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Release: Jan. 28, 2000

University Symphony plays music by Tchaikovsky, Bernstein Feb. 9

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will perform the music of Leonard Bernstein and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky on a free concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The orchestra's music director William La Rue Jones will conduct the performance, which will feature violinist Leopold La Fosse in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, following Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 ("Jeremiah") with mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle.

Bernstein and Tchaikovsky are two of the most popular composers with classical music audiences. But the 20th-century American and the19th-century Russian have more than that in common: Both were successful conductors as well as composers, and both led memorable performances in New York's Carnegie Hall -- Tchaikovsky in 1891, during the celebration of the hall's opening, and Bernstein as director of the New York Philharmonic (1958-70), including the orchestra's final concerts in Carnegie Hall before moving to Lincoln Center in 1962.

The musical season of 1943-44 saw the young American musical genius Leonard Bernstein launched upon a career as no American musician before or since. In that one season, the 25-year-old apprentice conductor earned instant stardom when he stepped in for an ailing leader of the New York Philharmonic; he wrote the ballet "Fancy Free" for the choreographer Jerome Robbins; he wrote his first Broadway musical, "On The Town," with Betty Comden and Adolph Green; and he conducted the premiere of "Jeremiah," his First Symphony.

The symphony was written in 1942 to enter in a competition sponsored by the New England Conservatory. He used a "Hebrew Song" he had already written, retitled "Lamentation," as the finale. Inspired by the terrible fate then descending upon Jews in Europe, he added two movements to precede it, titled "Prophecy" and "Profanation." Rushing to finish the score, Bernstein got it turned in only hours before a midnight, Dec. 31 deadline. Although it did not win the contest, the Symphony is regarded as one of Bernstein's strongest concert compositions.

Taken together, the three movements of the symphony correspond to the story of the prophet Jeremiah of the Book of Lamentations, from which the text of the third movement, sung in Hebrew, is taken. The style is typical of Bernstein: American eclectic, combining the Hebrew cantillation of his own heritage with classical, jazz and pop influences.

Bernstein has written that the symphony is not literally descriptive, but aims for an "emotional quality. Thus the first movement ('Prophecy') aims only to parallel in feeling the intensity of the prophet's pleas with his people; and the scherzo ('Profanation') to give a general

sense of the destruction and chaos brought on by the pagan corruption within the priesthood and the people. The third movement ('Lamentation') is . . . the cry of Jeremiah, as he mourns his beloved Jerusalem, ruined, pillaged and dishonored after his desperate efforts to save it."

Tchaikovsky wrote the Violin Concerto in March and April, 1878, in Clarens, Switzerland, where he had gone to recover from the emotional trauma of his disastrous marriage eight months before. While he was there, Yosif Kotek, a young violinist and composition student of Tchaikovsky, spent time with the composer playing through music for violin and piano.

With Kotek's encouragement and advice, Tchaikovsky began work on a concerto for violin and orchestra, completing the sketch in a few weeks and the full score by the end of April. He sent the completed score with a dedication to Leopold Auer, a Hungarian-born violinist who was one of the leading virtuosos in Europe. Auer, however, considered the concerto unplayable.

In the meantime the concerto was published, and in 1888 Tchaikovsky heard that another violinist, Adolf Brodsky, was planning a performance. Brodsky gave the premiere on Dec. 4 with the Vienna Philharmonic. The conservative Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick greeted the performance with a famously vituperative review, which discouraged neither Brodsky, who continued to perform the concerto throughout Europe, nor audiences, who have hailed the concerto from the first performance.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. He replaced James Dixon, the director of the orchestra for more than 40 years, who retired at the end of the 1996-97 academic year. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Jones is a highly honored musician, having received the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Art Award, the American String Teachers Association Exceptional Leadership and Merit Award and the David W. Preuss Leadership Award. He has also been selected Musician of the Year by Sigma Alpha Iota, a music honorary society.

Jones is conductor of the Bloomington (Minn.) Symphony and has appeared as a guest conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Sinfonie Orchester AML-Luzern (Switzerland) and other orchestras around the world. He has conducted all-state and festival orchestras in 46 states and five Canadian provinces. He has been conductor-in-residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the University of Miami (Fla.).

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His extensive performing career has included solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. He made his first public appearance at the age of four, and he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio at eight. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UI he teaches violin, directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble, and serves as area head for strings.
He also continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the

United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had performances at Wigmore Hall in

London, Sala Ceclila Mireles in Rio de Janeiro, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and a jazz violinist.

A native of Akron, Ohio, Eberle has performed internationally in opera, concert and solo recitals. The Atlanta Constitution wrote, "Katherine Eberle was a standout. More than any other performer, she showed what it takes for a solo performer to command the stage."

She has performed with the opera theater of Lille, France, the Academy of the West, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Aspen Festival Opera Theatre, the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria, and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She made her New York debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1993. In 1994 and '95 she toured as a musical ambassador for the United States Information Agency, performing in South America and Korea.

Eberle's solo compact disc of songs of women composers, "From a Woman's Perspective," has been issued by Albany Records on the Vienna Modern Masters Label. She was also soloist on a CD of the Mozart "Requiem" released by the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

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