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University of Iowa News Release


April 11, 2007

Philharmonia And All-University String Orchestra Share April 29 Concert

Philharmonia and the All-University String Orchestra, two orchestral ensembles of the University of Iowa School of Music, will wrap up their spring semester activities with a shared concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 29, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, under graduate conducting students of the School of Music, will be free and open to the public.

Conductors of the concert will be Lucas Darger, Alec Mariani, Jeremy Starr, Kevin Pearce and Samuel Stapleton. All are students of William LaRue Jones, UI director of orchestral studies.

The All-University String Orchestra will play five works on the first half of the concert:

-- the first movement of the Sinfonia in D major by Johann Stamitz with Darger conducting;

-- Mozart's Sinfonietta in D major, a string orchestra arrangement of his Sonata in D major for piano four-hands, K381, with Mariani conducting

-- "Moment of Zen" by UI faculty member Michael Eckert, with Starr conducting;

-- three of the Five Pieces for String Orchestra, op. 44 no. 4, by Paul Hindemith, with Pearce conducting; and

-- the Serenade in E minor, op. 20, by Edward Elgar, with Stapleton conducting.

The Philharmonia Orchestra will play two works: The "Russian Sailors' Dance" from "The Red Poppy" by Reinhold Glière, with Stapleton conducting; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major, op. 93, with Mariani conducting.

Eckert's "Moment of Zen" had its origins in the composer's enjoyment of Comedy Central's "Daily Show." For his son's 18th birthday he decided, as a present for his son, to use the show's title music -- "Dog on Fire" by Bob Mould -- as the basis for a string orchestra piece for the Iowa City West High School string orchestra, in which his son played violin. The resulting two-minute composition was first performed by the West High School Orchestra in 2006. The title was taken from host Jon Stewart's signoff line, "And now here it is, your moment of Zen."

In December 2005 Eckert submitted the piece, under the title "Vamp," to the "International-blitz competition for composers 'Homage to Mozart'" in Moscow, where it was a first-round selection. The Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, performed it at a Moscow concert and for a concert broadcast on the "Radio Kultura" station of Russian state radio. On October 28, 2006, the orchestra included the piece on the first concert of its American tour, at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York.

Eckert has been on the composition faculty of the UI School of Music since 1985. Before coming to the UI he taught at Colorado State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tulane University and Antioch College. His awards for composition include the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, a Charles E. Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an NEA fellowship, and the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. For more information, see:

Darger received a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah. He was assistant conductor with the All City Children's Orchestra in Utah from 1998. In 2004 he became associate conductor of the Lincoln Youth Symphony. He was invited in both 2005 and 2006 to conduct the Lake Bonneville Community Symphony for their pre-fireworks Independence Day concert, amplified to a crowd of about 8,000 people. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in orchestral conducting with Jones.

Mariani has a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York College at Potsdam and a master's degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He currently plays double bass in the Cedar Rapids Symphony while studying at the UI School of Music with Volkan Orhon for a Master of Fine Arts degree in double bass performance and with Jones for a doctorate in orchestral conducting.

Starr received his bachelor of music degree from Brigham Young University, where he served as concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra. While in Utah he played in the first violin section of the Orchestra on Temple Square, the performing and recording volunteer orchestra for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. During the summers of 2002 and 2003 he led the Idyllwild Festival Orchestra as concertmaster and has played in the Wichita Symphony.

Pearce was assistant director of bands and orchestras at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Ill., where he conducted orchestras, concert bands and jazz ensembles, as well as the school's annual musical theater production. He received his bachelor's degree in music education from Indiana University. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in orchestral conducting with William LaRue Jones.

Stapleton received his bachelor's degree in violin performance from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He has spent the past two years teaching private and group Suzuki violin lessons in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and playing with the Cedar Rapids and Dubuque Symphonies. He was concertmaster of a world youth symphony in Matsumoto, Japan.

One of four major orchestral ensembles in the UI School of Music, the Philharmonia, features an expandable instrumentation that allows for a variety of repertoire from Classical to contemporary composers. Designed for undergraduate students, Philharmonia presents two or more concerts each semester and is conducted by graduate conducting majors in the School of Music.

The All-University String Orchestra (AUSO) is designed specifically for non-music majors who wish to continue playing their string instrument while studying at the UI and includes students from diverse academic pursuits throughout the university. The AUSO performs one concert per semester as well as various community service performances.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at

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: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846;

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