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Release: Immediate

University Symphony plays music by John Adams, Gordon Jacob, Mahler Oct. 21

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will perform music by contemporary American composer John Adams, British composer Gordon Jacob and Gustav Mahler on it second concert of the 1998-99 season at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The concert, directed by William LaRue Jones, will be free and open to the public. Horn player Kristin Thelander will be the featured soloist in Jacobs' Concerto for Horn and strings. Other works on the program will be Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" and Mahler's Symphony No 1.

A native of Worcester, Mass. and a graduate of Harvard, John Adams is one of the most active and successful composers of concert music in the United States. In the 1970s and early '80s he was first a teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and then composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Symphony. During this period he established his reputation with several orchestral works, including "Hamonielehre" "Shaker Loops" and "The Chairman Dances." His two operas "Nixon in China" (1987) and "The Death of Klinghoffer" (1991) have also been highly successful.

Adams' style has been aptly described as harnessing "the rhythmic energy of Minimalism to the harmonies and orchestral colors of late Romanticism." His brisk, exhilarating fanfare "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" was composed in 1986 for the Pittsburgh Symphony and premiered by them at the opening of the Great Woods Festival that summer. It has been one of his most frequently performed orchestral scores.

Gordon Jacob played a major role in British musical life of the mid-20th century. He studied at the Royal College of Music, then taught there for 40 years, from 1926 until his retirement in 1966. Although he never became famous outside England, at home he was recognized as a distinguished teacher -- particularly of instrumentation -- and a composer of economical, well crafted and accessible works.

Jacob had a particular interest in wind instruments. He wrote several band pieces that are still performed regularly, and his orchestral works include concertos for oboe, bassoon, flute, horn and trombone, as well as a Suite for tuba and strings and a Rhapsody for English horn and strings. The Concerto for Horn and strings was written in 1951 for the great British horn virtuoso Dennis Brain.

The first of Mahler's nine completed symphonies was composed from 1884 to 1888 and thus belongs both chronologically and stylistically to the 19th century. It was first conceived as a symphonic poem in five movements, divided in two parts. The score even had at one time the semi-programmatic title "Titan," which placed it in the tradition of the Romantic symphonic poem. Before the first performance, which took place in Budapest in 1889, Mahler discarded one movement and recast the work as a traditional symphony in four movements.

The symphony begins mysteriously, with an introduction that emerges out of silence with falling figures that recall the beginning of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. This leads into a large-scale movement that includes many of the composer's stylistic hallmarks: brass fanfares, march-like rhythms, diatonic themes contained in a richly chromatic fabric, a large orchestra employed for both delicate coloristic effects and massive climaxes. Subsequent movements likewise touch upon many of Mahler's favorite devices: a movement based on the Laendler, an Austrian folk dance; a set of variations on a minor-key version of "Frere Jacques," with many touches of the grotesque; and a stormy, dramatic finale that suggests a highly emotional journey from anguish to triumph.

Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989. Active as both soloist and chamber musician, she is a member of the Iowa Brass Quintet. During the summer she performs with the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Ore. She was the first prize-winner in the 1981 American Horn Competition, and she has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. She has performed as soloist with the La Crosse Symphony, the Heartland of America Air Force Band, the Lake Agassiz Concert Band, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the Iowa Baroque Orchestra, the Greeley (Colo.) Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony.

Thelander has recorded two CDs for Crystal Records, one with the New Mexico Brass Quintet and one as natural horn soloist with Carol lei Breckenridge. In 1997 the Iowa Brass Quintet released its first CD, featuring music celebrating the UI Sesquicentennial, and they recently released a recording of the Fisher Tull Concerto da Camerata for saxophone and brass quintet for the Centaur label. Thelander has been a member of the Advisory Council and the vice-president of the International Horn Society.

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. 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. He 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.

Jones is conductor of the Bloomington (Minn.) Symphony and 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.).