The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical Music Notes: Best Bets for Dec. 16-23 are in your home and church, on radio and TV

December 16, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

As the holidays draw closer and the university semester ends, as we approach the concert season’s one-month “intermission,” more and more classical music will be found where it originally started – not in concert halls but in homes and churches.

(OK – also on radio and TV. See your local listings for holiday specials. Here’s a link to a schedule of Wisconsin Public Radio’s holiday offerings:

And here’s a link to holiday offerings from Wisconsin Public Television:

Of course, the holidays also brought the original “cross-over” music with so many classical pieces (from hymns ands carols to Handel’s “Messiah,” Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto Grosso) entering into the mainstream for purposes of celebrating.

What would the holidays be without music, classical or otherwise? Sad times, indeed.

Not that the week is completely void of classical concerts.

(One unfortunate note; Because of cost-savings, live music has been cut from the Wisconsin Ballet’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” from Friday, Dec. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 20, at the Overture Center. For 30 years, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performed live for the event. But that was eliminated to cut back on expenses this year during the recession.

(While it is a primarily a dance event, “The Nutcracker” also features a classical score by Tchaikovsky that is appealingly evergreen and synonymous with the holidays. Maybe it will return next year or in better economic times. One can hope.)

On Saturday, Dec., 19, at 8 p.m. at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, near the Beltline and West Towne on Madison far west side, acclaimed Ukraiane-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa will perform Beethoven and Rachmaninoff in an intimate salon concert.

Lisitsa is at ease in a vast repertoire, but has admitted to having a particular affinity to the music of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.

The program for the evening will include Piano Sonata No. 14 (“Moonlight”) by Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 29 (“Hammerklavier”) by Beethoven; the Six “Moments Musicaux,” Op. 16, and the Piano Sonata No. 1 by Rachmaninoff.

Lisitsa will play a piano restored by Farley’s House of Pianos.

Concerts are open to the public. Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors, and students with IDs, and include a reception following the concert.

Reserve tickets with a credit card by calling 271-2626, or purchase tickets at Farley’s House of Pianos or Orange Tree Imports on Monroe Street.

Here is a link to Lisitsa’s web site:

And a link to one of her many listenable, informative and very impressive videos on YouTube (you should check out her other YouTube videos even if you don’t go to her concert):

The year has seen a new tradition started by the Madison Symphony Orchestra: FREE COMMUNITY HYMN SINGS.

The next FREE Community Christmas Carol Sing will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. – NOT 7:30 — in Overture Hall in the Overture Center. MSO organist Samuel Hutchison will accompany singers on the organ.

Here are some quotes from the MSO press release:

“Bring your pipes as the Overture Concert Organ and choirs from around the region join forces with you to raise a joyful noise.

“The Hymn Sings are free and open to the public. All ages are welcome, and no advance reservations are needed.

“Each performance takes place in Overture Hall and lasts 45 minutes to one hour.”

I’ll bet that more classical music events will take place just before Christmas and New Year’s, but so far I am unaware of them.

If you know of one, please leave a comment with the details (who, what, when, where, price, contact information) and I will include it in a posting.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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