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Release: Immediate

UI music alumni present voice recital for sesquicentennial celebration

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two alumni of the University of Iowa School of Music -- soprano Julie Kaufmann and tenor James McDonald -- will present a guest recital as part of the UI's sesquicentennial celebration, at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 2, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Kaufmann and McDonald will be accompanied by pianist Ruth Ann McDonald. The program will comprise the songs of the "Italienisches Liederbuch" (Italian Song Book) of late 19th-century Viennese composer Hugo Wolf.

The recital will be free and open to the public.

Considered one of the greatest song composers of the 19th century, Wolf was largely self-taught. He was expelled from the Vienna Conservatory in 1877 for lack of discipline, and he rejected the advice given to him by Brahms to study counterpoint. He spent the rest of his life supporting himself in various ways: teaching music, writing criticism and performing his own works. His career was cut short by mental deterioration, and he was confined to a mental institution in 1897 and again in 1898. He died in 1903 at the age of 42.

Although he wrote a few instrumental compositions and completed one opera, Wolf put his greatest effort into song composition. He is remembered chiefly for his more than 300 songs. One of the most important groups of songs, the "Italienisches Liederbuch" was written in two bursts of creative activity: 22 songs as part one in 1891 and 24 additional songs as part two in 1896.

Kaufmann and McDonald will share the 46 short songs, with each singing about half. This approach follows a common practice of performing the "Liederbuch" with two or more singers. Many of the texts are clearly written from the perspective of a man or woman, so it makes sense for two singers to share them. And, of course, by sharing the program singers also reduce the considerable burden of singing the entire lengthy and demanding set on a single recital.

A native of Iowa, Kaufmann studied at the UI with Herald Stark and performed with the UI Center for New Music. She has lived for many years in Germany, where she studied at the Musikhochschule (Music conservatory) in Hamburg and performed with the Zurich opera studio and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

She has also performed concert and oratorio throughout the world, including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Kurt Masur, Brahms' "German Requiem" with Yehudi Menuhin, Colin Davis and Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos, and other works with Neville Marriner, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Herbert Blomstedt and other of the world's leading conductors.

She also performs vocal chamber music and has recorded several CDs, including Beethoven's "Scottish, Welsh and Irish Songs" and Mozart concert arias and ensembles. In 1991 she was given the honorary title "Kammersaengerin" (chamber singer).

James McDonald holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the UI and studied at the Hochschule fuer Musik (Music conservatory) in Munich, Germany. He also studied at the Britten-Pears School of Advance Musical Studies in England, where he worked with its co-founder, the famed tenor Peter Pears.

His performances have included appearance at the International Handel Festival in Halle, Germany, and performances with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. He is a regular member of the Theater Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center.

McDonald has taught on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music since 1995. Prior to that date he taught in the music department of the University of Maryland in College Park.

A highly regarded vocal accompanist, Ruth Ann McDonald has been official pianist for the Belvedere International Vocal Competition, the Kennedy Center Rockefeller Competition, the National Association of Teachers of Singing national convention and the Marion Anderson International Vocal Competition.

She has coached students at the American Institute for Musical Studies. Recital appearances include performances with the Theater Chamber Players of Kennedy Center and singers Gordon Hawkins, Peter Pears, George Shirley, Phyllis Bryn-Julsen and James McDonald.