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University of Iowa News Release

 

Feb. 19, 2007

Familiar 'Surprise' Will Be On Chamber Orchestra Concert March 4

The University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra will include one of the most familiar of all Classical symphonies on a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 4, in Clapp Recital Hall. The concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, will be free and open to the public.

In addition to Haydn's familiar "Surprise" Symphony, No. 94 in G major, the concert will feature visiting music faculty member Gro Sandvik, flute, in a performance of Mozart's Flute Concerto in D major, K314, and the jazzy "La Création du monde" (Creation of the world) by 20th-century French composer Darius Milhaud.

Haydn's Symphony No. 94 was composed for the first of the composer's two concert tours to London in the years 1791-95. The trips to London occurred near the end of Haydn's long and productive life, after his retirement from his job as a court musician to the Esterhazy family of Hungary and Austria. The toast of London, Haydn was celebrated as composer, performer and dinner guest during his visits.

The most famous of the 12 symphonies Haydn wrote for the two London trips was the Symphony in G major, known for the "surprise" that takes place in the slow movement. The tale is well-known: Haydn, frustrated by the aristocrats who dozed off during his concerts, inserted a loud drum-stroke punctuating an otherwise gentle phrase to jolt them awake. It's a pretty good story, and there might be some truth to it -- Haydn himself apparently circulated a rumor in London that the drum stroke was intended to "make the ladies scream." However, years later the composer simply said "it was my wish to surprise the public with something new, and to make a debut in a brilliant manner."

In that Haydn undoubtedly succeeded. The symphony's first performance in London on March 23, 1792, was greeted, Haydn reported, "with countless bravos," and the "Surprise" Symphony has remained Haydn's most popular work ever since.

In 1777 and '78 Mozart was touring central Europe with his mother, hoping to find a job that would take him away from his position at the Archbishop's court in Salzburg. The trip took him through Mannheim, at that time one of the major musical centers of Europe. While there, Mozart received a commission from Ferdinand DeJean, a surgeon with the Dutch East India Company and an amateur flutist, for three flute concertos and three quartets for flute and strings.

Mozart never completed the commission. He later wrote to his father that he found it too difficult to write "for an instrument I detest," but it is more likely that he was distracted by his courtship of the singer Aloisia Weber. Of the requested works, Mozart eventually completed two of the quartets and one new concerto. The second concerto he delivered to DeJean -- the Concerto in D major -- was in fact a transposition of his Oboe Concerto in C major, that he had written earlier for an oboist in the Salzburg orchestra.

One of "Les Six"-- a group of modernist composers active in France in the early years of the 20th century -- Milhaud absorbed a wide variety of influences from his studies at the Paris Conservatory; travels to Brazil, the United States and around Europe; and the modernist aesthetic of the 1920s. He wrote a great deal of music in all genres, including 12 symphonies, 18 string quartets, numerous operas and other stage works.

Written in 1923, "La Création du monde" was influenced by Milhaud's visit to Harlem the year before, and is generally considered the first piece to incorporate blues and jazz styles into a symphonic score. It was composed for a ballet based upon African creation myths. The ballet was first performed Oct. 25, 1923, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. The concert suite from the ballet remains a popular piece in the orchestral repertoire and is among Milhaud's best known works.

One of four major orchestral ensembles in the UI School of Music, the Chamber Orchestra is based around the ensemble format established during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its repertoire covers a broad range, from Classical and early Romantic composers to the 21st century. The Chamber Orchestra presents two or more concerts each semester, often featuring UI faculty and alumni as soloists.

Sandvik has served as solo flutist in the Bergen Philharmonic since 1967. She has an active career as soloist and chamber music performer, which includes premier performances of works written especially for her as well as the Scandinavian premiere of John Corigliano's Concerto for Flute. She also teaches on the faculty of the Grieg Academy at the University of Bergen. She is visiting professor of flute in the UI School of Music for the academic year 2006/2007. See: http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/WINDsandvik.htm

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: http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/CONDjones.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 UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. 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; cell: 319-541-2846; peter-alexander@uiowa.edu.

A PHOTO of Gro Sandvik can be found at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/highrespics/sandvik.jpg