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Release: Immediate

University Symphony presents music by Samuel Barber and Tchaikovsky March 11

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Soprano Rachel Joselson will make her University of Iowa debut appearance in a concert with the University Symphony and conductor William LaRue Jones at

8 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus. The performance will be free and open to the public.

Joselson, who joined the UI School of Music faculty last fall, will perform with the orchestra in American composer Samuel Barber's nostalgic "Knoxville: Summer of 1915." The orchestra will also play Tchaikovsky's popular Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64.

Joselson joined the UI faculty after an extensive operatic career in Europe and the United States. She made her first Metropolitan Opera appearance during the 1995-96 season, and she was engaged by London's Covent Garden for their 1992 Japan tour. She recently had her debut with the Madison (Wis.) Opera in Gian Carlo Menotti's "Help, Help, the Globolinks."

Samuel Barber is best known for the Adagio for strings, one of the most popular pieces of concert music ever written by an American. Composed in a similar warm and lyrical style, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" was written soon after World War II, a time when Barber was a recognized and esteemed composer. It is based on a poem by James Agee that describes a small child's experience of a lazy summer evening with his family. Reading the poem around 1946, Barber immediately identified with the nostalgic text, which reminded him of his own childhood memories.

"The summer evening he describes in his native Southern town reminded me so much of similar evenings when I was a child at home," Barber wrote. "I found out, after setting this, that

Mr. Agee and I are the same age, and the year he described was 1915 when we were both five. You see, it expresses a child's feeling of loneliness, wonder and lack of identity in that marginal world between twilight and sleep."

"We both had back yards where our families used to lie in the long summer evening. I remember well my parents sitting on the porch, talking quietly as they rocked. . . . Agee's poem was vivid and moved me deeply. My musical response that summer of 1947 was immediate and intense. I think I must have composed 'Knoxville' (actually completed in April, 1947) within a few days."

Tchaikovsky composed his Fifth Symphony in 1888, a time when the composer was at the height of his professional success and renown. He was enjoying a time of great productivity, his works were assured of performances in Russia and abroad, and he had the esteem of professional colleagues throughout Europe.

Over the winter of 1887-88 Tchaikovsky made his first international concert tour as a conductor, presenting his own works to enthusiastic audiences in Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Paris and London. In the spring he returned to a new home, a somewhat secluded estate in the village of Frolovskoye that had a garden that the composer particularly enjoyed. Although his first summer there was interrupted by several visits from friends and trips to Moscow, Tchaikovsky managed to complete the Fifth Symphony in relatively brisk fashion, beginning in May and completing the extensive, four-movement score by the middle of August.

The composer's early notes for the symphony suggested that it would portray "complete submission before Fate," a theme which may have grown from the emotions Tchaikovsky had experienced eight months earlier at the deathbed of a close friend, but there is no trace of a more specific program in the completed work.

Before joining the School of Music faculty in the fall of 1997, Joselson spent more than 10 years in Europe performing operatic roles in guest appearances and engagements at theaters in Darmstadt, Hamburg, Essen and Basel. As guest she performed as soloist with opera companies and orchestras in Aachen, Barcelona, Berlin, Bilbao, Bonn, Braunschweig, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Essen, Brussels, Kiel, Gelsenkirchen, St. Gallen, Trier, and New Brunswick.

Her recent performance of Menotti's "Help, Help the Globolinks" with the Madison (Wis.) Opera was recorded and will be released this coming summer on a CD from Newport Classics.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. He replaced James Dixon, the director of the orchestra for more than 40 years, who retired at the end of the 1996-97 academic year. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

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.).

Jones holds a Master of Fine Arts in music from the UI and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.