By Jacob Stockinger
On Monday, The Ear offered an overview of the 25th annual Token Creek Chamber Music Festival that opens this coming Saturday night and runs through Sunday, Aug. 31.
Here is a link to that post:
For more information, including programs, performer biographies and archives, visit: http://tokencreekfestival.org
For tickets ($30 with a limited number of $10 student tickets): Call (608) 241-2524 or visit http://tokencreekfestival.org/2014-season/tickets/
Today, as promised but postponed by stories about the Metropolitan Opera labor negotiations and about two local concerts this Friday, the blog features two important essays by the two co-artistic directors of the festival.
The first essay is a discussion by violinist Rose Mary Harbison about the 25th anniversary of the festival.
NEW BEGINNINGS AT TOKEN CREEK
By Rose Mary Harbison (below)
When the Token Creek Festival began, 25 years ago, we had many ideas and many ideals, but none of our plans involved growth. The reason for that was at first practical. We wanted to perform in a converted barn, the very space where we already practiced and played.
The space, and its surroundings, is welcoming, but able to seat, optimally, no more than 80 people. We had no stage, no lights and no parking plan. We were our own maintenance and grounds-keeping staff.
We also had ideas about the music we would like to present. We had participated in various summer festivals, and were not too interested in the concept of “summer” music. Along with our founding colleagues, Jorja Fleezanis and Michael Steinberg, we came up with some initial programs — Ludwig van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Arnold Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, recent pieces by Helps and John Harbison, thinking of music we wouldn’t likely be asked to prepare at other festivals, in late August.
In the official re-opening season (1994) there were three concerts: all Bach, all Mozart, all Schoenberg. Single composer concerts have since been rare at Token Creek, but we have instead done series: many Haydn trios, the complete Mozart concertos for which he made chamber music arrangements; the “esoteric” final period of Bach (below), including generous selections from The Art of Fugue, and The Musical Offering in two different orderings and instrumentations.
Our guests have been friends who we have cone to know in our various travels. We were once told by a possible patron that he would fund the festival for two seasons if we would bring X, a conductor with whom we were in close partnership. But this is not the way we have chosen to construct our seasons — independence in programming and staffing has remained our most precious freedom.
We have presented what interests us, and the varying audience sizes, from sold-out to modest, reflects that determination. Thirty excited, involved listeners provide a sufficient presence, in our small barn, for an unforgettable occasion, like Leonard Stein’s lecture-demonstration on the Hammerklavier sonata (played in live performance by Daniel Barenboim in a YouTube video at bottom) by Ludwig van Beethoven (below).
Ten years ago, we expanded into jazz, eventually composer-focused, with an idea that some of the players would play in both, and we would encourage an audience to embrace the whole series. In the early years we stressed themes and issues shared by both forms. (An audience survey later revealed that, in fact, the crossover audience is very small; we were surprised.) The jazz became popular, and began in certain ways to drive the festival, especially logistically (a night-club set up, an eventual two-concerts-per-day schedule). Part of our effort to recapture the original spirit of the festival involves letting go of the jazz for this year, becoming smaller and more thoughtful again.
One of our best colleagues, a performer, has a brother, a violinist, who started a European festival. It grew and it added things on, his responsibilities changed. Is he happy with the growth? we asked. “Well of course, it’s a success, but he is pretty sad. … he no longer plays the violin.”
Every musician is challenged, at every point in their development, to try to remember why they went into music, to recapture the basic impulse. Sometimes that requires going back to a starting point, and either starting over, or summarizing what has happened.
Institutions, like individuals, are always challenged to grow, to go forward, to move on, and must occasionally reconstruct themselves, at the risk of not fitting expectations, dreams, or the economic model.
With the hope of encountering their best instincts and reconnecting with like souls, the natural constituency,
CARL PHILIP EMMANUEL BACH (1714-1799), AN ANNIVERSARY
By John Harbison (below)
One of the many privileges of co-directing a music festival is study, a chance to pause over music that might go by too fast; a chance, even, to make a connection with music that has remained alien too long. For many years I cherished a suspicion of, close to an aversion to, CPE Bach’s music. This was based on a large number of keyboard pieces I heard in the ‘60s played by the eminent harpsichordist Louis Bagger. The pieces had a pronounced WOW factor, they were calculated to immediate effect, they asked provocative questions, then shirked answering. The non-sequiturs, as in many of today’s novelties, seemed mere posturing, the work of a gadfly without a message.
Tied to this was an impression that CPE was an ingenious person. In spite of his good stewardship of the materials left to him from his father, he seemed self-servingly willing to promote J.S. Bach’s teacher reputation, a prescription that stemmed from the competition between them.
I now believe many of these impressions were wrong, or at best uninformed. CPE Bach is a complicated case, and needs a much more attentive examination.
He was J.S. Bach’s second son. The first, Wilhelm Friedemann, was more talented, but less industrious. Friedmann’s best pieces seem to have a naturalness and pure musicality unavailable to CPE, but they lack a strategy to fully separate from his father.
Such a strategy does CPE deploy, with a vengeance. This took courage and in investigative mind. It seems clear that the son’s valuation of his father’s music grew during the course of his career. Together with his vast experience as a composer came an appreciation of the foundation he had received from his only teacher, together with a perception of the enormity of that teacher’s artistic achievement.
Carl Philip Emmanuel (below, in a 1733 by a relative Gottfried Friedrich Bach) was too good a musician not to notice something: In spite of being the most famous and highly regarded composer in the world by the 1740s (J.S. Bach was still alive), he was not in the same league with the old man. He becomes, instead, an avatar of the new, often at his best while disturbing the logic, proportion and density that were his father’s hallmark.
Much has been said about the manner, the tone of much of his music, which says: This need not always be so serious, this need not be so responsible, this is apprehendable right away. These are things worth stating, periodically, and can be expressed, as in CPE’s music, by a kind of nervousness, hurry, irresponsibility — winning qualities in his best pieces.
But the main agent of change in CPE van be very simply described: He dismantles his father’s bass-line—radically clears it out, reduces it much of the time to skeletal support, thus placing new emphasis on the charm, buoyancy and unpredictability of the melodies.
J.S. Bach’s music, in asserting that the bass possesses a profile very like the upper parts in activity and articulateness (and often surpasses them in importance) draws on very old principles carried forward from Renaissance polyphony. In reducing and domesticating the bass, CPE achieves a new intelligibility and friendliness of texture, and cuts his hereditary umbilical cord.
Still he retains a lot of J.S. in his ability, when he chooses, to develop and vary motives, to spin out large phrases, and to create drama and propulsion.
In this 300th anniversary year there is an added fascination: A scholarly filling out of his canon. A great proportion of his output is being made available for the first time in published form. There are many surprises, especially in the form of vocal and instrumental chamber music.
“Premieres” are being offered, around the world, and the music, which has always been valued as a necessary historical moment, is now being valued for itself.
We can hear not only the way he both holds and breaks with his father, we can also hear why Joseph Haydn (below and at the bottom in a YouTube video of the famed Beaux Arts Trio playing the same Haydn piano trio that will be played during this years festival) was so taken with this music. It has its own surprises, quirks, and above all a burning energy, singular, bold, drawing our attention, chastening our misconceptions.
ALERT: If you want to hear some wonderful young musicians performing, be sure to tune into the Wisconsin State Music Honors concert, which spotlights young musicians in middle and high school. The orchestral and vocal performances took place in Overture Hall at the Overture Center for the Arts and will air on Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) this Thursday night, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m.
The Ear promises you: Tune in and listen and you will be impressed. And kudos to WPT for giving student artists the kind of public recognition that is usually lavished on student athletes.
Here is a link to the schedule blurb:
By Jacob Stockinger
The Latin name means “Summer Voices.”
That’s not surprising. The leader of the new early music vocal group “Voces aestatis” (below top) is Ben Luedcke, the church music director who for years has also led the Madison Summer Choir (below bottom), which usually performs later repertoire.
Here is an official announcement:
“VOCES AESTATIS” TO GIVE DEBUT CONCERT IN MADISON
Voces Aestatis (pronounced VOH-ches eh-STAH-tees) is a new early music choral ensemble, and Madison’s only professional choir specializing in 16th-century repertoire.
This ensemble features 12 voices, striving for a clarity of tone and pure blending, with expressive singing in an intimate setting.
Director Ben Luedcke (below) has selected several well-known Renaissance favorites for the debut concert, as well as a few surprises.
The first half features sacred pieces exploring Christ’s birth, death and legacy. It features works by William Byrd, Michael Praetorius, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Giovanni da Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso (below), Antonio Lotti, Johannes Ockeghem, Thomas Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, and Heinrich Schütz.
The second half of the concert focuses primarily on the pinnacle genre of secular Renaissance repertoire — Italian and English Madrigals. It features works by Carlo Gesualdo, Claudio Monteverdi, Thomas Weelkes, Michael Cavendish and John Wilbye.
The one-time-only performance is this Friday night, August 22, at 7:30 p.m. in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (below), 1833 Regent Street, on Madison’s near west side near Randall Elementary School.
General admission tickets are $10, and are available at the door.
MAYCO PERFORMS LAST CONCERT THIS SUMMER
“Car wrecks,” as The Wise Critic calls them when he refers to excellent but conflicting events, are happening more and more frequently in classical music around Madison.
Even the summer doesn’t take us away from them.
Take, for one example, the conflict between the closing concert of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music memorial for longtime pianist Howard Karp, which is slated for the same approximate time, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., with a reception following.
Another such “car wreck” is this Friday night.
In addition to the vocal concert previewed above, the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO, below) will perform its second and last concert of this summer.
The concert is under the baton of MAYCO’s founder and UW-Madison student violist Mikko Rankin Utevsky (below top), and will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall (below bottom), on the UW-Madison campus at the foot of Bascom Hill.
Admission is $7; by donation for students.
The program includes: Overture to “The Magic Flute” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; “Knoxville, Summer 1915” (at bottom in a YouTube video with the ravishing voice and clear diction of Dawn Upshaw) by Samuel Barber with text by James Agee, and featuring soprano soloist Caitlin Ruby Miller; and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor.
Here is a link to MAYCO’s website and to a previous story and review from earlier this summer:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s post was supposed to be the second installment of my preview of the 25th annual Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, which starts this Saturday night and will focus on the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach.
But some breaking and important news has happened. So I will postpone the Token Creek follow-up for a day or two.
The big news is this: While not all the labor disputes have ended, the famed Metropolitan Opera (below, in a photo by Victor J. Blue of The New York Times) in New York City -– the largest opera company in the world -– has reached an agreement with two of the largest and most major unions.
The agreement involved far smaller concessions and rollbacks than the Met’s general director Peter Gelb (below) proposed.
The drama is not completely over. More negotiations are under way with other unions. But it now seems that the opening of the Met’s season -– and of the “Met Live in HD:” series – will NOT be postponed, as feared, by a lockout.
Here are two comprehensive stories.
The first is a radio story done by NPR (National Public Radio) by Jeff Lunden:
The second story is from The New York Times:
By Jacob Stockinger
Every year, it marks the end of the summer classical musical season in Madison.
But this year brings something special.
This year, the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The festival opens this coming Saturday night, Aug. 23, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 31. It features the usual lineup of outstanding imported artists, all assembled by the co-artistic directors, who are the award-winning composer John Harbison (Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”) and his violinist wife Rose Mary Harbison (both below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot). This year, there is NO jazz cabaret.
The five performances of three programs -– with two Sunday matinee concerts –- will all take place in the lovely renovated barn (below) in nearby Token Creek. The space is ideal for the intimacy of chamber music, which is important since the festival is more of a niche event for serious music fans than a popular or populist event.
In addition to the playing, John Harbison will provide his always pithy and insightful commentaries on the composers and the works.
The festival will focus not on itself and its own anniversary so much as on the 300th anniversary of the birth of composer Carl Philip Emanuel Bach (below), one of the composer sons of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The acclaimed musicologist and keyboard artist Robert Levin (below top) will return from Harvard University -– John Harbison teaches at nearby MIT –- and will perform with his pianist wife Ya-Fei Chuang (below bottom).
Boston-area pianist Judith Gordon (below) will also return to play works by Scarlatti and Chopin.
But once again, as is customary, fine local talent will also perform, including Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra principal cellist Karl Lavine (below top, in a photo by Brynn Brujinn), Madison Symphony Orchestra violinist Laura Burns (below middle, by Brynn Brujinn) and flutist Dawn Lawler (below bottom).
Rose Mary Harbison will perform Bach and Debussy among other works.
And new music will not be forgotten. There will be a world premiere of a specially commissioned piece by local composer Jeff Stanek (below) and the Midwest premiere of John Harbison’s own “Songs America Loves to Sing.”
Today, The Ear offers an overview of the festival with the artists, programs and concert information. Tomorrow, The Ear will offer two appetite-whetting essays: the first, by Rose Mary Harbison, talks about the festival anniversary; the second, by John Harbison, talks about the achievement and music of C.P.E. Bach.
For more information, including programs, performer biographies and archives, visit: http://tokencreekfestival.org
For tickets ($30 with a limited number of $10 student tickets):
Call (608) 241-2524 or visit http://tokencreekfestival.org/2014-season/tickets/
PROGRAM I: AMERICAN SPRING
Saturday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 24, at 4 p.m. (The Sunday performance is SOLD-OUT.)
Works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, John Harbison and Jeffrey Stanek will be featured.
Says John Harbison: “It would be inarticulate to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of C.P.E. Bach without the music of J.S. Bach and Joseph Haydn, both his origins and in some sense his destiny. Let’s not kid ourselves, these anchors have more weight than the ship we are launching.
“But CPE’s virtues are made clearest by juxtaposing his cheeky, mischievous and iconoclastic imagination against the stabilizing, normative and, finally, more clear-minded music of his father precursor and his successor ‘heir.’
“It could be said that CPE’s task was to dismantle some of his father’s synthesis, and Haydn’s was to reassemble, balance and clarify the brilliant musical vistas glimpsed by CPE.”
“Songs America Sings proposes to adapt J.S. Bach’s chorale prelude principle, his inclusion of familiar melodies as tugboats through unfamiliar musical waters, into a modern setting, the tune supposedly widely and currently familiar, the compositional terrain complicated by canons, re-harmonizations and diversions.”
The program includes:
J.S. Bach: Solo Violin Partita in E Major (selections)
Haydn: Trio in D major for violin, cello, and piano, Hob XV:24
Jeffrey Stanek: A WORLD PREMIERE (commissioned for the festival’s 25th anniversary) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano
C.P.E. Bach: Sonata V in E minor for piano, violin, and cello, Wq 89, no. 5
John Harbison: “Songs America Loves to Sing” (Midwest Premiere) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano
Dawn Lawler, flute; Joe Morris, clarinet; Rose Mary Harbison, violin; Karl Lavine, cello; John Harbison, piano ; Jeffrey Stanek, commissioned composer
“What can we say about a composer who winds up composing entirely, or at the least primarily, for one medium? Chopin (below) and Scarlatti both found that restriction to the keyboard, rather than limiting their resources, freed their imaginations. By immersing themselves in the sound and attach of a single instrument they each became more peculiar, un-imitatable, and irresistible. In small forms, they found snowflake variety.
“Anchoring the program, Beethoven, a universal large-scale composer whose Sonata in F somehow acquired the title “Spring.” If spring, it is the changeable, difficult weather, more showers than flowers.”
The program includes:
Scarlatti: Selected keyboard sonatas
Chopin: Selected Preludes for piano
C.P.E. Bach: Arioso with Variations in A, for keyboard and violin, Wq 79
Beethoven: Violin Sonata in F major, Op. 24 (“Spring”)
Judith Gordon, piano; Rose Mary Harbison violin
PROGRAM III: THE PERENNIAL AVANT-GARDE
Saturday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m.
“Occasionally, but not always, composers decide to take it further, to write a piece with absurd levels of discontinuity (C.P.E. Bach’s Fantasy), radical conciseness and semaphoric, sketchy formal outline (Debussy’s Sonata), over-the-top nostalgia and apocalyptic prediction (Ravel’s La Valse), and form and scope too big for its medium (Schubert’s Grand Duo, for one piano, two players). A program of extremes: in the service of liberty — no vice.”
The program includes:
C.P.E. Bach: Fantasia in F-sharp minor for Keyboard, Wq 67; Sonata in C Minor for Keyboard and Violin, Wq 78
Debussy: Sonata for Violin and Piano (heard in a performance by James Ehnes in a YouTube video at the bottom)
Ravel: La Valse (arranged for piano by Ya-Fei Chuang)
Schubert: Grand Duo, for one piano-four hands
Robert Levin, piano; Ya-Fei Chuang, piano; Rose Mary Harbison, violin
Tomorrow: Violinist and co-director of Token Creek Festival Rose Mary Harbison writes about 25 years of presenting the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. Composer John Harbison writes about his changed appreciation of C.P.E. Bach.
By Jacob Stockinger
He wasn’t a maestro in the usual sense.
But he surely was a master.
He was a master, even though he never seemed temperamental and never received the kind of acclaim and press that typical orchestral conductors or maestros receive -– from Arturo Toscanini through Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan to Gustavo Dudamel.
He was Frans Bruggen (below). He was Dutch and a fantastic player of the flute and the recorder. He died this past Wednesday at 79 after a long illness.
But he became a pioneer conductor of early music and period instrument authenticity, adopting historically informed performance practices even from the Baroque period, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Georg Philipp Telemann and Antonio Vivaldi into the Classical and early Romantic periods.
As a flutist and recorder player, Bruggen was a prodigy who often performed with Dutch colleagues in the early music movement, including harpsichord master Gustav Leonhardt and cellist Anner Bylsma.
He founded the Orchestra of the 18th Century, but also went on to conduct major mainstream orchestras and to teach at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley,
Even as I write this, I am playing Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony from Bruggen’s set of Haydn’s minor-key, proto-Romantic “Storm-and-Stress” symphonies.
What I especially liked was the expressiveness he often brought to an early music movement that sometimes seemed mechanical or robotic in its early days. Bruggen brought subtlety and emotional connection.
In Brugen’s hands, early music sounded natural, never forced into iconoclastic phrasing or rushed tempi, as it can with Reinhold Goebel and Concerto Koln or Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Bruggen’s performances never sounded deliberately goofy or self-serving. (Below is Frans Bruggen conducting.)
Bruggen must have made his case persuasively. Nowadays, most early music groups also sound more expressive and subjective, not so doctrinaire, dogmatic or orthodox in their approaches.
Bruggen seemed a low-key and modest man and musician, qualities that The Ear identifies with the Dutch, including Bruggen’s own more famous conducting colleague Bernard Haitink.
The Ear hopes that Bruggen’s death brings about many reissues of his prolific discography with more high-profile publicity. His Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven symphonies are, unfortunately, largely now out of print.
Here are some links to obituaries that tell his story:
Here is a link to The Guardian, which also lists Bruggen’s five greatest contributions to early music:
Here is a story from the BBC Music Magazine:
Here is a great piece from The Telegraph, also in the United Kingdom:
Curiously, it probably says something about Bruggen that I could find many obituaries from Europe and the UK, but none from the U.S., not even at The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or NPR (National Public Radio).
Here is a YouTube video of Frans Bruggen, who served both composers and audiences so well, in action, playing a solo fantasy for recorder by Georg Philipp Telemann. In every way it seems a fitting tribute or homage on the occasion of his death:
By Jacob Stockinger
Two of the best sources for reading about classical music are NPR (National Public Radio) with its Deceptive Cadence blog; and The New Yorker magazine, which features Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Alex Ross (below) on its staff.
These days a lot of publications are figuring out how to “monetize” their websites and on-line stories since they are losing readers of printed editions.
Perhaps David Remnick, the reporter-turned-editor of the The New Yorker who has more than doubled the magazine’s circulation and inaugurated a series of best-selling books of story and cartoon collections, may have a new and unorthodox approach. He seems to be thinking “outside the box” and in reverse: Use the web to increase the profile, and profitability of the print edition.
That approach may mean opening up to FREE ACCESS some of the stories that will give people a taste of what they are missing if they do not subscribe to or regularly read the source.
Whatever the reasoning, The New Yorker has opened up its archives to classical music fans with five not-to-miss profiles and stories about high-profile musicians.
They include the Chinese phenomenon and superstar pianist Lang-Lang (below), who is often dismissed by critics as “Bang-Bang” for his Liberace-like flamboyance and unmusicality, but who remains the most sought-after classical pianist in the world. (At bottom, you can see and hear the opening of a BBC documentary about Lang Lang on YouTube.)
Others include the American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is highly articulate about the world of singing and opera; the French woman and highly individualistic pianist Helene Grimaud, who aims for unusual interpretations; the German violinist Christian Tetzlaff, who is renowned for eschewing the customary path of virtuosity; and the famous essay on taking piano lessons “Every Good Boy Does Fine” by American pianist Jeremy Denk (below), who recently won a MacArthur “genius grant”; who has performed recitals twice in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater; and who will be releasing a book-length volume of his essays and postings on his acclaimed blog “Think Denk” this fall.
The weekend is a good chance to catch up on such reading. You will learn a lot if you read these stories.
And maybe you, like The Ear, will also become a loyal New Yorker reader. When it calls itself “the best magazine in the world,” it is not kidding.
That goes for politics, social trends, art and culture, and even poetry.
Here is a link, which also features some audio samples:
By Jacob Stockinger
Members of the Karp family have asked The Ear to fill you in about some more details concerning the memorial celebration for the late Howard Karp (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).
As you may recall, Howard Karp, who taught for decades at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Kentucky, died unexpectedly this summer on June 30. He was 84. Here is a link to an announcement that was posted on this blog about Karp’s death.
A FREE memorial celebration of his life and career is planned for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. in Mills Hall.
And here is a link to a previous post, with link to other sources, about the reception:
Although some official announcements and this blog have said the memorial will run from 3 to 6 p.m., The Ear has been told that the celebration will probably last from 3 p.m. to about 5 p.m. with a reception to follow.
That reception will be held either in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music courtyard, if the weather permits, or in the lounge outside Mills Hall.
The master of ceremonies for the event will be Bill Lutes (below right, with his wife, UW-Madison pianist Martha Fischer. Lutes studied with Howard Karp and still teaches piano in Madison. You may also recall his name from his days at Wisconsin Public Radio and as a coach with the University Opera.
Most of the music will be recordings made by Howard Karp himself, including a new 6-CD set of live performances from Albany Records. (On a CD from the UW-Madison School of Music, at the bottom in SoundCloud, you can hear Howard Karp playing the well-known “Heroic” Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53 by Frederic Chopin.)
There will also be some live performances.
Cellist son Parry Karp will be joined by his violinist-pianist brother Christopher Karp, who is a medical doctor specializing in infectious diseases and who works with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to perform “Kol Nidre” by Max Bruch.
Then the Karp Family, which usually gave a FREE Labor Day concert for more than 30 years, will perform the slow movement from the Piano Quartet by Robert Schumann. The players will be violinist son Christopher Karp, pianist wife Frances Karp, cellist Parry Karp and his violist wife Katrin Talbot.
Acclaimed keyboard artist Malcolm Bilson (below), who has retired from teaching at Cornell University is slated to play the piano – rather than his specialty, which is the early music fortepiano — in music by Franz Schubert.
As more details develop, they will get posted here.
Here is Howard Karp’s stirring and daring reading of Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise.
By Jacob Stockinger
Not a lot of words today.
I feel like hearing music, not talking or writing.
Maybe I feel like hearing soulful and quiet music because of the sad news about the deaths of comedian Robin Williams (below top) and actress Lauren Bacall (below bottom), two losses — the first a suicide, the second natural — that make my world smaller, less beautiful and less fun.
So here, in a popular YouTube video at the bottom, is the French pianist Alexander Tharaud (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve) – an artist I really like, especially in Baroque repertoire like the Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Francois Couperin and Domenico Scarlatti works that he has recorded.
Here he is playing the transcription that Johann Sebastian Bach made of the profoundly beautiful slow movement from the Baroque oboe concerto by Alessandro Marcello. He has also recorded it on CD for Harmonia Mundi. Such beautiful music, and not so hard to play, at least technically.
Mr. Bach (below) knew a good thing when he heard it and wasn’t afraid to transcribe this wind and orchestra work to the keyboard, which was his forte. Bach was no purist.
So enjoy as you will.
And leave your own suggestions, with a link if you can.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Festival Choir of Madison has announced its concerts for 2014-15 — its 40th anniversary season of three one-performance programs — that include a variety of music, from rarely heard Tchaikovsky vespers to choral music by Aaron Copland, and an entire concert that highlights living Wisconsin composers.
Here is a press release:
“Pre-concert lectures by the group’s Artistic Director Bryson Mortensen (below), who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Rock County, will be on Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m., with concerts beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“Season tickets can be purchased at http://festivalchoirmadison.org/Season1415/tickets.htm or by calling (608) 274-7089.
“Season ticket prices are: General, $40; Senior, $32; Student, $25. No word yet on single tickets or when they will be available.
“1. All-Night Vigil: Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky on Saturday, November 1, 2014
Written nearly 35 years before the more popular Vespers by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky (below) set the text of the All-Night Vigil to ensure that church music in Russia retained a uniquely Russian flavor. The work, containing settings from three “overnight” canonical hours (Vespers, Matins, and First Hour), is a sublime representation of Russian church music that inspired other Russian composers in the previously untouched genre of religious music. With the uniquely shifting harmonies and meditative melodies, this a capella work will be particularly suited to the First Unitarian Society of Madison’s chapel. (You can hear some of Tchaikovsky’s a cappella choral music in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
“2. Wisconsin Sings! on Saturday, March 7, 2015
The traditional of vocal and choral music is strong throughout Wisconsin, from the Appleton Boy Choir, to the Milwaukee Choral Artists, to the Festival Choir of Madison. Wisconsin is also home to many internationally recognized choral composers, and this concert celebrates the best of them. We will be singing works by composers such as Blake Henson (below 1) who teaches at the St. Norbert College; Eric William Barnum (below 2), Zach Moore (below 3), Jerry Hui (below 4), who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stout; and Andrew Steffen.
“3. Aaron Copland: 25 Years on Saturday, May 2, 2015
2015 marks the 25th year since Aaron Copland’s death, and is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate his significant contribution to choral music. Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style, the compositions of Aaron Copland (below) are perfect to celebrate the beginning of summer. This concert will include performances of “In the Beginning” and his “Four Motets” as well as selections from Irving Fine’s choral arrangement of the Old American Songs.
“For more information, call (608) 274-7089 or contact email@example.com.”