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Release: Nov. 1, 2002


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A very large pipe organ fills the loft above the stage of Clapp Recital Hall. This impressive instrument -- the first thing most visitors see when entering the hall -- will be featured at a free concert by the University of Iowa Symphony, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Clapp Hall on the UI campus.

Organist Delbert Disselhorst will be the soloist for the Symphony No.1 for organ and orchestra by French composer Alexandre Guilmant. Conductor William LaRue Jones will also lead the orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major.

This free concert is not part of the University Symphony’s ticketed Signature Series of subscription concerts, which are presented in Hancher Auditorium.

The Clapp Recital Hall organ was built as part of the hall in 1972. The Casavant firm of Canada, makers of the instrument, renovated the organ in 1999, installing a new solid-state combination action system and completely refurbishing the organ console. The current instrument has a mechanical action; three separate manuals, or keyboards; and 53 stops, or different sets of pipes. It is the largest pipe organ at the UI School of Music.

Guilmant was a renowned scholar, teacher, and performer in Paris in the second half of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. A professor at the Paris Conservatory and organist at a large Parisian church, Guilmant enjoyed considerable success as a touring virtuoso with regular concerts in Germany, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, Belgium, Italy, a Scotland, and England. He is said to have played to audiences up to 10,000. He made three tours to the United States, the first in 1893 when he performed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He returned in 1898 and again in 1904 when he performed 40 recitals with no works repeated at the St. Louis Exposition.

Following those performances he continued with 24 recitals elsewhere in the United States. Guilmant was one of the very first organists to expose the general public to an extremely wide range of repertoire played with the highest standards of musicianship.

He composed a large number of works, among them eight large-scale sonatas for solo organ. Guilmant later arranged the First Sonata as his Symphony No. 1 for organ and orchestra. It is organized in three movements: an Introduction and Allegro, a quietly-moving Pastoral, and a spirited Finale in the style of the virtuosic French organ toccatas of the day.

Beethoven's symphonies are often thought of in pairs, each consisting of a light-hearted symphony followed by a more serious work. Thus the cheerful Second Symphony was followed by the heroic Third; the whimsical Eighth Symphony was followed by the monumental Ninth.

By this reckoning, the Fourth is the lighter partner of the powerful Fifth Symphony. A delightful, unimposing work, it was described by Robert Schumann as “a slender Greek maiden between two Titans,” referring to the preceding and following symphonies. Its playful themes and agreeable style have made it a universally popular work, however, and one that orchestral musicians return to with pleasure.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelors and masters degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has recorded the Organ Books of Ned Rorem and “Prophesies” by Daniel Pinkham on the Arkay Label.

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.

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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