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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 16, 2006

The Western Wind Tells 'The Chanukkah Story' Dec. 3 At The UI

The a cappella vocal sextet Western Wind will celebrate "The Chanukkah Story" at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus. The performance, presented by Hancher Auditorium, will feature local narrator Kent Braverman.

The performance will tell the story of the Jewish Winter Festival of Light through a wide array of songs, ranging from the joyous to the poignant. Ancient Ladino songs of the Spanish Jews, Yiddish melodies of Eastern Europe and modern Israeli and American tunes will be included.

Since 1969, the Western Wind has devoted itself to a cappella music, with a repertoire ranging from Renaissance motets to '50s rock 'n' roll, from medieval carols to Duke Ellington, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies.

In addition to maintaining a demanding performance schedule, which has included Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum, the Folger Shakespeare Library and Library of Congress, the Western Wind regularly conducts workshops in ensemble singing.

The Western Wind coordinates an arts-in-education program in the New York City public school system called "The Western Wind Goes To School," for children ages 8-18. The curriculum ranges from the fundamentals of music notation and rhythm to highly refined interpretation of challenging vocal repertoire.

Since 1989, The Western Wind has produced a series of radio programs distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio and Public Radio International. The programs address topics ranging from settings of love songs throughout the centuries to a musical narrative of the Jewish High Holy Days.

The Western Wind has also produced 19 recordings, 11 of which have been released on Western Wind Records, the group's record label.

Chanukkah has become one of the best-known Jewish holidays, not because of its religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. In predominantly Christian countries, the celebration of the holiday has adopted many Christmas customs, including gift giving and decoration.

The story has its roots in the empire of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt and Palestine. Under the rule of the Greeks many Jews assimilated Hellenistic culture, but a successor to Alexander, Antiochus IV began to oppress the Jews severely, defiled the temple and prohibited the Jewish religion.

Revolutionary forces rose up against the Greek government, and the temple was rededicated. According to Talmudic tradition, at the time of the rededication there was very little oil available that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the temple menorah, the candelabra that was supposed to burn throughout the night.

Although there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the menorah burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil. An eight-day festival, Chanukkah, was declared to commemorate the miracle.

The Western Wind's performance of "The Chanukkah Story" is supported by Drs. Lisa and Amir Arbisser, Eye Surgeons, Inc., through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $38; UI student $15; senior citizen $34.20; youth $26.60. Discounted tickets are available as part of volume purchases: A simultaneous purchase of five events or more qualifies for a 15-percent discount.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. 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, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;

PHOTOS are available at