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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 23, 2007

Tenor Petersen, UI Alumnus, Returns For Class And Performance March 6-7

Dennis Petersen, a University of Iowa alumnus who has established an international operatic career, will present a song recital and a master class with UI voice students during a two-day return to the UI School of Music Tuesday and Wednesday, March 6 and 7.

--At 4:30 p.m. March 6 Petersen will present a master class in Harper Hall of the Voxman Music Building. Members of the public may attend and observe the class free of charge. Current voice major students of the School of Music will perform arias for Petersen to critique.

--At 8 p.m. March 7 in Clapp Recital Hall Petersen and pianist Sonja Thompson will perform Schubert's famous song cycle "Die schöne Müllerin" (The beautiful miller's daughter). The performance will be free and open to the public.

When invited back to campus, Petersen said "What a welcome surprise! I am thrilled at the invitation to come and present a master class and share whatever I can with the students and faculty."

Schubert was a prolific composer of songs, having completed more than 600 of them in his brief lifetime. Although many of his songs are miniature masterpieces, it is the song cycles -- groups of related songs that tell a unified, dramatic story -- that are considered the culminating works of his career.

"Die schöne Müllerin," composed in 1823, is a typical 19th-centiury tale of unrequited love. The story, told through a sequence of songs, is of a young miller's apprentice who falls deeply in love with the miller's daughter. He passes a few happy days in the illusion that she loves him also, until a hunter arrives and draws the admiring attention of the miller's daughter.

A native of West Branch, Petersen received a master's degree from the UI in 1978 and has been singing professionally for the past 28 years. Most of each year he is on tour to opera houses around the world. He currently is appearing with the Chicago Lyric Opera in a production of "Die Fledermaus."

Since making his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1995 in "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk," Petersen has sung a number of roles at the Met. He has also performed with San Francisco Opera nearly every year since 1985 and in a variety of roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the New York City Opera. Recent performances in prominent world and U.S. premieres have included "Dead Man Walking" at the New York City Opera and "The Handmaid's Tale" with the Minnesota Opera.

Pianist Sonja Thompson is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she teaches a variety of courses that reflect her primary interest in the collaborative performing arts. A graduate of the Juilliard School's accompanying program, Sonja returned to Minnesota in 1990 to further her work with Nautilus Music Theater and serve as co-founder and co-artistic director of Opera 101 Theater Company.

She has worked in production, education and performance capacities with New Dramatists in New York City, Georgia State University, the Florida Grand Opera, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the Anoka Opera Ensemble, the University of Minnesota Opera Theater, the Aaron Copland Music and Arts Program in New York, and other institutions and organizations.

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;