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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 23, 2004

UI Chamber Orchestra Performs Beethoven, Debussy And Bach Dec. 12

University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra will perform works by Beethoven, Debussy and J.S. Bach on a relatively short matinee concert, played without intermission, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under UI Director of Orchestral Studies William LaRue Jones will be free and open too the public.

"This concert has a focus on dance music as represented by three of history's greatest composers," Jones said. "By coincidence, none are particularly remembered for writing for the dance. Instead, their major contributions to repertoire were symphonic, programmatic and church music. We are taking this opportunity to present some music that may be less familiar but that shows their greatness in another way."

The works on the program will be:

--Beethoven's Overture to the ballet "The Creatures of Prometheus," op. 43.

--Claude Debussy's "Sarabande et Danse," as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.

--Bach's Suite No. 3 in D major for orchestra, BWV 1068, a work based on stylized Baroque courtly dances.

Beethoven's first work for the stage was the ballet "The Creatures of Prometheus," written in 1800-01 and first performed in Vienna on March 28, 1801. This was a critical period in the composer's life: It was around the time of his first major orchestral works, including the two symphonies, completed in 1800 and 1802. It was also the time when Beethoven first became aware of his growing deafness and began to face the consequences of that tragic condition.

The score for "The Creature of Prometheus" consists of a series of loosely connected dances and descriptive pieces for the ballet, based on the Greek legend of Prometheus, who was punished by the gods for bringing fire to man. The ballet was highly successful, having 23 performances in 1801-02. Although the ballet is not often performed today, the overture, with discernable influence from Mozart and Haydn, continues to be part of orchestral programming.

The "Danse" and "Sarabande" were originally written by Debussy for piano. After the composer's death in 1918, the French publisher Jean Jobert hoped to publish more of Debussy's orchestral pieces. He asked Maurice Ravel to orchestrate the two works, which Ravel did after Debussy's widow granted permission. The two orchestrations were premiered at the Concerts Lamoureux in Paris on March 18, 1923.

The suite, consisting of a collection of characteristic dances arranged in slow-fast pairs, was one of the most widely cultivated genres of the Baroque period. Suites were written and played all across Europe, for just about every available instrument and composition. Bach wrote suites for keyboard, lute, solo violin and solo cello, as well as orchestra.

The orchestral suite, originating in the French court of King Louis XIV, typically began with a stately overture that opens with pompous dotted rhythms -- known today as a "French Overture" -- followed by a series of stylized dances. Bach's four orchestral suites are all of this type.

The Third Suite in D major was probably written while Bach was music director of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, an ensemble made up principally of university students. The score calls for three trumpets, two oboes, drums, strings and keyboard continuo. The second movement of the suite, for strings alone, is famous today as the "Air on the G string." The air, which provides good contrast with the more colorful dance movements, is followed by a pair of gavottes, a sprightly bouree and a rapid gigue.

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 has appeared as a guest conductor with a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland). Jones has conducted more than 80 all-state orchestras with additional festival/clinics in most of the 50 states and Canadian provinces.

He has served extended conducting residencies at the North Carolina School for the Arts, the University of Miami, Interlochen Academy for the Arts and Kansas City Conservatory. He also is the founding artistic director of the critically acclaimed Conductors Workshop of America. In addition to serving as guest clinician for numerous conducting seminars for professional/educational associations internationally, Jones is music director and conductor of the Oshkosh (Wis.) Symphony.

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 holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and Kansas State University, with additional studies at The Juilliard School of Music and the University of North Texas.

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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