The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical Music Best Bets Oct. 7-13: Battle of the (Classical) Bands, Met HD operas are in store

October 7, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

It’s going to be another busy week for classical music fans in Madison, with two noteworthy orchestral concerts, some chamber music and the opening of the third season of live, hi-definition digital broadcasts by the Metropolitan Opera.

But the real news is a head-on conflict Friday night between the Wisconsin Union Theater, which is opening its 90th Concert Series season, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, which is opening its 50th anniversary season.

So just who wins with this kind of competition for classical fans? Neither group, The Ear suspects, and certainly not Madison’s classical music fans.

Anyway, here’s a run-down of the week:

THURSDAY, OCT. 8: At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, trumpeter John Daniel, a professor at Lawrence University, and pianist Nicholas Towns will play a recital. The program includes “Variations on a theme from Norma by V. Bellini” by Jean Baptiste Arban (1825-1889); Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Karl Pilss (1902-1979); Concertino for Trumptet by Andre Jolivet (1905-1974); and “Variations on a Tyrolean Song” by Jean Baptiste Arban. Free and open to the public.

FRIDAY, OCT. 9: Friday night offers what all of us classical music fans in Madison dread – a battle of the bands: Two orchestral concerts both get a MUST-HEAR rating from The Ear (who will be over the Union Theater since he can’t be two places at once.)

Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra opens its 50th anniversary season with the promising young violinist Augustin Hadelich (below right), who in 2006 won the prestigious Indianapolis International Violin Competition and this year an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Hadelich

Two certified masterpieces are on the menu: Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor (a great way to mark the bicentennial of Mendelssohn’s birth) and Mozart’s mighty last symphony, No. 41, the “Jupiter,” in which Wolfie uses the last movement to pull out all the stops and show off his bag of contrapuntal tricks and fireworks. (The WCO will also perform Ottorino Respighi’s “Three Botticelli Pictures.”)

Maestro Andrew Sewell (leftandrewsewell) should be in top form, relieved that the labor problems of last season are behind him at last and he can get on with his first love: making great music and rising the profile of the WCO. And he is a Mozart Man, judging from his recent 2-CD set of early piano concertos and the “Prague” Symphony.

Tickets are Concert tickets are $19-$62, with discounts for seniors, students and youth. Student Rush tickets for $10 are available day of show at the box office. To purchase single tickets for this and other WCO concerts, contact the Overture Center Box Office at 608 258-4141 or visit

Almost simultaneously. another MUST-HEAR concert will be taking place: The Wisconsin Union Theater is opening its 91st season with the return of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under its new conductor and musical director Edo de Waart (below left), who is now a neighbor since he lives in Middleton. The renowned and well-recorded Dutch-born maestro also leads the Hong Kong Philharmonic and guest conducts around the globe, including subbing later this month for James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera in Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier.”  dewarthongkong

The program includes three certifiable blue-chip masterpieces: Mozart’s dark and moody Overture to “Don Giovanni”; Brahms’ rarely heard but gorgeous Double Concerto with concertmaster Frank Almond (below right) and principal cellist Joseph Johnson; and then Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 – which is to my mind and to many others’ — the best and freshest of Ludwig’s nine great ones. frankalmond2

Tickets are $18, $40 and $45; $10 for UW students. Call 262-2201 or visit

SATURDAY, OCT. 10: Wanna see what all the loud booing at the Metropolitan Opera was about in late September? (It just a happened again, by the way, with a new production of Verdi’s “Aida.”) Here’s your chance.

The opening of the third season of the popular live, high-definition broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera opens at noon at the Point Cinemas on the far west side of Madison. That’s when the new production of Puccini’s “Tosca,” controversially staged by Swiss director Luc Body, will be broadcast. (See the new set of “Tosca” below.)


Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors over 60 and students, and $15 for children.

It’s a fun – and cheap — way to take in the Met. You’re with other fans, who probably include friends and co-workers and neighbors. And you can bring a lunch or snack to eat during intermission. Plus, you get to go behind the scenes of the ever-stormy Met.

As Tosca sings, Live for Art, Live for Love!

And, some would add, Live for Opera!

Here’s a link to the rest of the season’s live hi-def broadcasts from the Met (with casts, running times and production information), all to be shown on Saturdays at noon at the Point Cinemas:

SATURDAY AFTEROON, OCT. 10: At 2: 30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the UW campus, trumpeter David Cooper, a professor at UW-La Crosse and pianist Vincent Fuh will play a recital. The program is entitled “21st Century Music for Trumpet” and will include the following selections: “Litany of Breath” by David Sampson; “Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra” by Lauren Bernofsky; “Burden of Destiny” by James Stephenson; and “Sonata no. 1 for trumpet “The Tempest” by David Gillingham.

SATURDAY NIGHT, OCT. 10: At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble and Student Ensembles will performs “Classics.”

The program includes the “Outdoor Overture” by Aaron Copland; “Colonial Song” and “Molly On The Shore” by Percy Grainger; “Brooklyn Bridge” (a concerto for clarinet and symphonic band) by Michael Daugherty with UW clarinetist Linda Bartley; “On Winged Flight” (A Divertimento for Band) by Gunther Schuller; and “Circus Bee” by Henry Fillmore. Scott Teeple will conduct.

SUNDAY, OCT. 11, will see a busy afternoon over at the UW.

At 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, Scott Teeple will conduct the Concert Band and Student Ensembles.

The program includes: “Original Suite” by Gordon Jacob; “Hunting Tower” by Ottorino Respighi; “Spoon River” and “Down Longford Way” by Percy Grainger; “Old Wine In New Bottles” by Gordon Jacob; “Solitary Dancer” by Warren Bensen; “Laude, Theme and Metamorphosis” by Howard Hanson.

The Concert Band 
will be conducted by Scott Teeple and assistant conductor Justin Stolarik.

The band concert is free and unticketed.

Then at 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, University Bands will perform with directors Justin Stolarik, Erik Jester and Matthew Schlomer.

The program includes the following conducted by Justin Solarik “Fanfare Stadt Wien” by Richard Strauss; “Incantation and Dance” by John Barnes Chance; “Bloom” by Steven Bryant; and “Undertow” by John Mackey. Matthew Schlomer will conduct “Fairest of the Fair” by John Phillip Sousa; “Suite Francaise” by Darius Milhaud; “Sacrificial Rite” by Gillingham; and “Hungarian Dance No. 5” by Johannes Brahms and arranged by Longfield.

The concert is free and open to the public.

On TUESDAY, Oct. 13, the 7:30- p.m. concert by the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble has been CANCELLED.

What do you think of the scheduling conflict between the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Wisconsin Union Theater?

Is it a sign of rich opportunity? Or poor planning?

And be the critic: Let us know what you thought of either concert, or of the Met broadcast, or of any other event.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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