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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2008

IU Summer Symphonic Series includes world renowned conductors, distinguished Jacobs faculty

June 11, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With four of the country's top conductors at the helm and a number of nationally renowned instrumentalists in their midst, the IU Summer Festival Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra bring world-class music to the Midwest in a series of five upcoming concerts in Bloomington.

Lawrence Renes

Lawrence Renes

Print-Quality Photo

Lawrence Renes, Xian Zhang and Robert Spano will conduct the 2008 Festival Orchestra, which is made up of Jacobs School students, faculty and invited guests and is considered one of the finest ensembles of its kind. Cliff Colnot will return to Bloomington to conduct two concerts by the summer Symphony Orchestra.

On June 26, Lawrence Renes will conduct the Festival Orchestra through a tour de force of pieces featuring Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Barber's Adagio for Strings and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10. Recently, Renes conducted many of Europe's most prestigious orchestras while traveling through Germany, and his future engagements include concerts in Spain, Norway, Hong Kong and England.

Xian Zhang

Photo by: Rosalie O'Connor

Xian Zhang

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Xian Zhang, one of the world's top young conductors and currently the New York Philharmonic's associate conductor, makes regular appearances throughout the United States, Europe and Great Britain. She will lead the Festival Orchestra on July 17 through three selections that Tom Wieligman, executive administrator of Instrumental Ensembles and Special Performance Activity, describes as, "drop-dead difficult, and great for the audience." The pieces are Strauss's Don Juan, Stravinsky's Divertimento from The Fairy's Kiss and Elgar's Enigma Variations.

Robert Spano, one of the best-known American conductors of our time, will conduct the final Festival Orchestra performance of the season on July 31, which will feature Higdon's Blue Cathedrals, Ravel's Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Spano is the music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and has worked with nearly every major North American orchestra.

Central to the character of the Festival Orchestra are those who lead in all sections. Many are Jacobs School or visiting summer faculty, and all have careers that include experience as instrumentalists in orchestras around the country.

Timothy Lees, concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, will serve as concertmaster of the series opener, while Jacobs alumnus William Preucil will serve as concertmaster of the second. Faculty member Alex Kerr will serve as concertmaster for the third and final Festival Orchestra concert. Kerr was concertmaster of both the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and is now principal guest concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Other Jacobs faculty members leading sections include Kathryn Lukas, flute; Howard Klug, clarinet; John Tafoya, timpani; and Dan Perantoni, tuba. Kristin Ahlstrom, Jacobs alumna and assistant principal second violin with the St. Louis Symphony, will be principal second violin in the first two concerts. Philip Pandolfi, assistant principal bassoon with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and visiting lecturer during this year's summer session, will perform as principal bassoon throughout the Festival Orchestra series.

The closing Festival Orchestra performance will include principal cellist Eric Kim. Kim is principal cello of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and was recently appointed to the Jacobs School faculty.

Conductor Cliff Colnot will take time from his duties as principal conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's contemporary MusicNOW series and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago to lead the Symphony Orchestra on July 8 and Aug. 5, when he will leave the Musical Arts Center's (MAC) audience with one of the great classical pieces of all time, Mozart's Symphony No. 41, Jupiter.

"I try to get Cliff every year and every chance I get," said Wieligman, who is closely involved in choosing conductors. "He's been with us each of the past five years and his communication from the podium is marvelous. Cliff is one of the great music educators of our time, period."

"I find the spirit, commitment and enthusiasm for making fine music is really special in the summer in Bloomington," said Colnot. "There's just a special vibe in the summer. I always enjoy it. It's the high point for me in the year."

Each of the symphonic events will take place at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center. The three performances by the Festival Orchestra cost $15 each for the general public and $12 for students. The two Symphony Orchestra performances are free.

Tickets are available at the MAC Box Office (information: 812-855-7433), online at or through Ticketmaster at 812-333-9955. The box office is located on Jordan Avenue between Third and Seventh Streets, and is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.