The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Sounds of the holiday season start this weekend with Oakwood Chamber Players, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

November 25, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

It’s generally a quiet week because it is Thanksgiving Week and the UW is on break and there isn’t a lot happening — at least by the usual standards in the music-busy city.

But as we approach the holidays, one of Madison musical holiday traditions is about to happen – twice — this Friday:

The Oakwood Chamber Players (below) will perform their annual Holiday Lights Concert “Lighting the Way” on FRIDAY, NOV. 27.  The two performances will be held in the Oakwood Village Auditorium, 6201 Mineral Point Road, at 3 P.M. and 7 P.M.

This year’s Christmas Lights Concert will include:  “Il Presepio” (The Crib) by Nino Rota, “Ave Maris Stella” by Bernhard Krol, “Alleluia” from “Exsultate Jubilate” by Mozart, “Carol of the Birds” by John Jacob Niles, “Geistliches Wiegenlied” (Sacred Cradle Song) by Johannes Brahms, “Estrellita” by Manuel Ponce and other Christmas favorites.

Tickets can be purchased at the door.  Admission is $20 for general admission, $15 for senior citizens and $5 for students.  They accept cash and personal checks—but not  credit cards.

The Oakwood Chamber Players (above) consist of: Anne Aley, horn; Vincent Fuh, piano; Michael Allen, cello; Nancy Mackenzie, clarinet; Marilyn Chohaney, flute; Leyla Sanyer, violin;  Christopher Dozoryst, viola;  and Amanda King Szczys, bassoon.  All perform actively in the Madison area with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and an eclectic mix of other professional ensembles.

The concerts will feature soprano Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie (below right) as this year’s guest soloist. Mackenzie is a native of Madison, and now resides in New York City. Described by the New York Times as “a soprano of extraordinary agility and concentration,” Mackenzie has captured the attention of audiences in New York, Chicago, Wisconsin, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Boston.

A passionate performer of contemporary music, Mackenzie has appeared with The Juilliard School’s AXIOM Ensemble, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, the Continuum Ensemble, the Oakwood Chamber Players, Red Light New Music, the Talea Ensemble, and at John Harbison’s Token Creek Music Festival. She recently made her Alice Tully Hall debut with the Juilliard Percussion Ensemble, performing Jean Barraque’s “Chant Apres Chant.”

Since she’s local with lots of friends and fans, The Ear will include more than the usual amount of information about her and her blossoming career:

Mackenzie made her professional opera debut as Despina in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” with the Madison Opera under the direction of Kelly Kuo, and recently appeared in New York City Opera’s production of Hugo Weisgall’s “Esther.”  Solo concert appearances include Mozart’s “Exsultate Jubilate” with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra, Handel’s “Messiah” with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, The Youth in Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Faure’s Requiem in New York City.

Christmas Lights was first presented in 1994 as a memorial concert for the mother of one of the group’s supporters.  It was a huge success that year, and the Oakwood Chamber Players have presented Christmas Lights every year since then on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

This concert has led the Oakwood Chamber Players to produce 3 CDs of Christmas music with works commissioned by and written exclusively for the Oakwood Chamber Players.

The Oakwood Chamber Players have been together since 1984.

Here is a link for more information:

Then another holiday musical tradition takes place twice: on SATURDAY, NOV. 28, at 8 p.m. and SUNDAY, NOV. 29, at 1 p.m., the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra will present its 11th annual holiday concerts –the Middleton Holiday Pops – at the Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q. Hammons Drive.

Complementing the decor of snowflakes and Christmas trees will be the WCO performing with a 80-voice Middleton High School Concert Choir, all under the direction of WCO music director and conductor Andrew Sewell and choir director Tom Mielke.

UW tenor James Doing (below left) will perform “Oh Holy Night:” and “Comfort Ye” from Handel’s “Messiah.” Also included in music by Chadwick, Tchaikovsky. Szymanowski and other holiday fare to celebrate both Christmas and Hanukah.

Three types of seating are available: Theater style, which ranges, depending on the day, from $5 for youths 6-17 to $25 for adults with discounts for seniors and students; Cabaret tables, which seat four and include desserts and coffee for $150 (Sat.) and $120 (Sun.); and Premier Tables for eight with dinner (Saturday for $750) or Sunday brunch (for $250).

For theater-style seating, call 608 258-4141.

For Cabaret and Premier tables, call 608 257-0638.

Here a link to more information about the event, the program and the reservations:

When the brief Thanksgiving Break is over, the concerts at the UW School of Music start right up again.

On TUESDAY, DEC. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Western Percussion Ensemble will perform under the direction of UW percussionist Anthony Di Sanza. (No program is available.)

The concert is free and open to the public.

So far, I’m a bit disappointed not to see anything from J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio,” which is my favorite classical holiday work.

Do you have a favorite classical holiday work?

What is it?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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