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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 14, 2004

UI Symphony Performs 'Bolero' On Oct. 27 Concert

The University of Iowa Symphony will present "Bolero!" -- a concert of music from the first half of the 20th century including Ravel's memorable score -- as part of the orchestra's Signature Series at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert will be under the direction of William LaRue Jones, the director of orchestral activities at the UI School of Music. Violinist Katie Wolfe, a new member of the UI music faculty, will be featured soloist.

With two American works in addition to the always-popular "Bolero," the program includes some of the most accessible music of the early 20th century. The concert will open with Charles Ives' bracing exploration of musical Americana, the Symphony No. 2. After intermission, Wolfe will play Samuel Barber's lyrical Violin Concerto. The concert will close with Ravel's "Bolero," which the orchestra will repeat Nov. 12 and 13 when it provides live accompaniment for "aLIVE in Concert," the UI Dance Department's annual Dace Gala performances in Hancher.

The son of a Danbury, Conn., bandmaster, Ives was known for experimenting with multiple tonalities, cluster chords and unexplainable dissonances that were years ahead of the musical mainstream of the early 1900s. He worked professionally as an insurance executive and composed in his spare time until he stopped writing music around 1927. He remained virtually unknown until the 1950s, shortly before his death.

It was a 1951 performance of the Second Symphony by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic that brought Ives to the attention of the larger public. The composer, distrusting the musical establishment, stayed home, but when his wife reported that the performance went well, Ives listened in on a radio broadcast a few days later.

Ives' Second Symphony is a work of great ambition, its five movements filled with instantly recognizable quotations from American brass-band music, hymn tunes, patriotic melodies and folk songs, alongside disguised snippets of European classical music, all pulled into a sort of musical retelling of America's heritage. It is an utterly original work that has been embraced by American musicians and audiences alike.

Samuel Barber was one of the most successful American composers of the 20th century. His music was played and sung by leading performers throughout his professional life.

In 1939 Barber received a commission for a violin concerto from a wealthy Philadelphia businessman, who wanted a showpiece for his adopted son, violinist Iso Briselli. After he finished the concerto, Barber wrote that Briselli complained that the first two movements were "not brilliant enough" and that the last movement was "unplayable." However, more recent evidence suggests that the violinist did not really object to the concerto, but that he suggested changes in the finale that Barber was not willing to make.

In either case, after Briselli gave up his claim to the concerto it was first played privately by Herbert Baumel, a young student at the Curtis Institute. The concerto was then offered to violinist Albert Spaulding, who premiered it with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941.

After two leisurely movements that are notable for their Romantic warmth and lyricism, the finale gallops past in a rapid, non-stop blur of perpetual motion. Briselli reportedly felt that this movement was too short to balance the previous two, but the experience of violinists and audiences shows that its brilliance more than makes up for its brevity, bringing the concerto to a stunning close.

Composed in 1928 for dancer Ida Rubenstein, Ravel's "Bolero" has become one of the best-known works in the orchestral repertoire. It is a very easy piece to understand and to appreciate: A single rhythm is played throughout by the drums, a single theme is passed from instrument to instrument, a single crescendo extends over the entire score and a single key prevails until the climactic key-shift near the end. But neither the simplicity of the design nor familiarity have limited the score's effectiveness: "Bolero" is a hit every time it is played.

Originally from Minnesota, Wolfe joined the string faculty of the UI School of Music in August. She has had a diverse career as a soloist, teacher, chamber and orchestral musician on the national and international stage. She has performed in the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, the Soviet Union, Spain and the Netherlands.

Wolfe received a bachelor's from Indiana University and a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music. After graduation, she received a Fulbright Lecture Award to teach and perform in Bolivia. She formed a string quartet that performed educational and public concerts throughout the country, taught at the National Conservatory, and served as Associate Concertmaster of the National Symphony of Bolivia.

Prior to teaching in Iowa, Wolfe taught violin, viola and chamber music at Oklahoma State University for five years. During that time she was associate concertmaster of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and performed frequent solo and chamber music concerts throughout the state.

As a chamber musician, she has performed with many noted musicians. Broadening her experiences and musical career as a freelance artist in New York City, she has performed and toured with the Jupiter Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, the S.E.M. Ensemble, City Island Baroque Ensemble, in Broadway pit orchestras, and with many other ensembles.

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 more than 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) and are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office. 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 in the Hancher box office lobby, or from the division's marketing office at 319-335-3213. 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.

Hancher Auditorium 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 may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu/ .

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancher-box-office@uiowa.edu>.

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.

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