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Release: May 1, 2002

After 35 years on UI faculty, Richard Bloesch will conduct his final concert May 11

After 35 years at the University of Iowa School of Music, Richard Bloesch will conduct his final performance with Camerata when the choral group presents its spring concert, at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11 in Clapp Recital Hall. The concert will be free and open to the public.

Bloesch, who joined the UI faculty in 1967, will retire from the UI at the end of the spring semester.

For the May 11 concert, Bloesch will lead Camerata in the kind of music he has championed throughout his UI career, a little known work of unusual interest and value: the “Drei geistliche Lieder” (Three sacred songs), op. 96 of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Bloesch’s swan song will be the final piece on a full-length choral program by Camerata, a mixed choral ensemble of about 60 voices that includes both UI students and members of the local community.

The remainder of the program will be under the direction of Mariana Farah, a graduate student in choral conducting at the UI. Farah will conduct the Introduction and Gloria in D major of Antonio Vivaldi; the “Ave Maria” of Josef Rheinberger; and two sacred choral works by Brazilian composer Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia.

Several student soloists will be featured in the Vivaldi: soprano Lisa Kotara, alto Rachel Lebeck and tenor Ryan Bernemann. Alto Marie Von Behren, a local voice teacher and long-time member of Camerata, will be the soloist in the Mendelssohn.

Bloesch commented, “One of the reasons I chose the Mendelssohn piece for this concert -- in addition to my fondness for the music -- was to give Marie von Behren a final chance to sing something in Clapp Hall under my direction. She has been a mainstay of Camerata almost as long as I have conducted the group.”

Mendelssohn’s Jewish heritage is reflected in his various settings of psalm texts. One of these was a paraphrase of Psalm 13, written for a London admirer in 1840. One version of this work is in three movements, known as the “Drei geistliche Lieder,” and scored for organ, alto solo, and chorus. Mendelssohn also prepared a version with orchestral accompaniment, for which he wrote an additional fourth movement. In the first three movements the main thematic ideas are first put forth by the soloist, then amplified by the chorus. The second hymn-like movement develops Mendelssohn's newly composed chorale melody.

Vivaldi’s “Introduction and Gloria” was written in Venice, probably in 1716-1717, when the composer was responsible for composing sacred vocal music for the famous orphanage, the Ospedale della Pieta. Vivaldi wrote two “Gloria” settings that are both in the key of D major and similar in scoring, length and style. The “Introduction and Gloria,” which begins with an alto solo on the Latin text “Jubilate o amoeni chori,” the less familiar of the two.

Rheinberger’s “Ave Maria” was composed for the fourth Sunday of Advent in 1893,when the composer was the director of music at All Saints, one of the Court Churches in Munich. The piece is part of the nine Advent-Motets, Op. 176, which were composed in the style of classical motets.

Garcia was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1767. In 1798 he became a chapel master of the Catedral da Se, the most important church of the country, and when the Portuguese court moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, he then became director of music in the Royal Chapel. The great majority of his 237 extant works consist of sacred music, but a wide variety of secular works were among the many works that have been lost.

Bloesch received his undergraduate degree in music and philosophy from Elmhurst College, a master’s of divinity and a master’s degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary in New York, and a doctorate in choral conducting and choral literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He studied choral music and piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London on a Fulbright scholarship, and he also studied with and accompanied for Robert Shaw, one of the most distinguished American conductors of the 20th century.

Prior to his appointment at the UI Bloesch taught at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N. C. He served as professional church musician in North Carolina and Iowa. At the UI, he has taught the history of choral literature, conducted the Camerata Singers and advised doctoral students. He served as CD review editor for the Choral Journal, and he held the national chair of the Repertoire and Standards Committee for Colleges and Universities in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). He has published modern editions of works historic that he has discovered through research, and is co-author of an annotated bibliography of 20th-century choral music that was published by the ACDA.

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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