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University of Iowa News Release


April 3, 2009

Concerto/Aria Competition winners to perform April 19 with Chamber Orchestra

Winners of the Concerto/Aria Competition at the University of Iowa School of Music will appear as soloists with the UI Chamber Orchestra at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union. The concert, under the direction of David Nelson and Andrea Molina, will be free and open to the public.

Winners of this year's contest are saxophonist Stephen Page, who will play the "Ballade" for saxophone and orchestra by Frank Martin; mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell, who will sing the aria "Das chas nastal!" from the "The Maid of Orleans" by Tchaikovsky; violinist Jeremy Starr and violist Anton Jakovcic, who will be soloists for Mozart's Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major, K365; and tubist Blaine Cunningham, who will play the concerto for tuba by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

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.

After preliminary rounds, the five winners were selected from a field of 13 finalists last November. The three judges for the 2008-09 UI Concerto/Aria Competition Finals were UI emeritus professors Richard Bloesch and Carole Thomas, and Akira Mori, orchestra director at Drake University.

A doctoral student at the School of Music, Page has a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree from Indiana University. At the UI he received the Iowa Performance Fellowship, and he has won regional, national and international competitions, including the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Competition.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College, Shotwell studied singing at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague before coming to the UI, where she is currently a master's student in voice performance. She has received awards from Early Music America and the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, and was a 2009 Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Starr received a master's degree in orchestral conducting from the UI in 2006 and is currently a doctoral student as well as music director of the St. Ambrose University Community Symphony Orchestra. During the summers of 2002 and 2003, he led the Idyllwild Festival Orchestra as concertmaster and spent 2003 and 2004 playing in the Wichita Symphony.

Jakovcic has won competitions and performed as a soloist in Japan, France, Germany, Croatia and the United States. He began the violin at the age of 5 and made his switch to the viola when he was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Program. He has been principal viola of the University of Iowa Symphony and is a permanent section member of the Cedar Rapids Symphony.

Cunningham is a doctoral student in tuba performance at the UI. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas and a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was principal tuba of the North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Ozark Mountains British Brass Band, the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra and the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra.

Nelson is currently director of the UI School of Music and was the founding director of the UI Division of Performing Arts. As a violinist and conductor, he performed with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Austin (Texas), Omaha, Quad-City and the Madison symphony Orchestras, and served as associate concertmaster of the Owensboro (Ky.) Symphony. For more information visit

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

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then 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 (office) 319-541-2846 (cell),