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University of Iowa News Release

March 25, 2005

Violinist Charles Castleman Plays Bach And Franck Sonatas April 5

Charles Castleman, an accomplished violinist and chair of the string department at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., will present a University of Iowa School of Music guest recital at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5 in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building.

For his recital Castleman will play two major works from the standard violin repertoire: J.S Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C major for solo violin, S1005; followed by Cesar Franck's Sonata in A Major performed with pianist Rene Lecuona from the UI music faculty.

The recital is part of a two-day residency at the School of Music, which will include a violin master class at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, also in Harper Hall. Both the recital and the master class will be open to the public, free of charge.

Bach's six solo sonatas and partitas are considered among the greatest monuments and most significant challenges of the violin repertoire. They were composed as a group in 1720, relatively early in Bach's career. At that time, the unaccompanied suite or sonata for violin was already an old German-Austrian tradition. Because the violinist plays without any accompaniment, the entire  musical interest must be carried by the one instrument -- a daunting challenge to composer and performer alike.

Bach's contrapuntal style, which relies heavily on the interplay of two or more distinct melodic lines, is maintained in the sonatas and partitas by having the different parts represented by alternate high and low notes or by playing on two strings at the same time. It is the performer's difficult task to make each of the "parts" sound separate and complete.

Franck's Violin Sonata was written in 1886 when the composer -- one of the leaders of Romanticism in France -- was 63. Franck made his career principally as an organist, playing at the church of Ste.-Clotilde in Paris for more than 30 years and teaching organ at the Paris Conservatory. In addition to music for organ, he composed operas and oratorios, as well as several orchestral and chamber pieces.

The Violin Sonata was composed as a wedding gift for the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye. The premiere of the sonata, presented by Ysaye and pianist Leontine Marie Bordes-Pene in an unlighted museum hall in Brussels, has become legendary. The performance ran late, and since no artificial light was allowed, the performers had to finish the performance from memory, playing in the gathering darkness to a spellbound audience.

A prizewinner in the Tchaikowsky and Brussels competitions, Castleman has been soloist with major orchestras in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai. He has recorded numerous solo CDs, and recently his performance was included in a commemorative-boxed CD set including the 17 best prizewinning violin performances of the Brussels Competition's 50-year history.

Castleman has participated in the Marlboro, Grant Park, Great Woods, Las Vegas, Newport, Round Top, Sarasota and Saratoga festivals in the United States, as well as AFCM (Australia), Budapest, Fuefukigawa, Montreux, Shanghai, Sheffield and Vienna festivals. His recitals have been broadcast on NPR and the BBC, and in Berlin and Paris.

Castleman has conducted master classes in Hong Kong, Kiev, London, Melbourne, Salzburg, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, Toronto and Vienna. His students have been winners in the Brussels, Munich, Naumburg and Szeryng competitions, are in 30 professionally active chamber groups and are first-desk players in 12 major orchestras. He is founder/director of the Quartet Program, an intensive workshop in solo and chamber performance that is in its 36th season, now at Bucknell University.

Lecuona is an associate professor of piano at the UI. Since joining the faculty in 1990 she has appeared in 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, 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.

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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