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Release: Immediate

UI symphony band and organist Disselhorst will give concert Nov. 5

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Band will open its 1997-98 concert series with a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under UI Director of Bands Myron Welch, will feature the Chamber Wind Ensemble -- a smaller, select group from within the Symphony Band -- playing two early-20th-century rarities, the "Greek Dances" of Nikos Skalkottas and Paul Hindemith's Kammermusik (Chamber music) No. 7, op. 46 no. 2, with organist Delbert Disselhorst.

Other works on the program, performed by the full symphony band, will be the "New England Triptych" of William Schumann, Vittorio Giannini's Symphony No. 3 for band, and Serge Prokofiev's March, op. 99.

Little known during his lifetime, the Greek composer Skalkottas has been called "a volcanic talent" and "a Mozart of our time." After studies at the Athens Conservatory, he journeyed to Berlin in 1921 for further study in violin and composition. In 1933 the rising tide of Nazism drove him back to Athens, where he played in the violin section of the State Orchestra of Athens until his death in 1949.

Finding the climate hostile to contemporary music, Skalkottas composed mostly in isolation, and most of his music was unknown until it was discovered after his death. Today, manuscripts for more than 100 works ranging from short, modest compositions to extremely large and complex works are collected at the Skalkottas Archives in Athens.

An avid collector of Greek folk and dance music, Skalkottas composed 36 Greek dances for orchestra soon after his return to Greece from Germany. In 1940-42 he arranged nine of the dances, based on dance types from different regions of Greece, for military band. These arrangements were never performed in Skalkottas' lifetime and have only recently been published.

Composed in 1928, Hindemith's' Kammermusik No. 7 is part of a series of works composed for small ensembles and solo instruments. Written to provide usable repertoire for soloists on many different instruments, the series reflects Hindemith's lifelong interest in practical solutions to players' needs for repertoire that is accessible to players and audiences alike.

Number 7 of the series, subtitled "Concerto for organ and chamber orchestra," calls for organ with a small wind ensemble plus cello and string bass. The style reflects the composer's reverence for the great German composer J.S Bach and follows the standard concerto form of Bach's time, consisting of three movements in the sequence fast-slow-fast.

One of the most distinguished American musicians of the 20th century, William Schuman was president of the Juilliard School 1945-62 and president of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts -- of which Juilliard is now a part -- 1962-68. A versatile composer, he wrote numerous orchestral, chamber and vocal works, music for films, ballets and an opera on the popular story of "Casey at the Bat."

His New England Triptych, composed in 1956, was subtitled "Three Pieces for Orchestra after William Billings." It was arranged for concert band by the composer and has since been a staple of the band repertoire. The score is based on three tunes -- "Be Glad Then America," "When Jesus Wept" and "Chester" -- by William Billings, a revolutionary-era American composer of "Fuguing tunes" and other songs that achieved wide popularity in 18th-century New England. After fashion passed him by, his music fell into obscurity, but today it is recognized for its vigorous tunes and energetic spirit, and Billings is considered a major figure in the history of American music.

Like Schuman, Giannini was an important American music educator and composer. A graduate of the Juilliard School, he taught at his alma mater, at the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He was a guiding force in the founding of the North Carolina School of the Arts and served as its first president.

Giannini's compositions include 11 operas, several large choral works, songs, numerous works for piano, chamber music, and numerous orchestral works. His works for concert band are considered among the most important original compositions for the medium.

Welch has been director of bands at the UI since 1980. In addition to conducting the Symphony Band and Chamber Wind Ensemble, Welch teaches courses in instrumental methods and conducting, and is coordinator of the Iowa Honor Band and the All-State Music Camp. Prior to joining the UI faculty he was director of bands and coordinator of music education at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Michigan State University and a doctorate in music education from the University of Illinois.

Welch is past president and chair of the board of directors of the American Bandmasters Association, president of the Big 10 Band Directors Association and past president of the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is a frequent guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with bands throughout the Midwest.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. Tours of Europe have included recitals in Denmark, Germany and France.