April 16, 2008
UI Symphony Orchestra concludes 2008-09 season with April 29 concert
University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra and conductor William LaRue Jones will give their last concert of the 2008-09 season at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). The concert will be free and open to the public.
The IMU is one of many buildings on the UI campus and in the Iowa City area that have opened their doors to the UI School of Music following the floods of June 2008. During the past year, the University Symphony Orchestra (UISO) has performed in the Main Auditorium of Iowa City West High School as well as the IMU Main Lounge, and other ensembles have performed at churches and the Englert Theatre as well as various spaces on campus.
For the April 29 concert, the UISO will perform three works: "Fantasia on an Ostinato" by the American composer John Corigliano; the Rumanian Rhapsody No.1 in A major by Georges Enesco; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, op.60.
The orchestra will perform the same program at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, in the Sondheim Center in Fairfield with guest conductor Henry Charles Smith of the Minnesota Orchestra. To purchase tickets online visit http://www.fairfieldacc.com/.
"We will wrap up the season with Beethoven, an allusion to Beethoven, and some Romanian fireworks," Jones said. "In a program with a delightful variety, the balance should leave the audience fulfilled and energized.
"Corigliano mixes the surreal with the energetic and a bit of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, while the Enesco is insatiable fun. The masterfully crafted Symphony No. 4 of Beethoven concludes the performance and a memorable year for the UISO.
"I want to say 'thank you' to all who have been a part of the season and supported the orchestra by offering us a space to perform or by attending in unfamiliar venues."
Based in New York, Corigliano is one of several composers who chose to embrace the expressive capabilities of older tonal styles and even the outright quotation of earlier works. He has achieved great success with this more accessible style, earning multiple Grammys, the Grawemeyer Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
"Fantasia on an Ostinato" was composed as a solo piano work for the 1985 Van Cliburn competition. The ostinato mentioned in the title -- a repeated series of harmonies -- comes from the relentless harmonic progression found in the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, which reminded Corgliano of the the so-called "minimalist" techniques of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, among other current composers.
Enescu often described himself as "a five-in-one man," referring to his equal fame as a violinist, pianist, composer, conductor and teacher. But he considered himself first a composer, even though his busy schedule and unflagging perfectionism allowed him time to compose only 33 opus numbers.
One of Enescu's earlier works, the "First Rumanian Rhapsody" dates from 1901. In composing his Rhapsody, Enescu followed the episodic nature of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. The work begins by quoting a folk song entitled "I have a coin, and I want a drink," which is passed between the oboes and clarinets. This is soon replaced with a slower melody first introduced in the violins. As the work progresses, this tune grows faster and livelier to emerge as a vibrant whirling folk dance.
Beethoven's symphonies are often thought of in pairs, each consisting of a light-hearted symphony followed by a more serious work. Thus the cheerful Second Symphony was followed by the heroic Third; the whimsical Eighth Symphony was followed by the monumental Ninth.
By this reckoning, the Fourth is the lighter partner of the powerful Fifth Symphony. A delightful, unimposing work, it was described by Robert Schumann as "a slender Greek maiden between two Titans," referring to the preceding and following symphonies.
Unfortunately, the "slender Greek maiden" is often considered a lesser work than the more dramatic Eroica and Fifth symphonies, and consequently the Fourth is the most rarely heard of Beethoven's symphonies. However, it has also been called "the most perfect in form of all the symphonies," and its playful themes and agreeable style have made it popular with audiences and orchestral musicians alike.
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. For more information visit www.uiowa.edu/~music/bios/CONDjones.htm.
The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Visit the UI School of Music Web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
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