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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 31, 2006

UI String Faculty Will Present Second Annual Gala Concert Sept. 12

The string faculty from the University of Iowa School of Music will join together for the second year running to present a gala concert of chamber music at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The second annual UI String Gala, featuring nine members of the string faculty, will be free and open to the public.

The program will comprise three works. The Maia String Quartet -- violinists Tricia Park and Zoran Jakovcic, violist Elizabeth Oakes and cellist Hannah Holman -- will play the String Quartet in C major, op. 54 no. 2, by Franz Joseph Haydn, and the String Quartet no. 6, op. 101, by Dmitri Shostakovich.

Five other members of the string faculty -- violinists Scott Conklin and Katie Wolfe, violist Christine Rutledge, cellist Anthony Arnone and string bassist Volkan Orhon -- happily add up to an ensemble that can play the Quintet in G Major, op. 77, by the Czech composer and one-time Iowa resident Antonin Dvorak.

"We hope to make this an annual event," Wolfe said, "We are all very dedicated to chamber music and love playing together."

"We work closely together during the year, discussing student progress, curriculum, and direction for the string area, and it is a pleasure to share this other aspect of our professional lives with each other and the community.

"I believe that playing chamber music together makes us better colleagues and enhances how we communicate and understand each other as people and artists. This concert is truly a celebration of the talented faculty at the School of Music."

Joseph Haydn has been affectionately called "the father of the string quartet." In fact, he deserves the title, having written more than 80 quartets over his lifetime, in the process transforming the genre from a lightweight entertainment piece, often called a divertimento, into a serious piece of concert music.

The set of six quartets published as opus numbers 54 and 55 were written around 1788, and are considered to represent the peak of the classical string quartet. The Quartet in C major, published as the second of the set, includes a slow movement that contains unusual harmonic forays combined with a beautiful first violin line in the gypsy style.

Shostakovich wrote 15 string quartets, all but one of them between the years of 1944, near the end of World War II, and 1974, the year before the composer's death. Like much of the music written in the last 30 years of Shostakovich's life, they are regarded as highly personal works, containing deeply felt expressions of private feelings.

The Sixth Quartet was written in 1956. Coming after the death of Josef Stalin, it was written during a period sometimes referred to as "the thaw," when the severe restrictions of the Stalinist era had been slightly relaxed. It is a relatively light-hearted work and has sometime been considered Shostakovich's present for himself, as it was written not long before his 50th birthday on Sept. 25.

Dvorak made his visit to Iowa in 1893. Taking a vacation from his job as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, he traveled with his family to the Czech immigrant town of Spillville in northeastern Iowa. Dvorak spent a relaxing summer in Iowa, joining in the town's life, playing for church services, composing two new chamber pieces and traveling to visit other Czech immigrants in the Midwest.

The String Quintet in G major was written much earlier, in 1875. In its original version it had five movements, but the composer later took out one of the two slow movements and re-wrote it separately as the Nocturne for strings. The somewhat unusual instrumentation of the quintet, with a double bass in place of the more standard second viola or second cello, gives the ensemble an unusually deep and resonant sound quality.

Information on the school of music string faculty, including individual member's biographies, can be found on the department's Web page, at www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/departments/strings.htm.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.

For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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.