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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 18, 2007

St. Petersburg Philharmonic brings rich Russian orchestral tradition to Hancher

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nikolai Aleseev (photo right) and featuring Brazilian piano soloist Nelson Freire (photo, left), will perform works by Schubert, Schumann and Prokofiev at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

Freire will be featured in Robert Schumann's Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54. The other works on the program will be Schubert's Entr'acte III from "Rosamunde" and Prokofiev's Suite from "Romeo and Juliet."

Hancher is part of a busy 2007 U.S. tour by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic that includes performances in the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Carnegie Hall in New York; Symphony Center in Chicago; and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Alexeev, a winner of the International Herbert von Karajan Foundation competition, became conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in 2000. In 2007 he was awarded the title of People's Artist of the Russian Federation, in recognition of his accomplishments not only in Russia but also in conducting orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw, the Royal Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Freire has been called "the best-kept secret in the world of the piano." A child prodigy, he gave a public performance of a Mozart sonata at the age of four, and he became an in-demand soloist with major orchestras throughout Europe during a career of nearly five decades. He made his U.S. debut in 1970, performing with the New York Philharmonic, and was featured on the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century" series from Philips records.

Founded in 1882 on orders from Tsar Alexander III, the St. Petersburg Phlharmonic is Russia's oldest orchestra. The orchestra's storied history includes its early years performing for the royal court; the first Russian performances of works by Richard Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner; the emergence as a "state orchestra" after the Russian Revolution; and premieres of eight of Shostakovich's symphonies during the Soviet era.

The orchestra inherited a musical tradition stretching back to 1802, when the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Society -- the group that organized the world premiere of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis -- was founded.

The orchestra has performed under legendary conductors including Serge Koussevitsky, Bruno Walter, Benjamin Britten and Leopold Stokowski, and it featured Prokofiev performing his own piano concertos. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic was the first Russian orchestra to tour abroad.

That stature has continued to the present day: The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain has called the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra "probably the world's greatest orchestra."

The Nov. 8 performance is supported by Cambridge Place Apartments, Phyllis H. Miller, Kay Adams, and Clark Adams; CRST International; Betsy Fahr; Leonard and Marlene Hadley; and Darlene and Michael McNulty through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $59/50/45; UI student $53.10/15; senior citizen $53.10/45/40.50; youth $29.50/25/22.50.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m. to 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 online 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 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 CONTACTS: Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications, 773-525-3974,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),