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
The Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer) – which became the world’s first artists-in-residence in the world when they agreed to stay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1940 — kicks off its new season with two FREE concerts this week and much more this fall.
The Pro Arte – which celebrated its historically unprecedented centennial two seasons ago — will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Prussia” String Quartet in D Major, K 575, Darius Milhaud’s Quartet No. 7 and the rarely heard Quartet in A Minor by the Viennese violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler who is best known for his miniature works, transcriptions and pastiches.
Then at 7:30 p.m. on next Thursday, Oct. 3 in Mills Hall, the Pro Arte will perform a FREE and MUST-HEAR concert in Mills Hall. It will perform the same Mozart and Kreisler quartets as above, but the Milhaud will be replaced by the String Quartet No. 1, Op. 51, No. 1, by Johannes Brahms.
Also, stay tuned for word about an airing date for the program that the Pro Arte is recording this coming Monday night for Wisconsin Public Television.
The by-invitation-only TV concert has a program that features a prelude by Ernest Bloch (at bottom in a YouTube video) and the famous “Adagio for Strings” quartet movement – later transcribed for string orchestra at the request of famed conductor Arturo Toscanini (below top) – by Samuel Barber (below bottom).
Many people forget that the Pro Arte Quartet gave the world premiere of the famous “Adagio for Strings” — the slow movement of Barber’s String Quartet in B Minor, Op. 11 — in Rome in 1936.
Also watch for news this fall of an Albany Records CD release — with a local release party — of the four commissions (two string quartets and two piano quintets)– that the Pro Arte Quartet commissioned for its centennial two seasons ago. The CD was engineered by the multiple Grammy Award-winner Judith Sherman (below).
The two string quartets were composed from Walter Mays (below top) and John Harbison (below bottom), who is also the co-director of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.
The two piano quintets were composed by Paul Schoenfield (below top) and William Bolcom (below middle) and featured the celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor (below bottom).
Then at its FREE concert in Mills Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, the Pro Arte will give the world premiere of its fifth centennial commission: a String Quartet by the contemporary Belgian composer Benoit Mernier (below). The Pro Arte originally started, you may recall, at the conservatory in Brussels.
And finally, next May, the Pro Arte Quartet travels to Europe – to its home city of Brussels, Belgium, as well as London and maybe Paris – to perform works from its centennial commissions.
And there is still more to come, including a book about the Pro Arte Quartet by the retired UW-Madison historian turned music critic and guest writer for Isthmus and for this blog John W. Barker (below).
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear has heard from two loyal readers and friends – period keyboardist Trevor Stephenson and the WORT FM radio host Rich Samuels about events that will take place on the airwaves this Thursday morning and noon.
Rich Samuels (below), who hosts the weekly classical radio program “Anything Goes” from 5 to 8 a.m. on WORT FM 89.9 and who records and emphasizes local music and local musicians, writes:
“This Thursday morning, Aug. 29, starting at 30 seconds past 7:07 to about 7:45 a.m., I’ll be airing (on WORT 89.9) a recut of an interview I recorded last August with Howard, Frances, Parry, Ariana and Isabel Karp in anticipation of the 36th FREE annual Karp Family Labor Day Concert on Monday, Sept. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. (As you recall, that same concert last year was cancelled on account of Illness).
“Recorded music for this segment includes recordings of Howard and Parry performing the final movement of John Ireland’s Sonata in G minor for Piano and Violin (adapted for violin and cello); Howard and Frances Karp playing Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in E minor Op. 72, No. 2, for piano, four hands version; and Joel Hoffman’s “Karptet” (featuring Frances Karp, Howard Karp, Christopher Karp, Parry Karp and Katrin Talbot).”
The program this year includes Pro Arte Quartet violinist Suzanne Beia plus the above Karp family members. The program includes: the Sonata in G minor, Op. 2 No. 8 for Two Cellos and Piano (ca. 1719) by George Frideric Handel (below in a YouTube video); “ November 19, 1828” for Piano and String Trio (1988) by John Harbison ; Sonata in D major for Piano and Cello, Op. 102, No. 2 (1815) by Ludwig van Beethoven ; and music and dramatic excerpts from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Op. 61, with incidental music by Felix Mendelssohn. Notes about the concert will be featured on this blog on Friday. (Below are daughter Ariana Karp and father Parry Karp at the Labor Day family concert in 2011.)
Adds Samuels: The Karp segment runs 37 minutes and 43 second. The show concludes with a recording John Harbison gave me from last year’s Token Creek Chamber Music Festival: the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto in D Major for Piano and Orchestra K. 537 in a chamber arrangement featuring some pretty amazing improvising by Harvard University pianist Robert Levin (below) who will perform some of his Mozart completions this coming weekend at the Token Creek Festival. Other instrumentalists are Heidi Braun-Hill and Rose Mary Harbison (violins), John Harbison (viola) and Rhonda Rider (cello).
WERN 88.7 FM
Another fan and friend, Trevor Stephenson (below) writes:
I’ll play selections by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, and Norman will interview me about the all things fortepiano: How and why it came about in the 18th century? How its construction (thinner wire, leather hammers, all wooden frame, etc.) facilitates playing of Classical-era repertoire?
I’ll talk about why the fortepiano is particularly theatrical, affectively polarized really — from its giddy, fizzy, articulate highs, to its moody, menacing, growling lows. Wisconsin Public Television will also be filming the broadcast and that will air on WPT later in the year.
Also, this Fall — on Monday evenings from October 14 through November 18 — I’m offering a course on the keyboard music of Bach, Handel and Scarlatti. I’ll discuss the stylistic similarities and divergences of these three masters — all born in 1685 — and will also examine how each composer integrated elements of various national styles (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian . . .) to form their own personal compositional voice.
I’ll talk about each composer’s life and personality as well as the social circles within which they moved. I’ll also discuss and demonstrate—at both the harpsichord and piano — approaches to performing their music and we will look into elements of performance such as fingering, tempo, rubato, articulation, voicing, instruments, and the ever-elusive yet oh-so-important Affect, or interpretation, or feeling for the moment at hand!
Here is some of the specific repertoire we’ll look at: Johann Sebastian Bach – English Suite in G minor, “Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother,” “Art of Fugue” Contrapunctus XIX (ending with the B-A-C-H fugue), the C major Prelude and Fugue from Book I and Book II of “The Well-Tempered Clavier to compare them; George Frideric Handel – Suite in E major (which concludes with the “Harmonious Blacksmith” variations), Gavotte in G major, Suite in D minor (which includes the famous Sarabande), Impertinence, Allegro in G major; Domenico Scarlatti – Sonatas: K. 238 and 239 both in F minor, K. 159 in C major, K. 9 in D minor “Pastorale,” and K. 380 in E major.
The course is geared for those people with a reading knowledge of music. The classes will be given at my home studio from 7-8:30 p.m. on the following Monday evenings: October 14, 21, Nov. 4, 11, 18. My home studio (below during a “house concert”) is at 5729 Forsythia Place, Madison, WI 53705. Enrollment for the course is $180. Please let me know by September 15 if you’d like to attend. Contact me at www.trevorstephenson.com or by calling (608) 238-6092.
The Madison Bach Musicians 2013-14 season is now posted and tickets are available! This is our 10th season! Opening concert is October 5. See www.madisonbachmusicians.org Sign up and more details will com by email in a couple of days.
By Jacob Stockinger
Tonight, Wednesday, July 3, at 7 p.m. on the King Street corner of the downtown Capitol Square in Madison, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s second Concert of the Square (below), under conductor Andrew Sewell — a native New Zealander who is now a naturalized American citizen – will celebrate the Fourth of July.
Also tonight, with fireworks beginning at 9:30 p.m., the radio-broadcast soundtrack for the gigantic regional celebration Rhythm and Booms show (below) in Madison’s Warner Park will no doubt include the same piece, or at least its finale.
For more information about that event, including the official traffic plans, here is a link: http://www.rhythmandbooms.com
And tomorrow night, Thursday, July 4, at 7 p.m., Wisconsin Public Television will also broadcast PBS’ live coverage of “A Capitol Fourth,” the Fourth of July concert from Capitol Hill and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Here is a link with information about the event and the performers, who include singers Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and Jackie Evancho as well as composer John Williams conducting the National Symphony Orchestra.
And like Fourth of July concerts all over the country, all of those concerts or musical celebrations will likely once again end with a rousing version of the “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky (below) with cannon shots booming and church bells ringing – perhaps with a Sousa march for an encore. (At bottom is the most popular YouTube video of The 1812 Overture that has more than 1.5 million hits.)
The rest of tonight’s Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s “Red, White and Blue” program features piano soloist Michael Mizrahi (below) playing what The Ear calls The Gershwin Card. (Next spring, the Madison Symphony Orchestra will also play The Gershwin Card to close its upcoming season that will mark the 20th anniversary of maestro John DeMain‘s tenure.)
I use the term The Gershwin Card to mean a kind of appealing crossover programming of the tuneful and jazzy music by George Gershwin (below) that draws big audiences like pops and is easy to digest like pops, but also has a more serious side and is closer to having a classical pedigree than being pops.
In particular, the WCO concert features Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “I Got Rhythm” Variations as well as Robert Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute.”
So far, so American!
But how did music celebrating a Russian victory over Napoleon (below, seen in painting retreating in defeat from Moscow) and the French army in 1812 become so emblematic of the Fourth of July and American independence?
Well, like the American Revolution itself, the musical tradition started in Boston.
Only much, much later.
Care to take a guess?
Here is a link to the story as told to NPR’s Scott Simon on last Saturday morning’s “Weekend Edition”:
For more information about this second Concert on the Square go to this page, which also has information about the entire series and the remaining four concerts:
By Jacob Stockinger
Wisconsin Public Television has always been a great source of information, entertainment and enlightenment for viewers who like and appreciate the performing arts. Over the years, The Ear has been a devoted fan of “Live From Lincoln Center,” “American Masters” and much more.
But now, with new equipment, the statewide PBS network is planning to bring viewers even more local arts coverage.
Despite his hectic schedule, WPT’s Director of Television and Station Manager James Steinbach, who oversees the six-station network, took time out to talk about future plans – and achievements over the past year, which the Ear has watched and liked very much — with The Ear.
Here is my Q&A with James Steinbach (below):
Is WPT planning to change how it covers classical music and other genres of music or the performing arts? (The Jewel Box concert by the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in the Stoughton Opera House last summer comes to mind.) How will it change and what role does some new equipment make it possible?
Wisconsin Public Television has made a renewed commitment to covering the arts and classical music around Wisconsin, with a specific focus on our state’s talented young performers through a project called the “Young Performers Initiative.”
Our first “Venture Forward” capital campaign outfitted a new high-definition remote production studio, which has greatly expanded our ability to travel the state and capture what is important to the communities we serve. With enhanced mobility, we are able to visit concert halls, stages and schools to share the wonderful talent of our youth and their educators with our statewide audiences.
Are there certain events like the Madison Symphony Orchestra concert with the Naughton Twins, the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet and the Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Concerts set up? Are specific broadcast dates and times set, and when are they?
We launched our “Young Performers Initiative” with the “State Honors Concerts” (http://wptschedule.org/series/1579/State-Honors-Concerts/9) in February (below top) followed by the “Final Forte” (http://www.wpt.org/final_forte) (below bottom) in March and “Live at Overture: The Naughtons” (http://wptschedule.org/episodes/76939/Live-at-Overture-The-Naughtons/) in April.
Most recent was our annual broadcast of the “UW Spring Varsity Band Show.” (http://wptschedule.org/episodes/169325/UW-Varsity-Band-Spring-Concert/Any-Dream-Will-Do/) And in early June we featured “Spirited Songs: A Choral Celebration.” (http://wptschedule.org/episodes/210088/Spirited-Songs/) Also in June, we will be recording the 2013 Tommy Awards at the Overture Center for later broadcast. Check out www.wpt.org for more broadcast details.
For the coming years, we have mapped out a potential production schedule to continue this commitment to featuring young artists on a regular basis. This is an ambitious and important effort for the station and our partners — Milwaukee Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin School Music Association.
Why does WPT want to do this?
The “Young Performers Initiative” provides a focus area through which to celebrate the vibrancy of Wisconsin communities, to raise awareness for the events they take pride in, and to inspire new generations of support and participation in these activities.
Despite economic headwinds, the arts remain an important part of Wisconsin life due to the unrelenting and collaborative efforts of arts proponents, educators and community leaders around the state. We want to shine a spotlight on these efforts, and celebrate the continued dedication and talent of Wisconsin’s young performers and those who inspire them.
The performances we share with viewers around the state are certainly inspiring. Equally inspiring is the work educators and young people do every day in their classrooms.
To support and enhance this work, we’ve partnered with Wisconsin School Music Association (a photo of its Waunakee headquarters is below) to develop and disseminate unique, effective and local classroom resources to complement existing arts curriculum.
These resources will include repurposed performance video featuring Wisconsin’s young artists, the state’s standards-based lesson plans, viewing guides and behind-the-scenes footage, including effective rehearsals, inspiring interviews and more.
We know from research that involvement in and simply exposure to the arts can offer a lifetime of inherent benefits for children, along with enriched academic and social skills.
They won’t all be musicians or dancers or actors, but they will be tomorrow’s engaged citizens, audience and supporters.
What else would you like to say about WPT’s past, present and future coverage of local classical music (and the live music) around the state or about other arts coverage? Are there specific plans for the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Appleton, Lacrosse and other areas of Wisconsin?
We have held listening sessions in almost all regions of the state to learn what’s important to each community. What are the events and concerts they are most proud of? We have plans to return to all the listed communities, and more in the coming years. We look forward to celebrating the events, people and places that bring the arts to life in Wisconsin.
What else would you like to add?
We know, with absolute certainty, that many young people across the state are practicing their hearts out with supportive parents, teachers and communities behind them. These hardworking and talented young people deserve to be seen, heard and recognized on a statewide scale. Great kids doing great things? Public television should be there!
Check out this video for more information about the Young Performers Initiative:
An ALERT for singers and singing fans: On Wednesday, April 3, guest artist soprano Judith Kellock, a Professor of Voice at Cornell University, will hold voice master classes from 1:15-3:15 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. Both classes are in Music Hall, and are free and open to the public.
Kellock (below) has been featured with the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and many more. As a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts recitalist fellowship, Kellock has sung major operatic roles in Italy and Greece, toured with the Opera Company of Boston and performed with the Mark Morris Dance Company at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels. For more information, visit: http://www.judithkellock.com/
By Jacob Stockinger
Today is April Fools’ Day. But this is no joke.
Tomorrow, on Tuesday night from 7 to 8 p.m. (NOT 8-9, as I mistakenly said earlier), Wisconsin Public Television will broadcast the concert by the twin sister pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
To The Ear, in fact, it seems a win-win.
Or maybe even a win-win-win.
It is a win for Wisconsin Public Television, which continues to make good on its promise to cover more music and other arts as part of its new Young Performers Initiative.
It is a win for the twin sisters, Christina and Michelle Naughton (below and at bottom in a YouTube video) who were raised in Madison and studied with UW-Madison virtuoso pianist Christopher Taylor before heading off to the Curtis Institute of Music where they graduated and have now started a career as acclaimed duo-pianists with lots of bookings and a first CD for the Orfeo label.
And it is a win for the Madison Symphony Orchestra, which featured the two sisters last fall in the beautiful and spunky Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc.
It was a terrific concert. I know because I heard it. The Poulenc — it has a sublimely Mozartean middle slow movement — is as great as it is difficult, and the two sisters performed it to impressive perfection, as well as part of Darius Milhaud’s infectiously Latin “Scaramouche” Suite as an encore.
Here is a Q&A the twin sisters did for this blog about themselves and the whole concert, which featured Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta” and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (“The Great”) of which probably only excerpts will be heard on the TV:
And here is a link to the Naughton Sisters official website:
But it should be impressive event, even with excerpts.
If the camera work from other similar events – like the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society at the Stoughton Opera House (below top), the Honors Concerts of the Wisconsin School Music Association (below bottom) and the MSO Final Forte Competition for students – viewers are in for a treat.
So a few big shout-outs go to WPT’s James Steinbach and his crew; to MSO maestro John DeMain and the players of the orchestra; and of course to the Naughton Twins who made the concert a real musical Homecoming for Madison-area listeners and now viewers.
By Jacob Stockinger
You may recall that last week the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) announced its next season, 2013-14, which is special because it marks the 20th year of the tenure of music director and conductor John DeMain.
Here are links to the MSO website and to this blog’s announcement of the MSO’s new season:
The season announcement by DeMain and his administrative team took place over lunch. It was on a cold rainy day in the light-filled rooftop restaurant Al Fresco, located in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which is also located in the Overture Center where the MSO regularly performs in Overture Hall.
Looking trim and fit, DeMain gave an articulate, humorous and informative introduction to the upcoming season, even though he had just had just had a very busy week that included three subscription concerts, a sold-out morning of children’s concerts and the sold-out Final Forte teenage concerto competition that was broadcast live over Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio:
After a lunch of Chicken and Caesar salad dressing wraps and green salad, the gregarious and amiable DeMain opened up the session to informal questions.
The Ear asked DeMain (below in a photo by Greg Anderson) to reflect on the last 20 years and what he made of it, and to look forward to his future in Madison – especially since the average tenure of a conductor is around 10 years.
Well first of all, I think that 10-year tenure rule is true for large, major 52-week orchestras. But for orchestras of this size, I think communities of this size don’t like to see too much change if they don’t have to. And there are always exceptions even at the big orchestras.
How would I sum up my 20 years here? Obviously, I am thrilled that during my tenure we went from two to three performances (triples) of each concert and that we got the Overture Center (below), which is such a great home in which to make music and opera. Both the musicians and I so love being in this home. The hall also attracts the top-notch musicians in the orchestras that I get to work with. It’s been a real high. (Below top is the Overture Center; below bottom is Overture Hall.)
As for repertoire, I wanted to do all the Mahler symphonies and I did. So now we are looking at still more composers that we’ve neglected and composers that we want to do more of and haven’t. But that comes in the future. Right now, we want to celebrate next season with a feast of beautiful music and use the next season to celebrate.
The great thing about music is there is so much beautiful music out there is that if you can’t do one beautiful piece, you can do another. You don’t really feel bad about it because there is a limitless choice of good music out there. You just can’t get to all you want to play when you want to play it.
I am so glad where I am in this community where there is such a love of the arts and such support for the arts. It is a heart-warming experience every time we do a subscription weekend.
I also love it when a guest soloist comes to me and says — which has happened twice in the past month -– “I’ve done this piece with such and such a major orchestra and you are already doing it better than they ever did.”
Experiencing music live is great. Take the Shostakovich 10th Symphony we just did. You see the violins take a down bow in an aggressive moment. The orchestra plays with a physical involvement that goes with the audience as well as the listening does. The audiences tell me over and over again how much they enjoy watching the orchestra play — as long as it enhances the experience of the music.
I’ve always been the kind of musician who likes being in a long-term relationship or post. I don’t particularly enjoy guesting. I was with Houston Grand Opera a long time. Now I’m here with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Madison Opera a long time.
What I do is my brand of music-making and the next person who comes along will have their way of making music. But by staying on, you have a chance to develop. By being here a long time you have a chance to raise the bar and set a high standard just by being here and not being away all the time and running around. I like the idea of growing and maturing with the orchestra during these years and having a beautiful home.
Barring the unforeseen, I certainly expect to be here to celebrate my 25th anniversary and from then on we will see. One doesn’t think about age except maybe when looking in the mirror. But if your ears are OK and your eyes are OK and your arms are OK, making music is lifelong experience. I don’t think it has a timeline to it. We know that. Just look at Lorin Maazel, who is still conducting at 83. There is no real time line there unless you just can’t do it.
Here is John DeMain on TV, NBC 15, talking about a 2011 MSO concert featuring local UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor. You can find many more John DeMain videos on YouTube.
ALERT: In case you haven’t already heard the news, Middleton High School pianist Christopher Eom (below, on the far left) won the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s “Final Forte” part of the Bolz Young Artists Competition on Thursday night when he performed the first movement of Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Here is a link to the MSO website with other information, including biographies of all the four participants and when the live airing by Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television will be re-broadcast.
By Jacob Stockinger
On Friday afternoon, the Madison Symphony Orchestra announced its next season for 2013-14. As in the past five season, it is holding its subscription concerts to eight, with a ninth one-performance only special event added. Difficult economic times forced the MSO to reduce its season several years ago.
Tickets will also increase 5 percent, according to Executive Director Rick Mackie.
“We have held the line on no increase for many years,” Mackie told The Ear. “But costs are going up. We had to do something.”
2013-24 is a special season because it marks the 20th anniversary of the tenure of music director and conductor John DeMain, who came to Madison from the Houston Grand Opera, where he was the artistic director. DeMain (below in a photo by Prasad) also is the music director of the Madison Opera, which will soon announce its new season.
To mark the occasion, an MSO press release says, DeMain has put together a season designed to highlight the growth of the ensemble during his tenure, which will be showcased prominently in September by opening with an all-orchestral season premiere.
Regular MSO concerts take place in the Overture Center’s Overture Hall (below) on Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Throughout the season, DeMain has programmed works by composers integral to his relationship with the orchestra, including Copland, Beethoven, Gershwin, Mozart, Brahms, Dvorak, Rachmaninoff and Strauss.
A world-class roster of guest artists — their desire to return to Madison is more proof, says DeMain, of the high caliber of the MSO’s ensemble playing — has been invited to Madison for the season’s performances, including pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Augustin Hadelich, organist Nathan Laube, and Tony Award-winning singer Karen Ziemba.
New this season is a one-performance only presentation of Beyond the Score® in January, featuring Symphony No. 9 (“New World”) in a multimedia context that illuminates the stories behind the music.
The orchestra’s website has already been updated about the new season. Details about purchasing tickets and the concert season–including music previews and guest artist biographies–can be found on the MSO website at www.madisonsymphony.org.
The season begins on September 27, 28 and 29, 2013 with a program of orchestral favorites spotlighting the musicians of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The American harmonies of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” open the concert, followed by Richard Wagner’s majestic and moving Prelude and Liebestod from “Tristan und Isolde.” Rimsky-Korsakov’s epic “Scheherazade” concludes this program of touchstone works that demonstrate the full expressive range of orchestral music and highlight MSO concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below).
On October 18, 19 and 20, 2013 French pianist Philippe Bianconi (below, in a photo by Bernard Martinez) returns to the MSO for a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2. Of the piece, Bianconi says, “What I really love is that it’s like playing in a symphony. Being immersed in the orchestral texture is always an exhilarating experience.” Two 20th century works round out the program: Benjamin Britten’s “Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell” (better known as The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra), recently featured prominently in Wes Anderson’s Academy Award-nominated film “Moonrise Kingdom,” and Debussy’s “La Mer,” a musical seascape sure to transport audiences.
The program for November 15, 16, and 17, 2013 features violinist Augustin Hadelich (below) – one of The Ear’s favorite young fiddlers — in Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole.” Hailed as “one of the most distinctive violinists of his generation” by The New York Times, Hadelich describes the Lalo as “emotional and hot-blooded” and is excited to help listeners “rediscover what a great piece it is” as he makes his second appearance with the orchestra. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ “Too Hot Toccata” opens the program and the lush Romanticism of Rachmaninoff is on full display in his Symphony No. 2.
Conductor DeMain and the orchestra don their Santa hats for the 20th anniversary of A Madison Symphony Christmas (below top, in a photo by Greg Anderson) on December 6, 7, and 8, 2013. A beloved Madison tradition, this concert brings together the Madison Symphony Chorus, Madison Youth Choirs and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir with outstanding guest vocalists. This season, soprano Melody Moore (below top) and bass Nathan Stark (below bottom, in a photo by Paul Sarouchman) take the stage to help mark Madison’s unofficial start of the holiday season.
January 26, 2014, brings a special, one performance-only concert entitled Beyond the Score®. The first half of this concert is a multi-media exploration of Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) by Antonin Dvorak (below), weaving together historical narrative with live actors, visual illustrations and musical examples played by the MSO, all exploring the life and times of the composer. The second half is a full performance of the work. Beyond the Score® is designed not only for classical music aficionados, but also for newcomers looking to delve deeper into the world of classical music. Developed by and licensed from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Beyond the Score® has been celebrated by orchestras and critics around the country, with the Chicago Tribune raving, “Seldom has enlightenment proved so entertaining.”
On February 14, 15, and 16, 2014 the young Norwegian trumpet virtuoso Tine Thing Helseth (below, in a photo by Colin Bell of EMI Classics) makes her MSO debut in performances of two contrasting concertos: Hadyn’s Concerto for Trumpet, and Arutiunian’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra. The concertos are framed by three orchestral gems: Sibelius’ symphonic poem “Finlandia,” the “Doctor Atomic” Symphony from John Adams’ new American opera of the same name, and Strauss’ Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier,” which DeMain, known as an opera conductor, says is his favorite opera.
Beethoven is at the heart of the orchestral experience and no anniversary celebration would be complete without his music. Concerts on March 7, 8, and 9, 2014, offer an ALL-BEETHOVEN program and features one of the world’s great pianists, Yefim Bronfman (below, in a photo by Odad Antman), in not one, but two concertos by Beethoven: his rarely played Piano Concerto No. 2 (actually composed before the first) and Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”). The Beethoven bonanza continues throughout the program, with the orchestra performing his Symphony No. 1 and Overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus” — from the great composer’s only ballet!
April 4, 5, and 6, 2014 brings together six guest artists for spectacular performances of Jongen’s “Symphonie Concertante” and Mozart’s Requiem led by acclaimed guest conductor Julian Wachner, praised as a “major talent” by The Boston Globe. Organist Nathan Laube (below top) is featured in the Jongen, a grand, dramatic concerto heard previously in Madison at the dedication of the Overture Concert Organ. UW-Madison trained soprano Emily Birsan (below bottom), mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack, tenor Wesley Rogers, and bass Liam Moran join the Madison Symphony Chorus for Mozart’s Requiem, his final composition and one of his most compelling to this day. Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No. 1 opens the program.
Concluding the season on May 2, 3, and 4, 2014, is a concert event close to Maestro DeMain’s heart: “The Gershwin Legacy.” George Gershwin left an indelible imprint on American music, says DeMain who is known for his award-winning performances and Grammy-winning recording of “Porgy and Bess.” This grand finale brings together soprano Emily Birsan, and Broadway stars Karen Ziemba (below top) and Ron Raines (below bottom). The program features works by Gershwin, including the fascinating “I Got Rhythm Variations,” which will be played by 2012 Bolz Young Artist Competition winner, local pianist Garrick Olsen (below middle, in a photo by Chris Paskas), along with the “Catfish Row Suite” from “Porgy and Bess.” Then Leonard Bernstein steps up with the Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story,” and music by Kurt Weill, Marc Blitzstein and Stephen Sondheim — all also influenced by Gershwin — round out the season finale. It is a fitting closer since DeMain worked closely with Bernstein.
As for tickets:
As mentioned above, there is a 5 percent ticket increase.
The MSO is also continuing its popular new subscriber discount of 50% off single ticket prices for subscriptions of six, seven and eight concerts. New subscriber packages start at just $56 for five concerts, including a 40% discount off single ticket prices. There is no deadline for new subscriptions; however, patrons are encouraged to order early for the best available seats.
Renewing subscribers save up to 25% off the price of single tickets. The renewal deadline in May 6.
In addition to subscriber discounts, unlimited ticket exchange and optional reserved subscriber parking in the Dane County Ramp, the MSO also offers an exclusive 10% discount on single tickets during Subscriber Courtesy Days, August 10-12, 2013.
Subscribers can contact the MSO by calling (608) 257-3734 with questions or to be added to the mailing list.
ALERT: The performance tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. by Classical Revolution Madison at Brocach Irish Pub (below) at 7 West Man Street, on the Capitol Square in Madison HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
By Jacob Stockinger
It’s time again for one of Madison’s annual and much anticipated Rites of Spring: “The Final Forte.”
That is the final round where four young classical musicians compete as soloists live and on stage with the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below top) under music director and conductor John DeMain (below bottom, in a photo by James Gill) in the Capitol Theater, although in previous years it was held in Overture Hall, of the Overture Center in downtown Madison near the Capitol Square.
I have heard and watched The Final Forte quite a few times and the music-making is always wonderful, and the display of talent is always impressive. I don’t envy the judges and their task. It is a terrific event to promote classical music, both the making of it and the hearing of it in live performance. Young performing artists always need more public platforms and exposure. And music education always needs more help.
Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) will once again offer statewide live broadcasts of Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14. The broadcast — part of WPT’s new Young Performers Initiative — also will be live simulcast at wpt.org on the Web.
The Final Forte features (below, from left, in a photo by James Gill) pianist Christopher Eom; harpist Chloe Tula; violinist C. Andrew Dunlap; and oboist Lauren McNeel. The four will vie for honors in the 2013 Bolz Young Artist Competition.
For more information, including biographies of the four performers and dates for repeat broadcasts, visit: http://www.madisonsymphony.org/competition
Each finalist will perform a movement from a concerto while judges determine who will win scholarships and the opportunity to perform as soloists with the MSO at the Spring Young People’s Concert.
Here is the complete program: W.A. Mozart – “The Impresario” Overture, K. 486; Franz Josef Haydn’s Oboe Concerto in C Major, first movement with Lauren McNeel, Oboe; Reinhold Gliere’s Harp Concerto in E flat Major, Op. 74, first movement, with Chloe Tula, harp; Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, first movement, with C. Andrew Dunlap, violin; Camille Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, first movement, with Christopher Eom, piano; Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite (1945) sections 9) Infernal Dance, 10) Berceuse and 11) Finale.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the free live performance in the Capitol Theater (below) at the Overture Center in Madison; phone (608) 257-3734 to reserve a seat. Audience members must be seated by 6:45 p.m.
“Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte” is a partnership of Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Major funding for “Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte” is provided by Diane Endres Ballweg; Stanley and Shirley Inhorn; Julie and Larry Midtbo; Fred and Mary Mohs; and Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, with additional gifts from A. Paul Jones Charitable Trust, Baird Foundation, The Boldt Company, Mildred and Marv Conney, Sentry Insurance Foundation, W. Jerome Frautschi, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.
WPT is a service of the Educational Communications Board and the University of Wisconsin–Extension. Statewide outlets include WHA-TV, Madison; WPNE-TV, Green Bay; WHRM-TV, Wausau; WLEF-TV, Park Falls; WHLA-TV, La Crosse; and WHWC-TV, Menomonie-Eau Claire.
A SHOUT-OUT: Three cheers for Wisconsin Public Television for broadcasting on Monday night a one-hour program from the State Honors Concerts for choirs, band and orchestra (below) of the Wisconsin School Music Association, held in the Capitol Theater of Madison’s Overture Center. It was so encouraging and inspiring to see all the serious and talented young students making such beautiful music. Imagine — Prep Arts getting coverage comparable to Prep Sports!!! What a goal to have!!! Here’s hoping more such programs are in the works and that this one gets repeated showings and becomes an annual tradition. If you saw it, what did you think? Leave a Comment.
By Jacob Stockinger
Spread the word among middle and high school student musicians in southcentral Wisconsin as well as among their families and friends!
This coming Saturday, March 2, is a big day for the Wisconsin Youth Orchestras (WYSO).
That’s when an open house and open rehearsals will be held and auditions applications for next season will be available. Then at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, a performance by the WYSO Percussion Ensemble will take place.
Also noteworthy: Audition applications are now available for young musicians interested in joining the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO).
Students age 10-18 who are interested in enhancing their musical skills and performing throughout the community are invited to audition for the 2013-2014 WYSO season. Audition applications are currently available on the WYSO website at http://wyso.music.wisc.edu.
WYSO will offer an Open Rehearsal opportunity for students, parents and teachers who would like to see the WYSO program in action on this Saturday, March 2.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a meet-and-greet featuring breakfast snacks in the Strelow Lounge of the University of Wisconsin-Madison‘s Mosse Humanities Building in the basement at 455 North Park Street. Guests will be able to talk with WYSO staff and parents of current members, and will get a chance to tour WYSO’s four orchestras in rehearsal.
After the tour, guests will have an opportunity to speak with current WYSO members in a Q&A session. Staff and current students will also address visitors’ questions about upcoming auditions, which begin in April.
Audition applications will be due March 9 and students who play viola, string bass, horn, bassoon, trombone or tuba are especially encouraged to apply.
WYSO includes three full orchestras and a string orchestra, a chamber music program, a harp program, a percussion ensemble, and a brass choir program.
The orchestras rehearse on Saturday mornings during the academic year, perform three to four public concerts per season, and tour regionally, nationally and internationally. Scholarships are available for tuition, private lessons, the chamber music program, and international touring.
For more information or to RSVP for the Open Rehearsal, please contact Nicole Sparacino, WYSO Communications & Development Manager at 608-263-3320 ext. 11.
You can also visit wyso.music.wisc.edu. There you will see that since its founding in 1966, WYSO has educated more than 5,000 students from more than 100 communities in southcentral Wisconsin.
You can see and hear some of the results of that training when WYSO also hold its concert by the Percussion Ensemble (below) this coming Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students. For more information and details, including the program for the concert, visit: