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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 17, 2003

University Symphony Continues Signature Series With Stravinsky's 'Petroushka'

The University of Iowa Symphony and its conductor, William LaRue Jones, will continue the 2003-04 Signature Series of subscription concerts with "Stravinsky's 'Petroushka'," a concert featuring that ground-breaking early-20th-century score, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

Saxophonist Kenneth Tse, a recent addition to the faculty of the UI School of Music, will be featured in Lars-Erik Larsson's Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra. Other works on the program will be the "Russian Easter Overture" by Stravinsky's teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and, of course, Igor Stravinsky's 1911 ballet score, "Petroushka."

The two remaining concerts in the University Symphony's 2003-04 Signature Series will be:
-- "Glorious Bach," a performance of the B-minor Mass by the University Symphony and Choruses, Dec. 3; and
-- "Mozart's Immortal Requiem," also with selected choruses from the UI School of Music, March 24.

These concerts 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.

Today, Rimsky-Korsakov is one of the most familiar Russian composers of the 19th century. But he did not become seriously interested in music until the age of 12, when he was a cadet at the Naval College in St. Petersburg. He became serious about musical composition through the influence of Mily Balakirev, the leader of an important group of Russian composers. His early career was interrupted by the required three years of service in the Russian navy, which included a cruise to New York, Rio de Janeiro and the Mediterranean.

After his return to Russia, Rimsky-Korsakov resumed his devotion to composition, and he was soon recognized for his ability as an orchestrator. In 1871 he was named professor of practical composition and instrumentation at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, when he was only 27.

A great deal of Rimsky-Korsakov's career was dedicated to operas -- including his own and the completion of the unfinished masterpiece of his friend Modest Mussorgsky, "Boris Godunov." Outside of Russia, however, it is his orchestral works, with their brilliant use of instrumental color, that are known to the public. The last three great orchestral works, and the best known, were all completed in 1888: "Scheherezade," "Capriccio Espagnol" and the "Russian Easter Overture."

Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson studied at the Stockholm Conservatory in the 1920s, and later with Alban Berg in Vienna. He had a prominent career in several areas of the musical life of his native country: as a critic, as a conductor, composer and producer for Swedish radio, as a professor of composition at the Stockholm Conservatory and finally as the director of music at Uppsala University.

His early works were based on classical models, but over time they became more complex, reflecting the free 12-tone style he had encountered while studying with Berg. Nevertheless, he always maintained an emphasis on melody that makes his works accessible.

The success of his Sinfonietta for Strings, performed at a festival in Florence, Italy, brought Larsson in contact with saxophonist Sigurd Rascher, who soon became a close friend of the composer. Only a few months after their meeting, Larsson wrote his Saxophone Concerto for Rascher, who gave the first performance in Norrkoepping, Sweden, in 1934.

"Petroushka" was the second of three ballet Stravinsky wrote at the outset of his career for the influential impresario Serge Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes. Taken in order, the three scores -- "The Firebird" from 1910, "Petroushka" from 1911, and "The Rite of Spring" from 1913 -- represent an astonishing sequence of musical development.

"The Firebird" is a brilliant Romantic orchestral score, based on the orchestral style of Stravinsky's teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov. "Petroushka" is a completely original work, saturated with the sounds of Russian folk music, as bustling as a Russian fair and startling in its unexpected combinations of melodies, keys and rhythms. And "The Rite of Spring" is one of the most famed and original musical works ever written.

The music for "Petroushka" grew out of piece Stravinsky began for piano and orchestra, with the piano representing "a puppet, suddenly endowed with life." When Diaghilev heard the music he persuaded Stravinsky to turn it into a ballet. First performed in Paris in 1911, the ballet takes place in four tableaux: At the Shrovetide fair, where the showman introduces his three puppets, Petroushka, the Ballerina and the Moor; in Petroushka's room, where the solitary puppet mourns his unrequited love for the Ballerina; in the Moor's room, where Petroushka interrupts a rendezvous between the Ballerina and the Moor; and back outside at the fair, where the Moor chases down Petroushka and kills him. The showman holds up Petroushka's body to show that it was only a puppet after all, but just before the curtain falls, Petroushka's ghost appears above the fair, mocking the showman.

Tse joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002. As a Yamaha performing artist and Vandoren endorsed artist, Tse is an active international performer and clinician. He has given performances and master classes in many parts of Asia, Europe and the United States. Many composers have written pieces for him, including saxophone sonatas, saxophone concertos, solo and chamber works by David DeBoor Canfield, John Cheetham and Leonard Mark Lewis.

Upon his 1996 Carnegie Hall debut, the New York Times heralded Tse as "a young virtuoso" and the Herald Times described his playing as "virtuosic brilliance" with a "beauteous, ever-so-smooth voice." Saxophone Journal wrote, "Every aspect of saxophone performance has been refined to the 'nth' degree: His ability to bring out the lyricism of any line no matter how active or convoluted is breath taking."

Tse studied at Indiana University with the internationally acclaimed American artist and teacher Eugene Rousseau, who is a UI graduate. He has appeared as a soloist with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia, Indiana University Wind Ensemble, Baylor University Wind Ensemble, Emory University Wind Ensemble, Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony and Des Moines Symphony, among others. He has solo compact disc recordings on Crystal Records, RIAX Records, and Enharmonic Records. He is currently the membership director for the North American Saxophone Alliance.

More information about Tse is available on his web page, at http://www.kenneth-tse.com.

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 has appeared as a guest conductor with a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland). Jones has conducted over 70 All-State orchestras with additional festival/clinics in most of the 50 states and Canadian provinces.

He has served extended conducting residencies at the North Carolina School for the Arts, the University of Miami, Interlochen Academy for the Arts and Kansas City Conservatory. He also is the founding artistic director of the critically acclaimed Conductors Workshop of America. In addition to serving as guest clinician for numerous conducting seminars for professional/educational associations internationally, Jones is music director and conductor of the Oshkosh (Wis.) Symphony.

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 holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and Kansas State University, with additional studies at The Juilliard School of Music and the University of North Texas.

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.