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University of Iowa News Release


April 30, 2009

Ying Quartet/Wu Han concert will benefit Hancher, mark Hurtig's retirement

The Ying Quartet and pianist Wu Han will present a performance to benefit the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium and mark the retirement of Judy Hurtig, Hancher's artistic director, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 15, at the Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville.

The artists volunteered to help Hancher in its time of need, and the money raised will be used to support Hancher's chamber music programming. All tickets are $250, of which $210 is considered a tax-deductible donation.

Their program will include pieces by Vivian Fung and Lei Lang that were commissioned by the Yings as part of their Dim Sum project. The project has yielded a number of short pieces by Chinese and Chinese-American composers, and the quartet will perform two pieces that have become audience favorites.

The full program will be:

--Wu Han performing excerpts from "The Seasons" by Tchaikovsky.
--Pizzicato for String Quartet by Vivian Fung.
--"Gobi Gloria" for string quartet by Lei Lang.
--Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81.

Both the Ying Quartet and Wu Han have been frequent performers on Hancher's seasons. Wu Han recently served with Hurtig on the selection committee of Music Accord, a consortium of 10 leading presenting organizations -- including the Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Boston Symphony Orchestra -- that pools funds each year to commission "great music by great composers for great musicians."

Hancher commissioned Sonata No. 1 for Violoncello and Piano by Lera Auerbach for Wu Han and cellist David Finckel, who performed the world premiere in a 2003 Hancher-sponsored concert with the composer present, and last season she was featured with the Emerson Quartet, of which Finckel is a member. Finckel and Wu Han have recorded the Auerback Sonata for an upcoming release on their Artist Led label.

Wu Han now ranks among the world's most influential classical musicians, appearing regularly in venues across the United States, Europe and the Far East as both soloist and chamber musician. She and Finckel serve as artistic directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Music@Menlo, a chamber music festival in Silicon Valley that has garnered international acclaim since its inception in 2003. Prior to launching Music@Menlo, they served for three seasons as artistic directors of SummerFest La Jolla in Southern California.

Iowa has played an important role in the career of the Ying Quartet beyond its UI performances and residencies. In 1992 the four musical siblings from Winnetka, Ill., became part of the farm town of Jesup (population 2,000) as the first recipients of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to support chamber music in rural America.

The quartet participated fully in the community, performing on countless occasions for audiences of six to 600 people in a residency so successful that it was widely chronicled in both the national and international media.

During their time in Jesup, the Yings won the 1993 Naumburg Award, America's top honor for young chamber ensembles, and the quartet has continued to focus not merely on performing, but also on developing ways of making artistic and creative expression an essential part of everyday life.

As faculty members of the Eastman School of Music, they not only instruct the college's students and coach its chamber music ensembles, but also teach Eastman students to build community music programs based on the Ying Quartet experience in Iowa.

The Yings made their Iowa "homecoming" in 1997 in a Hancher-sponsored residency that included a return visit to Jesup and focused primarily on the UI medical campus in collaboration with the Project Art program of the UI Hospitals and Clinics. They returned again in 2002 for a three-week residency through the Arts Across the Curriculum project, involving schools in Iowa City, West Branch, Cedar Rapids, Wellman-Kalona, Columbus Junction and Mt. Vernon.

Last season, in one of the last events in Hancher before the building was severely damaged by the June 28 flood, Hurtig and her husband, Richard, sponsored a concert-length collaboration between the quartet and Tod Machover from the MIT Media Lab.

Hurtig has been a member of the Hancher staff since 1986, and she became assistant director in 1999. Before becoming the artistic director she was responsible for Hancher's marketing and education programs, and she has been the auditorium's primary grant writer.

During her Hancher tenure, Hurtig has been a central player in many of the landmarks of UI arts history, including the world premieres of the Joffrey Ballet's "Nutcracker" and "Billboards"; the 1999-2000 Millennium Festival, the most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration in the United States; the "SPOT" program that has taken family programming into several Iowa communities; and the 2007 Joffrey "River to River" tour.

A lifelong fan of chamber music, she was on the board of directors of Chamber Music America for six years, including two terms as secretary to the board. She was a member of the board of directors of Riverside Theatre in Iowa City; she was president of the board of the Iowa Arts Festival; she was a member of the 50th-anniversary committee of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters; she has served on grant panels of the National Endowment for the Arts and other funding agencies; and she was chair of the Arts Committee of Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, which honored her with its Star Award. She holds a doctorate in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.

Hancher Auditorium box office 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. 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 online at

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 March 25 concert is supported by Betsy Fahr and William and Karen Rubright through the University of Iowa Foundation. Further support for the residency was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For UI arts information and calendar updates visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.


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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell), 319-338-4274 (home)