By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear recently came across this news item — reprinted below.
He remembers when Wisconsin Public Radio, under the direction of its former music program director Cheryl Dring, marked the annual birthday of Baroque master composer Johann Sebastian Bach (below). At bottom you can hear almost two hours of Bach’s best and most popular music — from solo piano to orchestra — in YouTube video that has almost 10 million hits.
The noon-to-midnight event was called “Bach Around the Clock” (below) and was based on an event that Dring used to go to in New Orleans, Louisiana. It featured singers and choral music, instrumental music of all kinds and at all levels, and audiences who wandered in and out as well as a special birthday cake for The Birthday Boy.
The FREE and PUBLIC event took place in the Pres House, 731 State St., near the UW-Madison School of Music. It featured lots of classical amateur musicians – including The Ear who played solo piano works and also collaborated with a flutist – but also professional musicians, including members of the UW-Madison School of Music,UW-Whitewater, Edgewood College, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber orchestra the Madison Bach Musicians and its keyboardist founder and director Trevor Stephenson, church organists and various choral groups. It was also webcast live by WPR.
I wrote about it every year, and was also surprised and pleased by the quality of the music-making I heard from young students through adult amateurs and of course professional musicians. I loved it, both as a participant and as an audience member.
Here are some links with lots of photos:
But Wisconsin Public Radio backed out of the celebration after four years, citing weekend staff time and expense. No one stepped in to pick it up, though I suppose you could make the case that the “Make Music Madison” citywide event of the past two summers took up the baton. But that event includes all kinds of music — not just classical and not mainly classical and not just Bach.
Now there is a similar populist movement nationwide and even worldwide, but based in New York City, to mark Bach’s birthday. It is called “Bach in the Subways” and started several years ago. Since then it has been growing.
My question now is: Who, if anybody, will host the Madison event in this movement in 2015 and in coming years?
The UW-Madison has the School of Music, including Morphy Hall (below) and Music Hall as well as Mills Hall.
The centrally located Pres House, which also features an organ, a piano, a low-profile stage, many chairs and good acoustics as well as a dining room for snacks and socializing, is an excellent candidate.
Farley’s House of Pianos seems the kind of customer-friendly and community-helping business that might be open to the event.
Maybe there are other churches or community centers or organizations that would be willing to set this up.
Anyway, your reactions and suggestions are welcome.
And here is the original announcement I found:
CALLING ALL MUSICIANS
Bach in the Subways Day
Saturday, March 21, 2015
On J.S. Bach’s 330th birthday, musicians around the world will unite to perform Bach for free in subways and public spaces, throughout the day and night, to celebrate our art and to sow the seeds for future generations of classical music lovers.
Musicians, organizers and everyone else who wish to spread the joy of Bach are invited to join us! Solos, ensembles, flash mobs and Bach marathons are all encouraged.
Join us as we fill the world with Bach!
For more information visit http://bachinthesubways.com, facebook.com/bachinthesubways, or twitter.com/bachinthesubway. (The list of participants on the main website says that Madison, Wisconsin, is taking part, along with many cities around the country and world. But I don’t see any specifics. Does anyone know the details of the local celebration?)
For more information, write to email@example.com.
Need inspiration? Free Bach scores (in the public domain), as well as transcriptions for many solo instruments and a wide variety of ensembles, are available at www.imslp.org
Meanwhile, here are almost two hours of popular music by J.S. Bach to listen to:
ALERT: Just a reminder that there is a lot of live music competing for audiences this afternoon. But if you can, be sure to catch the UW-Madison Pro Arte Quartet and guest clarinetist Charles Neidich giving the FREE second world premiere performance of American composer Pierre Jalbert‘s Clarinet Quintet — which is based on Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” — at the Chazen Museum of Art at 12:30 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery 3. The new work, which The Ear heard on Friday night, is the real thing: a winning gem of new music. Of course the short-sighted Wisconsin Public Radio is no longer broadcasting local and regional live music from the museum, so forget the radio. But you can stream the concert live from the Internet at the museum’s website www.chazen.wisc.edu.
And here is a link with an overview of all the music concerts available this afternoon:
Well, here is another reason to welcome the end of the work week and the coming of the weekend.
NPR is saying TGIF.
Every Friday afternoon, the Deceptive Cadence blog folks at National Public Radio gather with the public via Twitter to check out issues and performers, performances and recordings — including the new CD “Motherland” by pianist Khatia Buniatishvili (the Sony Classical CD cover with her Frida Kahlo-like portrait is below and a sample is at the bottom in a YouTube video in which she plays an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s “Sheep May Safely Graze“). You should try checking it out and add your own comments and recommendations.
And that’s just what you can do using the link below:
The Ear thinks you will like it for several reasons.
The discussion keeps you updated on new recordings, new performers and new music. But it also suggests older composers and repertoire to listen to, including recommended interpretations of that repertoire.
It also features some very insightful and some very funny comments from other readers and followers that you can check out.
So don’t be afraid to hop on in – or at least to add to your To Do List checking out Deceptive Cadence at NPR every Friday.
By Jacob Stockinger
But here is something of a substitute, or at least an addendum or supplement, to that event to celebrate the great Johann Sebastian (below).
It is an urgent but polite request, a direct solicitation from radio host Rich Samuels (below), who writes:
“I’m preparing a special Bach’s Birthday edition of the Thursday 5-8 a.m. classical music program I host on WORT 89.9 FM, which will air, of course, on March 21. (WORT’s headquarters at 118 South Bedford Street in Madison is pictured below.)
“I’m hoping to include pre-recorded segments featuring performances by local Bach lovers. (I have the capability to make broadcast-quality recordings in the field).
“If you know of anyone who would like to participate in this joint effort, please let me know.”
Rich Samuels, WORT, 118 South Bedford Street, Madison WI 53703
Here is more contact information:
By way of details, Samuels adds:
“You can mention my effort whenever you wish. I’d like to get the recordings made in February. Of course, I have no idea how many people want to participate in this effort.
Participants will have to provide their own instruments, page-turners and performances spaces (but they are probably clever enough, in the case of keyboard artists, to have access, somewhere, to a well-tuned piano or harpsichord).
It’s probably best for people to contact me via this email address, so we can work out times and places.
My goal since I began hosting this show a couple of years ago is to feature local performers as much as possible.
A REMINDER: The annual “New Year’s Day Concert From Vienna” (below) with the Vienna Philharmonic under conductor Franz Welser-Most and with TV host Julie Andrews will air this morning on NPR (and Wisconsin Public Radio) at 10 a.m. this morning with the TV version airing tonight on PBS (and Wisconsin Public Television) at 7 p.m. For more information and links to a play list of Strauss family waltzes and polkas plus works by Verdi and Wagner and lots of background, visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today, Jan. 1, 2013, is New Year’s Day.
The past year was not an easy year in so many ways.
Especially disappointing is the increasing polarization or partisanship one sees not only in the US but also around the world. I myself fear for the rise of right-wing fanaticism (often signaled by hatred of immigrants, a callousness toward social welfare and the oppression of minorities) in Greece and elsewhere because of economic situations. Economic strife often leads to war or other forms of strife and suffering. (Below is a CNN photo of an austerity protest riot in Greece.)
One can only hope for much better in 2013.
So that makes this “flash mob” performance of Beethoven (below) all the more appropriate and moving. It certainly was an emotional experience for and for the very old friend who sent it on to me — as well as for the more than 8 million viewers so far on YouTube.
It is the perfect piece – or, to be precise, the perfect excerpt of the perfect piece – in words and music — performed in a perfect way that was commissioned by Banco Sabadell in Barcelona to mark its 130th anniversary, I believe.
It gives one hope – especially at a time when Spain, like so many other countries, in undergoing the trials, tribulations and testing of austerity.
Judge for yourself – be sure to look at the facial expressions of the children and the ordinary people who just pass by and stop to take it all in. You can see that great music connects and bonds.
And let us know what you think by leaving something in the COMMENTS section.
By Jacob Stockinger
Offhand, I can’t think of many Turkish pianists who have stood out in their interpretations of Western classical music.
But the young keyboard wizard Fazil Say (below), 42, is one of the exceptions.
Maybe the only one.
Say, who is also a composer and who plays and performs jazz, has the impressive technique — the chops if you will — plus the interpretive ability and artistic affinity to leave you deeply impressed with his reading of, say, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Ravel among others.
Just look at all the 5-star User Ratings his CDs get on Amazon.com:
Here is a link to his official fan website:
But now it looks as if Say, who admits to being secular and to supporting a secular government in his native Turkey, will have to take up a home in exile (probably in Japan, he says) because he has been charged with the equivalent of heresy or blasphemy by Turkey’s government and threatened with arrest, trial and prison. (Below is the famed Blue Mosque in Turkey.)
Specifically, he is accuse of, and investigated for, insulting Islam, and other religions, because he Tweeted that he is an atheist. He was indicted and a trial is set for Oct. 18.
It all sounds very similar to what happened to the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk (below) who was charging with libeling or insulting the Turkish government because he referred to the Armenian genocide by Turkey in 1915 — which Turkey officially denies ever took place, despite the testimony and evidence provided by many experts and historians.
After worldwide protest, Turkey dropped those charges,
Maybe the same outcome could happen for Fazil Say (below and at bottom, playing ironically Mozart’s “Turkish” Rondo).
Here are links to stories and other blogs about Say’s unfortunate predicament:
No matter what the right-wing here says about the need for more state-sponsored religion, now you can see why the Founders wisely wanted in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to establish a wall of separation between church and state. In their own lifetimes, they had seen what the mix of religion and government or politics did in Europe and elsewhere.
So: Looks like it’s time to speak up for free speech, artistic freedom and freedom of religious in Turkey.
What do you say about Say and his plight?
Leave a note of protest and support in the COMMENTS section. Maybe it will persuade Turkish authorities to relent – although I wouldn’t count on it.
Shame on Turkey!
Shame on Islam, Christianity, Judaism and all other forms of religious intolerance and oppression!
Shame on religious zealots of all kinds in all places and at all times!