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Violinist Leopold La Fosse will appear with University Symphony Feb. 11

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Violinist Leopold La Fosse will join the University of Iowa Symphony and conductor William LaRue Jones as the orchestra opens its spring semester schedule with a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The program will feature three works: "Im Sommerwind," a tone poem in the late Romantic style by Anton Webern; the Second Violin Concerto of Brazilian composer Camargo Guarnieri; and the Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88, of Antonin Dvorak.

Anton Webern belongs to the generation that saw the transition from the late-19th century Romantic style to 20th-century modernism. He is remembered as one of the disciples of Arnold Schoenberg, who developed in the early years of the 20th century a system of composing "with 12 notes related only to one another" -- generally known as the serial technique of composition. With Schoenberg and Alban Berg one of the three composers of the so-called "Second Viennese School," Webern is known for his highly concentrated serial works -- distilled miniatures that are often only a few minutes in length.

"Im Sommerwind," completed in 1904 -- the same year that Webern began studies with Schoenberg -- differs from those later works, however. Subtitled "idyll for large orchestra," it is a single-movement lyrical tone poem that unfolds on a generous scale, composed in a late Romantic style derived from Brahms, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

One of the leading musicians of his native country, Brazilian Camargo Guarnieri has distinguished himself as a composer, conductor and teacher. A musical prodigy, he was appointed to teach piano at the Sao Paolo Conservatory at the age of 20. In a few years he rose to become head of choral and orchestral conducting at the conservatory. He studied composition in Paris in the 1930s, returning to Brazil at the outbreak of World War II.

After the war Guarnieri became director of the Sao Paolo Conservatory. His compositions attracted international attention, winning awards in both North and South America. He has written works in many different genres, including numerous orchestral and chamber works, pieces for piano, songs, and one highly successful opera.

Introduced to Brazilian folk and popular music in his early studies, Guarnieri is considered a leader of the nationalist style. Some of his orchestral works incorporate popular Brazilian dance types and characteristic percussion instruments.

When Dvorak was composing his Eighth Symphony in 1889 he was at the peak of his fame and success. His music was being performed throughout Europe and in America. A series of visits to England in the 1880s had been extremely successful, culminating in the commissioning and 1885 premiere of his Seventh Symphony by the London Philharmonic and the premiere of his oratorio "St. Ludmila" at the Leeds Choral Festival in 1886.

As his fame continued to spread, Dvorak was invited in 1888 and '89 to conduct his music in Budapest, Berlin, Dresden, Vienna and in Russia. After the premiere of the Eighth Symphony in Prague on Feb. 2, 1890, Dvorak presented his music in Russia in March, then returned to England in April, where he conducted the Eighth Symphony again with the London Philharmonic. And in 1891 he was offered the position that led to his most remarkable journey, to the United States in 1892 as director of the National Conservatory in New York.

The Eighth Symphony, written in the midst of all this globe trotting, is a cheerful and appealing work. Coming soon after the dramatic Seventh Symphony it deliberately contrasts with its predecessor: the thematic material is tuneful and often folk-like, and after a brief minor-key introduction, the overall mood is light hearted. Scholars have criticized the unorthodox structure of the first and last movements as unsuccessful experiments, but that has not discouraged audiences, who have responded warmly to the symphony's genial melodies and happy moods.

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His extensive performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. At the UI he teaches violin and directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and Classic music. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform and teach.

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 Janeiro, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and a jazz violinist.

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 last fall to direct the University Symphony. A highly honored musician, he has 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.

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 last summer.