graduate conducting courses, and administers the graduate program in choral conducting. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the United States.

In addition to conducting and teaching choral music, Stalter is active as a tenor soloist in the United States and abroad. A specialist in the music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, he is known for his performances as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. He has appeared as tenor soloist with the North Carolina Symphony, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France, the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival.

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.