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Release: June 1, 2001

University Symphony and violinist Leopold La Fosse will present free concert June 14

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Symphony will present the first of two summer concerts at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 14 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The free concert, under the direction of William LaRue Jones, will feature violinist Leopold La Fosse playing the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26, by Max Bruch. Other works on the program will be the Overture to "Poet and Peasant" by Franz von Suppe and the Suite from "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The orchestra’s second concert of the summer season will be at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 28 in the Shakespeare Theatre of City Park in Iowa City.

Bruch’s Violin Concerto is his most enduringly popular work. It was premiered in 1866, but the composer was not happy with it and began revisions soon after the premiere. Its second premiere, and its first publication, took place two years later in 1868. Altogether Bruch spent 10 years writing the concerto. Composed in a late Romantic style, the concerto is warm and lyrical and served as an inspiration for later violin concertos, including those by Strauss and Sibelius.

Today Franz von Suppe is remembered chiefly for his overtures, but in 19th-century Vienna he was one of the most popular and successful stage composers of the day. He completed more than 300 works for the stage, from ballets and incidental music for stage plays to popular farces. More than any other composer, he was responsible for establishing the musical style of Viennese operetta.

Viennese stage plays of the time were usually preceded by an orchestral overture and would often have pieces of music worked into the plot. As the musical director of one of the Viennese theaters, Suppe produced a great deal of incidental music. His most popular overtures, including "Poet and Peasant," "Light Cavalry," and "Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna," have all outlived the stage plays for which they were written. The Overture to "Poet and Peasant" takes its title from a very obscure play by Karl Elmar, performed in 1846. However, Suppe probably composed the music a year or more earlier, for another equally obscure comedy called "Lots of Money, Short of Sleep," and he may have used it for two other plays in the meantime.

"Swan Lake," one of the most popular works in the classical ballet repertoire, was Tchaikovsky’s first full-length ballet. The first performance, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1877, was not a success, although the ballet remained in the Bolshoi repertoire for several years. It was the second production, choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895 -- two years after Tchaikovsky’s death -- that proved a success. Although greatly altered from the original version of the ballet, it is this version of "Swan Lake" that has remained popular.

The ballet’s story of a beautiful maiden, transformed into a swan and held in captivity by an evil magician, is clearly similar to many European legends of water spirits, such as Undine and the Little Mermaid, who can only be saved by the true love of a mortal. The orchestral suite from the ballet is based on a series of characteristic dances from the second and third acts of the ballet.

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His performing career has included extensive 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. He later studied at the New England Conservatory. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UI he teaches violin and directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and early Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble. He 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 Cecilia 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 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. 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 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.).

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

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