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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 19, 2006

O'Sullivan Will Play Solo Baroque Cello Recital At Trinity Nov. 2

Loretta O'Sullivan, who plays Baroque cello for the prominent period-instrument performing group the Four Nations Ensemble, will play a free solo recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in Trinity Episcopal Church, 320 E. College St. in Iowa City.

Her concert is the second performance of the "Baroque Concert Series on Period Instruments," a new venture of the University of Iowa School of Music.

O'Sullivan's program of music for unaccompanied Baroque cello will open with music by two little known composers, the Ricercar 6 of Domenico Gabrielli and a transcription of Heinrich Biber's Passacaglia for solo violin. They will be followed by two much more familiar works, the Suite No. 1 in G major and the Suite No. 2 in D minor by J.S. Bach.

The Baroque Concert Series on Period Instruments was organized by Lisa Merrill and will be presented in memory of Leopold La Fosse. A long-time member of the School of Music faculty, La Fosse often performed on Baroque violin and led an ensemble of UI students concerned with Baroque performance practices, the La Fosse ensemble.

The concert is part of a new performance practice program at the UI School of Music, made possible by the donation of an entire ensemble of period instruments -- eight Baroque violins, two Baroque violas, two Baroque cellos and 15 Baroque and transitional bows -- to the UI School of Music. The instruments from La Fosse's collection were given by the late professor's widow, Maria La Fosse.

The final concert of the Baroque Concert Series on Period Instruments will be Jan. 18, 2007.

Domenico Gabrielli with two Ls -- no relation to Andrea and Giovanni, the more famous one-L Gabrieli's of Venice -- was mostly active in Bologna, his birthplace. He was among the first composers known to have written music for the cello and had a reputation as a skilled cellist. His seven ricercars, dated Jan, 15, 1689, probably represent his own gifts as a performer. Ricercar 6 lives up to its name ("to search"), probing a number of musical ideas and the instrument itself.

Biber was also a cellist, but his fame was based on his abilities as a violinist. He spent the bulk of his career in Salzburg. His reputation as a brilliant violinist is reflected in his works for the instrument, not the least impressive of which are his 15 "Mystery" sonatas, based on the mysteries of the rosary. Biber concludes his series of meditations with this Passacaglia, a set of 65 variations on four-note descending line played mostly in the lowest register of the instrument.

In the manuscript, in lieu of a title, each of the sonatas and the passacaglia are prefaced with an picture representing the subject. For the passacaglia, an angel is pointing heavenward and leading a young boy -- probably a representation of a guardian angel leading the soul through the world, guiding him towards God.

Bach's s six suites for solo cello, composed around 1720, are the earliest works to earn a permanent place in the virtuoso cello repertoire. They were written while Bach was music director at the court of Prince Leopold of Coethen.

Bach's suites follow the well established form of the dance suite, a series of courtly and social dances unified by key. In Bach's cello suites, a standard series of four dances -- allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue -- is presented together with another pair of dances, and beginning with a prelude.

As a member of the Four Nations Ensemble since 1989, Ms. O'Sullivan has appeared on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, at the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum, Merkin Concert Hall, and the NY Historical Society. A recognized early-music performer, she has played with the Aston Magna Festival and Academy since 1985, and played continuo cello for many orchestras. For more information, see: .

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

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

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