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Release: Immediate

Kantorei opens 1997-98 choral concert series Oct. 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kantorei, the premiere vocal ensemble at the University of Iowa School of Music, will open the 1997-98 season of free choral concerts on the UI campus at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in Clapp Recital Hall.

The performance will feature both Renaissance and modern madrigals, a preview of events to come later in the semester, and a musical depiction of natural events. William Hatcher, director of choral activities at the UI, will conduct the concert, which will feature a number of student soloists.

The earlier madrigals are by Luca Marenzio and Claudio Monteverdi, two of the masters of the late 16th and early 17th century. Contrasted with those classic Renaissance madrigals are the "Fire Songs" by contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen, settings of Italian renaissance poems that could have been used for madrigals in the 16th century.

The preview on the concert will be portions of Handel's dramatic ode "L'Allegro, Il Pensieroso ed il Moderato," featuring soloists Thea Engelson, Margaret Lanning, and Yatsi Leung, sopranos; and Dirk Garner, tenor.

Handel's ode is a setting in English of poetry by John Milton concerning the outlooks of three contrasting personalities -- one who is cheerful ("L'Allegro"), one who is morose and one who is moderate. Although it is not performed as often as "Messiah" and other sacred works by Handel, it is considered one of his major choral works.

These excerpts are a preview of a performance of a more extended portion of the ode that will be presented by Kantorei and the University Chamber Orchestra at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, in Clapp Recital Hall as part of a lecture/concert by noted Baroque scholar, conductor and performance specialist Nicholas McGegan.

For the performance of "L'Allegro," Kantorei assistant conductor David Shaler will play the piano accompaniment, and UI undergraduate Thomas Drury will play organ.

The third featured work on the program will be "Cloudburst" by the young American composer Eric Whitacre. A musical setting of a natural cloudburst based on the poetry of Latin American poet Octavio Paz, Whitacre's score comes complete with sound effects and unusual instruments to achieve its extra-musical effects. Soloists will be Leanne Foust, soprano, Daniel Afonso, baritone, and speaker Maria Delgado.

Other works on the program will include Mendelssohn's "Warum toben die Heiden?" (Psalm 2: "Why do the heathen rage?") and an arrangement of "MacPherson's Farewell," featuring soloists Gary Haase, bass; Daniel Afonso, recorder; and UI School of Music faculty member Darlene Lawrence, piano.

A select ensemble of 30 singers, Kantorei consists primarily of graduate students in choral conducting or voice. The group tours extensively, performing throughout Iowa and across the Midwest, and by invitation at choral festivals around the world. Recently Kantorei was chosen to perform a concert in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis for a convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

In the fall of 1996, Kantorei participated in an International Choral Competition in Tolosa, Spain. Prior to that honor, Kantorei was one of only five choirs chosen to participate in the 1994 World Choral Festival in Seoul, South Korea, where they presented concerts over an eight-day period.

In 1990 Kantorei performed the Mozart "Requiem" with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and other orchestras in the former Soviet Union, and also gave concerts in Russia, Estonia and Finland. Kantorei has also performed for regional and national conventions of the ACDA in 1992 and 1993.

Hatcher has served as director of choral activities at the UI School of Music since 1988. He directs the graduate choral conducting program, conducts choral ensembles in the School of Music and frequently appears as music director of productions by the UI Opera Theater.

He was national president of the ACDA 1991-93, and serves as chair of the ACDA Endowment Trust. Prior to coming to Iowa he taught at UCLA, the University of Washington and Pasadena City College.

Hatcher's concert tours have included Europe, Greece, the British Isles, Canada, Hawaii and the western United States. Hatcher was also coordinator and assistant director of the 1000-voice Olympic Honor Chorus, which sang for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, an event telecast to more than two billion people worldwide.

Hatcher has published materials on choral skills and choral arrangements, and he appears frequently as a choral clinician and festival choir director.

Lawrence has accompanied many prominent California artists and has served as accompanist for the Oregon Bach Festival with noted conductor Helmuth Rilling. She was selected to accompany the choir for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In addition to her work as an accompanist, she is a published composer/arranger, and she has worked as a studio singer in film, television and the recording industry. Since 1989 she has been on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she teaches song literature and is coach/accompanist in the voice and opera areas.