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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 28, 2009

Swanson will sing 'Songs of War' with Gompper and Esposito, Feb. 4

Baritone Stephen Swanson and pianist David Gompper, faculty members at the University of Iowa School of Music, will present "Was my brother in the battle? Songs of War" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol on the UI Pentacrest.

Swanson and Gompper will be assisted in two numbers by faculty member Nicole Esposito on flute and piccolo. The concert will be free and open to the public.

With an extremely diverse program ranging from Stephen Foster to Bob Dylan, and from the 20th-century American modernist Charles Ives to the musical satirist Tom Lehrer, the program offers a variety of musical views of war.

"This recital grew out of my frustration and anger with the build-up to and coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom," Swanson has written. "I felt that no one was listening to the voices that were warning that war is a powerful social force that changes the men and women on the battlefield as well as the society they represent."

"When my son chose to enlist in the United States Air Force, the war became personal. Writing letters to my congressmen only deepened my feeling of helplessness, and I turned to a medium of expression with which I am truly effective -- song.

"My wife and I began researching song material dealing with war. Together we formulated a program of songs about the individuals involved in America's historic military conflicts, their friends and their families. My goal was to bring the cost of warfare on the soldier, the citizens and the country into perspective."

Swanson and Gompper presented an earlier version of the program in October 2004. Later they added two songs by Stephen Foster and renamed the program for Foster's song, "Was my brother in the battle?"

Swanson, Gompper and Esposito recorded this version of the program for Albany Records ( Swanson and Gompper have performed the program together for several years, including two performances this past fall, with four more scheduled after the UI performance.

The complete program is:
--"Battle Hymn of the Republic" by William Steffe.
--"We are coming, Father Abraham, 300,000 More" by Stephen Foster.
--"Three Songs of the War" by Charles Ives.
--"Voices from World War II" by Gene Scheer.
--"So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)" by Tom Lehrer.
--"The Ostrich" from "The Bestiary of Flanders and Swann" by Donald Swann.
--"The Wild West Is Where I Want to Be" by Tom Lehrer.
--"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle, arranged by Gompper.
--"Masters of War" by Bob Dylan, arranged by Gompper.
--"Jimmy Newman" by Tom Paxton, arranged by Gompper.
--"Was my brother in the battle?" by Stephen Foster.
--"Mrs. Bixby's Sons" by Gompper.

Swanson joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1994 after an extensive European operatic career that encompassed 91 roles in opera, operetta and musicals. He has sung on German, Austrian and Dutch radio broadcasts and has been a featured soloist in numerous European festivals. For more information visit see

Gompper has been professor of composition and director of the Center for New Music at the UI since 1991. His compositions are performed throughout the United States and Europe, and he has taught, presented lectures and performed around the world. For more information visit More information about the Center for New Music is available at

Esposito joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 2007. She has achieved a career as a soloist, teacher, chamber and orchestral musician on an international level and has been a featured soloist and recitalist at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Detroit Institute for the Arts, the Musikhochschule- Wuppertal, Germany, and the North American Cultural Center of Costa Rica. Esposito has also performed at numerous National Flute Association Conventions and many regional flute conferences. 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),