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University of Iowa News Release

March 17, 2004

St. Lawrence String Quartet Performs Golijov's 'Yiddishbbuk' April 7

Canada's St. Lawrence String Quartet will perform the "Yiddishbbuk" by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, along with quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn and Tchaikovsky, in a Hancher-sponsored concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 7 in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

In addition to "Yiddishbbuk" -- featured on the St. Lawrence Quartet's 2002 all-Golijov CD and nominated for a Juno, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy -- the April 7 program features the "Joke" Quartet by Haydn, op. 33 no. 2, and Tchaikovsky's "Accordion" Quartet, op. 11.

During a busy two-day residency, the quartet will also present a private mini-performance for Hancher donors, host a master class for students at the Preucil School of Music, coach amateur chamber ensembles and engage UI students in a discussion of "Yiddishbbuk."

The St. Lawrence String Quartet -- which performed at the UI a decade and a half ago as winners of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions -- has developed a close relationship with Golijov, who grew up amidst a musical stew including classical, klezmer and tango -- the combination that captivated audiences in his 2000 "St. Mark Passion."

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."

Some of Golijov's compositions and arrangements have been commissioned by Hancher for performance by the Kronos Quartet. During Hancher's 1999-2000 Millennium Festival, Golijov joined Kronos at the UI for performances of his "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" and three of his arrangements for the quartet's "Traveling Music" concert.

Kronos performed the Hancher world premiere of his "K'in Sventa Ch'ul Me'tik Kwadalupe" (Festival for the Holy Mother of Guadalupe) in 2002, when it was featured on the quartet's "Nuevo" CD. Kronos will perform that work, with its UI imprimatur, in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles less than a week before the "Yiddishbbuk" performance by the St. Lawrence Quartet at the UI.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet (Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violins; Lesley Robertson, viola; and Christopher Costanza, cello) has become recognized as a world-class chamber ensemble. Passionate educators, the quartet has held the position of ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University since 1998.

In addition to winning a Juno, the quartet was Opus Magazine's award winner for Best Canadian Chamber Music Recording and captured the German Record Critics Prize.

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

Tickets are $28 (UI student $15; senior citizen $25.20; youth $19.60) from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets will be on sale at Clapp Recital Hall before the concert.

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:

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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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