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University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2007

Concerto/Aria Competition Winners Will Perform With UI Orchestra May 6

Winners of the Concerto/Aria Competition at the University of Iowa School of Music will appear as soloists with the UI Chamber Orchestra in its final concert of the 2006-07 season, at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Winner's of this year's contest are soprano Colleen Jennings, who will sing the arias "Dove sono" from Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" and "Mi chiamano Mimì" from Puccini's "La Bohème"; and pianist Yee Sik Wong, who will play the Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor by Camille Saint-Saëns.

The orchestra will also perform the Suite from Aaron Copland's well-loved ballet "Appalachian Spring" in its original intimate version for 13-instrument chamber ensemble.

An annual event, the Concerto/Aria competition is open to students in the UI School of Music. The winners are given the opportunity to appear as soloists with the UI Chamber Orchestra.

Initial rounds are held within the individual performance areas. This year, eight students were selected to participate in the finals, held last November. The finalists performed for a panel of outside judges: Charles Wendt, emeritus professor of music; George McTyre, a professional singer and voice teacher who has performed with the UI Opera Theater; and Tim Hankewich, music director and conductor of the Cedar Rapids Symphony.

For at least 50 years before and after the turn of the 20th century, Saint-Saëns was a dominating figure in the musical life of France. He composed large quantities of music in a many different genres. He also made extensive tours in Europe, the United States, South America and the Far East, receiving considerable attention and acclamation, and in 1871 he helped found the Société Nationale de Musique with the aim of reviving the artistic and cultural value of French music.

The Second Piano Concerto was composed in 1868, the same year that Saint-Saëns began working on his best known opera, "Samson et Delila." The composer, who began his career as a piano prodigy, was the soloist for the work's première. The concerto initially received mixed reviews, but since then has come to be the most popular of his five piano concertos.

Copland is one of the most popular and recognizably American composers of the 20th century. In the 1930s he gained attention with a series of works with distinct American traits, including both jazz and folk-music elements. In particular, he wrote a series of ballets with American folk themes, including "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo." The most popular of these was "Appalachian Spring," written for the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1944 and premiered that year in Washington, D.C.

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. The founding director of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. See:

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;