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Release: Oct 15, 1999

UI Camerata Singers will feature baritone Stephen Swanson on Oct. 31 concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Camerata Singers, a choral group made up of University of Iowa students and members of the local community, will feature two faculty soloists -- baritone Stephen Swanson and tenor Timothy Stalter -- in free concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Music faculty member Richard Bloesch will conduct the performance. UI graduate students Melissa Moll and Hanna Lee will accompany the choir on piano and organ.

A mixed choral ensemble of 60-70 voices, Camerata is known for performances that bring to light unfamiliar choral works of significant interest and value. Characteristically, the group's repertoire includes pieces by little-known composers -- including in this case Joseph Rheinberger and Joseph Guy Ropartz -- as well as little-known works by major composers, including Felix Mendelssohn and Zoltan Kodaly.

The program will open with Mendelssohn's "Kyrie," a rare setting by the composer of a section of the Latin Mass. Written in Paris in 1825, when the composer was only 16, it was for many years thought to be lost. The score, which shows the influence of J.S. Bach on the young Mendelssohn, was rediscovered and published in 1964.

The "Kyrie" will be followed by the Latin hymn "Pange lingua" as set for organ and chorus by the Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly.

Jules Massenet, known principally as an opera composer, is represented on the program by his "Chansons des Bois d'Amaranthe" (Songs from the forest of Amaranthe). A cycle of pieces about springtime for chamber choir and piano, the "Chansons" were composed in 1900. Massenet often performed the songs, sometimes as conductor and at other times as pianist.

Swanson will be featured in two of the Five Hymns, op. 40, by Rheinberger, who was a revered teacher at the Munich Conservatory in Germany during the last decades of the 19th century.

Ropartz, a prominent French conductor and composer during the first half of the 20th century, will be represented on the program by three movements from his Requiem of 1938. Although he was a major figure in French musical life, Ropartz is so little known in the United States that Camerata will be giving the first performance of any of his music on the UI campus.

The concert will close with Daniel Pinkham's Fanfares for chorus, organ, brass and percussion. The four movements, titled "Prophecy," "Proclamation," "Alleluia" and "Psalm," are based on texts from the Old Testament. Several of the movements include tenor solos, which will be sung by Stalter, who is the new director of choral activities at the UI School of Music.

Bloesch received his doctorate in choral conducting and choral literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He teaches the history of choral literature in the UI School of Music, conducts the Camerata Singers and advises doctoral students. He is CD review editor for the Choral Journal, and he held the national chair of the Repertoire and Standards Committee for Colleges and Universities in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). He is co-author of an annotated bibliography of 20th-century choral music that was published by the ACDA.

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in August. He directs Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music, teaches graduate conducting courses, and administers the graduate program in choral conducting. 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, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. He has recorded as a soloist with conductor Robert Shaw on two compact discs on the Telarc label.

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 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.

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(NOTE TO EDITORS: Richard Bloesch, the conductor of the concert described in this release, may be reached at (319) 335-1627, or by e-mail at <>.)