The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: How do you capture sound in pictures? Photographer Michael R. Anderson talks about his images of musicians at the UW-Madison School of Music. His photos are on show at the Lowell Center through April 30. A public reception is this Sunday afternoon 1-3.

March 6, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you go to the official website (http://www.music.wisc.edu) and the A Tempo blog (https://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music — and you really should do so regularly if you are a classical music fan in the Madison area — you are likely to see a lot of photographs taken by Michael R. Anderson.

UW School of Music

So who is he?

And what does he say about his photographs, which feature striking compositions and a fine sense of animation?

You can judge for yourself from the new exhibition of his images at the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon Street, phone (608) 256-2621. It went up last Sunday, but has its official opening and reception this Sunday afternoon — with refreshments and with the photographer present — from 1 to 3 p.m.

The free exhibit runs through April 30 at the UW-Extension Building   At some future time, according to UW School of Music officials, some of Anderson’s images will be put on display outside Mills Hall and Morphy Hall.

For more information, visit:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/photo-exhibit-mike-anderson/

Michael R. Anderson (below) kindly spoke to The Ear about his photo show:

Michael R. Anderson portrait

Can you briefly introduce yourself to readers and tell them about your personal and professional interests?

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1970 with a degree in Chemistry. After teaching for nine years, I returned to school, earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering and subsequently worked for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. When we retired, my wife and I returned to Wisconsin.

Michael R. Anderson quartet of students

How and when did your interest in photography start and what drew you to music as a subject matter?

In 1966 I went to summer school in Germany. An aunt lent me her Kodak Instamatic to take with me. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed trying to capture that summer in pictures. I’ve enjoyed photography as a hobby ever since. Since my wife and I like to camp and hike, landscape and nature photography is a favorite subject.

Our older son, Eric, is a UW-Madison School of Music graduate. He’s now the band director at Verona Area High School and he also conducts the Verona Area Concert Band. My first real attempt to photograph musicians was when he asked me to take pictures of the Concert Band for their website. That turned out to be more fun than I had anticipated, and I’ve photographed them several times over the past few years.

UW Chamber Orchestra, James Smith, conductor

How did you get started taking pictures for the UW-Madison School of Music?

Kathy Esposito, who manages Public Relations for the School of Music, placed an ad in a local photography newsletter seeking a volunteer to take pictures that she could use to update the school’s website. One of the joys of retirement is having time to volunteer for jobs like this, so I contacted her.

Do you have favorite areas of interest or subject matter —portraits, action shots, rehearsals or performances, individuals or groups?

Candid shots of the musicians rehearsing or performing are my favorite, especially those of individuals or small groups. Trying to capture their energy, emotion and concentration as they play is an interesting challenge.

Michael R. Anderson horns square USE

Do you see any parallels between photography and music?

They’re both food for the right side of the brain. Life would be rather boring without the arts to inspire us.

Do you care to share any technical information (camera, lenses, flash, processing software, printer, paper) for those who are interested?

Photographers like to say that the equipment is not important. Nevertheless, many people, even other photographers, are interested. All but one of the photos in this exhibit were taken on a Canon 7D with a Canon 70-200 f/4L or a Canon EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 lens. Lightroom and Photoshop were used to process the RAW files and the pictures were printed on Red River Polar Matte paper with an Epson Stylus Photo R2000 printer.

UW School of Music

What do you most enjoy about making photos of music? What aspect do you least enjoy or find most challenging?

Photography gives me a chance to describe an aural experience with a visual language. That’s an interesting task. The difficult part is that classrooms are not photo studios with plenty of bright lights. I often have to use slower shutter speeds and higher ISOs (film speeds) than I would like.

UW School of Music

How many images to you generally shoot during a typical concert to arrive at a “keeper” shot?

This can vary quite a bit, depending on the type of scene I’m trying to capture as well as the lighting and other factors. But it’s not unusual to take 10-20 photos to get one I like. One is never enough, of course, so it’s easy to take several hundred during a concert to get a selection of final images that cover various phases of the performance.

Michael R. Anderson tympani player

What else would you like to say?

These photos capture just a few moments in time but the music lives on through the excellent programs and performances at the UW-Madison School of Music.

If your readers have additional questions, there will be an open house for this exhibit at the Lowell Center (below), 610 Langdon St., on this coming Sunday, March 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. At 2 p.m. I will make a few comments about the exhibit and answer questions.

 


Classical music: YOU MUST HEAR THIS: Samuel Barber’s “Canzonetta” for Oboe and String Orchestra. Plus a FREE one-hour hymn sing in Overture Hall is this Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

March 5, 2015
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ALERT: A FREE one-hour community Hymn Sing will take place this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall with the Overture Concert Organ played by guest Joe Chrisman. The event is put on jointly by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Overture Center for the Arts.

Overture Concert Organ overview

By Jacob Stockinger

Today’s YOU MUST HEAR THIS comes from a recent concert that I attended.

I first heard this work — the Canzonetta for Oboe and String Orchestra by the 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber (below top) — at the concert by the Middleton Community Orchestra (below bottom) on Wednesday night a week ago.

barber 1

Kyle Knox conducts MCO

So far as The Ear knows, the piece has never been programmed by the Madison Symphony Orchestra or, more appropriately, by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Not that it is too late. It could stand being programmed again and having a wider hearing. I think it would even be welcome at Concerts on the Square.

I also can’t recall ever hearing it at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, although it seems a perfect choice and could well have been part of a student recital with a piano instead of the orchestra.

In any case, the Canzonetta for Oboe and String Orchestra was a last work -– the middle movement on an unfinished oboe concerto, much like British composer Gerald Finzi’s beautiful “Eclogue” was the middle movement of an uncompleted piano concerto.

The piece has all the hallmarks of Barber, who is best known for his Adagio for Strings. It is neo-Romantic, melodic, tonal and wholly accessible while being unmistakably modern. It is poignant and bittersweet, like many moments in the gorgeous and widely performed Violin Concerto that Barber composed.

In fact, some of the harmonies in the Canzonetta remind The Ear of the sublime and moving “Nimrod” Variation in Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations.

I am not alone in being introduced to this work for the first time. A few very seasoned musicians and music fans in the audience I spoke to had never heard it either.

But it was given a splendid performance by the MCO under conductor Kyle Knox and guest oboist Andy Olson (below), who was trained at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, and who now works at Epic Systems near Madison.

Andy Olson oboe

Here is a link to a rave review that John W. Barker (below), who normally writes for Isthmus, did for this blog:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/classical-music-the-middleton-community-orchestra-under-conductor-kyle-knox-turns-in-its-most-impressive-performance-so-far-the-brass-proves-especially-noteworthy/

John Barker

So here is a link to a YouTube video of the piece itself — the seven-minute “canzonetta” or little song, as the title announces. It is sadly telling of the work’s fate that you cannot find a version with either a well-known oboist or well-known string orchestra.

Enjoy and let us know what you think of it.

The Ear wants to hear.

 


Classical music: Women’s History Month will be celebrated at Edgewood College this Sunday afternoon with a FREE choral concert of works by female composers. Plus, the piano duo Troika performs a FREE concert on Friday at noon.

March 4, 2015
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ALERT: This week’s Friday Noon Musicale, to be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature the Piano Duo “Troika” — made up of Vladislava Henderson and Ludmilla Syabrenko (below) — in music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninov, Antonin Dvorak and others.

Troika piano duo

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming Sunday, March 8, at 2:30 p.m., in Edgewood College’s St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, two choral groups at Edgewood College (below) will present their winter concerts.

Edgewood College 1000

The Chamber Singers will perform under the direction of Albert Pinsonneault (below top), and the College Women’s Choir will sing under the direction of Kathleen Otterson (below bottom).

Albert Pinsonneault 2

Kathleen Otterson 2

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Women’s Choir will feature works by female composers, including Hildegard von Bingen (below top), Linda Kachelmeier (below second), Francesca Caccini (below third), and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (below bottom). Sorry, no word on specific works to be performed.

ST. HILDEGARD OF BINGEN DEPICTED IN ALTARPIECE AT ROCHUSKAPELLE IN GERMANY

Linda Kachelmeier

Francesca Caccini USE

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

The Chamber Singers will perform “Ave Verum Corpus” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which you can hear at bottom in a performance with Leonard Bernstein in a YouTube video that has almost 3 million hits).

Also included are “Famine Songs” by Matthew Culloton (below top) and “Lammaa Badaa Yatathannaa” by Shireen Abu-Khader (below bottom).

Matthew Culloton

Shireen Abu-Khader

There is no admission charge.

 

 

 


Classical music: Music by four Wisconsin composers will be sung by the Festival Choir of Madison this coming Saturday night at the First Unitarian Society.

March 3, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

This Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, the Festival Choir of Madison (below) will perform a program of music called “Wisconsin Sings!”

Festival Choir of Madison at FUS

The concert features new and recent works by four composers with strong Wisconsin ties.

The program includes:

“Four Mystical Poems” by Eric William Barnum (below).

Eric William Barnum

“The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” and “Make Me a Dream” (a world premiere finished just a few weeks ago) by Jerry Hui (below), a UW-Madison School of Music graduate who now teaches choral music at UW-Stout and who also performs early music with the Madison-based group Eliza’s Toyes.

Jerry Hui

“Under Your Feet” and “And Dream Awhile” by Blake Henson (below).

blake henson

Adoramus Te, Sanctus Parvulus” by Zach Moore (below)

Zach Moore horizonital

There will be a pre-concert Lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $9 for students, $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors.

Tickets are available at the door or at: http://festivalchoirmadison.org/Season1415/tickets.htm

Here is the origin of the program, as the choir director Bryson Mortensen (below), who also teaches at the UW-Rock County, explains it:

Bryson Mortensen (1)

“A few years ago, I attended a conference in the Twin Cities where there was a concert composed entirely of pieces by living Minnesota composers.

“After leaving the concert, I thought, “surely Wisconsin could do the same!”

“Since then I have been digging up pieces and meeting composers in Wisconsin who could contribute works to the program.

“After all these years, we have put together a concert that presents the music of four composers who live in, have studied in or come from Wisconsin.

“From the nationally and internationally recognized music of composers like Blake Henson, Jerry Hui and Eric William Barnum to the young and blossoming composer Zach Moore, the concert presents a variety of styles and moods that make for a great evening together.”

For more information about the Festival Choir of Madison, here is a link to the choir’s homepage:

http://festivalchoirmadison.org

In the YouTube video below, you can hear the Festival Choir of Madison singing the Low Mass by French composer Gabriel Fauré:

 


Classical music: Violinist Daniel Hope explores the music created by composers who emigrated from Nazi Europe to Hollywood and wrote film scores. He performs that music with the Madison Symphony Orchestra this weekend.

March 2, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

British violinist Daniel Hope (below) is a man on a mission.

Hope wants to foster the public’s appreciation of the composers who had to flee from Nazi Europe during World War II and who ended up exiled in Hollywood, where they composed film scores. They ended up creating the  “Hollywood sound” and often won Oscars or Academy Awards, but recognition as serious concert composers usually eluded them.

Daniel Hope playing

Until recently.

Lately, a rediscovery of their merits has been taking place, and Hope will explore that legacy with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and its longtime music director and conductor John DeMain.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

John DeMain full face by Prasad

Performances are in Overture Hall on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The program for “Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound” includes the Violin Concerto and Suite from “Captain Blood” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold; the Sinfonietta for Strings and Tympani, and the score to “Taras Bulba” by Franz Waxman, who also founded the Los Angeles Music Festival in 1947; and the “Theme, Variations and Finale” as well as “The Parade of the Charioteers” and the “Love Theme” from “Ben-Hur” and the “Love Theme” from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” by Miklos Rozsa.

Tickets are $16-$84 plus fees for the Overture Center.

For program, information about tickets and links to audio samples, visit: http://madisonsymphony.org/hope

For more about the music, here are the program notes by MSO trombonist Michael Allsen who also teaches at the UW-Whitewater:

http://facstaff.uww.edu/allsenj/MSO/NOTES/1415/6.Mar15.html

The award-winning Daniel Hope, who is busy touring and recording, graciously took time to answer a Q&A for The Ear:

Daniel Hope full face

How would you compare in seriousness and quality these “exiled in Hollywood” composers and their music to other well-known 20th-century composers and mainstream modern classical music?

I don’t make comparisons in music. The composers who escaped the Nazis found themselves for the most part in a very different set of circumstances than those for which they were trained. They were incredibly talented and had to adapt quickly.

I think the more interesting question is what would have happened to 20th-century music if countless musicians and composers had not been forced to leave Europe. (Below is a photo of Igor Stravinsky, on the left, and Franz Waxman in Los Angeles, where Waxman founded a music festival in 1947.) The world of music would be a very different place indeed.

franz waxman with stravinsky

Why do you think these composers and this music were kept out of the concert hall for so long? What traits most mark each composer’s style?

In those days, even writing one number for a movie would almost certainly have ruined your reputation as a “serious composer.” It was seen as selling out. The fact that many of these composers were trying to survive, to support their families and to get their relatives out of Europe, was often forgotten — especially after World War II.

But they were also phenomenally talented at what they did. As the son of Miklos Rozsa (below) wrote to me recently, one day these composers may actually be forgiven for writing film music.

Miklos Rozsa BW

In the case of Korngold (below), he was one of the first to really introduce a leitmotif, a recurring theme that followed the character throughout the film. Essentially an operatic composer, Korngold described each film for which he scored as “an opera without singing,” his music no longer passively accompanying the images but actively engaging in dialogue, emotion and presentation. I believe both Korngold and Max Steiner totally changed American film music, also by adding a fin-de-siècle European symphonic grandeur.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold BW piano

How much of their current appeal is cultural interest, human interest or personal stories, or the quality of the music itself?

I think it’s all of the above. But if you look at the symphonic works of some of the composers, Korngold’s and Rosza’s Violin Concertos or Waxman’s oratorio “The Song of Terezin,” you will find music of the highest quality. And let’s not forget, it was Mahler and Richard Strauss who forecast a great future for the young Korngold. (You can hear the lovely second movement of Korngold’s Violin Concerto performed by Hilary Hahn in a popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

What factors explain their revival as concert music? How did you rediscover them and become interested in them? Has a loosening of formal definitions of classical genres helped their revival?

I think both the role and the appeal of film music have changed in today’s society. I had long been aware of this group of émigré musicians.

Next to music, I’ve always had a passion for film, most of all for the movies of “vintage Hollywood,” for me the period beginning with the epic cinematic storytelling of the 1930s. As a young violinist, I was struck as much by the sound of the violin in these movies of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. I especially took note of the violinists playing this glorious mood music. To a young boy in London, names like Toscha Seidel, Felix Slatkin, Eudice Shapiro and Louis Kaufman sounded as exotic as the films they embellished.

But then writing for the studio musicians of prewar and postwar Hollywood was a group of astonishing composers, many of whom had escaped the Nazis, and who helped shape what was to become the Hollywood Sound. (Below, y0u can hear excerpts from a sampler from the Deutsche Grammophon CD on which Daniel Hope explores the Hollywood Sound.)

Hollywood muisicians with reels of film

You have recorded this music and performed it many times elsewhere. How do audiences typically respond to it?

Audiences are generally extremely enthusiastic about the music. And many of them are moved or intrigued by the stories of these composers.

 

 

 

 

 


Classical music: Is American tenor Bryan Hymel the new King of the High C’s after the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the very active Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez?

March 1, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

For tenors, High C’s are the brass ring on the carousel of opera.

The late great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the very busy Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez both earned fame and fortune with their singing of the astonishing nine high C’s in Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto opera “La Fille du Regiment.”

In fact, Florez repeated the same nine high C’s as an encore and it brought down the house.

But it seems there may be another King of the High C’s in the making.

He is a native of New Orleans (isn’t that fitting?) and he is America tenor Bryan Hymel (below, in a photo by Dario Acosta for Warner Classics), who was recently featured on the terrific blog “Deceptive Cadence” for NPR (National Public Radio).

You will surely be hearing more about him. The 35-year-old Hymel has already made his debut at the famed Metropolitan Opera, where he has sung in “Les Troyens” by Hector Berlioz — a role he also sang at the Royal Opera House in London. And he will open the Met’s 2018 season in “Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saens.

Bryan Hymel CR Dario Acosta Warner Classics

Here is a link to that story by Tom Huizenga. It is complete with sound samples from Hymel’s debut album “Héroïque” — in particular the difficult aria “Asile héréditaire” from the opera “William Tell” by Giachino Rossini — and the CD features a total of 19 high C’s. That led Huizenga to proclaim: “This is why we listen to opera!”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2015/02/25/388783314/bryan-hymels-hefty-high-cs

The Amazon.com reader reviews of the new all-French album (below, with an audiovisual clip of the behind-the-scenes recording process) not only praise Hymel for his high C’s – and C-sharps and even D’s — but single out the quality of his singing.

You can hear that strong, pitch-accurate and seemingly effortless quality in one of The Ear’s favorite tenor arias: “Nessun dorma” from “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini, which Hymel signs with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a YouTube video at the bottom.


Classical music: The Middleton Community Orchestra, under conductor Kyle Knox, turns in its most impressive performance so far. The brass proves especially noteworthy.

February 28, 2015
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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 for 12 years hosted 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.

John-Barker

By John W. Barker

The concert by the Middleton Community Orchestra (below) on last Wednesday night at the Middleton Performing Arts Center, at Middleton High School, drew an audience little deterred by snow and slow traffic, and greatly rewarded by the results.

Middleton Community Orchestra Margaret Barker

The orchestra appeared this time under a guest conductor, Kyle Knox, who has prior and future connections with it and who is currently both pursuing graduate studies and conducting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

Knox (below) is a musician of very distinct talents: a knowing perspective on the works he conducts, a propensity for well-thought phrasing, and an ability to achieve definite rapport with his players.

Regular MCO conductor Steve Kerr was wise to give Knox an opportunity to hone the podium talents of this very promising conductor, and as a stimulus to this steadily maturing ensemble. (Kerr himself eventually turned up working the bass drum.)

Kyle Knox 2

The MCO delights in taking on compositions that are both challenging and quite familiar. In testing themselves thus, the orchestra invites its listeners to measure its progress against the orchestras that have set extremely high performing standards in concerts and recordings. So it is proper that we do just that, especially in the beloved music from the score for the Incidental Music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn.

The conventional five movements were played. In the fabled Overture, the strings had some struggles with their extremely demanding parts, but generally Knox achieved a well-integrated balancing of the elfin and the eerie.

Perhaps to avoid straining the players too much, Knox set a slightly slow tempo in the fairyland Scherzo, which sagged just a bit, but the Intermezzo was beautifully shaped.

Best was the evocative Nocturne, in which the French horn section demonstrated greatly improved tone and ensemble over recent showings, in a truly beautiful rendition. (You can hear the Nocturne in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The Wedding March was also marked by a bit of ragged playing, but Knox paced it nicely and integrated it successfully. Overall, they get good marks for showing distinct progress in some very satisfying Mendelssohn.

Kyle Knox conducts MCO

The novelty of the program was the rarely played Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings by the 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber (below). This was a late work, the only completed movement of what was to be a full-length oboe concerto, and was published posthumously.

barber 1

It displays the familiar qualities of Barber as the pre-eminent American neo-Romantic, in music that is gentle, gracious and lyrically flowing. But it also highlights another feature of Barber: the composer’s identification with the human voice. A fine singer himself (he was a baritone), Barber was a master of song and vocal music, and the solo oboe part is, to a considerable degree, a kind of song — as the title says, a “canzonetta” or small song.

The oboe soloist, Andy Olson (below), with his own long affiliations with the MCO, clearly recognized this characteristic, and realized it in his beautiful playing.

Andy Olson plays at MCO

Andy Olson oboe

For the finale, the other super-familiar score, was the dazzling — and very tricky — orchestration by Maurice Ravel of the solo piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (below).

Modeste Mussorgsky color

At the very outset, in the opening “Promenade,” the brass section displayed a new level of power and ensemble. The saxophone solo in “The Old Castle” was truly compelling. The heavy cartwheels of “Byddlo” were inexorable, and “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs” or “Baba-Yaga” (a sorceress) was truly ferocious.

The triumphant final movement, “The Great Gate of Kiev” was stunning. One feature of old Russian city portals was the inclusion of working chapels. I have never heard the hymn-like quality of the whole piece, with its interludes of liturgical chanting and tolling bells, so successfully evoked.

Overall, this performance was magnificent, and I have never heard this orchestra play so well.

It was a performance full of head and heart, with open-throttle devotion from the players. Knox obviously deserves much credit for this, but the players themselves made it clear that they owed no apologies for the results they could produce. (Below, conductor Kyle Knox singles out the brass for recognition by the audience.)

Kyle Knox applauds MCO brass

The MCO has proven itself to be, more than ever, a really extraordinary factor in the Madison area’s musical life. It is a non-, or semi-, or extra-professional ensemble whose music-making is truly inspirational. Its concerts should be supported and enjoyed by all our cultural community.


The Madison Choral Project and Madison Youth Choirs will collaborate in a concert this Saturday night of choral music by Gabriel Faure, Josquin des Prez, Hildegard von Bingen and others.

February 27, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Our friends at the Madison Youth Choirs and the Madison Choral Project sent us the following announcement:

On this Saturday night, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave., two generations of Madison’s talented vocalists will come together for an ambitious concert that will bring over 900 years of choral tradition to life.

The two most advanced ensembles of the Madison Youth Choirs — Ragazzi and Cantabile (below), composed of singers ages 15-18 and conducted by Michael Ross — will perform two early music selections: Hildegard von Bingen‘s 12th-century “Sed Diabolus” and Josquin’s 15th-century “Ave Maria.”

Madison Youth Choirs Cantabile
Ragazzi

The Madison Choral Project, a professional chamber choir directed by Albert Pinsonneault (below), will bring the concert into the 19th and 20th centuries with Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and James MacMillan‘s “Te Deum.”

Adds Pinsonneault:

Gabriel Faure‘s “Requiem” is gentle, yearning, sublime, and transcendent. We have worked so hard on crafting a fine sound and bringing nuanced phrasing to the fore. We are thrilled to present this work!

James MacMillan’s “Te Deum” is spacious, vibrant, at times meditative and at times intense. This virtuosic work demands the highest possible musicianship with its complex rhythms weaving together to form a larger tapestry of sound.

In the Faure and MacMillan, we join with guest organist Bruce Bengtson, who pulls amazing sounds from the great organ at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

MCP Winter 2014-24

Albert Pinsonneault 2

The two choirs will also combine to sing Hans Leo Hassler‘s “Ach weh des Leiden” (you can hear them perform the work in a YouTube video at the bottom) and the American traditional “Down in the River to Pray,” used to memorable effect in the popular Coen brothers‘ film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Tickets $20 in advance at http://themcp.org/tickets/ or $25 at the door

This project is supported in part by American Family Insurance, Madison Gas and Electric and WORT.

ABOUT THE MADISON CHORAL PROJECT

The Madison Choral Project is Wisconsin’s only professional chamber choir.  Our Project is to enrich lives in our community by giving voice to the great music of our diverse world; to express, to inspire, to heal; to garner joy in the experience of live music; and to educate and strengthen the next generation of singers and listeners.

The Madison Choral Project is not just a choir; it’s a movement to improve our human experience through music.

ABOUT THE MADISON YOUTH CHOIRS (MYC)

Recognized as an innovator in youth choral music education, Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) welcomes singers of all ability levels, annually serving more than 500 young people, ages 7-18, in 11 single-gender choirs.

The singers explore the history, context and heart of the music, becoming “expert noticers,” using music as a lens to discover the world.

Through a variety of high-quality community outreach programs and performance opportunities, MYC strives to make the benefits of arts participation accessible to all.

For further information: Madison Youth Choirs, see info@madisonyouthchoirs.org, or call (608) 238-7464.

 


Classical music: The UW-Madison’s Wingra Woodwind Quintet performs a FREE concert this Friday night and will mark its 50th anniversary with a party and mini-concert on April 25. Plus, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet and soprano Nancy Vedder-Shults perform concerts on Friday.

February 26, 2015
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ALERTS:

1) The master class by the Takacs String Quartet on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. has been moved from Room 1341 of the UW-Madison Humanities Building to MOPRHY RECITAL HALL. The string quartet is in town to perform a concert of works by Schubert, Haydn and Beethoven at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

2) The free Friday Noon Musicale, to be held 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features soprano Nancy Vedder-Shults and pianist Dan Broner, who is also the FUS music director, in art songs by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Mary Howe and Seymour Barab.

3) The Madison Symphony Orchestra‘s Rhapsodie String Quartet (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson) will perform a concert this Friday night at 7 p.m. in St. Andrew’s Church, 1833 Regent Street, near Randall Elementary school on Madison’s near west side. The program is the Quartet No. 22 in B-flat Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Quartet No. 2 in A Minor by Felix Mendelssohn. Admission is open to the public, with a free-will donation requested.

Rhapsodie Quartet MSO Greg Anderson

By Jacob Stockinger

There are two reasons to pay attention to the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, one of the major performing artists ensembles at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

The first reason is that this Friday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the group will perform a FREE concert. The program is “Tradition and Innovation: Music from the Old Country — Austria, Hungary and Bohemia, 1892-1969.”

Then on Saturday, April 25, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the University Club, the Wingra (below, in a photo by Michael R. Anderson) will celebrate its 50th year as an ensemble. The public is asked to RSVP by April 20 by sending an email to news@music.wisc.edu

Wingra Woodwind Quintet 2013 Michael Anderson

Here is a link to an extensive biography, member list and history of the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, done by Sarah Schaffer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with more details about the 50th anniversary part.

http://www.music.wisc.edu/wingra-woodwind-quintet/

And here is the program for the concert on Friday:

Humoreske (1939) by Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942)

Woodwind Quintet No. 1 (1953) by Endre Szervánsky (1911-1977). You can hear this tuneful and dance-like work in a YouTube video at the bottom.

Nine Short Pieces for Children (1909) by Béla Bartók (1881–1945), arranged by UW-Madison bassoonist Marc Vallon (2014), who is a member of the Wingra Woodwind Quintet.

Intermission

Three Songs from “Das Knaben Wunderhorn” by Gustav Mahler ) (1860-1911), arranged by Trevor Cramer (1983)

Rheinlegendchen (1893)

Wer hat dies Liedl erdacht? (1892)

Lob des Hohes Vertandes (1896)

Wind Quintet No. 2 (1969) by Frigyes Hidas (1928–2007)

 


Classical music: After hearing pianist Shai Wosner play two Haydn concertos with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, The Ear asks: When will Wosner return for a solo recital?

February 25, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Last weekend brought a lot of conflicting classical music concerts to Madison.

But one of the best events proved to be the concert on Friday night in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

The program featured the supremely gifted but much under-publicized pianist Shai Wosner (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve). He performed two contrasting keyboard concertos by Joseph Haydn — No. 4 in G Major and the better known No. 11 in D Major.

It was simply a sublime use of a modern instrument to make older music that was originally composed for the harpsichord. Never was the witty music by Haydn overpedaled or overly percussive or distorted for virtuosity’s sake. In every way, Wosner served Haydn — not himself.

Shai Wosner Photo: Marco Borggreve

The concert was also noteworthy because it featured the longtime music director and conductor Andrew Sewell. He led the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) to shine in an eclectic program that included the Samuel Barber-like neo-Romantic and neo-Baroque Prelude and Fugue by the 20th-century Italian-American composer Vittorio Giannini and especially the youthful Symphony No. 2 by Franz Schubert.

WCO lobby

Plus, Sewell (below) proved a perfect accompanist in the Haydn concertos. Clearly, chemistry exists between Sewell and Wosner, who have also performed together concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the WCO.

andrewsewell

It was, in short, a program that was beautifully planned and beautifully played – even down to Wosner playing an encore by Schubert (the late Hungarian Melody, a lovely bittersweet miniature) that set up the second half with the Schubert, whose musical attractions Wosner explains so insightfully in a YouTube video at the bottom.

For his part, Sewell brought out balance and voicing, along with the expressive, but not excessive, lyricism that befits the ever-songful Schubert. As he has proven many times with his readings of Haydn and Mozart symphonies and concertos, Sewell is a master of the Classical style.

Wosner’s subtle and suitably quiet playing — he always puts virtuosity at the service of musicality — was also a model of clarity and restraint, perfectly suited to Haydn. But it left me with only one question:

When will we in Madison get to hear Shai Wosner in a solo recital?

(Below, you can hear Shai Wosner perform the second and third movements of the “Appassionata” Sonata by Beethoven at the 92nd Street Y in New York City in a YouTube video.)

Three of Wosner’s four acclaimed recordings are solo recitals of difficult works. They feature the music of Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, the contemporary American composer Missy Mazzoli and especially Franz Schubert, with whom Wosner obviously feels, and shows, a special affinity. The fourth CD is a violin and piano duo done with the gifted young violinist Jennifer Koh.

I don’t know what presenter, besides the Wisconsin Union Theater, would bring Wosner back — and benefit from the WCO audiences that already have heard him. Or maybe the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra could sponsor a solo recital as a sideline. But we could use more solo piano recitals in Madison — especially if they offer playing of the scale of Wosner’s.

I don’t know how it would happen, but I sure hope it does happen.

Shai Wosner is a great pianist who deserves a wider hearing in a wider repertoire.


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