By Jacob Stockinger
Our friends in the Rural Musicians Forum (below is a press release with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired logo) write to say:
Around the world and across the country, the performance of the oratorio “Messiah” by George Friderich Handel (below) at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings.
This year, for the first time in this area, the Rural Musicians Forum is hosting a “Sing-Out Messiah” with two community “sing-along” performances of “Messiah.”
One will be in Dodgeville on this coming Friday, December 6, at 7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church; the other will be in Spring Green on Sunday, December 8, at 3 p.m.) at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
“Sing-along” concerts have been a popular tradition throughout the United States, Europe and Asia since the mid-20th Century.
Many people have grown up hearing “Messiah” in their homes, churches and communities, and whether they’re accomplished musicians or just shower singers, many love to reconnect to those memories by singing the piece with others.
In a “Sing-along Messiah,” trained and accomplished singers perform side by side with friends and neighbors who could be singing — or even hearing — “Messiah”: for the first time. Families, church groups and even adherents to different religious traditions all take part. (For proof, see the very popular YouTube video with note than 42 million hits at the bottom of a flash mob performance of “The Hallelujah Chorus.)
The audience serves as the unrehearsed chorus, supported by a more carefully prepared core group. Instrumentalists and soloists are of professional quality.
In Dodgeville and Spring Green, performers will include a chorus drawn from the community, the Pecatonica String Quartet (below), and five soloists, led by Greg Dennis, longtime director of the Mt. Horeb Chorale and UW-Platteville choral department.
Soloists for “Sing Out Messiah” include sopranos Madeline Ehlinger (Spring Green) and Leslie Damaso (Mineral Point), alto Janna Johnson (Arena), bass Carl Leaf (Spring Green) and Matt Roble (Dodgeville/Wisconsin Dells). Retired UW-Stevens Point piano professor, Michael Keller will accompany.
In the audience will be more than a hundred singers waiting for their turns to sing, and listeners who have the opportunity to sit among the singers.
In announcing “Sing Out Messiah,” RMF’s Artistic Director Kent Mayfield (below) said, “I love Messiah, and there is something about a full-house doing it that is remarkable. The joy of singing with a mass of people transcends any kind of choral or vocal ability. It gives the piece an energy you wouldn’t experience otherwise. Everyone is welcome to join the singing and everyone is welcome to the performance. As an audience member, no one is required to sing but everyone is certainly invited to sing!”
The selections to be sung are listed on the RMF website: www.ruralmusiciansforum.org
Scores for “Messiah” are available at Arcadia Books in Spring Green and from online vendors. A limited number of copies will be available at each of the performances on a first-come/first-serve basis.
Tickets are $10 (children under 12 are admitted free) for “Sing Out Messiah” and are available now at the Cook’s Room in Dodgeville, Arcadia Books in Spring Green and online at www.ruralmusiciansforum.org. Tickets will be available at the door in advance of each performance.
ALERT: Wisconsin‘s finest young musicians (below) unite for one of the most rewarding musical experiences of their lives. Wisconsin School Music Association’s (WSMA) High School State Honors Concerts were recorded Oct. 24, 2013 at Madison’s Overture Center. The show is part of the Young Performers Initiative to celebrate Wisconsin’s young performers and those who inspire them. The hour-long special airs this afternoon at 5 p.m. and Monday night at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television’s main channel and also on alternative The Wisconsin Channel. For more information about other air times and channels, here is a link: http://wptschedule.org/episodes/44717914/2013-State-Honors-Concerts/
By Jacob Stockinger
After all, the Britten celebration was largely overshadowed by the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which also fell on this past Friday, Nov. 22.
But Benjamin Britten was a great composer, for more reason than many of us realize.
Here are three essays – two from NPR and one from The New York Times – that I found particularly helpful and insightful, especially the detailed explanations by Baltimore Symphony Orchesrra conductor Marin Alsop (below) explanation to Scott Simon of Britten’s “War Requiem” (see the YouTube video at the bottom) and her three points about what makes Britten so important and unique. (Be sure to listen to the longer program rather than read the short text):
Do you have a favorite piece by Benjamin Britten?
What is it and why is it a favorite?
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
It was a momentous event in so many ways for the country. And like many of you, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news flash of his shocking death.
One of JFK’s legacy, one deeply encouraged and acted on by his First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, was to revitalize the American art scene and enhance it with involvement and help from the government.
That so now irks the conservative philistines who want to zero out the budgets for NPR, PBS, the NEA and the NEH, who want an ignorant citizenry that will buy into their distorted lies and mean-spirited stupidities.
But how fitting for the New Frontier was that quiet cultural revolution promoted by JFK during his short tenure in The White House.
Artists responded enthusiastically to JFK and his death. How I recall the music that was put together quickly and performed on the then relatively new medium of television. I think the requiems by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giuseppe Verdi were performed and broadcast, as was Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” – a favorite of JFK and a work that was given its world premiere by the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet in 1936. Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” were also performed.
I remember the specific works that for me struck the right chords, so to speak, about the murderous death of the President.
One was the Requiem by Gabriel Faure (below). The whole work is so beautiful and gentle, peaceful and calm – and how we all needed beauty and gentleness, peace and calm, that awful weekend — and it was completely unknown to me.
I liked all the movements. “In Paradiso” was one. But I also liked the “Pie Jesu” and the “Libera me.” But what stuck me most and keeps resonating is the “Sanctus.” Here it is in a YouTube video, and be sure to read the comments from other listeners:
The other work I remember from those events is the “German” Requiem by Johannes Brahms (below). I had known it before. But this was when it took on real meaning.
I remember hearing and loving the movement “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place.” But the part that really got me choked up was not that one or the Funeral March or even the fabulous “Here on Earth We Have No Abiding City,” with its fabulous fugue “Death, Where Is Thy Sting; Grave, Where Is Thy Victory?.”
It was the final movement, “Blessed Are The Dead for Their Works Live on After Them.” I loved the secular, but respectful and even loving quality of the text and of course the music. That allowed it to appeal to the entire nation and to all people everywhere around the world, regardless of their faith or beliefs.
It seemed so fitting and so true, then; and it still does now.
Here it is:
What works of classical music come to mind for you when you think of that awful day in Dallas and terrible weekend in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago?
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Madison-based Cecilia Singers will begin its 2013-2014 season with three performances of a special concert marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. “Remembering John Fitzgerald Kennedy (below): A Choral Tribute” can be heard on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Here is a schedule: Performances are on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m., at St. James Catholic Church (1204 St. James Court.); on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church (below is its interior, 1021 University Ave.); and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Monona.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Willy St. Co-op (east and west), Orange Tree Imports, and The Pink Poodle for $12 general admission, or $10 for seniors; or at the door for $15 and $12, respectively.
The program includes: “French Choruses” from “The Lark” by Leonard Bernstein; Four Motets by Aaron Copland; “To Be Sung On The Water” by; Samuel Barber; “New England Frostbite” by Robert Kreutz (below top, 1923-1997); “Ave Maria” by Edwin Fissinger (1920-1990); “Songs of Hope and Deliverance” by Robert Kreutz (1923-1997); “Improperium” by Robert Kreutz, who began composing this piece the night JFK was assassinated as a very personal response to the tragedy; “In Paradisium: by Edwin Fissinger (heard at bottom in a YouTube video).
Group founder and director Joseph Testa, who used to direct choral music at Edgewood College until 2008, says he conceived the program as a way to recognize and celebrate a man of great intelligence and charm coupled with a deep appreciation for the arts and the role they play in a free society.
To underscore the theme, an all-American a cappella program of music by composers of JFK’s generation was chosen, Testa says.
Testa adds: “Some of the works simply represent the creative endeavors of composers active during President Kennedy’s lifetime; other were selected because they seemed to hold a poignant connection to JFK: for example, a Latin-texted work with a clear nod to his Catholicism, or a work utilizing a text of his favorite poet, or in one case a collection of works that speak to the struggles of Communism in Eastern Europe during the 1980’s — something very real and of great concern at the time of his own presidency.
“President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy brought a sophisticated awareness of the arts to our national attention, hosting poets, musicians, artists, composers and Nobel Prize winners for State Events at the White House, thereby elevating the image of artist and intellectual in American life. This aspect of his presidency is certainly one for all Americans in the arts to celebrate as we pause on this 50th anniversary.
“At the same time, we also celebrate the composers whose works are being performed, thereby again honoring the life of JFK and the legacy he envisioned for an America as a country rich in culture for having embraced the arts.”
About the Cecilia Singers (below, in rehearsal, in a photo by Joseph Testa): Joseph Testa founded Cecilia Singers in 2009 as a professional choir based on a four-prong mission: advance the choral art form, advance choral artistry, be an educational entity for the choral arts through lecture and performance, and to create employment opportunities for gifted and talented singers.
The personnel and size of the ensemble vary based on the needs of the given repertoire. Singers completing a successful audition are offered a contract for a specific set of concerts and the requisite rehearsals. Each singer receives the music several weeks prior to the first rehearsal and is expected to come to that rehearsal with all the music learned. This format allows the rehearsal time to be truncated to just three weeks prior to a performance, at which point a series of extended rehearsals are held in close succession to work on ensemble.
ALERT: Tonight at 7 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, Edgewood College presents its FREE Fall Choral Concert. The program includes the Chamber Singers and Men’s Choir under the direction of Albert Pinsonneault (below), and the Women’s Choir under the direction of Kathleen Otterson. This free concert will feature a diverse repertoire, including traditional Western, African and American Gospel works.
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 FM 89.9 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 Middleton Community Orchestra (below, in a photo by Margaret Barker) is trailblazing in a number of ways.
For one thing, it regularly has its concerts on Wednesday evenings (though the one on December 23 will be on a Monday), thus avoiding contributing to the already impossible crush of weekend conflicts.
Second, like some other groups, it performs a program without intermission (and follows the concert with generous refreshments, below, and a chance to meet the musicians). Under some circumstances, that kind of program could be hard on the performers, given no rest. But it does make for a compact concert experience.
On Wednesday night, the MCO opened its 2013-14 season, its fourth season, at the Middleton Performing Arts Center, attached to Middleton High School. And it sounded better than ever.
After some shuffling, the program had settled down to a familiar symphony, framed by two familiar overtures.
Maestro Steve Kurr (below, in a photo by Margaret Barker) tends to favor somewhat leisurely tempos, but not always just to make things easier for the players. In the slow opening material the strings delivered a degree of confidence and suavity beyond anything I have heard from them before. And the whole orchestra easily managed the brisker tempo of the overtures fast and flashy later sections.
The meat in the hamburger, as it were, was the Fourth or “Italian” Symphony by Felix Mendelssohn (below). Given the limited number of rehearsals the orchestra can manage, it works miracles. To be sure, it could use more, and the somewhat overtaxed sound of the strings, especially the violins, seemed not quite fully secure, at least in the first movement. But that movement contains particularly difficult string writing, after all.
Conductor Kurr rightly included the movement’s repeat, too often ignored by many conductors (who thereby lose some lovely transitional moments). But the work went very well, overall, in an intelligently conceived and very handsomely played performance, a real pleasure to hear.
The final piece was by Richard Wagner (below), whose bicentennial is being marked this year: the overture to his opera “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.” It is an absolute marvel of orchestral writing, and the Middleton players made it sound truly magnificent. Particularly noticeable was progress in the brass section, which sounded more secure, better disciplined and balanced, than ever before, truly splendid.
Madisonians, listen up! It can fairly be said that our area now has four orchestras to take seriously.
Not only the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, of course, but the UW Symphony Orchestra as the third, and the Middleton Community Orchestra as an honorable fourth. Madison’s concert-lovers who ignore their concerts are missing some very fine music-making!
Fore more information about attending, p;laying in and supporting the Middleton Community Orchestra, which is heard playing Johann Strauss Jr.’s famous “On the The Beautiful Blue Danube” waltz in a YouTube video at the bottom, visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
Well, isn’t this an unpleasant and unexpected surprise – lo, these many years later and into the 21st century.
Given all the progress that women have made over the past few decades in so many fields and professions including classical music, you might think that the question about whether they have the strength, stamina or smarts to be a conductor would be a totally moot or meaningless question by this point.
But you would be wrong.
Just take a look at the story – and follow the various links in it to other essays and analyses — on the “Deceptive Cadence” blog at NPR to see that the forces of sexism are still trying to shut out or belittle the achievement of women conductors.
Take the American conductors as Marin Alsop (below top) of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra, who also was the first woman in 118 to conduct the BBC Proms concerts in England concerts this summer (in a YouTube video at the bottom) and who sells a lot pf CDs for Naxos Records; and such as JoAnn Falletta of the Buffalo Philharmonic (below middle in a photo by Cheryl Gorski). Or take the Australian conductor Simone Young (below bottom) of the Hamburg State Opera.
Here is a link to the story that you should read and listen to, and then react to in the COMMENTS section of this blog.
Read and listen to it and let us know what you think about what should be done about women conductors and the sexism they face.
The Ear wants to hear.
ALERT: In Memoriam: A University of Wisconsin-Madison Emeritus Professor of voice, soprano Ilona Kombrink (below) died on Friday, August 9, 2013 in Stoughton, Wisconsin, at the age of 80. A Memorial Concert and celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 3 p.m. in the Grand Hall at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, 333 West Main Street, Madison. A reception will follow. No word on the program yet, but you can be sure that it will be memorable since it is being organized by Edgewood College voice teacher mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson, who was a student of Kombrink.
By Jacob Stockinger
So, someone seated nearby asked, what did The Ear’s think of the season-opening concert by the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below in a photo by Greg Anderson)?
Here we it is.
By and large, I completely agree with the local critics (links are below) who raved about the MSO’s concert to mark the 20th anniversary season of MSO music director and conductor John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad).
John W. Barker in Isthmus:
Greg Hettmansberger in Madison Magazine:
But here are some other impressions I took away from the Sunday afternoon performance, which seemed well attended by an enthusiastic audience.
There can be no disagreement with the critical assessment of how professional the entire orchestra sounded and how masterly the conducting and interpreting by John DeMain proved.
Especially noteworthy was the enthralling and rapturous violin playing by concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below top, in a photo by Greg Anderson) as well as the new principal clarinet Joseph Morris (below bottom) and such veterans as trumpeter John Aley and oboist Marc Fink.
Still, I found the special all-orchestral program a bit clunky in practice if not design.
So here are the three main points I took away:
I am convinced that Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring, which opened the concert, is The Great American Symphony, just as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is The Great American Novel. So fret no longer, American composers. The summit has been scaled. Just do what you want.
In its harmonies, rhythms, themes and use of folk elements and indigenous music like the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” (at bottom in a popular YouTube video that features photographs by another great American artist, Ansel Adams), the dance score by Copland can’t be anything but American.
It is a gorgeous work and received a beautiful, even inspired reading from the America-born and America-trained DeMain and his players.
I came away confirmed in my opinion that Richard Wagner’s “Liebestod” or “Love Death” from “Tristan und Isolde” is the sexist music ever written. It reminds me of the legend that the ancient Greek prophet Tiresias was allowed by the gods to make love as both a man and a woman. Then, when asked who had the better deal and received more pleasure, he was unequivocal: Women.
Indeed, this music by Wagner (below) music shows the composer’s rich imagination and makes him seem like the soul and libido of a woman dressed as a man.
It also supported my long-held contention – which other are free to disagree with — that Wagner’s orchestral writing is superior, in most cases, to his vocal writing. I, at least, generally find his instrumental music more singing and songful than his singers.
Finally came Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.” It is, all agree, a war-horse that every youngster has heard, one of the great “starter” pieces in the classical Romantic repertoire. It is a showcase that we all supposedly love by a master orchestrator and master colorist (below) who taught Igor Stravinsky. And it did bring the audience to a prolonged standing ovation.
But quasi-dissenter that I am, I have to file a minority report.
I found “Scherherazade” a bloated, repetitious and ultimately unsatisfying work. It is the Tolstoy novel of tone poems- the long-winded Russian equivalent of Ravel’s “Bolero” in its etude-like construction designed to showcase various sections of the orchestra.
The players and conductor did indeed shine and did so brilliantly. It certainly seemed a work that is more fun to conduct and perform than it is to listen to. True, the work did have memorable moments of drama and lyricism. But too often the 40 minutes of music — well, it is based on the 1,001 Nights — grew downright tedious. At least in live performance, I find the Ravel more exciting, catchy and fun, and also more easily instructive for sonic comparisons of different instruments and what they add to the score.
Oh, I found myself daydreaming, if only the first half of the MSO concert had been followed by a really great symphony by especially Brahms, or perhaps Beethoven, Dvorak or Tchaikovsky – something with substance as well as style. “Scheherazade” was sonically splashy, but compared to the Copland and Wagner it is superficial.
So there it is: What The Ear Heard at the MSO Opener.
What did you hear?
And what do you think of what The Ear heard? And how he heard it?
The Ears wants to hear.
A REMINDER: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Union Theater presents pianist Jeffrey Siegel (below) who will start his new season of Keyboard Conversations with “The Glory of Beethoven.” The program will conclude with a Q and A. Among the works on this program will be the “Teresa Sonata” Op. 78, (who was she and why did Ludwig van Beethoven compose this for her?) and the final Piano Sonata in C Minot, Op. 111, written after deafness enjulfed the composer. Here are ticket prices: General Public is $32 ; Memorial Union Member is $28; UW-Madison Faculty and Staff is $28; Non UW-Madison Students are $28; UW-Madison Student (with ID) is FREE; Youth is a Family Savings Event ofF $14 with purchase of an adult ticket and a limit of 2 youth tickets per adult ticket.
By Jacob Stockinger
True enough, officially the new music season started on Labor Day with the 36th annual Karp Family Concert. It proved to be a memorable evening of varied chamber music. Ad there have been some memorable chamber concerts and recitals since then.
But for many listeners, the season doesn’t really get underway until some BIG group with a BIG sound starts performing BIG works before a BIG audience.
That will happen this weekend when the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) will open its season-long tribute to mark the 20th anniversary of music director and conductor John DeMain’s tenure with the orchestra.
The program – done without a soloist – features three major and well-known orchestral works: Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”; Richard Wagner’s “Prelude and Love Death” to the opera “Tristan und Isolde”; and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
Performances are in Overture Hall of the Overture Center and take place on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday night at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Public Radio host Anders Yocom (below) will give Prelude discussion of the program one hour before each performance.
And here is a link to the program notes by the always enlightening and accessible J. Michael Allsen, who plays trombone in the MSO and teaches at the University fo Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Single tickets are $13,50 to $82.50. For more information about the concerts and tickets, visit: http://www.madisonsymphony.org/orchestra
In advance of the concert, Maestro John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) graciously granted an email interview to The Ear:
Why did you decide to open the season without the usual piano or violin soloist?
There has been a long-standing tradition in the past among many orchestras to open the season with an all orchestral concert that focuses on the great musicians who make up the orchestra.
I felt that on the occasion of my 20th anniversary with the Madison Symphony, this would be a good time to revive that custom and try it out here in Madison.
I wanted to share my anniversary with the orchestra, because they are my instrument, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to perform. I do hope that this can become a tradition.
Of course, “Scheherazade” throws a huge focus on our concertmaster, Naha Greenholtz (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson), as she represents the Princess Scheherazade through numerous violin solos throughout the piece. Other members are featured as well, notably the cello, clarinet, horn and bassoon.
What did you choose to program these particular pieces? Can you walk us briefly through the program and tell us why they appealed to you:
The program has something for me: “Appalachian Spring”; something for music itself: “Tristan,” celebrating Wagner’s 200th birthday, and Something for the audience: “Scheherazade,” a dazzling crowd-pleaser.
I’m an America-born and America-trained musician. Copland (below) was our idol growing up. He stood for all that was American in the classical music world. He appealed to both musician and listener, and I wanted him to be on my anniversary program.
I’m an opera conductor as well, and Wagner (below) gave us dazzling works for the operatic canon that featured the orchestra in a major way. “Tristan und Isolde” is my favorite Wagner opera, so, again, I wanted the Prelude and Love-Death to be my anniversary choice on his 200th anniversary as well.
And lastly, I wanted a major work that showcases our incredible orchestra, with its virtuosic musicians on our glorious Overture Hall stage.
Actually all three works feature the orchestra in a spectacular manner, so it should be a real treat for the audience.
How healthy is the Madison Symphony Orchestra now in terms of finances, artistic achievement and audiences?
The Madison Symphony continues to draw broad support from our subscribers, single ticket buyers, and major donors. I’m particularly proud of the major increase in student attendees, and very proud of our educational programs interacting with our wonderful community.
I would encourage people who have not been to a symphony concert to take advantage of our 50% discount for first time subscribers and sign up. This season’s programs are rich and varied, and I think a first-timer will have a marvelous experience.
(Editor’s note: Until this Thursday, Sept. 26, the MSO is making a special offer that any new subscriber can receive 50% off on a subscription of five or more concerts. Details are at: http://www.madisonsymphony.org/newsub
After that our regular offer to new subscribers is that they can save UP TO 50% off a subscription. (50% off when people subscribe to 7 or 8 concerts and 40% off when people subscribe to 5 or 6 concerts.)
What goals have you met in your 20-year tenure and what goals remain to be fulfilled?
My goals in the beginning were to increase the size of the audience by going to triple performances; increase the size of the string section; expand the repertoire; challenge the players, and lobby for a better performance space. (Below is Overture Hall, the permanent home of the MSO.)
These goals were not only met, but the results have far exceeded even my expectations. There is still much more repertoire to explore, ever-expanding educational opportunities to develop still more audiences for classical music, and the constant addition of major new performing artists that I would like to bring to our audiences.
What conclusions about your 20-year tenure with the MSO would you like the audience to hear and take away from hearing this opening concert of your anniversary season?
I would like the audience to feel how blessed we are in this community to have such a fine orchestra that adores performing for its audience and is deeply committed to artistic excellence, and how worthy it is to continue to have great music enrich our lives in live performances that bring musician, audience member, and the music itself, together in a unique way.
And lastly, I am so grateful and forever indebted to Pleasant Rowland and Jerry Frautschi for giving us the Overture Center for the Arts. It is the thrill of my lifetime to be able to perform in this beautiful space. I also would like to add how much my lovely wife Barbara (below top), and my beautiful daughter Jennifer (below bottom) have loved living, growing up, and studying in this great city of Madison. Thank you from all of us to the community.
By Jacob Stockinger
But now an American musician and instrumentalist from the West Coast has put together a new work called the “Fullback Fugue” that you might find a good accompaniment to football.
And the weekend is the heavy time for prep, college and professional NFL football.
A musician from Portland, Ore., named Ansel Wallenfang has created “Fantasy Football & Fugue,” a video featuring a fugue built of NFL themes from the four networks that broadcast pro football games (FOX, NBC, CBS, ESPN).
He even performs it in full costume — or should I say, “uniform” — with cleats and jersey, helmet and knuckle tape.
Now, given the football themes, just because the piece uses polyphony in the form of a fugue doesn’t automatically qualify it as classical music – though it does make it a classic curiosity for sure.
The Ear think it sounds rather like bad Rachmaninoff, or maybe a pedantically dry Bach toccata as transcribed by Busoni or some other bass-heavy Romantic piano virtuoso and transcriber.
But I’ll let you decide for yourselves whether the four-minute work is just a gimmick or a genuine, if admittedly derivative, work of classical music and tell me in the COMMENTS section what you think of it and what it sound like.
So go ahead: tackle it -– so to speak.
Here it is, including the composer’s comments about his intent, which he says:
“If football and classical piano were any more similar they would be the same thing.
“Both are fiercely competitive.
Both require violence, elegance, and nerves of steel.
Both demand a lifetime of intense training and discipline.
Both promise fame and glory but usually lead to working with kids.
Both will leave you with some sort of brain trauma.
But both will totally get you laid.
“The Fantasy Football and Fugue isn’t just a bad music pun, it’s a classical mashup of network NFL anthems (CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC) that would make Bach and Butkus proud.
Through the lens of classical music and short film, I hope to open these seemingly dissimilar fields to new audiences, sign a multi-million dollar development deal with a major Hollywood studio, become friends with Aaron Rodgers, and not get sued by 4 networks simultaneously.”
Now, it’s kickoff time — so on to the music:
Spread the word — and of course the music — to other football fans.
Remember to tell me how it scores in your playbook.
The Ear wants to hear.
TODAY IS 9/11: WHAT PIECE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC DO YOU LIKE TO HEAR TO MEMORIALIZE THAT TRAGIC DAY IN 2001? LET THE EAR KNOW IN A COMMENT WITH A LINK TO A YOUTUBE VIDEO, IF POSSIBLE.
AN IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Yesterday The Ear mistakenly said that Edgewood College mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson will give a recital on this Saturday – which was WRONG. The concert is SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT 2:30 P.M. Otherwise the story and the details are correct. I apologize for the error.
Here is a link to the corrected story:
By Jacob Stockinger
True, the new concert season at the University of Wisconsin School of Music officially opened up over a week ago with the 36th annual Labor Day Concert by the Karp Family.
But this is a reminder that this Sunday – really the first busy weekend of the academic year the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music – promises to have a lot of music.
Here are the various concerts, as described in press releases:
— Sunday, Sep. 15, 2013 at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall.
UW Professor Les Thimmig will give the first Faculty Concert
Thimmig (below) will present “The Feldman Trios,” Part One. Three lecture-performances of the late-period work of American composer Morton Feldman (below). The other sessions are on October 27 and February 2, 2014.
The First concert is: “Why Patterns?” It features Prof. Les Thimmig on flutes; Jennifer Hedstrom on keyboards; and Sean Kleve on percussion. (See the YouTube video at the bottom.)
American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987, below in a New York Times photo from 1985) was first noted for his inclusion in the “Cage School,” a group of four composers, the others being Earle Brown and Christian Wolff, associated with the composer John Cage. The three trios for flute, piano, and percussion included in this series were written for the members of this group during the last nine years of Feldman’s life. During this period, his works radically increased in length, lasting from 30 minutes to multiple hours of single-movement, very slowly unfolding development. At issue were the distinction of “form” and “scale.”
– Also on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall is the Second Annual “School of Music Alumni Association Showcase.” For more information, go to http://uwsomaa.org/and click “alumni recital.”
The program features:
Hornist Alex Weaver playing: Concert Etude for Solo Horn by Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958) and Suite for Horn and Piano by Alec Wilder (1907-1980).
Flutist Kristine Rominski (below) playing: “Tenderness of Cranes” by Shirish Korde
Percussionist Michael Mixtacki (below) playing: “Uma Mulher” by Seu Jorge, arr. Mixtacki and “Obbatalá,” Traditional Afro-Cuban, arr. Mixtacki.
Kristine Rominski and Michael Mixtacki playing duets: “Piedra en la Piedra” by Ricardo Lorenz and “Kembang Suling” by Gareth Farr
Singer Sam Handley (below, in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago) performing: “L’air de Sancho” from “Don Quichotte” by Jules Massenet (1842-1912); “Bin ich nun frei?” from “Das Rheingold” by Richard Wagner (1813-1883); “Her Face” from “Carnival!” by Bob Merrill (1921-1998); and “La Calunnia” from “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868).
— The third concert, the Opera Props Showcase, on this Sunday will held at 3 p.m. NOT on the UW campus but instead at the historic landmark and Frank Lloyd Wright Unitarian Meeting House (below), 900 University Bay Drive. For information, visit:
Opera Props annual fall Showcase Concert will introduce University Opera’s extraordinary singers in a program of celebrated arias. This benefit event includes several new singers who will be featured in the upcoming season’s productions.
University Opera Director William Farlow has selected eight young singers and a program of favorite arias for Opera Props’ fall Showcase Concert this year.
It includes several new singers who will be featured in the upcoming season’s productions. Opera Props is a booster group for the UW School of Music’s opera program, and acts as liaison between the program and the local community. So a valued part of this annual event is the reception, which follows the concert: Singers and their teachers enjoy sharing discussion with the audience, along with lavish chocolate and other treats.
Tickets are $25 per person ($10 for students) and may be purchased at the door. Proceeds will help recruit and fund young artists for the University Opera program.
Here is more information: The student singers (below is a photo of Opera Propos singers in 2011) will sing arias by George Frideric Handel, Jules Massenet, Giocchino Rossini, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, accompanied by pianist Thomas Kasdorf.
One of the singers is mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger (below), who will sing the aria “Parto, ma tu ben mio” from Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.”
Metzger hails from Chicago, where she studied with Jane Bunnell at DePaul University. Last year she was an Apprentice Artist with the Des Moines Metro Opera, and this past summer she sang the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” with Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy.
Metzger is now completing the second year of a Master’s degree at the UW-Madison where she holds a Paul Collins Fellowship. She already is rehearsing the title role of “Ariodante” for this semester’s production on campus of George Frideric Handel’s opera. Next semester she is scheduled to sing Béatrice in Hector Berlioz’s opera “Béatrice et Bénédict.”
For more information about Opera Props and University Opera productions and events, visit: