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Release: Immediate

Faculty piano trio will play Haydn and Tchaikovsky Oct. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A faculty piano trio from the University of Iowa School of Music -- pianist Carole Thomas, violinist Leopold La Fosse and cellist Charles Wendt -- will present a free concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert in the recently improved hall will be free and open to the public. The trio will perform Haydn's Trio in G major, Hob. XV: 25, and the Tchaikovsky Trio in A minor, op. 50.

Over the past year, several improvements were made in Clapp Recital Hall, 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."

Haydn composed his approximately 30 piano trios at a time when most chamber music was written for domestic performance rather than the concert stage -- that is, for amateur rather than professional musicians. In fact, they belong largely to the category of "accompanied keyboard sonatas," which means that the piano has the leading role and the string parts are largely subordinate. Thus the violin only occasionally deviates from an accompanying role and the cello largely duplicates the bass line of the piano part, with relatively little independent material of its own.

Nonetheless, Haydn's trios have a strong place in the contemporary concert repertoire on the basis of their delightful musical content. The Trio in G major, composed in 1795, is one of the most popular of the trios, due to the lyrical first movement and the colorful "Gypsy" rondo finale.

In contrast to Haydn, Tchaikovsky definitely composed his one piano trio for the concert hall. It is an expansive, large-scale work calling for virtuoso performers of a professional level. It was written in Rome in 1881-82, during a period of severe turmoil in the composer's personal life. During this time the composer was able to complete relatively few compositions.

The Trio in A minor, however, was written from a powerful personal motivation. It was dedicated to the memory of Nikolay Rubinstein, the great Russian pianist, composer and teacher who had hired Tchaikovsky to teach at the St. Petersberg

Conservatory and encouraged his early efforts at composition. Rubinstein had fallen gravely ill early in 1881 and Tchaikovsky had rushed from Naples to Paris in hopes of seeing him. Arriving too late, he had instead attended Rubinstein's funeral. Deeply disturbed both by Rubinstein's unexpected death and having missed seeing him alive, Tchaikovsky wrote the Trio as an expression of grief and homage.

Thomas joined the School of Music faculty in 1970. She has performed extensively in the Midwest and in Austria, and has been a presenter/performer at numerous state and national conventions of the Music Teachers National Association. As a member of the duo "Piano by Two," she has toured throughout Iowa and the Midwest and shared in grants from the Iowa Arts Council to work on the Arts To Go touring program. Before coming to Iowa Thomas taught at the University of Illinois.

La Fosse, who joined the UI music faculty in 1972, will celebrate his 25th anniversary at the School of Music with a series of concerts and recitals in November. His extensive performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. He made his first public appearance at the age of four, and he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio at eight. He later studied at the New England Conservatory.

At the UI he teaches violin and directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble. He has also done extensive research in string pedagogy. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform, teach, and give master classes.

La Fosse continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had performances at Wigmore Hall in London, Sala Ceclila Mireles in Rio de Janiero, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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.