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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 26, 2011

UI Symphony Orchestra performs all-Russian program Feb. 16

William LaRue Jones will conduct the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra in an all-Russian program featuring music by Borodin, Glinka and Shostakovich in a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union.

The program will be the Polovtsian Dances from "Prince Igor" by Borodin, Glinka's Capriccio Brillante on "Jota Aragonesa" and the Symphony No. 5 in D minor, opus 47, by Shostakovich.

"Some of most exciting and beloved music in the modern orchestral repertoire was composed by Russians," Jones says. "Tonight we feature composers representing the spectrum of Russian symphonic artists from early 19th-century Glinka to 20th-century Shostakovich. Bold, expressionist music that we are excited to present this evening for your pleasure."

Although "Prince Igor," based on a 12-century epic poem about the campaign of a Russian prince against invading tribes, has not found a place in the current standard operatic repertoire, the Polovstsian Dances are popular fare for orchestral concerts and have been recorded many times.

The tune of No. 17 is instantly recognizable to most listeners through its adaptation as "Stranger in Paradise" from the musical "Kismet." The tune has been presented in many guises, including hip-hop, TV and film scores and video games.

Glinka toured France and Spain in 1844-45, and he wrote orchestral fantasies based on the folk music he encountered. While he was living in a Spanish village a local guitarist performed the folk tune "Jota Aragonesa" and several variations for him, and while he was in Madrid that experience resulted in the Capricio Brillante, which is also known as the First Spanish Overture.

Shostakovich's fifth symphony was an immediate success when it was premiered in Leningrad in 1937. The work was written to conform to the demands of the state for monumental, heroic, optimistic music that supported the ideals of socialist realism, at a time -- in the midst of the terror of Stalin's "Great Purge," during which as many as 15 million people disappeared -- when the composer literally feared for his life.

The result pleased both the public and most of the official critics -- although perhaps for different reasons -- and marked his fragile return to Soviet artistic life.

The composer's actual intentions remain a matter of controversy. Was he, however reluctantly, towing the party line, or was he -- particularly in the rousing finale -- parodying expectations?

For a biography of Jones, visit

The School of Music is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

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