The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

UI Symphony Orchestra will play all-American program on free concert July 1

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra directed by David Nelson will play a concert of American music for its pre-Independence Day summer concert, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 1 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Featured soloist for the concert will be Andrew Carlson, a doctoral student in violin performance at the UI School of Music and a recently appointed assistant professor of music at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Carlson, a versatile musician who has been both concertmaster of the University Symphony and a two-time Georgia state fiddle champion, will play the "Suite for Fiddle and Orchestra," a collection of country fiddle tunes arranged by Carlson and UI graduate composition student John Kramer.

Other works on the all-American program will be Charles Ives' "Variations on America," arranged for orchestra by William Schuman; Suite from "The Tender Land" by Aaron Copland; and Howard Hanson's Symphony No. 2 ("Romantic").

Charles Ives, known as an iconoclastic and adventurous American composer of the early years of the 20th century, served as a church organist while still a teen-ager growing up in Danbury, Conn. His "Variations on America" was written for organ in 1891, when Ives was only 17. A virtuoso performance piece for organ, it has been arranged for orchestra by the distinguished American composer William Schuman.

Howard Hanson was one of the most esteemed American musicians of the mid-20th century. He was director of the Eastman School of Music 1924-64, a frequent guest conductor of the Boston Symphony and other orchestras, and a respected composer of orchestral and other works. His best known work, the Second Symphony, was written in 1930 for the Boston Symphony. It is representative of his style, a continuation of the late 19th- and early 20th-century Romantic style of Sibelius and Hanson's teacher, Ottorino Respighi.

The name of Aaron Copland became synonymous with American music in the middle of the 20th century. His ballet scores for "Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo," with their combination of an idealized American mythology and an accessible style of melodic modernism, quickly became popular icons of musical Americana. His opera "The Tender Land," composed 1952-54, continued the trend of those earlier works. Although the opera has never been as popular as the ballets, Copland's orchestral suite "The Tender Land" has found a place on symphony concerts.

Carlson was born in Iowa City, where he began Suzuki violin classes as a child. He moved with his family to Athens, Ga., when he was nine, and continued violin studies there through high school followed by undergraduate and master's degrees at the University of Georgia. Currently he is studying violin performance with Leopold La Fosse at the UI and teaching Suzuki violin at the Preucil School in Iowa City.

But at the same time that he has been studying classical violin, Carlson has mastered other styles as well. In addition to twice winning the Georgia state fiddle championship, he has extensive experience in styles ranging from bluegrass and country fiddling to jazz and pop. He has made recordings with R.E.M. and has performed in the Iowa City area with Big Wooden Radio and his own group, Andy Carlson's American Music Ensemble. Wanting to be comfortable in any style of music, Carlson tries to pass on the same open-minded approach to his students.

Carlson and Kramer put together the "Suite for Fiddle and Orchestra" as a way of showcasing Carlson's varied interests and versatility. It consists of several classic country fiddle tunes, arranged for performance by a soloist and a symphony orchestra. Among the tunes included are "Jack of Diamonds," "Soppin' the Gravy," "Fire on the Mountain" and "The Orange Blossom Special."

Nelson has been director of the UI School of Music since 1991. He is a music educator and conductor as well as a violinist with professional orchestral and chamber music experience. Before coming to the UI, he was on the faculty and directed the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of scholarly articles in music psychology, music cognition and pedagogy. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Texas at Austin.