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School of Music

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Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2003

'Prince of Pops' to lead Summer Music Festival orchestra during screening of landmark Russian film

He has been called America's premier pops conductor, and for the last 13 years he has led the National Symphony Orchestra during A Capitol Fourth, the annual July 4 televised concert on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

On July 24, local audiences will have the opportunity to witness Maestro Erich Kunzel up close when the world-renowned conductor visits the Indiana University School of Music during the school's annual Summer Music Festival. While they won't see any fireworks, they will have the opportunity to experience a unique combination of film and music as Kunzel will conduct the festival orchestra and chorus during a screening of the movie Alexander Nevsky at 8 p.m. at the Musical Arts Center.

The orchestra and chorus will perform Sergei Prokofiev's entire score to the 1938 Russian nationalistic film about a medieval war hero. The film has been hailed as a cinematic landmark for the synchronization of Prokofiev's dramatic score with director Sergei Eisenstein's sweeping visuals. When the film was withdrawn from circulation one year after its release, Prokofiev turned his score into a cantata for concert use that follows the film's sequence of events.

Malcolm Brown, IUB professor emeritus of musicology, will discuss Prokofiev, Eisenstein and Alexander Nevsky during a pre-concert talk in the Musical Arts Center Mezzanine that will begin at 7 p.m.

Since 1977, Kunzel has led the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra to worldwide success and the acclaim of music lovers who have discovered the ensemble through tour performances, television programs and best-selling recordings on the Telarc label. Dubbed "The Prince of Pops" by the Chicago Tribune, he is a regular guest conductor with orchestras across the country, appearing in more than 100 performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival, where he holds the record for attendance -- 22,000 audience members. He is the recipient of several awards and honors, including Billboard's Top Classical Crossover Artist, Sony's Tiffany Walkman Award and six Grammy nominations.

Kunzel has also maintained a commitment with the Boston Pops that began in 1970. He has led the Boston Pops annually in more than 100 performances in Boston's Symphony Hall and on tour in the United States and England.

General admission tickets for the performance are available for $14 ($8 for IU students) at the Musical Arts Center box office, TicketMaster at 812-333-9955, or online at

For a complete listing of the School of Music's Summer Music Festival events, visit