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Release: July 2, 1999

Baritone Stephen Swanson, pianist Darlene Lawrence to present religious songs July 11

NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Frank Martin is pronounced frahnk mahr-TEH ("EH" pronounced like the a in tang but without the "ng".)

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa School of Music faculty members Stephen Swanson, baritone, and Darlene Lawrence, piano, will present a program of religious songs at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 11 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The centerpiece of the program will be "Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann" (Six monologues from Everyman) by Swiss composer Frank Martin, settings of texts from an ancient English morality play adapted in German by the early 20th-century playwright and poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Known primarily as the librettist of "Der Rosenkavalier" and other operas by Richard Strauss, von Hofmannsthal was a writer of considerable range. In his adaptation of the medieval morality play "Everyman," he created a powerful commentary on life and mortality. His "Jedermann" became a revered theater piece for German-speaking actors and was for many years the opening production of the annual Salzburg festival.

Unrelated to theatrical productions, Martin's settings of six monologues from the play form a cycle that addresses the same issues in musical terms.

Other works on the program will be Three Divine Hymns from "Harmonica Sacra" by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell; and the "Four Serious Songs" op. 121 -- all settings of Biblical texts from Ecclesiastes and Corinthians -- of Johannes Brahms.

Swanson explained that the idea of the program had come from Lawrence, who had played for his previous UI faculty recitals. "This is my last recital with Darlene, who is leaving at the end of the summer," he said.

"I asked her what she would like to perform with me and the Martin was her choice. In the process of coming up with an entire recital that would form a unit, I decided to go completely with religious subjects. The Purcell is a wonderful realization by Benjamin Britten, written for piano and voice from the Baroque setting. And the Brahms songs are his very last works and are masterpieces."

Swanson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1994. For nearly 20 years before that date he had an active operatic career in Europe. During that time his repertoire grew to more than 70 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in European festivals including the Berliner Festwochen, the Days of Contemporary Music in Dresden and the Festa Musica Pro in Assisi, Italy.

Swanson recently took part in the Viktor Ullman-Projekt 1998, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of a composer who died in the Nazi death camps. Swanson sang major roles in Ullman's operas "Der zerbrochene Krug" and "Der Kaiser von Atlantis" at performances in Europe, at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and at the Martyr's Museum in Los Angeles.

Swanson has also had an extensive career as a concert singer, appearing as featured soloist with many U.S. orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti, Raphael Fruehbeck de Burgos and Margaret Hillis. He has recorded Mendelssohn's "St. Paul" and Ullmann's "Der Kaiser von Atlantis." Since coming to Iowa City, he has appeared in UI Opera Theater productions and performances of the Chamber Singers of Iowa City.

Swanson holds undergraduate degrees from North Park College in Chicago and a master's degree in music from Northwestern University. He made his professional debut in 1970, singing in Arnold Schoenberg's opera "Moses and Aron" with the Chicago Symphony in Chicago and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Lawrence received her doctorate from the University of Southern California. She has accompanied many prominent California artists and has toured under the management of Sol Hurok. She has served as accompanist for the Oregon Bach Festival with noted conductor Helmuth Rilling and was selected to accompany the 1,000-voice choir for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In addition to her work as an accompanist, Lawrence is a published composer/arranger, and she has worked as a studio singer in film, television and the recording industry. Since 1989 she has been on the faculty of the UI School of Music, where she teaches song literature and is coach/accompanist in the voice and opera areas.

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