The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Best bets for April 28 to May 4 are dominated by Beethoven’s massive “Missa Solemnis” as well as vocal, wind and brass music | April 28, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Saturday is a very busy day over at the University of Wisconsin School of Music. But things are beginning to slow down from the frenetic pace of the past couple of weeks, now that the end of the semester is only two weeks away.

STILL, THERE IS ONE BIG MUST-HEAR EVENT: The UW Choral Union and Symphony Orchestra join forces to perform Beethoven’s epic “Missa Solemnis” under the direction of Beverly Taylor (below) on Saturday, May 1, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall.

The soloists are Brooke Jackson, soprano; Jennifer Sams, mezzo-soprano; Heath Rush, tenor; and Thomas Weis, lyric bass. The “Missa Solemnis” was last performed by Choral Union 15 years ago under the direction of Thomas Hilbisch.

According to a press release from the UW School of Music, conductor Beverly Taylor calls this challenging 85-minute work by Beethoven (below) “one of the great masterpieces of western music.” She says it has some of the most demanding choral parts a choir is likely to encounter and that the extended high notes and low notes and fast and slow sections all contribute to its difficulty. “Just when you think you couldn’t sing one more high note, you turn the page and there are more high notes!”

If you would like to know more about the Beethoven work, the performers or the Choral Union’s schedule for next season, Taylor answered a two-art interview on this blog for Monday and Tuesday:

Here are links:’s-“missa”’s-“missa”-massive-hear-it-for-yourself-this-weekend-at-uw-part-2-of-2/

The 160-voice choir will be accompanied by the 78-piece UW Symphony Orchestra (below, rehearsing). The stage will be extended to accommodate the choir, orchestra, soloists and conductor. The mass will be sung in Latin with translations provided in the program.

It’s worth noting how the soloists all have UW ties. That is a sign, The Era bets, not only of quality and loyalty, but also of the cut-back budgets that preclude bringing in more expensive and experienced imported soloists.

Soprano Brooke Jackson graduated from Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa) and has had a diverse singing career, performing in many different styles from opera and oratorio to folk music and jazz. She has performed with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago under the direction of Stephen Alltop and had a small solo role in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of “Madama Butterfly” at the Ravinia Festival. She earned the M.B.A. degree in arts administration at UW-Madison in 2009.

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Sams (below) is pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at UW-Madison in voice performance with a minor in opera production, studying with James Doing and William Farlow. She graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music and received a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee. She has performed with the Knoxville Opera Company and last week performed the role of Elisabetta in University Operas spring 2010 production of “Maria Stuarda.”

Tenor Heath Rush studied with James Doing at UW-Madison with the assistance of a grant from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. He has performed with San Francisco Operas acclaimed Merola Opera program and was an apprentice with Sarasota Opera. Locally, he has performed with Madison Opera, Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. He is returning to Wisconsin following a year with the Orlando Opera Studio.

Lyric bass Thomas Weis (below) has appeared as leading man in “Kiss Me, Kate” and “The Music Man” with the Heartland Festival in Platteville, Wisconsin, as Grandpa Moss in Skylight Opera Theater’s production of “The Tender Land” and as bass soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” with the Milwaukee Symphony. He performed the role of Figaro in University Opera’s production of “Le nozze di Figaro” in 2006. Weis teaches voice at Carroll University (Waukesha, Wisconsin) and at Waukesha County Conservatory of Music in Hartland. He graduated from UW-Madison with the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2007.

Single admission tickets are $15 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors. Tickets are available in advance from the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office at (608) 265-ARTS. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door 30 minutes before each concert.

Mills Concert Hall is located in the Mosse Humanities Building at the corner of Park Street and University Avenue. Visit the School of Music’s web site at for program information, or call the Concert Line at (608) 263-9485. To receive the Digest, a weekly e-mailed listing of concerts, master classes and student recitals, send your e-mail address to


On Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Master Singers will perform.

The 54-voice mixed choir will sing under the direction of graduate assistant conductors Brian Gurley, Hyojung Huh and Michael Pfitzer.

The program includes “Cantate Domino” by David L. Brunner (b. 1953); “Magnificat on the Eighth Tone” by Tomas Luis de Victoria; “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Gabriel Faure; two works by Mozart, “Regina caeli” and “Solemn Vespers of the Confessor,” K. 339; and the traditional spiritual “Wade in the Water,” arranged by Moses Hogan.

A small chamber ensemble accompanies the works by Faure and Mozart.

The concert is free and unticketed.


On Friday from 12:15 to 1 p.m., the weekly free Noon Musicale by the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, will featured folk inspired songs by Britten, Copland, Canteloube and de Falla.

The concert will take place in the original Frank Lloyd Wright  Landmark Auditorium (below). The performers are Melissa Simonson, soprano; Bart Terrell, bass; and Unitarian music director Dan Broner, piano.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For information, call 608 233-9774.

Also on Friday, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble will perform under conductor Scott Teeple.

This concert is the first of an annual series called “ca. Now!” for recent, original music composed for wind ensemble.

The concert will feature “Jaunt” by Joseph Stillwell; “My Hands Are A City” by Jonathan Newman (UW commission and WI premiere); “Home of the Great Spirit” by Dan Mitchell; “Homages” by Michael Djupstrum; “Lullaby for Kirsten” by Leslie Bassett; and “First Symphony for Band” by William Bolcom.

The concert is free and open to the public.


On Saturday at noon in Old Music Hall, the UW World Percussion Ensemble will perform under director UW percussionist Anthony Di Sanza.

No program has been given.
The event is free and unticketed.

Also on Saturday, May 1, at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Perlman Trio will perform.

The Perlman Trio is an advanced undergraduate trio sponsored by Dr. Kato Perlman. The trio is made up of Eleanor Bartsch, violin; Maureen Kelly, cello; and Thomas Kasdorf, piano.

For this third annual concert, the trio will perform the Piano Trio No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 97, (“Archduke”) by Beethoven and the Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60 by Brahms, with violist Daniel Kim.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Also on Saturday, at 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the All-University String Orchestra will perform under Janet Jensen.

No program is listed.

The concert is free and open to the public.

On Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen,” the UW’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below) will perform.

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

The program will feature Michael Praetorius’ Dance Suite from “Terpsichore,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Art of Fugue,” Joseph Blaha’s 1995 composition “Psalm Twenty-seven,” Joshua Hauser’s 2003 piece “Road Rage” and WBQ tuba performer John Steven’s 1987 composition entitled “Seasons.”

Performers include John Aley and Matthew Kuhns on trumpet, Douglas Hill on horn, Mark Hetzler on trombone and John Stevens on tuba.

Founded in 1972, WBQ is ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. They have performed throughout the Midwest as well as nationally, including performances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Hall.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can call ahead and reserve seats for “Sunday Afternoon Live performances.” Seating is limited. All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance.

For more information or to learn how to become a museum member, contact the Chazen Museum at 608 263-2246.

If you hear one of the events, let us know what you thought.

I am particularly interested in reaction to and assessments of the Beethoven “Missa Solemnis.”

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music


  1. Seriez-vous intéressés par un échange de liens avec notre site (votre promotion en France !)?

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    Comment by Ensemble Vocal de Cambrai — June 6, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

    • Cher Webmaster,
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      Comment by welltemperedear — June 6, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

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