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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 1, 2004

UI Chamber Orchestra Opens Series Oct. 17 With Mozart, Villa Lobos

The University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra and conductor William LaRue Jones will present the first of a series of free, accessible Sunday afternoon concerts at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The relatively short program will feature two works. The orchestra will play Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras" No. 2, a suite of colorful tone paintings of the composer's native Brazil, and pianist Rene Lecuona from the School of Music faculty will be featured in a performance of W.A. Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488.

The remaining concerts in the Chamber Orchestra series for the 2004-05 season are Sundays Dec. 12 and May 1, both at 3 p.m. in Clapp Recital Hall.

Villa-Lobos was one of the most original of 20th-century composers. His style shows the strong influences of native Brazilian music blended with traditional European compositional techniques. He is widely considered one of the landmark composers of the 20th century. The nine suites titled "Bachianas Brasileiras," combining the counterpoint and harmonic techniques of J.S. Bach with the sounds of Brazil, are among his finest and most characteristic works.

The second suite, first performed in 1938, is scored for chamber orchestra, piano, and a large battery of percussion that includes a number of characteristic Brazilian instruments. It comprises four colorful evocations of the country: "The Song of the Countryman," "The Song of Our Country," "Memory of the Desert" and, best known, "The Little Train of the Brazilian Countryman."

The last movement describes the journey of a rickety steam train with driving locomotive rhythms in nearly the entire orchestra. The movement features the Brazilian percussion, including the "chocalho" (a rattle made of gourd)," ganza" (tubular rattle) and "reco-reco" (bamboo scraper). The sound of the rattling little train is contrasted with the high strings, playing a melody that represents the beautiful Brazilian countryside. As the melody is passed to the flute, the train slows, wheezes and lurches to a halt.

Mozart wrote his Piano Concerto in A major in the spring of 1786, at the same time that he was composing "The Marriage of Figaro." It is one of three concertos that he wrote together, probably for performance at concerts he would give during Lent, when opera was forbidden but instrumental concerts were not. The second of the three concertos, K. 488, is today one of Mozart's most frequently performed concert pieces.

The concerto is restrained and lyrical throughout, more like chamber music than a virtuoso show piece. The first movement, with scoring that omits trumpets and drums and substitutes two mellow clarinets for the pair of piping oboes usually found in classical orchestras, projects a particularly relaxed charm. The slow movement -- one of Mozart's few in a minor key -- is a melancholy lament in the rhythm of the lilting siciliano dance, while the finale is a bright and cheerful rondo.

Lecuona is an associate professor of piano at the UI. Since joining the faculty in 1990 she has appeared numerous on-campus recitals and chamber music concerts. She has performed solo and chamber music throughout the United States and South America, in Mexico and in the Caribbean. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States she gave concerts and master classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago.

Lecuona made her Carnegie Hall debut in Weill Recital Hall in 1993 with her UI faculty colleague mezzo-soprano Katherine Eberle and has also performed in the Goodman Hall at Lincoln Center with soprano Rachel Joselson, also from the UI faculty. Her playing has been featured on many compact discs, including a recording of the music of Margaret Brouwer on the CRI label, which won the 2000 Contemporary Art Music Burton Award. She may also be heard on CDs from Centaur Records, Innova Recordings, Capstone Records, Cybele Recording and Composers Recording International.

Lecuona earned a doctorate in piano performance and was awarded a performer's certificate at the Eastman School of Music. She received undergraduate and master's degrees at the Indiana University School of Music. Her major teachers have included Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio, the late Gyorgy Sebok, Edward Auer and Rebecca Penneys.

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

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