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Release: Oct. 8, 1999

New UI choral conductor Timothy Stalter debuts with Kantorei Oct. 22

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Timothy Stalter, the new director of choral activities at the University of Iowa School of Music, will make his campus concert debut conducting Kantorei in a program of music from the Renaissance to the 1990s at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Stalter joined the faculty in August, replacing William Hatcher, who retired at the end of the summer. His concert with Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble at the School of Music, will be free and open to the public.

Stalter came to the UI from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he was assistant director of choral activities. He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Goshen College in Indiana. He received a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied with renowned choral conductor Robert Fountain, and a master’s from the University of Illinois, where he studied with Don Moses, who was UI director of choral activities in the 1980s.

In addition to conducting and teaching choral music, Stalter is active as a tenor soloist in the United States and abroad. A specialist in the music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, he is known for his performances as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. He has appeared as tenor soloist with the Newfoundland Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France, the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, the Classical Music Seminar and Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. He has recorded as tenor soloist with conductor Robert Shaw on two compact discs released on the Telarc label.

For the Oct. 22 concert, Stalter has selected four works representing a variety of historical eras and musical styles: the Mass for Four Voices of English Renaissance composer William Byrd; "Warum ist das Licht gegeben dem Muehseligen" (Why is light given to him that is in misery) by Johannes Brahms; "Five Flower Songs" by the 20th-century English composer Benjamin Britten; and "Due North" by contemporary American-Canadian composer Stephen Chatman.

A devout Catholic, William Byrd lived in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries, after the founding of the Church of England by King Henry VIII. During this time there was little or no tolerance in England for Catholics and their beliefs, and Byrd was involved in constant conflict with the English government. From 1585 on, Byrd was cited repeatedly for "recusancy" -- the refusal to attend services of the established church -- and forced to pay exorbitant fines. Only Byrd's connection with the court, as a member of the Chapel Royal Choir, saved him from more serious consequences.

Between 1592 and 1595 he wrote three mass settings, one each for three, four and five voices. Composed for secret Catholic Chapel services, they were bound as small books with no title page, in order to hide their identity. Although they were intended to be sung by amateurs from the parish, the music is complex, full of dense counterpoint and rich in detail. They are considered among the greatest of Byrd's works, as reflections of the fervency of his faith.

Throughout his lifetime, Brahms spent a great deal of time conducting various choral ensembles. Although it is not well known today, he also wrote a great deal of music for these groups. Among these choral works are 10 motets, including "Warum ist das Licht," which was written in about 1877 and '78. Dedicated to Philipp Spitta, who wrote one of the first biographies of J.S. Bach, "Warum" closely follows Bach's motet structure, complete with movements in contrasting meters and styles, use of a variety of canonic and other contrapuntal devices, double choir interchanges, and the standard Lutheran choral setting as the final movement.

Britten is considered one of the greatest composers of vocal music in the English language. His compositions include songs for solo voice in a wide variety of instrumental settings, operas and works for chorus. The choral works range from a cappella settings and delicate pieces like the "Ceremony of Carols" for women's voices and harp, up to the monumental "War Requiem" for large orchestra, soloists, boy's choir and full chorus.

His "Five Flower Songs" for unaccompanied chorus was composed in 1950 and dedicated to "Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst on the occasion of their 25th Wedding Anniversary." Using texts by four poets, the five songs portray sentiments expressed by the nature of the different flowers discussed in the poetry.

Stephen Chatman was born near Minneapolis-St. Paul and grew up in Madison, Wis. He studied composition at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Michigan, then went to Cologne, Germany to work with the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. After receiving a doctorate from the University of Michigan, he joined the faculty of the University of British Columbia, where he teaches composition and orchestration and co-directs the U.B.C. Contemporary Players. He has written a great deal of choral music, including pieces that evoke the Canadian environment and history, or that make use of Canadian folk songs.

Kantorei is the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music. It is a touring ensemble of approximately 30 singers, most of whom are graduate students. Kantorei presents four or five concerts on campus each year, tours to off-campus performances and participates in major choral works with the University Symphony. Past tours have been international, including performances in Russia, Korea and Spain.

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