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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 16, 2005

UI Symphony Opens 2005-06 Season With 'Heavy Metal' Sept. 28

The University of Iowa Symphony will open its 2005-06 "Signature Series" of subscription concerts with "Heavy Metal," a concert featuring the works of Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

William LaRue Jones will conduct the concert, which will feature pianist Uriel Tsachor playing Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto. Also on the program is Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor.

Other concerts in the University Symphony's Signature Series, presented in Hancher Auditorium, will be:

-- Oct. 26: "The Romance of the Violin," introducing new UI faculty violinist Scott Conklin in a performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, on a program with Debussy's "Nocturnes" and the powerful "Sinfonia India" by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez;

-- Nov. 30: "The Genius of Amadeus," a performance with university choirs of Mozart's monumental "Mass in C Minor";

-- Feb. 15: "Classical Brazil," opening with the Overture to "Il Guarany" by Brazilian composer Carlos Gomez, followed by UI faculty soloists in Frank Martin's jazzy Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments and a solo saxophone work with UI alumnus Eugene Rousseau; and

-- March 29: "Thoroughly Modern Masterworks," a program of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra and Samuel Barber's choral-orchestral work "Prayers of Kierkegaard."

"Two of the most acclaimed composers of the 20th century are featured on our opening concert," Jones said. "There are few works in the repertoire more exhilaratingly challenging than Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Every section in the orchestra is technically and musically stretched in ways that only Mahler could do."

Mahler wrote the Fifth Symphony during the summers of 1901 and '02. At the time, he was conductor of the Court Opera in Vienna. Since his conducting duties occupied most of his time over the operatic season, almost all his composing was done during his summer vacations. Thus, he completed his Third Symphony over the summers of 1895 and '96, the Fourth in 1899 and 1900, and the Fifth in 1901 and '02.

Tsachor said the Shostakovich is a new piece for him, learned specifically for this concert. He noted that it is a departure from the "stark and ominous expression" that is associated with the composer.

"There are several things I love about this piece," he said. "It's full of pianistic and orchestral color and has many unexpected turns of mood and character in the outer movements. While technically demanding, it is fun to play, as I believe the composer intended it to be, and though it might seem 'simple' it is quite complex in the rhythmical and contrapuntal relationships between the piano and the orchestra."

Shostakovich wrote the Second Piano Concerto for his son, Maxim, who gave the first performance on his 19th birthday -- May 10, 1957 -- at the Moscow Conservatory with the USSR State Symphony and conductor Nikolai Anosov. The concerto avoids empty virtuosic display, often using bare octaves in the piano, as if the solo part was conceived for a single-voiced instrument.

In a letter to the composer Edison Denisov, Shostakovich complained that the work had no redeeming artistic merits, but critics at the first performance praised the concerto for its "charming simplicity, carefree spirit and lyrical warmth." The music has been well liked, and was chosen for the "Steadfast Tin Soldier" segment of Walt Disney Pictures' "Fantasia 2000."

Uriel Tsachor joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in the fall of 1988. A Steinway artist, Tsachor was a winner of the Bosendorfer Empire International Competition in 1986 and the Busoni Competition in 1985, and a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in 1983. He is a graduate of the Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Juilliard School in New York. He has performed as a soloist in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, New York, Chicago, Vienna, Paris and other cities around the world.

Tsachor has performed with the Israel Philharmonic by invitation from Zubin Mehta. He has also appeared as soloist with the New York City Symphony, the Teatro La Fenice Symphony in Venice and the National Orchestra of Belgium, among others. He has performed both live and in recordings for radio and television stations in Israel, Europe and the United States, and he has made 18 recordings for the EMI, Musical Heritage Society, PHONIC, DIVOX, Olympia and EMS labels. In November 1999 the Paris-based label CALLIOPE released a two-CD set of the complete violin and piano sonatas and arrangements by Brahms, featuring Tsachor and violinist Andrew Hardy.

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 (Wisc.) 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 school-year business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 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.hancher.uiowa.edu.

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 Division of Performing Arts is part of 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.