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Release: Nov. 3, 2000

Current and former UI faculty members team up for Schubert’s 'Winter Journey' Nov. 17

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Baritone Stephen Swanson and pianist Daniel Shapiro will perform "Winterreise" (Winter journey), Franz Schubert’s cycle of songs about rejection in love for a University of Iowa faculty/guest recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov, 17 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Swanson teaches voice in the UI School of Music. Shapiro, who taught piano at the UI 1992-97, currently is on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. Their performance will be free and open to the public.

Composed in 1827, "Winterreise" is the second of Schubert’s three song cycles. It followed "Die schoene Muellerin" (The Miller’s beautiful daughter), composed in 1823, and preceded "Schwanengesang" (Swan song,) a collection of songs from Schubert’s final year, 1828. Both "Winterreise" and "Schoene Muellerin" are settings of songs by Wilhelm Mueller, a minor poet who was also a philologist and historian of wide ranging interests.

"Winterreise" comprises 24 songs, settings of a series of 24 poems that tell the romantic story of a young man who has been rejected in love. In despair, he embarks on a journey in the dead of winter, hoping to leave behind his beloved and all of his unhappy memories.

Through his music, Schubert was able to turn a group of naive and sentimental poems into something more universal and far deeper. The young man’s loss becomes a tragedy that the audience, through Schubert’s music, can experience along with the singer. Winter, in the poems an obvious symbol of coldness and rejection, is portrayed by the piano in music that audiences find not only evocative but -- in spite of its stark subject matter -- hauntingly beautiful.

Schubert was the first major composer to write unified cycles that tell a single story through a series of separate songs. But he not only created this miniature dramatic form, many singers believe he also perfected it, and his song cycles are one of the greatest challenges a singer can undertake.

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 91 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in European festivals including the Berliner Festwochen, the Days of Contemporary Music in Dresden and the Festa Musica Pro in Assisi, Italy.

Swanson took part in the Viktor Ullman-Projekt 1998, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of a composer who died in the Nazi death camps. Swanson sang major roles in Ullman’s operas "Der zerbrochene Krug" and "Der Kaiser von Atlantis" at performances in Europe, at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and at the Martyr’s Museum in Los Angeles.

Swanson 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.

Swanson holds undergraduate degrees from North Park College in Chicago and a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University. He made his professional debut in 1970, singing in Arnold Schoenberg’s opera "Moses and Aron" with the Chicago Symphony in Chicago and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Daniel Shapiro has pursued a multi-faceted career in several areas of musical performance. He began piano studies at the age of six and made his conducting debut at Tanglewood, Mass., the summer home of the Boston Symphony, at the age of 16. Two years later he received a special award at Tanglewood for outstanding achievement in piano, chamber music and conducting.

Shapiro has a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California, and master's and doctoral degrees in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where he studied with Leon Fleisher. He received the top award in the William Kapell International Piano Competition and has also won the American Pianists Association Beethoven Fellowship Award, the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, the Young Musicians’ Foundation Debut Competition and the International Piano Recording Competition.

He has performed critically acclaimed recitals and concerts across the United States, in Brazil, Ireland, Spain, France, and at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. He has performed with the National Symphony, the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of London Orchestra, the Colorado National Repertory Orchestra and the Los Angeles Debut Orchestra. In 1995 he played all 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven in a series of eight recitals at the UI.

Shapiro has also had extensive experience as a vocal accompanist and coach, including serving as an opera and art song coach at the University of California at Los Angeles. As a chamber musician he has participated in the Marlboro, Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals. He is a member of the Brandeis-Bardin Trio, whose compact disc is released on the Harmonia Mundi label, and the Duo Hebraique, whose compact disc is released on the ASV label.

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