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Release: Immediate

University Symphony plays classical orchestra works in Clapp Hall Nov. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will present a concert of music for the small orchestra of the classical period, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12. The concert, which will feature an orchestra with a reduced string section and small number of wind instruments, will be held in the intimate Clapp Recital Hall instead of the orchestra's usual performance home in Hancher Auditorium.

William LaRue Jones will conduct the performance, which will feature cellist Charles Wendt as soloist in the Adagio with Variations of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. Other works on the program will be the Overture to Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro"; Schubert's Symphony No.5 in B-flat major; and Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony of 1917.

The concert by the University Symphony will be the first major ensemble performance in Clapp Recital Hall since the recent improvements to the hall. Over the past year, several improvements were made, including news seats, a refinished stage floor, improved stage lighting and a new pit cover.

According to School of Music public events coordinator Mona Shaw, these changes -- and particularly the pit cover -- have resulted in a much improved sound quality in the hall. "The pit cover improves the appearance of the hall and brings performers closer to the audience," she said. "It also adds resonance, making the sound in the hall warmer, richer and more immediate."

Respighi, who is best known for his colorful, extravagant orchestral show pieces, composed a set of Variations for Cello and piano in 1912, for Antonio Certani, a cellist and childhood friend of the composer. In 1920 he arranged the work as the Adagio with Variations for cello and orchestra.

Schubert wrote his Fifth Symphony in 1816, when he was just 19. The work combines the external features of the Classical-period symphony, represented by the small orchestra and the standard order and form of movements, with Schubert's characteristic songful melodic style.

Prokofiev wrote his First Symphony, known today as the "Classical" Symphony, partly as an exercise in composition, conceiving the piece in his head on long walks in the country and putting it onto paper without using a piano. The score also reflects his interest in the music of the Classical period, as re-interpreted by his highly individual, 20th-century imagination.

Wendt, an active soloist and chamber musician, joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1966. He graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and received his master's degree from Indiana University, where he was awarded the coveted Performer's Certificate.

He has appeared as soloist with the Atlanta, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo symphony orchestras. Before coming to the UI, he was assistant first cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera. Currently he is cellist of the Stradivari Quartet and also principal cellist with the Quad-City Symphony.

A UI music alumnus and the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., Jones came to the UI this fall to direct the University Symphony for the 1997-98 academic year. He replaces James Dixon, the director of the orchestra for more than 40 years, who retired at the end of the 1996-97 academic year.

Jones is a highly honored musician, having received the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Art Award, the American String Teachers Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota , a music honorary society.

Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

Most recently, he conducted a concert with the orchestra of the All-State Music Camp at the UI during the past summer.