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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 16, 2006

Kantorei Will Perform Early And Late Baroque Works Feb. 27

Kantorei, the top vocal ensemble of the University of Iowa School of Music, will perform two important sacred vocal works of the Baroque period on a free concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27 in Trinity Episcopal Church at 320 East College Street in Iowa City.

The concert, under the direction of Timothy Stalter, will feature "St. John Passion" of Heinrich Schuetz and the motet "Fuerchte dich nicht" (Be not afraid), BWV 228, by J.S. Bach.

Lasting roughly from 1600 to 1750, the Baroque period was marked by the development of national musical styles, particularly in Germany, France and Italy. Born 100 years apart, Schuetz (1585-1672) and Bach (1685-1750) represent the early and late flowering of the German Baroque.

Very late in his long life -- past the age of 80 -- Schuetz wrote three settings of the Passion story, based on the Gospels of St. John, St. Matthew and St. Luke. All three works are for unaccompanied choir, with soloists singing the words of the narrator, or Evangelist, Jesus, Peter, Pilate and other characters in the Easter drama, and the full choir singing the words of the crowd.

In contrast to other works of the Baroque period, many of which are extravagantly scored and musically elaborate, Schuetz's passion settings are austere and archaic in style, as if to show what intense and devout expression was possible with the simplest musical material.

The first of the three settings to be performed, the St. John Passion was completed early in 1665 and first performed on Good Friday, March 24, at the Court Chapel in Dresden. The following year, all three passions were performed at court: St. Matthew on the second Sunday before Easter, St. Luke on Palm Sunday, and St. John on Good Friday.

Members of Kantorei will appear as soloists in the Feb. 27 performance of the "St. John Passion": David Puderbaugh as the Evangelist, Dan Cook as Jesus, Fred Kiser as Pilate, Robby Kemp as Peter, Michael Krzankowski as the servant of the high priest and Georgeanna Williams as maiden.

"Fuerchte dich nicht" is one of four motets Bach wrote for double chorus. The text is taken from two verses from the biblical Book of Isaiah, 41:10 and 43:1, both of which begin with the phrase "Be not afraid," supplemented by chorale verses.

As with most of Bach's motets, the date of "Fuerchte dich nicht" is uncertain. It has been associated with a funeral that occurred in 1726, when Bach was living in Leipzig, but some scholars believe that it was written much earlier, during the decade 1708-17 when he was living in Weimar.

Kantorei is the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music. It is a touring ensemble of approximately 30 singers, most of whom are graduate students. Kantorei presents four or five concerts on campus each year, tours to off-campus performances and participates in major choral works with the University Symphony. Past tours have been international, including performances in Russia, Korea and Spain.

Stalter joined the UI faculty as director of choral activities in 1999. He directs Kantorei, the premier choral ensemble of the School of Music, teaches graduate conducting courses, and administers the graduate program in choral conducting. He has research interests in teaching conducting to undergraduate and graduate students and historical music performance practices. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, he frequently presents clinics and workshops in choral conducting around the United States.

In addition to conducting and teaching choral music, Stalter is active as a tenor soloist in the United States and abroad. A specialist in the music of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, he is known for his performances as the Evangelist in the Passions of J.S. Bach and Heinrich Schuetz. He has appeared as tenor soloist with Apollo's Fire, the Newfoundland Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in France, the Robert Shaw Chamber Choir in Atlanta, the Classical Music Seminar and Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. He has recorded as tenor soloist with conductor Robert Shaw on two compact discs released on the Telarc label.

Prior to coming to the UI, Stalter was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Goshen College in Indiana. He received a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied with renowned choral conductor Robert Fountain, and a master's degree from the University of Illinois, where he studied with Don Moses, who was UI director of choral activities in the 1980s.

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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