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Release: April 2, 1999

UI Collegium Musicum will perform Easter story April 17

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Collegium Music -- the early music performance group from the UI School of Music -- will perform a 17th-century musical setting of the Easter story at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17 in First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester Ave. on the east side of Iowa City. The performance will be free and open to the public.

The performance of Heinrich Schuetz's "Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi" (The story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ) will be directed by faculty member Elizabeth Aubrey. The part of the evangelist, or narrator, will be sung by tenor Daniel McCabe, a UI graduate student.

Heinrich Schuetz, who lived from 1585 to 1672, was the first important German composer of the Baroque era and is considered by many to have been the greatest composer of Lutheran choral music before J.S. Bach.

After studies with the famous Italian composer Giovanni Gabrieli, Schuetz spent most of his career as Kapellmeister (music director) at the court of the Elector of Saxony in Dresden. The "Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi" was written in 1623, not long after Schuetz joined the court. His first large-scale dramatic work written for Dresden, the "Historia" joined a long line of biblical stories set to music in Germany.

The text, taken from all four Gospels, tells the discovery of the empty tomb and various appearances of the risen Christ: to Mary Magdalene, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the 11 disciples assembled in Jerusalem.

Schuetz's musical setting of the story shows his familiarity with the Italian techniques of vocal writing as well as his respect for German traditions of scriptural storytelling in music. Following Lutheran convention, the evangelist sings in unmeasured chant, mostly on a single note. Schuetz added the unusual accompaniment of a quartet of violas da gamba, setting the direct recitation of the evangelist against the rich colors of the instrumental quartet.

As was also conventional in Germany, the different characters are sung not by soloists but by duets and trios: two high voices for Mary Magdalene, an alto and tenor for Jesus, and so forth. Schuetz set these characters in Italian "bel canto" style with organ accompaniment, giving each character music that his highly expressive of the text.

The UI Collegium Musicum is an ensemble devoted to the study and performance of music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. The members of the group are music students and faculty of the UI and members of the local community. They learn singing techniques appropriate to early music as well as how to play reproductions of historical instruments.

Elizabeth Aubrey has directed the ensemble since 1982. A faculty member in the musicology area in the UI School of Music, she is known internationally as a scholar of medieval music and literature. She has published articles and reviews in scholarly journals including Early Music History, The Journal of Musicology, Acta Musicologica and Historical Performance. She is a contributor to the forthcoming revised edition of "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians" and to the new edition of the German music reference work "Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart" (Music in history and the present).

Her first book, "The Music of the Troubadours," was published in 1996 to enthusiastic reviews. The Times (London) Literary Supplement wrote that it is "a down-to-earth treatment which should ensure that (the book) remains of value for many years to come." The Music Library Association journal Notes called the book "a monument in musicology, one no music library should be without. It should be required reading for all students of music history and the Middle Ages."

Aubrey is also widely known as a performer of early music and is regularly consulted by musicians and scholars for her expertise in performance practice. She has presented solo recitals in medieval songs in the United States, Canada and Europe. Besides singing she also plays recorder, lute, viola da gamba and harp. Before becoming director of the UI Collegium Musicum, she was music director of A Newe Jewell, an early-music ensemble in Washington, D.C.

Aubrey has served on the Council of the American Musicological Society, the Board of Directors of the International Machaut Society, the editorial board of the journal Historical Performance, and a term as president of the Midwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society. She has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Aubrey received her bachelor's degree from Grinnell College, and both master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland. She has been on the faculty of the UI since 1982.