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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 2, 2005

Hancher Auditorium Opens Season Sept. 24 With Festive Party And Latin Music

The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will open its 2005-06 performing arts season with a festive party on Saturday, Sept. 24, featuring the popular Puerto Rican dance band Plena Libre. The party in the lobby will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the performance beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The ticket price includes food and two beverages in the lobby (with additional beverages available for purchase), as well as the concert by Plena Libre, with room to dance on the Hancher stage for those who wish to kick up their heels.

The band will also offer a free dance workshop at 3 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Wesley Center at 120 N. Dubuque Street.

Plena Libre is touring in support of the band's forthcoming CD, "Evolucion," its 11th recording in 11 years of existence.

Plena Libre burst onto the musical scene in Puerto Rico with a musical offering that was different, fresh, danceable and experimental, but rooted in the traditional Puerto Rican genre of plena.

Going against the currents of the Latin commercial music scene, which was mostly centered on salsa and ballads, this Afro-Rican group of 13 members took popular music in a new direction with a fresh take on a genre of roots music.

In the past few years, Plena Libre was nominated three times for Grammies, and has received many awards in their native Puerto Rico.

"Life with Plena Libre is a non-stop celebration," the San Juan Star declared. "Life without Plena Libre? A bummer for music lovers, that's for sure."

Plena is a folkloric, heavily rhythmic musical form that was born a century ago and served as an orally transmitted source of news. Plena Libre expands this tradition with trombones, sax, flute, classical and electric guitars, vibraphone, the Puerto-Rican cuatro and the accordion, among other instruments.

On the band's new recording, the traditional formats of bomba and plena are enhanced with a variety of rhythms and styles -- the Brazilian samba, the complicated rhythms in 6/8 meter and the African flavor of the bata drums, the descarga (jam) style of Latin jazz and even touches of reggae.

Plena Libre is presented as part of ArtesAmerica (, developed by the University of Texas at Austin in partnership with the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and UT's Latin American Initiative.

The Plena Libre party is supported by Eta Burken, Bon Vivant Fine Foods, and Carl and Julie Schweser, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $38.

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: <>.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,