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Release: Nov. 9, 2001

Philharmonia Orchestra, String Orchestra Will Perform Nov. 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Philharmonia chamber orchestra and All-University String Orchestra will present a free concert with student conductors at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Three graduate students in the UI School of Music will share the program. Opening the concert, John Winzenburg will conduct the "Brook Green" Suite for strings by Gustav Holst. Later on the concert Winzenburg will also conduct the Overture to "Oberon" by Carl Maria von Weber.

Jean Montes will conduct the Sinfonia in D major for strings by Giuseppe Tartini; "Spielerei" (Child's play) by Carl Stix, as arranged for strings by the late conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy; and a string arrangement of the Fugue in G minor by J.S. Bach.

To conclude the concert, Lucia Matos will conduct the "Sinfonia Piccola" (Little symphony) of Finnish composer Heikki Suolahti.

Although he is best known for his large-scale orchestral works, including "The Planets," Holst also enjoyed writing music for his pupils to sing and play. "Brook Green" Suite was written for his students at the St. Paul's Girls School in Hammersmith, England, in 1933, as a companion to the "St. Paul" Suite for strings, written 20 years earlier. Its first two movements, the Prelude and the Air, both possess lyrical and melancholy characters. They give way to the more raucous beat of the Dance, reflecting the boisterous nature of the adolescents for which it is written.

Tartini is known for his contribution to the late Baroque/early Classical virtuoso concerto and sonata literature for violin. The Sinfonia in D Major was written for strings only, without the usual continuo part with keyboard that was characteristic of the Baroque period, and it therefore represents the emerging Classical style.

Weber was a leader in establishing German romantic opera in the early 19th century, particularly with "Der Freischuetz" in 1821. Composed a few years later, "Oberon" was written in English for its first performance at Covent Garden, London, in April of 1826. The plot was adapted from a medieval tale of chivalry that takes the hero Huon on an odyssey to destinations that were both real -- from Charlemagne's court to Baghdad -- and fantastic -- to the realm of the Fairy King Oberon.

The opening call of the French horn foreshadows the miraculous power of the horn in the plot. The magic horn frequently intercedes on behalf of the hero during times of strife, like many other "magical" instruments in operas of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including Mozart's beloved "Magic Flute." The Overture makes use of vivid instrumental color and concludes with triumphant themes from the opera, making it one of the most popular orchestral works of the early 19th century.

Heikki Suolathi showed tremendous promise as a composer when his life was cut short at the age of 16. Having already been identified as a possible successor to Sibelius as Finland's national composer, he had completed his four-movement "Sinfonia Piccola" during the last year of his life. With Suolathi on the eve of adulthood, the symbolic influence of Sibelius could well have instilled in him a sense of destiny. The "Sinfonia Piccola" was first performed after the composer's death in 1938, and it was introduced to American audiences by the Chicago Symphony and conductor Thor Johnson.

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

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