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Tenor Scott McCoy will give three recitals honoring Schubert bicentennial

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Tenor Scott McCoy from the University of Iowa School of Music faculty and pianist Claude Cymerman will present the three dramatic song cycles of Viennese composer Franz Schubert, in a series of three recitals, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, Friday, Jan. 31, and Sunday, Feb. 2. All three recitals will be in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus and will be free and open to the public.

The programs will be presented in celebration of the bicentennial of Schubert's birth on Jan. 31, 1797. McCoy and Cymerman will perform the cycles in the order that they were written: "Die schoene Muellerin" (The beautiful milleress) on Jan. 29; "Die Winterreise" (The winter's journey) -- the best known of the cycles -- on the exact 200th anniversary of Schubert's birth, Jan. 31; and "Schwanengesang" (Swan song) on Feb. 2.

The son of a Viennese schoolmaster, Schubert was a prolific composer of songs. His three song cycles are considered the culminating works of his career, and they are among the first works to tell a unified, dramatic story through a series of related songs.

The cycles are also considered one of the greatest challenges to singers because of the wide emotional range of each set. As each cycle tells its story, the solo singer and pianist must enact the entire drama only through music, as if an entire opera were being retold by a single singer through his voice alone.

The pianist provides crucial support for the drama, helping to set the scene and establish the mood. Critics have often noted how Schubert is able to capture the mood of each song in a simple but effective accompanying pattern in the piano.

McCoy wanted to sing the three cycles for the Schubert bicentennial because, he said, "I believe that Schubert was the supreme master of the art song, and nowhere in his entire output is this more apparent than the three cycles."

"Each song is an individual masterpiece, but the true genius of the work is only heard when the songs are presented within the context of the complete cycle. No other composer has more effectively used the song medium to build an extended narrative that is emotionally moving as both drama and music."

McCoy believes that a particular strength of the songs is their immediate appeal for the audience. "The songs are innately understandable on an emotional level," he said. "All the feelings are something that most of us have experienced in our lifetime."
The first of the three cycles, "Die schoene Muellerin" was composed by Schubert in October and November of 1823. A group of 20 songs, they tell the a story of unrequited love, complete with portrayals of infatuation, hope and eventual despair.
(more) 1/17/97

"Die Winterreise" was composed four years later, in 1827. The 24 songs tell the romantic story of another young man who has been rejected in love. In this cycle, the rejected lover embarks on a journey in the dead of winter, trying to leave his beloved and his memories behind. Here Schubert creates an especially powerful drama, with the scenes of winter serving as a symbol of emotional coldness and rejection.

"Schwanengesang" contains the final songs Schubert wrote before his death, at the age of only 31, in 1828. It contains 14 songs, two groups that he had written as sets, each of poems by a single author, plus a final song that was added to the collection by the publisher.

A graduate of the UI, McCoy returned to Iowa to teach voice at the School of Music in 1990. Prior to joining the UI faculty, he taught at the University of Northern Iowa, Virginia Tech and the University of Georgia. He has won the Georgia and Western Virginia districts of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Voice Competition and the Singers' Showcase Competition.

He has had operatic roles with the Lyric Theater of Europe, the Western Plains Opera, the Southwest Virginia Opera and the Atlanta Repertory Opera, and he has performed at the Aspen and Flagstaff Music Festivals as well as the Bach Aria Festival and Institute. He has sung numerous concert performances and solo recitals, including recent appearances with the Albany, Colorado and Honolulu symphonies. McCoy made both Carnegie Hall and Orchestral Hall (Chicago) debuts in 1991 in performances with the Illinois Chamber Orchestra and the Apollo Chorus.

Since returning to Iowa, McCoy has performed roles with the UI Opera Theater and presented voice recitals before local audiences.

Cymerman began his piano studies at the age of seven in his native Metz, France. He entered the Paris Conservatory, where he took First Prize in piano by the unanimous vote of the jury in 1966. He emigrated to the United States in 1972 and began graduate work in piano and chamber music at Indiana University, studying with Gyorgy Sebok, Janos Starker and Menahem Pressler.

Cymerman teaches piano at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. He performs often as a recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with major orchestras including the Paris Conservatory Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony and the French Radio Orchestra.

Cymerman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 with Romanian violinist Sherban Lupu. He performs regularly on French national radio and television.
For more information, contact the UI School of Music at (319) 335-1667.