The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Best Bets for March 10-16 include the Eroica Trio; the UW-Madison Chopin Fest’s tag-team Mazurka-thon; Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Winterfest concerts; the Joy of Sax; and so much more. | March 10, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

This is a very busy week, perhaps the busiest one in the current season.

Classical music events in Madison are stacking up like planes over O’Hare.

All for a relatively small or mid-size city of under 300,000. How fortunate we are, even if our good fortune sometimes makes it frustrating to choose which event we’ll go to.

The hectic week starts with the Eroica Trio at the Wisconsin Union Theater and proceeds to the UW Chopin Fest over Saturday and Sunday at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the Winter Fest weekend for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. And pianist Jeffrey Siegel will offer a master class and “Chopin the Patriot” as a Keyboard Conversation.

And that still doesn’t take care of all of it. Then there are concerts by the local Ancora String Quartet and a piano-sax duo with local ties and the winners of the UW’s Irving Shain wind-and-piano competition (the renowned chemist and former UW chancellor once considered becoming a professional flutist).

Here’s a wrap-up. Although I’m sure something is missing, I hope you find it useful — and as impressive as I do.

EROICA TRIO

On Thursday, March 11, at 8 p.m. the critically acclaimed Eroica Trio (below) will perform at the Wisconsin Union Theater. (See their interview with The Ear posted Monday and Tuesday.)


The MUST-HEAR program of chamber music classics includes Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3; Joan Tower’s Trio “For Daniel”; and Dvorak’s famous “Dumky” Trio.

Then on Saturday, March 13, at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Eroica Trio will perform Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto with the UW Chamber Orchestra (below) under conductor James Smith. The program also includes “The Good-Humored Ladies” by D. Scarlatti (arranged by Tommasini) and Symphony No. 3 (“The Camp Meeting”) by Charles Ives.

Tickets for the March 11 concert are $18, $30 and $35 with $10 admission of UW students. Admission to the March 13 concert is included in those prices. Admission to ONLY the March 13 concerto concert is $10, $5 for UW students. Call 262-2201.

UW CHOPIN FEST

To celebrate the 200th anniversary year of the birth of Frederic Chopin, the School of Music presents a two-day festival of his music on March 12 and 13.

On Friday, March 12, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW virtuoso pianist Christopher Taylor (below) will perform a FREE MUST-HEAR concert in Mills Hall featuring Chopin’s Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor “Funeral March,” Op. 35 and Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58. Also on the program are Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C Minor and UW composer Laura Schwendinger’s “Van Gogh Nocturnes.”


The festival continues on Saturday, March 13, with several unique events in Music Hall. From 9 a.m. to noon, middle school and high school students will perform in master classes taught by UW piano faculty.

At 1:30 p.m., also in Music Hall (below), a community music recital presents teachers and amateur pianists in an informal setting of performance and personal reflection about Chopin.


At 3:30 p.m., a marathon MUST-HEAR performance of Chopin’s complete mazurkas – The Ear is calling it a tag-team Mazurka-thon — will feature most piano majors (both undergraduate and graduate) at the School of Music.

At the midpoint of the marathon, at about 4:45 p.m., a reception in Music Hall lobby will allow performers and audience to meet and mingle.

The School of Music thanks the Evjue Foundation and Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain for their sponsorship of the extravaganza.

A reminder: ALL CHOPIN FEST EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

WYSO WINTERFEST

On Saturday and Sunday, March 13 and 14, more than 300 talented young musicians will light up the stage at Mills Concert Hall on the UW campus with a mix of classical works and modern pieces, including a world premiere by one of WYSO’s own members.

Winterfest is the biggest fundraiser of the season for WYSO, which is increasingly filling in the vacuum created by arts programs that have been cut in schools. The students, chosen by audition, are talented and the performances are reliable and very good.


On Saturday, March 13 at 11:30 a.m., WYSO’s Harp Ensemble will kick off the concert series, followed by string orchestra Sinfonietta, playing “Aria” by Villa-Lobos and O’Loughlin’s “Confluence.”

The Concert Orchestra will perform at 1:30 p.m. and will treat the audience to such varied fare as Brahms’s “Two Waltzes” and Robert W. Smith’s “The Great Locomotive Chase,” inspired by events surrounding the railway between Atlanta and Chattanooga during the early years of the Civil War.

At 4 p.m., the Philharmonia Orchestra will present a world premiere performance of “Yangzi,” a work composed by 18-year-old WYSO member Robert Harlow (below). In addition to Harlow’s work, Philharmonia will perform Aaron Copland’s beloved “Variations on a Shaker Melody,” movements 3 and 4 of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, and “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Strauss.

On Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m., WYSO’s premier performing group, the Youth Orchestra, will play Shostakovich’s vibrant Festival Overture, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6, a great work originally composed for the Vienna Philharmonic, and De Falla’s ballet “El Sombrero de Tres Picos” (The Three-Cornered Hat).

The Winterfest Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 455 N. Park Street, Madison.  WYSO concerts are generally about an hour to an hour and a half in length, providing a great orchestral concert opportunity for families.

Tickets are available at the door, $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.

WYSO was founded in 1966 and has served nearly 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.

This project is supported by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the American Girl’s Fund for Children, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., the charitable arm of The Capital Times, and the Overture Foundation. This project is also supported by the Webcrafters-Frautschi Foundation and Diane Endres Ballweg. In addition, this project is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

THE  JOY OF SAX

This weekend, the Anhinga PianoSAX Duo, Live! will make its Madison debut.

The January 2010 debut of the Anhinga PianoSAX Duo (below) has been called “…experimental but also highly engaging…traverses musical landscapes that are not braved everyday. Taking elements from jazz, classical and a number of other genres, the instruments come together in a way that is technically impressive and emotionally resonant” (The Wilmington-Star News).

Formed in 2009 by friends, colleagues, and UNC-Greensboro Alumni Jonathan Kuuskoski (piano) and Chris Dickhaus (saxophone), the Duo is dedicated to innovative programs representing three centuries of solo and duo repertoire. Their inaugural tour will feature music from Debussy to Broadstock in concerts throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. The duo has two upcoming engagements in Madison this week:

On Friday, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., at the First Unitarian Society’s “Noon Musicale” Series, 900 University Bay Drive.

On Sunday, at 2 p.m., in the Oakwood Village West Auditorium, 6201 Mineral Point Road.

Both concerts are FREE and will feature works by Claude Debussy, Robert Muzcynski, Frederic Chopin, and Astor Piazzolla, among others.

Canadian pianist Kuuskoski has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout North America and abroad in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Cyprus. He studied with Christopher Taylor at UW-Madison, and previously with Richard Mapp at the New Zealand School of Music. In 2009 he was one of the winners of the annual UW Beethoven Competition and was featured as a soloist at the Royal Ontario Museum as part of the “Emerging Artists” series of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.

Dickhaus is pursuing an Artist Certificate at the University of North Texas, where he holds the prestigious Teaching Fellowship. He was a two-time finalist of the MTNA National Chamber Music Competition as a member of the North Texas Saxophone Quartet (2008-09), and has performed throughout the United States at various conferences, including two NASA Biennial Conferences, the Navy Band Saxophone Symposium, the First Annual Carolina Saxophone Symposium, and for the Texas Music Teachers Association.

To learn more about the Duo, and to listen to them in action, go to: www.jonathankuuskoski.com

Also on Sunday, the Ancora String Quartet (below) – in residence at the First Unitarian Society in Madison — will perform on “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III on the third floor of the UW museum.

The program includes Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat, Op.12 and Beethoven String Quartet No. 15 in A-minor, Op 132.

The concert will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio (88.7 FM in the Madison area.)

Also on Sunday, at 3:30 p.m., in Music Hall, the winners of the 2010 Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition, sponsored by Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain, will perform a FREE concert.

The 2010 winning duos are Theresa Koenig, bassoon and Diana Shapiro, piano; and Diana Jordan, flute and Carson Rose Schneider, piano.

MONDAY: At 7 p.m. in Morphy Hall, pianist Jeffrey Siegel will give a public master class.

On TUESDAY, Jeffrey Siegel (below) returns to Madison with his Keyboard Conversations series on Tuesday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall.



Tickets for the general public are $35. UW-Madison student tickets are free! Tickets can be purchased by phone (608-265-ARTS), by fax (608-265-5084), by mail or in person at the box office (Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., Madison, WI 53706) or online .

Siegel will perform “Chopin the Patriot,” which will explore the sounds of the polonaise and the mazurka, two national Polish dances with special meaning for the Polish composer. This program includes three polonaises; the tender G minor of the 8-year-old genius, the brooding C minor, and the ever popular “Heroic” in A-flat, Op. 53, as well as several buoyant and poignant mazurkas, perhaps Chopin’s most personal works.

Siegel’s wit, insights and expert performance delight newcomers to classical music and seasoned aficionados alike. The Los Angeles Times raves, “”Jeffrey Siegel has everything: massive technique, musical sensitivity and character, wide tonal resources, immense reserves of power, and the ability to communicate. An unusual gift for commentary as well as extraordinary pianism brings Siegel’s audience wholly into the musical experience.”

This performance is sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Directorate. Support is also given by the Wisconsin Arts Board, ETC, Madison Area Piano Teachers Association, and the UW School of Music.

Also on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Percussion Department Recital will be held. The Western Percussion Ensemble, World Percussion Ensemble (below) with UW percussionist Anthony Di Sanza, director.

With so much classical music going on, The Ear can’t be everywhere.

So please let me know what events you went to and how you found them to be.

After all, everyone’s a critic.

And the Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

3 Comments »

  1. The Anhinga PianoSAX Duo delights! These talented artists are creative in program choice, expert in artistry and fully engaged with their audience. Don’t miss a chance to enjoy their performance.

    Comment by Ann Niedermeier — April 24, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  2. The Anhinga Piano/SAX Duo concerts were quite a treat for the ear. Two of my favorite instruments were featured, with Jonathan Kuuskoski on piano and Chris Dickhaus on alto saxophone. They performed challenging pieces both separately and together. The virtuosity of these two outstanding musicians is exceptional.

    I especially enjoyed the two Chopin Nocturnes (in C# minor, Op. 27, No. 1 and in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1). But the show-stopper was the difficult final piece, “Fantasie Brilliante sur des airs de ‘Carmen’” by Francois Borne; arranged by Roth/Meylan. Very exciting music and terrific performances!

    Comment by Kathy Lewinski — April 22, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for reading and then writing.
      Your capsule reviews are perfect — exactly what i hope other readers (and reviewers) will post as comments.
      I look forward to reading more form you in the future.
      Best,
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — April 23, 2010 @ 7:54 am


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