CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 5, 2001
UI Chamber Orchestra features faculty soloists in Britten's 'Serenade'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra will perform
music by Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler and Benjamin Britten in a free concert
at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The concert will be under the direction of William LaRue Jones. UI School
of Music faculty members Timothy Stalter, tenor, and Kristin Thelander, horn,
will be featured in a performance of Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn &
strings, op.31. Other works on the program will be the "Siegfried Idyll"
by Wagner and the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5.
Britten's Serenade was written during the Second World War. It was composed
for two great performers, tenor Peter Pears and horn virtuoso Dennis Brain,
who were the soloists at the first performance of the Serenade in London on
Oct. 15, 1943. The texts were taken from several different poems, all relating
in some way to night or sleep -- a subject that takes on a particularly poignant
or even sinister significance during wartime.
Edward Sackville-West, to whom Britten dedicated the work, wrote: "The
subject is Night and its prestigia: the lengthening shadow, the distant bugle
at sunset, the baroque panoply of the starry sky, the heavy angels of sleep;
but also the cloak of evil -- the worm in the heart of the rose, the sense
of sin in the heart of man."
In 1870, Richard Wagner was in the middle of the composition of "Siegfried,"
one of the four works in his massive cycle of music dramas, "The Ring
of the Nibelungen." For Christmas of that year, Wagner wrote one of his
few purely instrumental works, a pastoral idyll for chamber orchestra based
on themes from "Siegfried" and other melodies. He presented this
"Siegfried Idyll" to his wife, Cosima, performing the work on Christmas
morning with the orchestra seated on the stairs of their home, "Tribschen,"
on the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.
The work was written as a tribute to both Cosima and their son, named for
the hero of Wagner's "Siegfried," who was then about a year and
a half old. The score uses themes from the music drama that are particularly
associated with Siegfreid's love for Brunnhilde. Two other recurring themes
capture the image of the young Siegfried: a descending "sigh" motive
that seems to mimic the yawns of a sleepy baby, and the cradle song "Sleep
Little Child," which is played by the oboe in the middle of the work.
Inscribed with the musical score is a poem that Wagner wrote for Cosima in
commemoration of the occasion. It honors her "noble sacrifice" for
bearing him a son that Wagner characterizes as "the recompense of our
Mahler completed his Fifth Symphony in the summer of 1902, but the revision
process continued up to the year of his death. The entire symphony was written
in three parts, with the first and last movements divided into two subsections.
The Adagietto begins the third part, leading without pause into the Rondo
Finale. As such, it doubles as the symphony's only slow movement and a prelude
to the finale.
Scored for only strings and harp, the Adagietto was at one time far more
popular than the rest of Mahler's extensive symphonic output. It has often
been performed alone, and it was recorded long before the rest of the Fifth
Symphony. The movement was also featured -- in a particularly dismembered
form -- in Luchino Visconti's film adaptation of Thomas Mann's "Death
in Venice." The long, languid melodies and rich harmonies are perfect
representations of the late Romantic style, heavily decorated with appoggiaturas
and suspensions, and with the frequent harmonic modulations and extreme dynamic
fluctuations that were characteristic of the period. The hesitating rhythms
of the harp part provide a sense of uncertainty to the movement.
Music annotator Michael Steinberg wrote of the movement, "If any one
movement can convey the essence both of Mahler's heartache and of his melodic
style . . . this Adagietto is it."
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 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 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.).
Jones holds a Master of Fine Arts in music from the UI and a doctorate from
the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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
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.
Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989 and was elected
director of the School of Music in 2000. Active as both soloist and chamber
musician, she is a member of the Iowa Brass Quintet. As a guest artist she
performed a solo with the Chinese National Opera Orchestra for the opening
concert of the International Horn Symposium held in Beijing in July, 2000.
During the summer she performs with the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville,
She was the first prize-winner in the 1981 American Horn Competition, and
she has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, South Korea
and the People's Republic of China. She has been a featured artist at many
regional and international horn workshops in recent years, and she performed
as soloist with the La Crosse Symphony, the Heartland of America Air Force
Band, the Lake Agassiz Concert Band, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the Iowa
Baroque Orchestra, the Greeley (Colo.) Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony.
She has recorded solo and chamber music for Crystal Records, CRI, Vienna Modern
masters and Centaur Records.
Before coming to Iowa Thelander was on the music faculty at the University
of New Mexico, and she was a member of the New Mexico Brass Quintet, the Santa
Fe Symphony and the New Mexico Symphony. She holds degrees from St. Olaf College,
the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin.
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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