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:
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:
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
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:
ALERT: This Friday night, tomorrow, at 7:30 p.m. in the new Atrium Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, violinist Laura Burns of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Rhapsodie String Quartet) and pianist Jess Salek will perform the complete violin and piano music by Johannes Brahms. I heard some of the program at a “Grace Presents” concert recently at Grace Episcopal Church (below). The two were terrific. If Brahms’s string and piano music is to your liking—and how can it not be? – then The Ear suggests you seriously consider going. (Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for student, paid by check or cash only.) It is just too bad the concert conflicts with the great program of J.S. Bach, Prokofiev, Finzi and Gounod by Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and violinist Tasmin Little in the Overture Center’s Capital Theater at 8 p.m. that same night. What contradictory and mutually exclusive musical riches we often live among and have to choose between!
By Jacob Stockinger
During the Year of the Arts, Wisconsin Public Television is appropriately undertaking a very praise-worthy and brand new multi-year initiative to spotlight young performers around the state.
Classical music, of course, is not the only music to be featured, but it will be included – and that it important in spotlighting the role of music education.
The opening program in the series will be the State Honors Concerts, which will air this coming Monday night, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television (Channel 21 in the Madison area; Channel 600 on the Charter hi-def schedule.)
It features some of Wisconsin’s best young musical talents in performance at Madison’s Overture Center.
The State Honors Concerts kicks off WPT’s multi-year Young Performers Initiative that celebrates Wisconsin’s young artists.
The WSMA State Honors Music Project brings Wisconsin’s top young musicians to work together with nationally known conductors in a highly disciplined, professional setting.
The students in grades 9 through 11 were selected from more than 1,400 who auditioned.
The Ear think you should watch the broadcast — which does a great public service and spotlights young people for more than sports — and then go to WPT website and sent them an email or phone call thanking them for such commitment to engaging the public in youth arts education.
Here is a link for feedback to WPT:
By Jacob Stockinger
The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Board of Directors late Friday named the 2013 Rabin Youth Arts Awards recipients. Below is the essential information, based on WYSO’s press release, with some other facts added.
Andrew Sewell (below), the music director and conductor of the Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, will be recognized for Artistic Achievement by an Individual.
The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Inc., based in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield, Wisconsin, will be recognized for Philanthropic Achievement by an Organization.
The awards will be presented by Barbara Lawton (below), former Lt. Governor and Chair of the Wisconsin Arts Board, at Arts Wisconsin’s Arts Day, March 13, 2013 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison. A large, statewide group of nominators submitted numerous deserving individuals and organizations, representing all arts mediums. (Full disclosure: The Ear was one of the judges.)
Andrew Sewell, born and educated in New Zealand and now an American citizen, has been a consistent and strong advocate for youth orchestras and youth arts in general throughout his tenure as music director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO), which is pictured below in the overture center’s Capitol Theater, where it performs its winter Masterpiece series. The WCO also performs the popular Concerts on the Square in the summer.
Drawing on his own experiences as a youth orchestra member, Andrew Sewell strives to create unique musical experiences for children through partnerships with professional and youth performing arts groups.
Since his arrival in Madison in 2000, Sewell — who lives in Madison with his wife Mary and three children, who have also participated in WYSO, and who guest conducts around the world — has devoted himself to enhancing WCO’s education programs by providing depth and repeated exposure to youth.
Programs such as The Youth Concerts and “Get Close to the Music” immerse students into musical concepts through repeated classroom visits by trained musicians prior to attending a performance. The Side-By-Side Concerts and Youth Concerto Competition give students the opportunity to compete and perform at a professional level.
Described as a “Renaissance Mentor,” Andrew Sewell has sought to inspire anyone with an interest in the arts to whole-heartedly pursue artistic achievement and personal growth in their endeavors. While Sewell is constantly promoting youth arts education publicly, he also routinely works with choirs, orchestras, bands, small ensembles and soloists regularly.
His sincere enthusiasm and support is readily recognized by children and the community. It is arts educators and supporters like Andrew Sewell (below in a photo by Diane Seldick) whose devotion greatly benefits and leaves a lasting impression on local communities and individuals.
The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation, Inc., established by John and Carolyn Peterson, supports a variety of arts programs throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Peterson Foundation’s philanthropic support of local youth arts programs, such as Madison Opera’s Student Matinee and Opera in the Park, helps organizations provide unique exposure to the arts both onstage and off. (Below is John Peterson, second from left, sitting on the Mills hall stage with some UW-Madison music students in 2012, shortly before he died.)
Through their support Wisconsin Public Television has been able to broadcast The Final Forte with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Concerts on the Square to a large audience base annually. Arts organizations, such as the Madison Jazz Society, are able to incorporate world-class performers into their concert series for community members to enjoy.
The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation’s – its logos is below — philanthropic efforts also include those of preservation and logistics for programming. Through this thoughtful support foundations such as the Heritage Military Music Foundation (HHMF) can maintain antique instruments, music and uniforms to accomplish their mission of presenting living history to the residents of Wisconsin.
The breadth and extent of The John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation’s philanthropy connects with communities through youth education, local concert series, and the preservation of Wisconsin’s history. (Below is the Foundation’s logo.)
The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, located in Madison, Wisconsin, presents the Rabin Youth Arts Awards in honor of their 96-year-old founding conductor, Dr. Marvin Rabin (below, at an awards dinner), as a means to honor those who follow in his footsteps. The awards are a forum for promoting quality youth arts programs and honoring those who work diligently to provide arts opportunities for children throughout Wisconsin. They also serve as a means to elevate awareness in our community about the importance of arts education for all children.
Now celebrating its 47th season, WYSO membership has included more than 5,000 young musicians (below are a few) from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin. WYSO, currently under the artistic direction of James Smith, includes three full orchestras, a string orchestra, a chamber music program, a percussion ensemble, a harp ensemble and a brass choir program.
For more information, visit www.wyso.music.wisc.edu
AND DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND CONGRATULATIONS IN THE ‘COMMENTS’ SECTION.
By Jacob Stockinger
It happens every year around this time.
Only this year it is a two-fer, so the feelings or thoughts are more intense.
That’s because today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, complete with live radio and delayed TV broadcasts of ceremonies from the Wisconsin State Capitol (at noon on Wisconsin Public Radio and at 8 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television) and other places. (Below is the poster for Martin Luther King Jr. ceremonies with host Jonathan Overby.)
But this year it is also President Barack Obama’s second Inauguration Day – well, at least the ceremonial one since the official one took place by law yesterday on Sunday. (In 2008, cellist Yo-Yo Ma (below bottom) played with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Gabriela Montero at the first Inauguration.)
Anyway, on this day I always think back to all the many concerts I go to in a year — professional, amateur and student concerts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO). And I always find myself asking:
Why don’t I see more African-American audiences at the concerts. And especially, Why don’t I see more African-American players in the various symphonic and chamber groups or as soloists?
Sure, I see a lot of whites and a lot of Asians. I see some Hispanics, though also far too few. But I am especially struck at how few African Americans I see – although opera seems to outpace symphonies and chamber groups in this regard. (Sorry to say, I can’t think of any black conductors, violinists or cellists and only one pianist — at bottom, you will find a YouTube video of the African-American pianist Awadagin Pratt performing J.S. Bach at a concert in 2009 at the Obama White House — even though the sports world has at least some black managers, coaches and quarterbacks.)
I don’t see many African-Americans in the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below), whose music director and conductor John DeMain is world-famous for his Grammy-winning black production of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess”:
Or in the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below):
Or in the University of Wisconsin Symphony or Chamber Orchestra and UW Choral Union (below):
Or even in the middle school and high school groups sponsored by WYSO (below).
It is similar to the thoughts I have every New Year’s Day when I tune in the “Live From Vienna” concert with the Vienna Philharmonic and am once again disappointed to see how few women are in that august ensemble – even in the year 2013.
That’s not to say that we won’t today see and hear a lot of blacks in music. But I suspect we will hear jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, spirituals and pop.
And sure, some people may say: Well, after all, those are the traditional genres of music-making in the African-American culture and community.
And they are right in large part, and those are excellent forms of music.
But there is also a large number of blacks who have contributed to classical music. And more blacks – to say nothing of all whites and members of other ethnic groups – could stand to learn more about the contributions of African-Americans to classical music.
Does the cause of such ignorance have to do with racism and bias?
With faulty music education?
With family or community values?
With a lack of role models?
With the lack of aggressive recruiting and hiring by local groups?
Now it just so happens that there are websites that offer visitors comprehensive histories and biographies of blacks in classical music – and even offers a quiz to see how much you know about who they were and the contributions they made.
So on this day when all of the U.S. and, one hopes, the world celebrate the achievements of African-Americans, maybe people can take time to visit this site, educate themselves and get a renewed and greater appreciation for the role that African-Americans have played in classical music.
Here are is a link to one of those websites:
Do you have observations to offer in the COMMENTS section about causes of remedies of such a shortage?
Names of composers and performers to pass along?
Is it something we have to accept as a cultural given?
Are there other websites you can suggest where readers can learn about African Americans and classical music?
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
Right now we are in the midst of the chilly and snowy month-long, mid-season intermission that comes during the regular fall-winter schedule for classical music.
So the memories of last summer’s concerts by the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society are all the more welcome and warming.
There are so many things to single out. I especially love their advocacy of little-known chamber versions of Haydn’s symphonies; I always look forward to their premiering of new music; and I treasure their high-octane readings of such beloved masterworks as Brahms’ Piano Quintet and Schubert’s Cello Quintet.
Let us recall that last year marked BDDS’ 21st anniversary, the Coming of Age of the eclectic and reliable chamber music group that boasts of providing “Chamber Music With a Bang!”
It is not an idle boast. BDDS makes good on its promises – in every way you can think of and in quite a few ways you probably wouldn’t think of.
Even as so many other newer and younger groups are trying to innovate in untraditional ways and untraditional venues in the hopes of drumming up new and younger audiences for classical music -– groups like Classical Music Revolution and NEW MUSE (New Music Everywhere) – BDDS has been trying to achieve the very same goal for 21 years now. And they do it successfully — selling well, as the crowd below in the Overture Center’s Playhouse clearly shows.
This June 14-30 they will do it again, for the 22nd season. The theme is “Deuces Are Wild!” — no doubt because of the two two’s. That probably means we will get to hear many duets, quartets and other multiples of two. Trust me, you can expect to like whatever they decide to do.
Here is a link to the BDDS site where you can find more information, profiles, reviews, biographies and background as well as recordings:
Still young at heart and rebellious, BDDS nonetheless has a history, a long and distinguished record, that the principals can be very proud of.
Co-founders and co-artistic directors flutist Stephanie Jutt (below left, who teaches at the UW-Madison) and pianist Jeffrey Sykes (below right, who trained at the UW-Madison and now teaches in San Francisco) have consistently put together memorable seasons.
And it even seems to The Ear that BDDS has only gotten better with age. It is now a local musical resource every bit as valuable and important as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet and the Madison Early Music Festival, to take just a few prominent examples.
BDDS concerts have always been fun. But I find them even more fun now, especially since there is more music and less shtick. And all the ambition in the world wouldn’t help if they couldn’t deliver the musical goods – which they do in unfailing abundance and quality.
The typical BDDS concert series includes an umbrella theme that leads to both standard classics and neglected works, all done in first-rate performances.
It has programs and publicity filled with puns.
It has photo exhibits by Dick Ainsworth.
It has entertaining Mystery Guests. (Below is retired UW-Madison opera professor Karlos Moser as J.S. Bach.)
It has wonderfully creative and appropriate stage installations (below), done on a shoestring budget by local artists.
It has door prizes, some of them quite inventive and original, and to audience participation.
It has readings of poetry, letters and novels.
It takes chamber music to such diverse places as the Overture Center in downtown Madison; to the historical and restored Stoughton Opera House; and to the landmark Hillside Theater at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Spring Green (below).
It offers to audiences the chance to hear great musicians from the Madison area, but also important performing artists from New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.
Last summer’s season even led to a BDDS appearance on Wisconsin Public Television when it performed Couperin, Haydn and Schubert in the renovated Stoughton Opera House (below) as was part of WPT’s “Jewel Box: concert series that took place in historic theaters. As far as I know it, it was a first for WPT, for BDDS and for classical music in the area. (Check out the preview at the bottom.)
And because BDDS turned 21, they offered patrons a chance to have cocktails, chosen with a theme to match the musical program of the night, at intermission.
It all takes a lot of planning, practicing and plain old hard work from Jutt and Sykes and other performers, as well as executive directive director Samantha Crownover and the many support staffers and financial backers.
But all of BDDS’ efforts have paid off consistently, with first-rate chamber music that offers the whole integrated arts package, as Richard Wagner’s famous cooperative opera aesthetic put it.
That is why you should hear and know and support, BDDS if you haven’t already done so.
And that is also why Madison’s Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is this year’s Musician of the Year.