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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 3, 2003

Hancher Looks Off-Campus For Estonian Choir Venue

The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will present a concert by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Hillier, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 in St. Mary's Catholic Church at 228 Jefferson St. near downtown Iowa City.

The city of Iowa City has extended Sunday on-street parking for Jefferson St., making parking legal on both sides of the street, to accommodate attendance at the concert.

The concert, entitled "Baltic Voices," will feature music by Estonia's most famous contemporary composer, Arvo Part, and a variety of other contemporary and recent choral music from Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Russia. The concert is drawn, in part, from works on the choir's new "Baltic Voices" CD on the Harmonia Mundi label.

A Billboard magazine review described the disc as a "beautifully produced anthology" that "presents the best of the region's contemporary choral music -- all performed with the passionate precision connoisseurs have come to expect from the Estonian Chamber Choir."

"The Baltic Voices" CD is the first installment in the choir's three-year project to explore and record the choral music of the Baltic Sea region. "Baltic Voices II" was recorded in July for future release.

The Baltic Voices project will focus primarily on the mainstream choral tradition of the past 100 years, but will also include earlier music and commissioned works from young composers.

Hancher Artistic Director Judith Hurtig says that although the auditorium has sponsored numerous educational and community events in conjunction with visits by touring artists, the Oct. 26 event in St. Mary's Catholic Church will be the first concert on the auditorium's regular marquee schedule that has been presented off-campus -- a choice that was motivated entirely by the nature of the ensemble and its sound.

"I heard this group for the first time in a Catholic church in Ann Arbor, and even though the choir does not sing only sacred music, I was overwhelmed by the spirituality of the sound," Hurtig explains. "After that very moving experience, it seemed to me that Hancher was too big, and Clapp Recital Hall was not the right space, either.

"So I consulted with UI Director of Choral Activities Tim Stalter and Greg Grove, the vocal director at City High School. They both told me that the sound in St. Mary's Church would be wonderful. The church has a very large altar space, with enough room for this rather sizeable choir, and it also has adequate capacity for the audience we anticipated. And I was delighted to find that the people at the church were as gracious and welcoming as I could have possibly hoped. I think the result will be a special and memorable event."

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, founded as a full-time vocal ensemble in 1981, performs a repertory ranging from Gregorian chants, through Bach to contemporary compositions.

The choir has attracted numerous Grammy Award nominations, in particular for its recordings of works by mystical composer Arvo Part on the ECM label.

A Wall Street Journal review described the choir as "pure and impassioned, astounding choral artists."

Director Paul Hillier is known to choral-music lovers world-wide as the founder of the Hilliard Ensemble and the Theatre of Voices. He became artistic director of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 2001, and he also directs the Ars Nova vocal ensemble in Denmark.

Support for the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir comes from Hancher Guild, the auditorium's volunteer organization.

Open-seating tickets for the Oct. 26 concert are $35 ($12 for UI students and $28 for audience members 17 and younger). Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the door.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to 319-353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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