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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 21, 2003

University Symphony And Choruses Will Perform Bach's B-Minor Mass Dec. 3

The University Symphony and Choruses from the University of Iowa School of Music will present one of the most revered and beloved choral works in the European concert repertoire, J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor, in a concert under the direction of Timothy Stalter, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

Eight soloists, all students in the School of Music, will be featured in the performance: sopranos Heather Youngquist and Kelsey Williams; altos Margaret Clair, Tina Thielen-Gaffey and Molly Phelan; tenors Ryan Bernemann and Jeff Bieber; and bass David Playfair. Choral forces will be drawn from several ensembles in the School of Music: Kantorei, University Choir, Women's Chorus and Camerata.

The performance of Bach's B-minor Mass is the third in the University Symphony's current Signature Series. One concert remains in the 2003-04 season, "Mozart's Immortal Requiem," also with selected choruses from the UI School of Music, in Hancher Auditorium Wednesday, March 24, 2004.

Concerts in the Signature Series are part of the season offerings of the UI Division of Performing Arts, which also includes performances by University Theatres, the Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater and the UI Dance Company.

Once acclaimed as "the greatest work of music of all ages and of all peoples" Bach's Mass in B minor is considered the pinnacle of his musical legacy. A compilation of pieces he had been gathering his entire life, this work, completed late in his career, demonstrated Bach's mastery of Baroque styles and the idiom of choral music.

Composed on an expansive scale, the Mass in B minor features the five sections traditionally used for choral settings of the mass broken down into 27 movements, ranging from movements for a full chorus of up to eight parts with orchestra, down to vocal solos and duos with chamber style accompaniment of only two or three instruments.

The B-minor Mass incorporates music written over a long period of Bach's life, and was only drawn together as a single work late in the composer's life. The first half of the piece, -- the Kyrie and Gloria sections of text, which were known in the Protestant church of Bach's time as the "Missa" -- originated in 1733. Bach prepared the score as a gift to the Elector of Saxony, in hopes of being named to the honorary title of court composer.

The music was taken almost without exception from earlier compositions, and was probably selected to demonstrate the composer's abilities. Bach deposited the music for the "Missa", and a letter requesting the title, with the court in Dresden. It is not known if the Elector ever heard Bach's music.

The completion of the Mass through the addition of the Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei texts took place late in Bach's life, around 1847-48. There does not seem to have been any external motivation for Bach to complete the Mass, nor was there any opportunity for the completed Mass to be performed at that time. Instead, the Mass in B minor ranks among a series of works that Bach wrote in his final years that represent a virtual encyclopedia of Baroque musical styles and techniques. These works, including the "Goldberg" Variations, the "Musical Offering" and the "Art of Fugue," are all monumental projects that are ranked among the greatest works of musical history. The motivation in each case appears to have been largely personal: Bach's deliberate attempt to leave a comprehensive legacy of his mastery of musical technique and expression.

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. He has research interests in teaching conducting to undergraduate and graduate students and historical music performance practices. 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 Apollo's Fire, the Newfoundland Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France, the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, the Classical Music Seminar and Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. He has recorded as tenor soloist with conductor Robert Shaw on two compact discs released on the Telarc label.

Prior to coming to the UI, Stalter was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Goshen College in Indiana. He received a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied with renowned choral conductor Robert Fountain, and a masters from the University of Illinois, where he studied with Don Moses, who was UI director of choral activities in the 1980s.

Individual tickets to University Symphony concerts are $8 (UI student and youth $3; senior citizen $6). Tickets can be purchased singly, or as part of a package with any remaining events to be presented by the Division of Performing Arts. Details on discount packages are available in a brochure available from the division's marketing office at 319-335-3213 or division-performing-arts@uiowa.edu. As detailed in the brochure, patrons who purchase tickets to four, five or six events will receive a 20-percent discount; purchasing tickets for seven or more events earns a 25-percent discount.

Tickets are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office. 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 also may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hancher box office website: http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher .

Hancher box office 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 UI 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.

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

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