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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2007

IU Jacobs School to open historic 2007-08 season in September with André Watts

August 23, 2007

Photo by: Christian Steiner

André Watts

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will continue its tradition of welcoming the world's most illustrious musicians -- both in residence and as guests -- and presenting new and legendary music when it kicks off its 2007-2008 season next month.

The new season opens on a high note Sept. 8 with an evening featuring one of the most popular and well-known compositions of all time -- Beethoven's Fifth Symphony -- and one of the most popular and distinguished pianists in the world -- IU Professor André Watts -- who will be the soloist in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5. Jacobs renowned conductor David Effron will direct the IU Philharmonic, the school's premier orchestral ensemble, in this Beethoven double-bill at the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington.

Leonard Slatkin and orchestra

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History will be made two weeks later, on Sept. 23, when internationally distinguished conductor Leonard Slatkin directs the IU Philharmonic for the first time as a Jacobs School faculty member. He will lead the orchestra in Barber's Symphony No.1 in One Movement, Op. 9, and Elgar's Enigma Variations, Op. 36. Elevating the occasion even more, fellow Jacobs faculty member Sylvia McNair, Grammy-winning soprano, will join Slatkin and the Philharmonic for Canteloube's Selections from Chants d'Auvergne.

IU Opera Theater will introduce its season with the opening night performance, Sept. 21, of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, featuring guest conductor Stephen Lord's IU debut with stage direction by Professor Vincent Liotta and choreography by IU Ballet Department Chair Michael Vernon. Additional performances of Rigoletto, one of Verdi's most enduring works, are scheduled for Sept. 22, 28 and 29.

Other fall productions include guest maestro Steven Smith and guest stage director Michael Ehrman collaborating on Carlisle Floyd's compelling Susannah, an opera about hypocrisy, intolerance and the consequences of both. Popular local dancer and teacher Tamara Loewenthal will choreograph the square dancing.

La Boheme set

A model of C. David Higgins' new LaBoheme set

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Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème, one of the most popular works in all of opera, will round out IU Opera Theater's first semester. This all new production will feature breathtaking sets and costumes from Professor C. David Higgins and be overseen by returning guest stage director Tito Capobianco.

Another operatic treat will be offered Oct. 10 and 12 when the IU Latin American Music Center, in conjunction with the IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble and the IU Chamber Orchestra, all conducted by Carmen Helena Tellez, will perform the collegiate premiere of an in-concert version of the chamber opera Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears) by Argentinean composer Osvaldo Golijov. Ainadamar won two Grammys in 2007 and has become an important addition to the operatic repertoire.

History-making continues as 2007-2008 marks the first complete season that IU Ballet Theater is under the direction of acclaimed choreographer and pedagogue Michael Vernon, recently appointed chair of the Ballet Department. He has designed a program for the fall ballet, Perspectives 1900s, around influential works by several of the world's most visionary choreographers: Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan and Michael Fokine. This year, Bloomington holiday tradition The Nutcracker will feature Vernon's own all-new choreography in a fresh production.

The spring semester begins with a string of high-profile recitals, with the first scheduled for Jan. 13 with violin virtuoso and IU faculty member Alexander Kerr. Kerr returns for a performance with guests on Feb. 11.

Next is a rare chance to see Jacobs alumnus and recent faculty appointee Joshua Bell, an international violin sensation, in a recital with fellow alum and distinguished pianist Jeremy Denk on Feb. 10.

DaXun Zhang, rounds out the featured recitals. One of the most formidable double-bassists in the world and also an IU alumnus, he will take the stage at Auer Hall on Feb. 26.

Another mid-winter treat is set for Feb. 27 when William Jon Gray conducts the Oratorio Chorus with the IU Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem.

IU Opera Theater opens its spring season in February in august fashion with the collegiate premiere of William Bolcom's A Wedding, conducted by guest David Agler, with all-new set and costume designs by Robert O'Hearn. Director Vincent Liotta will stage this production, as he has both of Bolcom's previous premieres with IU Opera Theater. Bolcom, who is returning to Bloomington for the third time, won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 1988. A Wedding is based on the hit 1978 film by Robert Altman about a high society wedding.

Two classics, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) complete the 2007-2008 opera season, in late February and early April, respectively. Renowned bel canto specialist Will Crutchfield will help prepare the cast for Figaro, while guest stage director Chris Alexander will make his IU Opera Theater debut with Hoffmann.

March brings this season's spring ballet, A Night at the Opera (at the Ballet). The opera-themed IU Ballet Theater production will feature a performance of Rossini Overtures with new choreography by Distinguished Professor and ballet icon Violette Verdy.

April marks the return of IU's Singing Hoosiers for the popular music group's annual concert at the IU Auditorium.

Later that month, the IU Children's Choir will celebrate its 26th spring and the Jacobs School will host its annual Big Band Extravaganza featuring IU jazzmen David Baker and Pat Harbison.

The Orion String Quartet will continue its relationship with Jacobs as quartet-in-residence during the 2007-2008 academic year. The quartet is one of the most sought-after ensembles in the United States, and its members have worked with some of music's most legendary figures, such as Peter Serkin, Pablo Casals, Yo-Yo Ma and Isaac Stern. The Orion also has been credited with presenting the definitive interpretation of the Beethoven String Quartets.

Other highlights of the season include a host of classical, jazz, band and choral concerts by students and faculty.

The breadth and number of performance opportunities at the IU Jacobs School of Music are unparalleled in college music study, with the school offering more than 1,100 performances a year, including seven fully staged operas on a stage comparable in size to that of the Metropolitan Opera House.

The school has become well accustomed to hosting major and, sometimes, world-premiere events. In recent years, it has staged the world premiere of Ned Rorem's opera Our Town, based on the quintessential American play by Thornton Wilder; a 50th anniversary performance by the Beaux Arts Trio headed by IU Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler; the world premiere production of the ballet Cinderella; the first collegiate productions of William Bolcom's operas A View from the Bridge, based on the play by Arthur Miller, and McTeague; as well as the world premiere of Sun-Dogs for chorus by Scottish composer James MacMillan.

For a complete listing of the season's events, go to

For more information about IU Opera and Ballet Theater performances, visit

To learn more about the IU Jacobs School of Music, go to