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University of Iowa News Release

April 1, 2005

St. Lawrence Quartet Explores 'Yiddishbbuk' In Free Discussion

The St. Lawrence String Quartet, as part of a University of Iowa residency that includes a Hancher-sponsored concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7 in Clapp Recital Hall, will offer a free discussion at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6 in Room 1027 of the Voxman Music Building.

The discussion will focus on "Yiddishbbuk," a work by composer Osvaldo Golijov that will be performed on the April 7 concert, and the quartet's methods of working with contemporary composers.

"Yiddishbbuk," featured on the St. Lawrence Quartet's 2002 all-Golijov CD, was nominated for a Juno, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy.

Golijov based "Yiddishbbuk" on fragments of a text of cabalistic psalms that was lost in the Holocaust. "The manuscript belonged to Franz Kafka and what we know about it comes from his notes about the contents," explains Judith Hurtig, Hancher's artistic director. "Golijov tried to put into music the feeling of Kafka's notes."

Critic Edith Eisler wrote, "Its first movement commemorates three children who perished in the Nazi concentration camp Terezin. Golijov evokes their anguish in music that is by turns wild, raucous, slashing, mysterious, eerie and always heart-rending. Tremolos flutter up above aching dissonances, alternating with organlike, sustained chords; slides and crashes sound like strangled death cries." A review for the BBC concluded, "you can, and should, get goosebumps."

Pierre Ruhe wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "An effective storyteller, Golijov has the gift of great composers: He keeps a listener connected at every moment, even when the music is utterly abstract. He can introduce a singing folk melody with common chords or thicken the sound, but he knows when he's approaching sensory overload.

"The middle movement sounded like a tango unfolding in ultra slow motion, a haunting dance of death. In the finale, moments of abrasive reality, suitable for a work about genocide, are followed by visceral feelings of resolution or at least a sense that the confrontation was essential. The St. Lawrence Quartet has recorded 'Yiddishbbuk' (on EMI) and made it their own, at turns harrowing, provocative and brilliant, always full of humanity."

The news release about the April 7 concert is accessible at

The April 6 discussion is sponsored by Hancher Auditorium and the music theory department of the UI School of Music, which is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Cantebury Inn and Suites provided support for the concert through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the concert are available from the Hancher box office.

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.

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