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Release: March 26, 1999

(NOTE TO EDITORS AND BROADCASTERS: Hancher Auditorium director Wallace Chappell is available for interviews at 319-335-1130. Millennium Festival fundraiser Victor Mashburn can be reached at the University of Iowa Foundation, 319-335-3305.)

Hancher 1999-2000 season will feature Millennium Festival with 15 commissions, 13 premieres

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 1999-2000 performing arts season at the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will join the world-wide celebration of the millennium with an ambitious Millennium Festival, featuring 15 major commissions in music, theater and dance. Thirteen of the commissioned works and productions will be given their world or American premieres in Hancher.

New works will be created by choreographers Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Bill T. Jones, Ushio Amagatsu and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Canadian theater artist Robert Lepage; and composers Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, UI alumnus David Lang and Mexico's Gabriella Ortiz.

Performances of the commissioned works will be presented by ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, the Kronos Quartet, the Australian Chamber Orchestra with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Sankai Juku, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and the Ethos Percussion Ensemble.

Several of the commissioned works will be presented in the midst of residencies that will feature extensive arts education efforts, including events cabled statewide on the Iowa Communication Network.

The visage of Hancher will even get an artistic premiere of its own in the near future with the construction of a Millennium Plaza to give the entrance a fresh look.

The Millennium Festival will be part of a season featuring additional blockbusters, including the return of perennial favorites "Les Miz," "Stomp" and "Cats"; Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" produced by the Guthrie Theater; T.S. Monk playing the landmark jazz of his father, Thelonious Monk; the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin; superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma; mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade with Chanticleer; and a gala Millennium Eve party featuring the legacy of a 20th-century arts giant from Iowa -- the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The entire 1999-2000 Hancher season -- including the season-spanning Millennium Festival
-- is detailed in a free brochure, "At This Moment," which is available from the Hancher administrative offices (319-335-1130) or the Hancher box office.

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.

Advance ticket-buyers not only enjoy the best choice of seats, but also can take advantage of volume discounts on most events in the season. A simultaneous purchase of three to five events qualifies for a 15-percent discount, and a simultaneous purchase of six or more events qualifies for a 20-percent discount. Purchases made before the end of June can be paid through Hancher's installment plan.

UI students, senior citizens and audience members 17 and younger also qualify for special discounts to most events. UI students and senior citizens receive a 20-percent discount on tickets to most events, with $10 Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for most events. Youth tickets are typically half price.

"Why a Millennium Festival?" Hancher director Wallace Chappell asks. "Why not! The world seems to be intent on marking this moment, so we decided to join the party by doing what we know how to do, which is to nurture the creation and enable the presentation of the performing arts."

During the '80s and '90s, Hancher has commissioned more than 50 works in music, theater, and dance -- including the Joffrey Ballet mega-productions of "The Nutcracker" and "Billboards" -- drawing world-wide recognition, and building Hancher's international reputation as an innovative leader in commissioning and presenter networking.

Even with that rich history, the Millennium Festival will represent nearly a quarter of the commissioning projects in Hancher's history -- in a single season.

Despite the fact that the calendar's fulcrum is a religious observance, and the turn of the millennium is fraught with apocalyptic prophesies, Chappell is careful to note that Hancher's celebration carries no religious or philosophical baggage.

"Whatever the millennium is -- or isn't -- we expect it to mean SOMETHING," he says. "We expect something extraordinary to occur. So our purpose in marking the millennium is to actually MAKE something significant occur in the arts."

"Hancher is taking positive action in order to confirm the value of the arts in the next millennium and to strengthen our commitment as a research and development center for artistry, a long-standing concern of the UI. The UI was the first university to integrate academics and the creative arts, so we have a venerable tradition to draw from, and to live up to."

Since Chappell's intention was neither to summarize the past millennium nor predict the next, he approached many artists who are old friends of the auditorium, artists whose track records made them ideal choices for commissions. He spiced that list just a bit with artists that Chappell knew well but had not yet presented in Hancher.

The festival will actually open Sept. 10-12 with an American premiere by one of those artists, French-Canadian theater artist Robert Lepage. His "Geometry of Miracles" was inspired by one of America's greatest architectural visionaries, Frank Lloyd Wright. LePage is renowned for startling images of his own, making him one of theater's most potent visionaries.

But the Millennium Festival's official kick-off event will be an occasion worthy of Klieg lights, the Sept. 17-18 American premiere of Twyla Tharp's new "Diabelli," set to the famous Beethoven "Diabelli Variations."

Hancher has played an important role in the career of the Kronos Quartet, the iconoclastic ensemble that has revolutionized the contemporary definition of the string quartet. Building on numerous past commissions and premieres, Hancher will present the Kronos Quartet both on Sept. 15, 1999 and on May 3, 2000 -- each time with a commissioned world premiere. In September Kronos will present the debut of "Traveling Music," a far-ranging journey through world music and exotic instruments; and in May Kronos will be joined by diva Dawn Upshaw for a world premiere by Mexican composer Gabriella Ortiz.

Hancher has presented the apocalyptic Japanese dance company Sankai Juku on several occasions, but now the auditorium is becoming the company's first American commissioner with the American premiere of Ushio Amagatsu's "Hibiki" Oct. 1-2.

Choreographer Susan Marshall created new work for Hancher several seasons ago, and that project was so successful -- including a performance featuring many local non-dancers -- that Chappell has re-engaged her for the Millennium Festival. Marshall has chosen a timely meditation in "The Descent Beckons," which will be given its world premiere in Hancher Oct. 8-9.

Like Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor has been one of the defining creators of modern dance for several decades, and his companies' performances have been Hancher audience favorites. His young Taylor 2 company is in the midst of a three-season residency program that links Hancher with presenters in Burlington, Decorah and Pella. For the Millennium Festival, the master is creating a new work for a Oct. 15-16 world premiere.

Bill T. Jones is another American choreographer with whom Hancher has had a long and productive relationship, and he has also been in residence in Waterloo/Cedar Falls through the Cedar Arts Forum. Hancher has co-commissioned some of Jones' most famous and controversial works -- ambitious, full-evening productions tackling wrenching issues of race, faith, homosexuality and disease. Jones' work for the Millennium Festival will offer something strikingly different, a solo evening on Oct. 26. He will return in March with the world premiere of "Yo! You walk?"

Choreographer Lar Lubovitch is one of the UI's most distinguished alumni in the arts, recognized as one of his generation's most important dance creators. He is a fitting component of the Millennium Festival because he found the inspiration for his dance career in a Hancher performance he attended as a UI student. Hancher's commission pairs him with one of America's most venerable dance institutions, American Ballet Theatre, in Nov. 2-3 performances.

The collaboration of Urban Bush Women founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company brings together two old Hancher friends who exemplify the power and spirituality of African-American dance. Their world premiere will be presented in Hancher Nov. 19-20.

The spring season of the Millennium Festival will open with the Ahn Trio's world premiere of a composition by Paul Schoenfield, whose "Tales From Chelm" was performed in Hancher by the Everest Quartet. The Ahn Trio is one of three ensembles participating in Hancher's multi-year, four-city residency program, and the Schoenfield composition will be performed for audiences in each city during the season.

Two more UI alums will play a central role in the April 8, 2000, collaboration between New York's Bang on a Can and Sydney's Australian Chamber Orchestra. School of Music alumnus David Lang is the founder and one of the primary composers of Bang on a Can, and one of the ensemble's performers is percussionist Steven Schick, who was a fixture in the UI Center for New Music for several years.

In April the Millennium Festival will present world premieres of works by two of America's most in-demand composers, Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Danielpour and Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty. The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio will present the Danielpour composition on April 13, and Daugherty's new work will be premiered by the Ethos Percussion Ensemble April 18.
Several of the commissioned works will be presented in the midst of residencies that will feature extensive arts education efforts, including events cabled statewide on the Iowa Communication Network.

Of course, such an ambitious festival has required a major fund-raising effort. The UI Foundation is in the midst of a $2.1 million Millennium Festival Campaign. For more information on that aspect of the festival, talk to Victor Mashburn at the University of Iowa Foundation in the new Levitt Center for University Advancement, 319-335-3305. Donors of $2,000 or more will receive permanent recognition in the Millennium Plaza.

Corporate sponsors of events during the Hancher 1999-2000 season are Cantebury Inn & Suites; Coral Ridge Mall; UI Men's Intercollegiate Athletics; Iowa State Bank & Trust; Prairie Lights and the Java House; Country Bancorporation and Kay J.A. Bernau; Everybodys Whole Foods; The Gazette; Holiday Inn-Iowa City; Clarion Hotel and Conference Center; Iowa City Press-Citizen; MacLeodUSA,Inc.; TCI of Eastern Iowa; Group 5 Hospitality, Management Division of Highlander, Inc.; KGAN-TV; and radio stations KDAT-FM, KHAK-FM and KRNA-FM.

Major commissioning sponsors include Procter & Gamble, the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America's "A Musical Celebration of the Millennium."

* * *

1999-2000 Hancher Auditorium Season. The University of Iowa, Iowa City

9 -11 Thurs-Sat           *Robert Lepage, "Geometry of Miracles," 8 pm, Hancher Loft
                            American premiere
15 Wed                      *Kronos Quartet, "Traveling Music," 8 pm. World premiere.
17 & 18 Fri & Sat       *Twyla Tharp Dancers, "Diabelli Variations," 8 pm. American premiere
24 Fri                         Chanticleer and Frederica von Stade, 8 pm

1 & 2 Fri & Sat         *Sankai Juku, "Hibiki," 8 pm. American premiere.
8 Fri                      *Susan Marshall & Company, "The Descent Beckons," 8 pm
                              World premiere.
15 & 16 Fri & Sat       *Paul Taylor Dance Company, 8 pm. World premiere.
21 Thurs                        National Symphony Orchestra, 8 pm
23 Sat                       *A Solo Evening with Bill T. Jones, 8 pm
24 Sun                        The American Boychoir, 3 pm
28 & 29 Thurs & Fri    Capitol Steps, 8 pm

2 & 3 Tues & Wed     *American Ballet Theatre/Lar Lubovitch, 8 pm.
19 & 20 Fri & Sat       *Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, 8 pm.
                                Jawole Willa Jo Zollar world premiere

7 - 12 Tues - Sun         "Cats," 12/7-10, 8 pm; 12/11 & 12, 2 & 8 pm
31 Fri                        Millennium Eve, The Glenn Miller Orchestra. 9 pm-1 am

22 Sat                       T.S. Monk, "Monk on Monk," 8 pm
26 Wed                       Yo-Yo Ma, 8 pm
27 Thurs                     *Ahn Trio, 8 pm, Clapp Recital Hall.
                                        Paul Schoenfield world premiere.
28 - 30 Fri - Sun         "Stomp," 1/28 pm; 1/29, 5 & 9 pm; 1/30 2 pm

5 Sat                        The Children's Theatre Company, 3 & 7 pm, Hancher Loft
12 Sat                         Memphis R&B Revue, 8 pm
22 - 27 Tues - Sun       "Les Miserables," 2/22-25, 8 pm; 2/26 & 27, 2 & 8 pm

3 & 4 Fri & Sat             The Guthrie Theater, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," 8 pm
24 - 25 Fri & Sat           *"Yo! You Walk?" Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, 8 pm
                                   World premiere.

6 Thurs                         Australian Chamber Orchestra, 8 pm
8 Sat                       *Australian Chamber Orchestra with Bang on a Can, 8 pm.
                                   David Lang world premiere.
13 Thurs                       *Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, 8 pm, Clapp Recital Hall
                                   Richard Danielpour world premiere.
18 Tues                       *Ethos Percussion Group, 8 pm, Clapp Recital Hall.
                                   Michael Daugherty world premiere.
3 Wed                       *Dawn Upshaw and Kronos Quartet, 8 pm.
                                   Gabriella Ortiz world premiere.

* indicates Millennium Festival event