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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 15, 2006

University Symphony And UI Bands Share Sept. 27 Concert In Hancher

A shared concert by the University of Iowa Symphony, the UI Symphony Band and the Chamber Wind Ensemble will feature a new concerto for double bass, performed by soloist Volkan Orhon, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27 in Hancher Auditorium.

The University Symphony and conductor William LaRue Jones will perform the world premiere of John Harbison's Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra with Orhon, and the Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98, by Johannes Brahms.

Myron Welch will conduct the Chamber Wind Ensemble in a performance of the Serenade for Winds, op. 44, by Antonin Dvorak, and the Symphony Band in performances of "Blithe Bells" -- music of J.S. Bach arranged by Percy Grainger and edited by Kevin Kastens -- and "La Fiesta Mexicana" (Mexican festival) by H. Owen Reed.

Jones, Welch, Orhon and Kastens all are members of the UI School of Music faculty.

As part of the UI School of Music's yearlong celebration of its centennial, the orchestra and bands will share concerts during the coming season. Most concerts will include premieres of new works commissioned by the school as part of the Centennial Celebration.

Remaining concerts by the University Symphony and UI Symphony Band will be Wednesdays Oct. 25, Feb. 21 and May 2, all in Hancher Auditorium. Members of the band will join with the UI Choirs for the premiere of "For Music" for choir and wind ensemble by Mark Sirett, Oct. 18 in Hancher Auditorium. The University Symphony and Choruses will present Verdi's "Requiem" with alumni soloists in Hancher Nov 29.

Harbison's new concerto was commissioned by the International Society of Bassists and will be premiered by a consortium of orchestras and soloists around the country. The University Symphony is the only university orchestra offering one of the premiere performances.

Over the past two decades Harbison has been one of the most successful American composers, writing works that draw on musical styles from Bach and Buxtehude to Stravinsky, jazz and pop. Among his principal works are three string quartets, three symphonies and three operas including "The Great Gatsby," commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and premiered in December 1999.

The composer wrote of his concerto, "The first movement begins with an introduction which reminds the listener that the bass viol is the oldest instrument in the modern orchestra, grand survivor from the medieval viol family. . . . (It) begins under emotional duress, gradually moving to a more elegiac tone which may mask a more dangerous state of mind. A closing section mimes sonic images of farewell.

"The second movement is a Cavatina, which my Italian dictionary defines as 'a sustained Air' . . . (but) I believe Cavatina has come to mean a song led throughout by a principal player, which eventually arrives at an unpredicted dramatic destination.

"In (the finale) I am playing with the return of a very short motto, which becomes increasingly rough and forthright."

Brahms began his Fourth Symphony in the summer of 1884 and completed it the next year. He then had the luxury of rehearsing the symphony in private before performing it, working with the orchestra maintained at his castle by the Duke of Meiningen.

Brahms was afraid that the symphony, in the austere key of E minor, would be too stern for the general public. In fact, both the public and the composer's friends were slow to warm to the work, but Brahms stuck to his convictions, writing in a characteristically laconic manner, "the piece does not altogether displease me." Performances eventually overcame all doubts, and today the symphony is regarded as one of the greatest works of the Romantic period.

Written in two weeks in 1878, Dvorak's Serenade is scored for ten winds, cello and string bass. It is reminiscent in mood to Mozart's classical Serenades, but makes use of Czech folk-music sources: a village march in the first movement, the sonsedska dance form, a Bohemian slow folk dance and the furiant, with its fast tempos and strong accents.

Reed's "Fiesta Mexicana," subtitled "A Mexican Folk Song Symphony," was written after the composer had spent in year in Mexico on a Guggenheim Fellowship. The entire work depicts a religious festival and faithfully represents the contrasts and contradictions of these festivals: It is both serious and comical, festive and solemn, devout and pagan, boisterous and tender.

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. The founding director of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. See:

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. The past president of the American Bandmasters Association, the Big 10 Band Directors Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association, Welch is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the United States. See

Orhon joined the UI faculty in the fall of 2002. His professional career spans a wide variety of solo, orchestral and chamber music performing and teaching across the country and around the world. Among other honors, he was the first double bass player ever to win the Grand Prize overall and first prize for double bass at the American String Teachers Association Solo Competition. For more, see or

Tickets for the Sept. 27 concert by the University Symphony, UI Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble are $10 ($7 for seniors; $5 for UI students and youth), and are available at the Hancher Auditorium Box Office.

If purchased together with other tickets for events presented by the UI Division of Performing Arts -- the Mainstage season of University Theatres, the annual Dance Gala performances, ticketed School of Music concerts in Hancher Auditorium and a production by the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater -- tickets to the concert may be eligible for a series discount.

The events are detailed in a Division of Performing Arts brochure that is available at the Hancher Auditorium Box Office, in the UI Theatre Building and from the division's marketing office at 319-335-3213. As explained 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. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. 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:

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:

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

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, 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; cell: 319-541-2846;

PHOTOS of soloist Volkan Orhon are available at

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