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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 18, 2003

University Symphony Opens Signature Series With 'Elegant Elgar' Oct. 1

The University of Iowa Symphony and its conductor, William LaRue Jones, will open the 2003-04 Signature Series of subscription concerts with "Elegant Elgar," a concert featuring works of the Victorian British composer, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

Cellist Hannah Holman, a member of the Maia String Quartet at the UI School of Music, will be featured in Elgar's Cello Concerto. Other works on the program will be Elgar's "Enigma Variations," the "Roman Carnival Overture" by Hector Berlioz and Michael Torke's "Javelin."

Other concerts in the University Symphony's 2003-04 Signature Series will be:
--"Stravinsky's 'Petrouchka'," Oct. 29.
--"Glorious Bach," a performance of the B-minor Mass by the University Symphony and Choruses, Dec. 3.
--"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.

The English composer Edward Elgar is as closely identified with his native country as is Aaron Copland with America. He had a successful and largely uneventful career as a composer, mostly after he turned 40 in 1897 and lasting until his death in 1934. In addition to the "Enigma Variations," he is remembered for his two symphonies, the oratorio "The Dream of Gerontius" and his eternally popular march "Pomp and Circumstance" -- actually one of five similar pieces.

Elgar first achieved international fame with the "Enigma Variations" of 1899, consisting of an original theme and 14 variations. The piece actually contained two enigmas; the first and most easily solved was that each variation was conceived as a musical portrait. Since the subjects were only identified by initials or nicknames, the composer's friends had the fun of guessing who each one portrayed. These were quickly found to include a music publisher, a local organist, and several amateur musicians; the composer's wife for the first variation; and Elgar himself for the final variation.

However, the composer created a second enigma when he said "Through and over the whole set another and larger theme 'goes' but is not played." This second theme, which the composer never explained, has often been sought, both as a familiar musical theme that could be combined with the written score, and as a philosophical theme underlying the conception of the piece. But no solution has ever been accepted as authoritative, and the enigma of the "second theme" remains unsolved.

With or without an enigma, the "Variations" are recognized as a great composition. Just like human personalities, the variations are distinct and unique. Each has a distinctive rhythmic style, orchestral color and mood. With its brilliant orchestration and wide variety of moods, the score as a whole is considered one of the great showpieces for the symphony orchestra.

Composed in 1919, the Cello Concerto was one of Elgar's last works: although he lived another 14 years, he wrote no more major works after his wife's death in 1920.The Concerto was written in the aftermath of World War I, which had shocked Victorian England with its massive death and destruction. Elgar had virtually stopped writing music during the war, but early in 1918 he sketched a theme while recovering from surgery. Later that summer he began composing, and after completing three pieces of chamber music -- a violin sonata, a piano quintet and a string quartet -- he returned to the theme, which became the basis for the Cello Concerto. First performed in October 1819, the Concerto is often seen as a lament for the Victorian age that had been swept away by the war.

Although he is known to contemporary audiences for his orchestral works, Berlioz sought operatic success throughout his career. His first opera to reach the stage was "Benvenuto Cellini," given three performances at the Paris Opera in 1838. Berlioz's music was too original for either the performers or the audience to appreciate, and the opera was considered a failure. As a result, the Paris Opera never again staged one of Berlioz's works.

The score was filled with music of great beauty and brilliance, however, and in 1844 Berlioz took some of the best pieces and put them into the "Roman Carnival Overture," which he arranged for performance at his own orchestral concerts. The main section of the overture is based on a scene in the opera that indeed takes place during the Roman carnival. The excitement of this scene is contrasted with the overture's opening, based on the music of a love aria from the opera.

A native of Milwaukee, Torke emerged as one of the leading younger American composers of the late 20th century. Two of his most widely-performed works, "Ecstatic Orange" and "The Yellow Pages," were written in 1985 while he was still a composition student at Yale. These were followed by "Bright Blue Music," "Black and White," "Purple," "Red," and other works that associate colors with moods or feelings.

Known for its strongly rhythmic style and the use of pop-music elements, his music has been set to dance by Peter Martins for New York City Ballet and many other choreographers. He has been hailed as a "vitally inventive composer" in the Financial Times of London, and "a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral pallete makes him the Ravel of his generation" in the New York Times.

"Javelin" was commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics in celebration of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary. The composer has written, "The sweeping motion of a lot of the music is like an object thrown; a slender spear such as a javelin seemed apt. The semi-heroic spirit certainly has an application to the 1996 Olympic Games, and since the commission came from the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and the Atlanta Symphony, I knew the title would be appropriate."

Holman, who served as principal cello with the Cedar Rapids Symphony in 2001-02, joined the Maia Quartet in the summer of 2002. She is also assistant principal cello of the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra and the American Sinfonietta. She began her professional career in England, playing with the English String Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle.

On returning to the United States Holman became principal cello of the Jackson (Mich.) Symphony and assistant principal of the Greater Lansing Symphony and Michigan Chamber Orchestra. She also was assistant principal of the Richmond (Va.) Symphony.

Always an active chamber musician, she was a founding member of the Beaumont Piano Trio, performing recitals in several states, as well as on tour in England, and was a founding member of Quadrivium, a music ensemble in residence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. As soloist she played with orchestras in Michigan, Virginia, and Georgia, and was invited to the Pablo Casals Cello competition in Germany and the Luis Sigall Cello Competition in Chile.

Holman has served on the faculties of the Worcester College in England, Michigan State Universtiy Community Music School and Virginia Union University. Holman studied at the Eastman School of Music and Michigan State University, where she completed her Bachelor of Music Degree. She obtained her master's degree at the New England Conservatory in 1993.

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 other events 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.