ALERT: In the latest issue of Wisconsin Gazette, Madison arts writer Mike Muckian, with some help from The Ear, has written a contrast-and-compare story about two of Mozart’s finest operas: ”Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” The first is being staged this weekend in Madison by the Madison Opera, and the second in May in Milwaukee by the Florentine Opera. Kathryn Smith, the general director of the Madison Opera, discusses her production of “Don Giovanni” — which she calls her favorite opera. (Below is a rehearsal photo by James Gill from a rehearsal of Madison Opera’s “Don Giovanni.”) Performances are this weekend in Overture Hall on Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Here are links, first to the story and then to the Madison Opera’s website with information about the opera, the production and tickets:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s posting is by guest blogger Jerry Hui (below).
Few young musicians in Madison, or anywhere for that matter, are as talented or as diverse in their interests as Jerry Hui. He directs and sings in an early music vocal group Eliza’s Toyes and also sings with the Madison Bach Musicians. He is a founding member and director of New MUSE (New Music Everywhere), a University of Wisconsin-Madison student group that performs and promotes new music and stages flash mobs. And he is a composer who wrote and produced an Internet opera, “Wired For Love,” as his doctoral thesis at the UW School of Music. He also incorporates the more modern aesthetic of using art to promote social progress.
For more information about Jerry Hui, visit: http://jerryhui.com
Jerry recently offered to write a preview of the concert by Eliza’s Toyes this weekend – an offer too good to refuse. Here is it, complete with links to YouTube videos so you can sample much of the repertoire:
By Jerry Hui
This weekend, the Madison-based early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below) will be presenting a new and ambitious early music concert that will showcase secular music by various composers from Venice of the early 17th century, all tied together in dance and semi-improvisatory comedy theater, in a program titled “Casino Royale: A Venetian Music-Comedy.”
Two performances will take place on the same weekend: On this Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in downtown Madison at James Madison Park, 302 East Gorham Street; tickets at the door are $15 for the public, $10 for students); and the on Sunday, April 28, at 4 p.m. at the Chocolaterian Café, 2004 Atwood Ave.; free admission, with donations accepted accepted).
Venice (below, in a map from the 17th century) was a thriving city-state. Its unique geographical location in the Mediterranean guaranteed its success from maritime trade, and the wealth that was bestowed upon countless merchants.
As the capital city of the Republic of Venice — a state so prosperous that it was known as La Serenissima (“the most serene”) — Venice was well-known for its treasures and splendors. Naturally, this city of riches would attract people from all walks of life: merchants, bankers, aristocrats, artists, craftsmen, thieves and gamblers.
Gambling is an ancient activity as old as human history. Some civilizations, like the Romans, permitted social gambling during holidays and festivities, and otherwise forbade it. But who was to forbid what many desired? More than a friendly diversion, it could be a shortcut to luxury, a chance to change, an opportunity to enter the highest of society. (Below is a painting by Caravaggio portraying a dishonest card game.)
Venice, being the city of all things sumptuous, was among the first in Europe to be swept by the popularity of playing cards and lottery. Dice games were played on the squares, in street corners, in stores, and in private homes. Noblemen, even when gambling was explicitly banned, ran games in their private spaces, known as the “ridotti” (from ridurre, meaning to reduce, close or make private).
In 1638, after decades of inability to rein in the betting, the Venetian Great Council finally chose a creative solution. Not only would they legalize gambling, they would also open the Ridotto: the first legal, state-sanctioned public gambling house ever in Europe.
Our program draws its inspiration from the opening of Ridotto. All musical pieces were written by composers working in Venice in the first few decades of the 17th century, including: Ippolito Baccusi, Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Antonio Rigatti, Salamone Rossi and Marco Uccellini.
We are performing two pieces from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals, subtitled the “Madrigals of War and Love,” published in 1638: “Non partir ritrosetta” (http://youtu.be/C31WBUOax3M) is a passionate trio, imploring a lover to stay. “Dolcissimo uscignolo” (http://youtu.be/njOBmL1DBCM), on the other hand, is an introspective lament of unrequited love.
Giovanni Gabrieli (below), the composer and famous organist of San Marco, needs no introduction. However, our selection comes not from his more frequently performed sacred music. Instead, we chose his lesser-known secular madrigals. “Quand’io ego giovinetta” is a funny story about an old man’s misadventure in love. “O che felice giorno” (http://youtu.be/khXVHY7k3No?t=7m20s) depicts a celebratory wedding party, written with splendid double-choir counterpoint that is more common in his sacred music.
Many pieces in our program are by Salamone Rossi, a Jewish-Italian composer and violinist. (Below is a score by Rossi from Venice, the same city where Shakespeare set “The Merchant of Venice” with it theme of how Jews were treated in Renaissance Italy.) Whereas music history classes often bring up his unusual polyphonic setting of Song of Solomon in Hebrew, we will showcase many of his short madrigals written for 2-3 voices (such as “Volò ne tuoi begli’occhi” http://youtu.be/0MkUOVuWWvw). His instrumental pieces are playful and fiery; we’ll be playing many of his dances and sonatas, such as this “Gagliarda detta la Turca” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrkWHxpvibw&feature=share&list=PL9CECBC6113A4F7F9), or “Sonata settima sopra ‘Aria di un Baletto” (http://youtu.be/3jpNlwJTb7M).
In addition, we are venturing into the uncharted area of comic theater: all the music is tied together in a skit, semi-improvised in the Italian street-performance tradition of commedia dell’arte (below).
In this style, drama is driven by stock characters in masks: Pantalone the miser; Il Dottore the know-it-all; Harlequin the deviant servant; the young lovers and so on. Our scene takes place in one of the ridotti of Venice. Come to our concerts, and join them in their wild and funny adventures through music, comedy, and dance!
Eliza’s Toyes (below) is a small ensemble of singers and instrumentalists focusing on sharing the joy of early music in unusual and creative programs.
Started as an ad-hoc group during Madison Early Music Festival (http://madisonearlymusic.org), Toyes has recently performed at Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” series, and is now in its fifth season as a regular performance ensemble.
The musicians include: Deb Heilert (soprano); Chelsie Propst (soprano; as “Isabella” in this production); Sandy Erickson (alto, recorder); Peter Gruett (alto/tenor; as “Il Dottore”); Jerry Hui (director, tenor/bass, recorder; as “Ottavio”); Mark Werner (bass; as “Pantalone”); Melanie Kathan (recorder; as “Harlequin”); Doug Towne (lute/theorbo); and Eric Miller (viol).
For more information, visit: http://toyes.info
By Jacob Stockinger
In “The Wasteland,” poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”
Well, for classical music-lovers, the cruelty lies in the abundance of riches. It is hard to keep up with it all this month, or even this week.
I have already posted some big events. But there are other concerts to attend – almost all FREE — especially at the UW-Madison School of Music.
Here is a round-up of ones I haven’t yet covered:
The weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicale Friday from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, features Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat, K. 563, with Eugene Purdue, violin (below); Rami Solomonow, viola; and Tom Rosenberg, cello.
Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. in Grace Episcopal Church (below), “Grace Presents” will offer a FREE concert featuring the Madison-based wind quintet “Black Marigold.”
The program will feature excerpts from the program for the three Spring concert dates: Anton Reicha’s Quintet in E-flat, Op. 88, No. 2; Robert Muczynski’s Quintet for Winds; György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles; and Bill Douglas’ “Suite Cantabile.”
For the Madison dates (April 13 at Grace Episcopal and Friday, April 19, the FREE Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive) the group will be selecting from this program. For the Platteville concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the UW-Platteville, the program will be performed in its entirety. The Overture EngAGES programs are still To Be Determined but the dates are May 15 at Madison Senior Center at 1:30 p.m.; May 16 at Attic Angels West at 10 a.m.; and May 17 at Oakwood Village West, 7 p.m.
Members of Black Marigold are Elizabeth Marshall, flute; Laura Medsiky, oboe; Bethany Schultz, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn; and Cynthia Cameron Fix, bassoon.
Find more information at www.blackmarigold.com
On Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir (below), under Beverly Taylor and her assistant Brian Gurley, will present its Spring Concert. Admission is FREE.
The concert will include a motet group of works by Philips, Mouton, Bruckner and Vulpius, a group of Debussy works, Britten works, Poulenc works and a mixture of Americana including works by Barber, Copland, and folksong arrangements.
The top-tier choir of 45 members sings a variety of primarily a cappella choral literature from all eras. Singers in Concert Choir have significant vocal and choral experience, as well as high sight reading ability, and many are voice majors. In late May, the group will embark on a performance tour of France.
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will close out its current season this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park, 300 East Gorham St., in downtown Madison.
The program features music of the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically Baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music.
Tickets are at the door only: $15 for the public, $10 for students.
The musicians in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) are: Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Chelsie Propst – soprano; Monica Steger – harpsichord; Anton TenWolde – cello, viola da gamba.
The program includes selections from “Pieces de Viole, Book 2” by Main Marais; “Dulcis amor” by Isabella Leonarda; Sinata in E minor for cello and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Bononcini; “Susanne” by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre;
Madison: “Canzon prima a 2 bassi” by Giralamo Frescobaldi; and “L’Astratto” by Barbara Strozzi.
For more information, call (608) 238-5126 or visit
This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” – broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio from 12:30 to 2 p.m. from Brittingham Gallery 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art — features the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as artists in residence at the UW-Madison.
The program includes Gesualdo’s Suite of Madrigals, arranged by Mark Hetzler; John Harbison’s “Magnum Mysterium”; Macmillan’s “Adam’s Rib”; and Daniel Grabois’ “Grabois: Gravilord.”
Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music.
The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.
Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.
With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.
Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited.
All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For reservations or membership information contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.
A reception will follow the performance with coffee, tea, and treats donated by local businesses. Donors this semester include Fresh Madison Market, Steep & Brew and the University Club.
A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.
On Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Trio Antigo will present a FREE concert of music by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.
This trio (below) is comprised of cellist Stefan Kartman of UW-Milwaukee; Felicia Moye, UW-Madison Professor of Violin; and pianist Jeannie Yu.
(Note: Kartman and Moye also will present a master class on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Humanities Building, Room 1341.)
The program will include Piano Trio, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich and Priano Trio in C minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn. (A sample of the beautiful Mendelssohn trio performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emanuel Ax can be heard in the YouTube video below.)
This concert is part of a reciprocal residency between UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, funded in part by a Bolz grant for Faculty Research. The trio will be in residence at UW-M April 19-21, and will present a concert at the Peck School of the Arts on April 21.
The trio also received a Dane Arts grant to present outreach concerts in Dane County, which will be taking place on April 27 and 28. In fact, the April 28 concert will be a fundraiser to benefit local nonprofit Music Con Brio, Inc., which provides high-quality, low-cost music lessons to underprivileged children on Madison’s East Side.
Felicia Moye (below) is currently Professor of Violin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of Trio Antigo. She has also served as Professor of Violin at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada, the University of Oklahoma, the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and the pre-college division of The Juilliard School as Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee’s assistant.
Stefan Kartman (below) has served on the faculties of Drake University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Rutgers University, and is currently Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Here is a link to his site:
Pianist Jeannie Yu was awarded first prize in the Frinna Awerbuch Piano Competition in New York, the Flint Symphony International Concerto Competition, the Portland Symphony International Concerto Competition, and the Kingsville Piano Competition in Texas. She also earned the prestigious Gina Bachauer Memorial Scholarship Award, a full scholarship for the master’s degree program at The Juilliard School of Music where she also received the bachelor’s degree. Subsequently she was awarded an accompanist fellowship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.
By Jacob Stockinger
The early music group Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will present a concert of baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music on period instruments this Sunday afternoon, February 10, at 3 p.m. at the Gates of Heaven (below), located at 300 East Gorham Street. in James Madison Park in downtown Madison, Wisconsin
Tickets at the door are: $15, $10 for students.
The musicians (below) are: Theresa Koenig – recorder; Brett Lipshutz – traverse; Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Consuelo Sanudo – mezzo soprano; Anton TenWolde – cello; and Max Yount – harpsichord.
Here are the specific works: C.P.E. Bach – Sonata in D Major for viola da gamba and basso continuo;
Future 2013 WBE concerts in Madison will be held on April 13, October 12 and November 30, all at 8 p.m.
For more information about this concert, including program notes and player biographies, visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org or call (608) 238 5126.
REMINDER: On this Saturday afternoon, the UW Choral Collage will perform a FREE concert at 4 p.m. in Mills Hall. Sorry, no word yet on the program.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a concert of baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music from France and Italy on period instruments this Saturday night at 8 p.m.
The program includes Monteverdi’s “Eccomi pronta ai bacci” and “Parlo misero o taccio”; Vivaldi’s Sonata in G minor for violoncello and basso continuo, RV 42; Clari’s “Si lodi pur amore”; Lully’s “Regina coeli” and “Dixit Dominus”; and Marais’ “Pièces de violes,” Book 3, Nos. 92-100
Tickets at the door are: $15 for adults, $10 for students.
The WBE musicians, most of them will local ties, are: Gerrod Pagenkopf – counter tenor; Mimmi Fulmer – soprano; Consuelo Sañudo – mezzo-soprano; Eric Miller – viola da gamba, baroque cello; Anton TenWolde – baroque cello; and Max Yount – harpsichord.
You can visit the ensemble’s new web site at www.wisconsinbaroque.org
Here is the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble performing a slow movement by Telemann on a YouTube video:
Alert: Gustavo meets Gustav again this Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Eastgate and Point Cinemas, when the “LA Phil Live in HD” broadcast features the 31-year-old superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel (below) with the combined Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, plus soloists and choirs, performing Gustav Mahler‘s famous Symphony No. 8, the “Symphony of a Thousand.” Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for children. For information, here is a link to a New York TImes story: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/arts/music/gustavo-dudamel-and-los-angeles-philharmonic-hailed-in-caracas.html?pagewanted=all
By Jacob Stockinger
Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT 88.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.
By John W. Barker
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) has established such high standards of programming and performance that it is easy to take them for granted.
But their mid-season concert at The Gates of Heaven on last Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12, in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park was another opportunity to appreciate what musical riches they bring to us.
The program was a typical mixture of genres and national styles.
Two works for low stringed instruments provided focal points. One was played adroitly by Anton TenWolde (below, front left): an early example of a cello sonata, by the late-17th century Bolognese master Domenico Gabrielli (no relation to the Venetian Gabrielis: note difference in spelling!). The other was the third of Bach’s sonatas for viola da gamba, given a bracing reading by Eric Miller.
On the vocal side, soprano Mimmi Fulmer and mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo (below) joined in two examples of the small-scaled sacred pieces (with German texts) by Heinrich Schütz, with both blending of, and contrast between, their fine voices. Later, they took turns at the verses making up one of Lalande’s settings of the Latin Lamentations for Good Friday, powerfully emotional expressions of sacred anguish.
Climaxing each of the program’s two halves were demanding chamber works.
From François Couperin, one of the concerts from his set of Les Goûts-réunis (“The Tastes Reconciled”), endeavoring to reconcile the Italian style of Corelli with the French mode of ensemble writing. Violinist Edith Hines (below) had ample opportunity to shine in its eight contrasting movements.
And, as a grand finale, all the instrumentalists joined together (with harpsichordist Max Yount (below), the anchor throughout the entire program) for Marin Marais‘s extravagant fantasy on bell-pealing, the “Sonnerie de Sainte Geneviève du Mont” (at bottom) wherein Hines and Miller brought further virtuosity to bear.
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble was, from 1990, the pioneer regional group devoted to exploring early music and historical performance practices.
Its survival this long is one of the demonstrations of Madison’s exciting yet mature nurturing of literature beyond the conventional. We continue to be in the WBE’s debt.
An alert: This Sunday at 3 p.m. at the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue in James Madison Park, in downtown Madison, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) will perform 17th and 18th century music on authentic period instruments, The program features works by Schutz, Gabrielli, Couperin, J.S. Bach, Lalande and Marin Marais. Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information including future concert dates, visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org
By Jacob Stockinger
We’re not long into the new year and already there have been some important deaths in the classical music world that are worthy taking note of.
One of those deaths – that of the controversial pianist Alexis Weissenberg (below) – I covered somewhat in depth and with personal comments.
Here is a link:
But I have to admit I have some catching to do, largely to devoting blogs to other topics, including the sudden burst of concerts and events at the beginning of the concert season’s second half after its winter holiday intermission.
Perhaps the most important death was that of the Dutch harpsichordist and early music pioneer Gustav Leonhardt (below).
Leonhardt was an important and curious figure who once wore wig to play the part of J.S. Bach in a movie (at bottom).
I had a friend who referred to him, jokingly but with affection, as “machine-gun fingers Gus.”
And it is true that Leonhardt was a terrifically virtuosic keyboard artist with unbelievable facility when it came to playing solo or in an ensemble. And he obviously learned fast, mastering a lot of music. An Amazon.com search reveals some 320 CDs with him that are available. Clearly, he was as prolific as he has good.
Still, there was an element of truth to the jest. Leonhardt, who certainly helped train many of the major figures today in the revival of early music and historically informed performance practices, seemed in his own music-making stiffer, stricter, more severe and less expressive that later generations, who have emphasized the musical and emotional content of the music over the questions of authentic instruments and period technique.
But no one can doubt that Gustav Leonhardt was a giant.
That comes across in the obituaries, and there were many. Here are two of the best:
Speaking of pioneers, here is an obituary that is especially timely considering that February is Black History Month in the U.S.
Camilla Williams is not as famous as Marion Anderson, Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett or Jessaye Norman. But she set the stage for them by being the first African-American singer to secure a contract, in 1946, from an American opera company.
Another loss is that of the widely admired Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund, who was known for conducting left-handed (and playing the violin left-handed) as well as championing the music of his fellow countryman Jean Sibelius: