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Release: Oct. 13, 2000

University Choir to survey the choral spectrum with concert Oct. 27

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- In just four sets, the University Choir from the University of Iowa School of Music will cover a broad spectrum of choral music, crossing historical periods and musical styles, when they perform a free concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Conductor of the performance will be Timothy Stalter, director of choral activities at the UI School of Music.

University Choir is a select, advanced choir of approximately 50 singers, primarily undergraduate students. Each semester they present at least one formal concert on campus, in addition to performing a major choral work with other singing groups from the UI School of Music and the University Symphony.

The Oct. 27 program will begin with sacred music of the Renaissance and, touching upon some of the musical high points of the intervening centuries, end with contemporary arrangements of spirituals.

"I wanted the choir to have the opportunity to intellectually encounter music from several different historical periods, and at the same time to grapple vocally with the issues of articulation, phrasing and musical gesture that arise from different styles of music," Stalter said. "We have spent a great amount of time working with the relationship among musical, physical and textual gestures."

The first set, or group of pieces, on the concert will feature three motets from the 16th and 17th centuries. Considered one of the great periods of musical creativity in European history, the Renaissance was a period of intense activity and great refinement in the composition of choral music written for the church. The University Choir will perform standards of the Renaissance choral repertoire -- "Exsultate Deo" by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and "Hosanna to the Son of David" by Orlando Gibbons -- and a lesser known work -- "Nolo mortem peccatoris" by Thomas Morley.

Skipping ahead more than 100 years, the second set will comprise one piece, the Cantata No. 78, "Jesu, der du meine Seele" by J.S. Bach. Another of the peaks in the history of European music, Bach’s choral music presents special challenges to singers because of the complexity of the melodic lines and the independence of the individual voice parts.

The third set comes from the mid-20th century, featuring "Reincarnations" by American composer Samuel Barber. The music comprises settings of three poems by James Stephens that were re-workings of songs from a collection of Irish poems by Antoine Raftery. A folk poet and traveling fiddler in the early 19th century, Raftery was blinded by smallpox in his youth.

The final set comprises three spirituals, representing one of the most significant African-American contributions to the history of choral music: "Live-a-humble," arranged by Peter Bagley, director of choral activities at the University of Connecticut at Storrs; "Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child," arranged by Robert Fountain, former choral director at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; and "Elijah Rock," arranged by Moses Hogan, who represents a new generation of spiritual arrangers.

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999. He directs Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music, teaches graduate conducting courses, and administers the graduate program in choral conducting. He has research interests in teaching conducting to undergraduate and graduate students and historical music performance practices. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the United States.

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.

Prior to coming to the UI, Stalter was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 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 masters from the University of Illinois, where he studied with Don Moses, who was UI director of choral activities in the 1980s.

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