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Release: Oct. 1, 1999

National Symphony Orchestra performs all-American program in Hancher Oct. 21

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Leonard Slatkin will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), the internationally acclaimed resident orchestra of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in an all-American program featuring music of Gershwin, Copland, Barber and Bolcom, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

The program will feature Samuel Barber's Essay No. 2, William Bolcom's Symphony No. 6, George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" and the Symphony No. 3 by Aaron Copland.

Slatkin, the NSO's music director, will participate in a free program, "What Makes It Great," at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Iowa City Public Library. The program will be broadcast live on the library's cable channel.

Gershwin and Copland are typically regarded as the most distinctively American of orchestral composers. In the '20s and '30s, Gershwin brought jazz, blues and Broadway song styles into American concert music, with compositions of enduring international popularity including "Rhapsody in Blue" and the opera "Porgy and Bess." Composed in 1928, "An American in Paris" immediately attracted attention for its inclusion of four taxi horns in the score.

Copland was the first composer to be recognized outside the United States as representing the national character of American music. In his orchestral output, the Symphony No. 3 immediately followed two of his most well-known ballet scores, "Rodeo" and "Appalachian Spring."

Bolcom, a native of Seattle, represents a more abstract use of tin pan alley jazz as the basis for an American classical genre.

The general public knows Samuel Barber primarily through only one of his compositions, the "Adagio for Strings," which was featured in the score of the film "Full Metal Jacket." An inheritor of the European Romantic tradition, Barber's music is melodic, elegant and lyrical.

The National Symphony has earned praise around the world for its numerous overseas tours as well as for its seasons at home. Now in its 69th season, it is generally recognized as one of today's finest orchestras.

As the orchestra of the capital of the United States, it regularly participates in events of national and international importance. The National Symphony often performs for presidential inaugurations and leads the nation in its annual Independence Day and Memorial Day celebrations with nationally televised outdoor concerts on the West Lawn of the U. S. Capitol.

The Hancher program demonstrates the National Symphony Orchestra's ongoing commitment to the development and celebration of America's artistic resources.

The Orchestra's fifth music director, Leonard Slatkin, is widely acknowledged as one of today's finest conductors, especially dedicated to the performance of American music. The orchestra's first recording under his direction, a disc of the music of John Corigliano, won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Album.

In demand worldwide as a guest conductor of both orchestral and operatic repertoire, Slatkin has made regular appearances over the last two decades with the major orchestras and opera companies of the world. In addition to his position with the National Symphony Orchestra, he also serves as principal guest conductor of London's Philharmonia Orchestra. He regularly appears with the orchestras of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, London, Tokyo and Tel Aviv. In 1996 Slatkin completed his highly successful music directorship of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now conductor laureate.

Slatkin's career on disc includes more than100 recordings with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and Bayerische Rundfunk. These recordings have been recognized with five Grammy awards and more than 50 Grammy nominations.

Canterbury Inn & Suites is the corporate sponsor of the NSO concert, with media support from the Iowa City Press-Citizen, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $49, $46 and $42. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10 -- a discount of more than 75 percent. 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. Saturdays and 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays. 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.

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.

Learn more about the NSO on the World Wide Web at <>. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates, visit the ArtsIowa website, <>.