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University of Iowa News Release

March 11, 2005

UI Symphony Plays In The Englert Theatre On March 22

The University of Iowa Symphony will play music by J.S. Bach, Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn in the orchestra's first concert in the newly renovated Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22.

The concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, will feature UI music faculty members in a performance of Mozart's "Serenata notturna" -- the Serenade in D major, K239: Katie Wolfe and Margaret Soper Gutierrez, violins; Elizabeth Oakes, viola; and Volkan Orhon, double bass.

Four UI music students will be featured in a performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, S1047: Abigail Kegel, flute; Mark Fitkin, oboe; Aren Van Houzen, trumpet; and Chenoa Sykes Alamu, violin. The concert will conclude with Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony.

"I think it's wonderful that we have an arts venue downtown that can be accessible to all the community," Jones said. "The Englert Theatre is a very elegant facility that will be suitable for many kinds of music and theater. Particularly for the more intimate musical events, it's a very fine hall."

"I am looking forward to presenting the orchestra there, and to having a chance to experience the acoustics in the hall. It's always a challenge for a conductor and an orchestra to perform in different venues and adjust to their acoustical properties, so this will be an educational opportunity for the students.

"I selected the program for the smaller stage and the intimacy that the Englert offers. Bach and Mozart are basically chamber music, and Mendelssohn calls for an early-19th-century instrumentation, with strings and a small wind section.

"By doing a Baroque piece (Bach), a classical piece (Mozart), and the early Romantic symphony by Mendelssohn, we're trying out the three main styles that will fit into a chamber-size hall. We will get a good sounding, with Bach that calls for a chamber orchestra with soloists, the Mozart that is just strings, and the Mendelssohn for a symphony without soloists, and get a good idea of what works best in the theater."

Mozart's "Serenata notturna" was composed in Salzburg in 1776, during a pause in the composer's frequent travels to the capitals of Europe. Although he was treated as a celebrity in Vienna, London, Paris and Rome, at home Mozart was just another servant who was expected to provide music as needed at the court of the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg.

As the name "Nocturnal serenade" suggests, the score was written for performance at a night-time social event. An example of the so-called "echo" serenade, it calls for two groups of players that sometimes play together and sometimes alternate with an echo effect. It is scored for string orchestra, a quartet of string soloists and timpani.

Bach was employed by the court in Coethen, Germany, from late in 1717 until 1723. In March 1721 he presented a manuscript of six orchestral concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg, who had heard Bach play in Berlin in 1718 or 19. They were of little use to the Margrave, since he did not have the players who could perform them, and Bach was never rewarded for his gift. In fact, the so-called Brandenburg Concertos had been written over the preceding years for the orchestral players in Coethen.

In the Brandenburg Concertos Bach replaced the standard Baroque "concerto grosso" instrumentation with a variety of instrumental combinations, most of them unprecedented. Instead of writing routine concertos, Bach wrote variations on the idea of the concerto: the contrast between soloists and a larger group. The Second Concerto of the set calls for four soloists on very distinct instruments -- flute, oboe, high trumpet and violin -- which requires the players to exercise great care in balancing their very different sound qualities.

A musical prodigy, Mendelssohn was the son of a wealthy Berlin banker who was able to provide his son with the best musical training. He wrote a great deal of music while still a child and a teenager, including a dozen string symphonies and several concertos. In 1829, at the age of 20, Mendelssoohn embarked on travels around Europe. His first trip, to the British Isles, was the inspiration for several works, including the "Hebrides" Overture (later titled "Fingal's Cave") of 1830, and the "Scotch" Symphony, not completed until 1842.

In the meantime, the second trip in 1830 was to Italy. "I am making great progress with the Italian symphony," he wrote home from Rome. "It will be the most mature thing I have ever done, especially the last movement." The symphony was completed after Mendelssohn's return to Berlin, in 1833, and first performed in London later that year. But the composer was never quite satisfied with the score, which was consequently not published until after his death.

Wolfe joined the string faculty of the UI School of Music in August, 2004. 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.

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 native of Iowa City, Gutierrez joined the faculty of the UI School of Music as a member of the Maia String Quartet in 2003. She had previously performed and toured with the Baltimore Symphony and the National Symphony. She was concertmaster of the Baltimore Opera Orchestra and the Washington Bach consort, as well as principal second violin with the Washington Chamber Symphony.

She was a member of the Vanadium Quartet at the Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Camp and the National Gallery String Quartet in Washington, D.C. She has performed at several chamber music festivals in the United States and taught master classes at the Austin (Tex.) Chamber Music Center.

Oakes is a founding member of the Maia Quartet, the quartet in residence at the School of Music. As a member of the quartet, she has performed throughout the United States and Japan and has performed in venues including Alice Tully Hall and the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre.

She is also a founder of the Foothills Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina and currently serves both as one of its directors and regular performers. Performances with orchestra have included two concerti with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra in Louisiana. She has served as assistant principal of the Canton (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and as principal of both the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra.

Orhon's professional career spans a wide variety of solo, orchestral and chamber music performing and teaching across the country and around the world. He has played with internationally recognized musicians including double bassist Gary Karr and the Emerson String Quartet. He has performed as soloist with orchestras across the country, including the El Paso Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Connecticut Orchestra, Connecticut Valley Chamber Orchestra, Cortlandt Chamber Orchestra and Northern Westchester Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to his solo playing, he has been a member of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut Opera Orchestra and a freelance musician throughout New England. He recently completed a European tour with the Fazil Say and Kudsi Erguner Jazz Quartet, performing at the Montreux, Paris, Antibes, Montpellier, Istanbul and Izmir jazz festivals. He joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002.

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 an array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. He 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.

Admission to the March 22 concert by the University Symphony will be $10 for adults, $5 for UI students and seniors. Tickets are available from the Englert Box Office, 221 E. Washington in downtown Iowa City. The box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. For additional ticket information, call the box office at 319-688-2653.

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc. is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing  the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic  theater.

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.

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