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Release: March 26, 1999

University Symphony and Choruses performance April 7 will be Hatcher's last

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- William Hatcher, director of choral activities at the University of Iowa School of Music, will conduct his final concert with the University Symphony and Choruses, a performance of the oratorio "King David" by Arthur Honegger, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

Hatcher, who joined the UI faculty in the fall of 1988, has announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the summer session.
There will be a free discussion about Honegger's "King David" before the performance. The pre-performance discussion, featuring UI Music Prof. Richard Bloesch and UI religion faculty member George Nicklesburg, will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 7 in the Hancher Greenroom.
The April 7 performance will be free and open to the public. It will feature the University Symphony and four choruses from the UI School of Music: Kantorei, directed by Hatcher; Camerata, directed by Bloesch; the University Choir, directed by UI graduate student David Shaler; and the Women's Chorale, directed by UI graduate student Daniel Afonso.

Eric Forsythe, a member of the faculty of the UI department of theatre arts, will serve as narrator of the performance. Also appearing in the performance will be theatre graduate student Ayeje Feamster as the Witch of Endor; and Rex Van Dorpe, a student at Willow Wind School in Iowa City, as David the youth.

Other vocal soloists will be doctoral student LeAnne Foust, soprano; undergraduate student Jennifer Valle, soprano; graduate student Ann Cravero, mezzo-soprano; and undergraduate student Jeffery Kruger, tenor.

Since coming to the UI in 1988 Hatcher has been one of the most visible faculty performers in the School of Music. He has conducted many of the best known and most beloved major choral works at concerts with the University Symphony and Choruses, including the "Magnificat" and Mass in B minor of J.S. Bach, Handel's "Messiah," Haydn's "Creation," and the Requiems of Mozart and Verdi. Hatcher has also been known for bringing less familiar choral works to eastern Iowa audiences, including Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem," Ottorino Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity," Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Hodie" and Gustav Holst's "The Hymn of Jesus," among others.

In each of the past 12 years Hatcher has conducted either the Spring or Summer production of the UI Opera Theater, including "The Gondoliers" and "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart, Verdi's "Il Trovatore" and Puccini's "La Boheme." He has also been director of Kantorei, the premiere vocal ensemble at the UI School of Music, with whom he has toured both nationally and internationally, including performances in Russia, Korea and Spain.

"King David" has an interesting and unusual performance history. Honegger wrote the music first as incidental music for a play, which was to re-open a small theater in Switzerland following World War I. Because of conditions at the theater, Honegger was asked to write for the unlikely combination of 100 singers and 17 instrumentalists. Stravinsky advised the baffled Honegger to "proceed as though it were you who had wanted this ensemble, and write for 100 voices and 17 instruments."

Honegger later said, "In this single reply I received an excellent lesson in composition: never consider the given circumstances to be something imposed upon you, but treat them rather as a personal challenge."

The premiere of the play, on June 11, 1921, was a triumph for the composer, who was soon encouraged to adapt the music for "King David" for concert performance. This revised version, which will be performed by the University Symphony and Choruses, uses a larger orchestra, but retains an emphasis on wind instruments that was a necessary aspect of the original instrumental combination. The concert version reflects the original stage version in other ways as well, including the use of a narrator to tell the story and the dramatic character of the Witch of Endor.

The story is that of King David from the Bible, with a text that combines a historical narrative from the Book of Samuel with Psalms that are associated with David. Part One of the piece describes David's victory over Goliath and the death of King Saul. Part Two portrays David as King, while the third and final part is concerned with David's affair with Bathsheeba, the death of David's son Absalom, and finally David's repentance and eventual return to power.

In addition to his performing activities, Hatcher directs the graduate choral conducting program in the UI School of Music. He was national president of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) 1991-93, and presently is chair of the ACDA Endowment Trust. Prior to coming to Iowa he taught at UCLA, the University of Washington and Pasadena City College.

In 1985 his UCLA choir was selected as the sole U.S. representative and was a prizewinner at the International Competition for Choirs in Spittal, Austria. Hatcher was also coordinator and assistant director of the 1,000-voice Olympic Honor Chorus, which sang for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, an event telecast to more than two billion people worldwide.

Hatcher has published materials on choral skills and choral arrangements, and he appears frequently as a choral clinician and festival choir director.

Forsythe heads the acting and directing programs for the UI theatre department and is the artistic director of Iowa Summer Rep. His acting credits include productions at major theatres across the country from the McCarter and Philadelphia Drama guild to Boston's Charles Playhouse and the St. Louis Rep. He has performed with Jason Robards, Geena Davis and David Straithairn and has directed actors as diverse as Sylvia Sidney, Betsey Palmer, Ted Danson and John Sayles. Favorite roles include King Lear, Sherlock Holmes and George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He has appeared in many commercials, films, television and radio productions and industrial films.

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