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Release: Immediate

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra showcases Tchaikovsky and Russian opera Oct. 16

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The St. Petersburg State Symphony from the historic cultural capitol of Russia will showcase works by Tchaikovsky and arias from the tradition of Russian opera in an all-Russian concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Under the leadership of musical director Ravel Martynov, the orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Skomorokhs" from incidental music to Alexander Ostrovsky's play "Snowmaiden" and the Symphony No. 4 in F minor, opus 36.

Kirov Opera soprano Margarita Alaverdian will be the featured soloist in performances of three famous Russian arias -- Tatiana's letter scene from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," the aria of Marfa from Act IV of "The Tsar's Bride" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and the Cavatina of Ludmila from Act 1 of "Ruslan and Ludmila" by Mikhail Glinka.

During more than 30 years of existence the St. Petersburg State Symphony has toured throughout Russia, Europe and Asia, in addition to its regular performances in the Great and Small Halls of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. It also performs frequently in other sites in St. Petersburg, including the Mirror Hall of the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, the Smolny Cathedral and the Maryinski Palace.

The orchestra has attracted stellar guest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Simon Rattle, Rafael Kubelik, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Kiril Kondrashin; and its roster of guest artists has included Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Oistrakh and other soloists of international renown.

The orchestra's interpretations of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, with their characteristic Russian emotions, have been widely recognized achievements of Russian musical culture.

Tchaikovsky dedicated his Symphony No. 4 to his patron, Nadejda von Meck. In 1887 Tchaikovsky married one of his young pupils in an attempt to reject his homosexuality and lead a "normal" life. But the couple separated after only nine weeks, leaving the composer near complete psychological collapse. His rescue came from von Meck, a rich widow, who offered him her patronage so that he could abandon teaching and devote himself completely to composition.

The two met but never spoke to each other, although they corresponded frequently as he eventually retreated into a hermit-like isolation in a country house. The arrangement continued until 1890, when illness forced von Meck to withdraw her patronage, deeply wounding the sensitive composer.

One of the works composed under her patronage was the opera "Eugene Onegin," the source of one of the three arias that will be performed in the Oct. 16 concert.

Soloist Margarita Alaverdian, a silver medalist in the International Maria Callas Singers' Competition, has been a soprano soloist with the Kirov Opera since 1994, performing roles including the countess in "The Marriage of Figaro," Violetta in "La Traviata," the title role in "Iolanta" and Cio-Cio-San in "Madame Butterfly." She has toured Bulgaria, Israel, Finland and Germany performing Gilda in "Rigoletto" and Mimi in "La Boheme." She is a frequent soloist in international recordings and television broadcasts.

Music director Ravel Martynov has worked with the Leningrad Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Radio and TV Folk Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the Bolshoi and Kirov opera and ballet companies, the St. Petersburg Theatre of Musical Comedy and the USSR State Symphony. In the mid-1980s he was senior staff conductor of the Kirov Theatre, and in the early '90s he was chief conductor for the Mosfilm studio. He is a professor at St. Peterburg's prestigious conducting school.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen is the corporate sponsor of the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra concert, through the UI Foundation.

Tickets are $38, $36 and $33. 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 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 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.

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