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Release: Jan. 24, 2003

Baritone Swanson Presents 'Music For The Liturgy'

Baritone Stephen Swanson, a faculty member of the University of Iowa School of Music, will present "Music for the Liturgy," a program of sacred music for voice and instruments, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Swanson will be joined by his UI faculty colleagues Leopold La Fosse, violin; Mark Weiger, oboe; members of the Maia String Quartet; and organist Delbert Disselhorst. Their performance will be free and open to the public.

"One of the joys of working at the University of Iowa is the depth and versatility of world class talent in the School of Music," Swanson said. "The chance to collaborate with people like La Fosse, Disselhorst, Weiger and the Maia Quartet is something to be savored by anyone who really enjoys making music. I am very grateful for their participation in this concert."

The program will comprise three works: Four Songs for voice and violin, op. 35, by Gustav Holst; a set of five "Gospel Motets" for voice and organ by the former head of the organ department at the UI, Gerhard Krapf; and J.S. Bach's cantata for the Feast of the Purification, "Ich habe genug" (I have enough), for baritone, oboe and strings with continuo, or keyboard accompaniment.

Swanson said he wanted to perform this recital to make use of a small organ that was recently acquired by the UI School of Music. Purchased last year for use in the performance of Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," the instrument was built by the Staunton, Va., firm of Taylor & Boody for use as a continuo instrument in Baroque music.

The organ is handcrafted of solid white oak that is fumed and oiled. It has four ranks, or individual sets of pipes, two made completely of wood, one of wood and metal and one of only metal. It has a hand-carved case with the family crest of J. S. Bach on the front.

The organ will be used in two different contexts in Swanson's program: as an accompanying instrument in the Krapf motets, which were written for voice and organ, and as a continuo instrument, which fills in the chords in the Baroque style, for the Bach cantata. The third piece on the program, Holst's songs for voice and violin, do not use the organ.

Gustav Holst was born in the English spa town of Cheltenham in 1874 and studied music at the Royal College in London. He later became director of music at St. Paul's Girls' School in the Hammersmith district of London, retaining this connection until the end of his life.

Around 1916, Holst and the vicar of the church at Thaxted, Essex, decided to institute a music festival for the holiday weekend of Whitsunday, also know as Pentecost, which is celebrated the 50th day after Easter. Singers traveled by train from the two schools at which Holst was teaching and were joined by the local church choir and townspeople. The combined choirs rehearsed on Saturday, sang at morning and evening services on Sunday and again on Monday morning.

During a lull in the festivities, Holst entered the church and heard his student Christine Ratcliffe singing wordlessly and playing open strings on her violin. He was inspired by the moment and composed three of the Four Songs for voice and violin, using poems from "A Medieval Anthology" edited by Mary Segar. Since it was not practical for Ratcliffs to sing words and play simultaneously, a fellow student, Dulcie Nutting, sang the songs for their premier on May 27, 1917, at the second Thaxted Whitsun Festival. The fourth song was later composed for Dulcie's voice and first performed in January 1918.

Krapf came to the UI in 1962 to found the organ department. During his tenure at the UI he built the department and oversaw the installation of the first organs at the UI School of Music. In recognition of his efforts, an organ performance hall in the Voxman Music Building has been named the Krapf Organ Studio. He left the UI in 1977 to start another organ department, at the University of Alberta (Canada) in Edmonton. He retired in 1987.

Krapf's "Gospel Motets" were composed on the Gospel texts designated in the Christian liturgy to be read in worship services on the Sundays "after Trinity" -- that is, the portion of the church year that falls between Pentecost and the beginning of a new church year at Advent.

Bach's Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug," was written in 1727 for the services of the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also called Candlemas, which is traditionally celebrated 40 days after Christmas, on Feb. 2. The text from the Gospel According to Luke includes the well known "Song of Simeon" or "Nunc Dimittis," upon which the text of the cantata is based.

Swanson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1994. For nearly 20 years before that date he had an active operatic career in Europe. During that time his repertoire grew to 91 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in European festivals including the Berliner Festwochen, the Days of Contemporary Music in Dresden and the Festa Musica Pro in Assisi, Italy.

Swanson has also had an extensive career as a concert singer, appearing as featured soloist with many U.S. orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti, Raphael Fruehbeck de Burgos and Margaret Hillis. He has recorded Mendelssohn's "St. Paul" and Ullmann's "Der Kaiser von Atlantis." Since coming to Iowa City, he has presented solo recitals, appeared in and directed UI Opera Theater productions, and performed with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City.

Swanson holds undergraduate degrees from North Park College in Chicago and a master's degree in music from Northwestern University. He made his professional debut in 1970, singing in Arnold Schoenberg's opera "Moses und Aron" with the Chicago Symphony in Chicago and New York's Carnegie Hall.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. 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.

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 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.

Since coming to Iowa in 1988 Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions, won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY) and presented solo recitals with many other notable oboists. He is a founding member of the double reed quartet WiZARDS!, which has released three CDs to critical acclaim, toured 18 states and presented educational residence programs throughout the West and Midwest. As the first oboist to serve as an Artistic Ambassador through the U.S. Information Agency, Weiger performed recitals in Nepal, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Sri Lanka.

Founded in 1990, the Maia Quartet has been the quartet in residence at the UI School of Music since 1998. The quartet has established itself nationally with performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at the Aspen Music Festival. In recent years they have collaborated with other leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School.

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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