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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Sidebars on the Hancher Guild champagne-and-cookies reception and the history of Hancher Auditorium accompany this release)

Iowa's Simon Estes helps Hancher celebrate Silver Anniversary Sept. 16

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- International opera star Simon Estes, an Iowa native and University of Iowa alumnus, will star in the Hancher Auditorium Silver Anniversary Gala, which begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16. The concert is the first event in Hancher's 1997-98 Cambridge Place Apartments Concert Series.

The black-tie-optional evening will begin with a champagne-and-cookie reception -- featuring cookies specially created by local bakeries and restaurants to mark the Silver Anniversary -- in the Hancher lobby. The festivities are organized and hosted by the volunteers of Hancher Guild.

The reception, at which non-alcoholic beverages will also be available, is free to all ticketholders. Special decorations and displays will add to the atmosphere of celebration, including the on-going lobby exhibition of silverwork and jewelry by UI art faculty member Chunghi Choo, her students and visiting colleagues Donald Friedlich and Kyung Hee Hong.

Estes' concert will begin at 8 p.m. With the accompaniment of pianist Veronica Scully, Estes will perform "Thus Saith the Lord" from Handel's "Messiah," the Lord's Prayer setting by Albert Hay Malotte, "The Lord is My Light" by Frances Allitsen, a set of opera arias by Verdi, several traditional spirituals, and Richard Rodgers songs from "Carousel," "Showboat" and "The Sound of Music."

Estes grew up in Centerville, and at the UI he studied pre-med, psychology and religion. His singing in the Old Gold Singers caught the attention of School of Music faculty member Charles Kellis, who became Estes' first (and only) teacher and introduced the young baritone to opera. Funds raised in local benefits enabled Estes to travel to New York for auditions at the Juilliard School of Music.

A prize at the 1966 Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow launched Estes' international career, and in the years since he has performed nearly 90 roles at the world's leading opera houses, and he has been featured on numerous recordings. His latest release is "Spirituals," recorded in Iowa. In addition, he is in demand as a recitalist and orchestral soloist, appearing regularly with the leading orchestras in the United States and Europe.

His career has included command performances at the White House, a featured role in the inaugural concert of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., engagements at the Olympic Games and the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations, and a performance for Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu.

Estes created the Simon Estes Scholarship fund at the University of Iowa, which is one of his many philanthropic and educational endeavors. He has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York City since 1986.

Remaining tickets to the Sept. 16 Hancher Auditorium Silver Anniversary Gala, including the champagne reception, are $36 and $34. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and Zone 3 tickets are available to UI student for $10. Audience members 17 and younger may purchase tickets at half price.

Discounts of 20 percent are also available on subscriptions to the Concert Series. Other events in the series are Toronto's Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra on Nov. 5 and the Australian Chamber Orchestra on March 31.

Cambridge Place Apartments is the corporate sponsor of the Concert Series, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. 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.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.