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Release: Immediate

Australian Chamber Orchestra brings Aussie swagger to chamber music March 31 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Australian Chamber Orchestra, which was a hit in its 1995 concert at the University of Iowa, will return to Hancher Auditorium at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 for a performance on the Cambridge Place Apartments Concert Series. The orchestra, under the direction of violinist Richard Tognetti, will be joined by internationally renowned cellist Stephen Isserlis.

The concert will span four centuries of music for chamber orchestra: the Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 4 in D Major by Corelli; Bach's popular "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 3 in G Major; Haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major, featuring Isserlis; Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile; Dvorak's beloved Serenade for Strings; and "Irkanda IV" by contemporary Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe.

"Irkanda" is an Australian aboriginal word meaning a remote and lonely place, and Sculthorpe wrote the work as an expression of his feelings about the death of his father. The mood of the piece ranges from ritual lamentation to a song-like affirmation of life and living.

Founded in 1975, the Australian Chamber Orchestra is a national ensemble with an international reputation for artistic excellence -- the Washington Post called the group "one of the world's finest small orchestras" -- that embodies the sunny, youthful spirit of its homeland. The orchestra consists of a core group of 17 of the finest young string players in Australia, augmented by special players and soloists.

The orchestra presents subscription concerts in several Australian cities and has toured frequently throughout Europe, Asia, North America, South America and the Pacific region. Its international venues have included the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Carnegie Hall in New York and Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra has also released more than 15 CDs, which have won numerous Australian recording awards, and it is under long-term contract with Sony.

Since he assumed the leadership of the orchestra in 1989, Tognetti has been credited with infusing the ensemble with his eclectic, adventurous, decidedly un-stuffy spirit. The orchestra's performances range from early music performed on historic instruments, through modern orchestral instruments, to new music on electronic instruments.

Steven Isserlis, the grandson on Russian pianist and composer Julius Isserlis, achieves a distinctive sound through the use of gut strings, and he is known for discovering and reintroducing works "lost" for decades or even centuries. His many honors include the Piatigorsky Artist Award in the United States, the Royal Philharmonic Society's Instrumentalist of the Year Award in Britain, the International Grammophone Award and the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis.

Among his previous orchestral soloist engagements are appearances with the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the London Symphony.

The chamber music series of Isserlis' devising are renowned, often appearing as a "festival within a festival," including his Mendelssohn project at the Salzburg Festival in 1997. He is also well known for his Schumann Festival at Wigmore Hall in London. Isserlis was featured as soloist in the Emmy Award-winning series "Concerto!" with Michael Tilson Thomas and Dudley Moore.

During its visit to the UI, the Australian Chamber Orchestra will also present a matinee performance for area school groups as part of Hancher's Stage Door series.

Cambridge Place Apartments is the corporate sponsor of Hancher's Concert Series, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Australian Chamber Orchestra are $34, $31.50 and $29. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 or younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Additional information about the Australian Chamber Orchestra is available on the ensemble's World Wide Web site, <>.