The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: The Ear reaches 20,000 hits; UW music students help Haiti and Punch Brothers ‘chamber bluegrass’ to Madison

February 28, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Today I have a potpourri of news items to offer.


First, let me note with deep gratitude that The Well-Tempered Ear passed 20,000 hits this past week — ahead of schedule, which called for the hope of reaching that goal by tomorrow, March 1. Subscriptions are growing and so is the number of comments — both good signs of more success to come.

Thank you, so very much, readers. Others tell me that so many hits in such a short time is a fine amount to have achieved for  just six months and for not being affiliated with a newspaper, magazine or a major national organization.

Do you have some suggestions for things you would like to see here — either new things or more of the same?

Suggestions for stories?

Suggestions for sources?

Do you want more or fewer CD reviews?

What do you most like or dislike about the blog?


I also want to note that music students at the University of Wisconsin School of Music– student members of the Madison chapter of the Music Teachers National Association — recently  gave two benefits concertos to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief.

The original fundraising goal was $2,000, according to UW graduate student pianist Paola Savvidou, one of the organizers and performers. But the timing for the concerts wasn’t ideal, at least not to The Ear’s mind. Yet the students are not disappointed.

“We raised $1,200 in total from both Haiti concerts, ” Savvidou e-mailed The Ear. “We were very happy with the turn-out and the generous donations!”

That $1,200 will buy a lot of food and medicine.

And if anyone wants to pledge or add to the total, they can use this link:

Or you can also send contributions to Savvidou in care of: MTNA UW Collegiate Chapter, Piano Pioneers, 1454 Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, Madison WI 53706.

You can use the same address to drop of note of thanks or congratulations.


Although I am generally not a fan of crossover music, I want to note that the group Punch Brothers (below) will perform at the Wisconsin Union Theater on this Thursday, March 4, at 8 p.m.

The various musicians are clearly virtuosos on the mandolin (Chris Tile, formerly of Nickel Creek)  and other string instruments, no doubt about it.

And even the New York Times has hailed the Punch Brothers as an emerging genre of chamber music bluegrass that compares to a string quartet.

That seems to go a bit far, for my taste — more spin and salesmanship than truth. Classical music may not sell like popular forms of music, but it sure has a lot of cachet and prestige that other forms would like to borrow or tap into.

Still, you really have to admire the Punch Brothers’ version of J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor.

Take a look and listen:

I don’t know what the quintet’s Madison program will include, but this much is sure: If you go, you will hear some incredible string playing and some very tight ensemble music-making that falls easily on the ears and impresses the intellect.

You will also hear some of the kind of native or vernacular American music that inspired classical composers Edward MacDowell, Charles Ives, Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber among others.

Tickers are $28, $10 for UW students. Call 608 262-2201 for information and tickets.

Posted in Classical music

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