The Well-Tempered Ear

Wisconsin Public Television and Andy Moore should include classical music in the “30-Minute Music Hour” weekly shows

August 3, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

If you are a loyal follower of this blog, you might remember back to last October.

That’s when I suggested that Wisconsin Public Television would do well to bring us more local classical music events from around the state in addition to national feeds for programs like “Live From Lincoln Center,” “American Masters” and “Great Performances.”

And I received a reassuring reply from station manager James Steinbach that such arts coverage in the works with a new mobile broadcasting van on its way to the local network.

Here is a link to that posting and comment:

But I also now see a perfect vehicle for such an enterprise.

It is the “30-Minute Music Hour,” a relatively news series created and produced by Andy Moore (below). It airs on Thursdays at 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Here is a link to the program:

Moore, as you may already know from first-hand experience, is one of the most creative talents in Madison. Among other TV shows, he has brought us “Weekend,” which I still miss, and “Here and Now,” which is seen on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. He also writes for Madison Magazine and Isthmus.

When I have seen the music hour show, it was impressive. It recently they featured a Cajun band and a hip-hop singer and, I think, a blues band as well as a pop singer. I’m sure there will more rock and gospel, RB and country. It sure is fun and educational to watch as well as listen.

But what about including classical music?

I like mixing it up.

Besides in terms of viewers and audience appeal,  there are an awful lot of piano students, string students and amateur singers out there.

Plus, there is no lack of a news angle and new angle for local or state-wide groups.

What about the UW-Madison Pro Arte String Quartet (below)? It is about to turn 100 — making it the oldest string quartet EVER to exist in the world. It has recorded CDs of Dvorak and Mendelssohn. And a half hour is just about right for a Mozart or Haydn quartet. (Last year was a Haydn and Mendelssohn Year.)

Also in Madison is piano virtuoso Christopher Taylor (below), who won a medal at the Van Cliburn competition and who performs regularly to critical acclaim in New York City. Two seasons ago he played all 32 Beethoven sonatas, so I bet he could find a great one and/or popular one (“Moonlight,” “Pathetique,” “Appassionata”) for about 30 minutes with one of his enjoyable and witty spoken introductions.

Then there is the soprano Julia Faulkner (below), who teaches at the UW-Madison after having a major opera career in Europe, and who has recorded many CDs for Naxos, DG and other labels. She recently recorded songs by Madison-born and UW-trained composer Lee Hoiby for Naxos.

And there is the creative trombone artist Mark Hetzler as well as the Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below top) and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below bottom).

Over at the UW-Milwaukee, the globe-trotting, award-winning Fine Arts Quartet (below) has been reformulated. Over the past few years, it recorded all three of Schumann’s string quartets for Naxos — and this is the Schumann bicentennial year — as well as works by Beethoven, Bruckner and Faure.

Of course, there are also the symphony orchestras and chamber orchestras, opera companies and early music groups in Madison and Milwaukee as well as Green Bay. And the state hosts many festivals of classical music, including ones in Green Lake and Door County.

Besides the public schools of music, there is also the Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton plus music schools in Stevens Point, Wausau, Milwaukee and elsewhere.

I’ll bet some of the small groups and soloists would even perform different repertoire at WPT studio when they come to town to play for the popular “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” chamber music concerts on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Anyway, Wisconsin likes its classical music as well as its rock, pop and polkas.

And The Ear says that the “30-Minute Music Hour” seems like a great vehicle at least to try it out.

What do you as the public think?

Should Andy Moore and the “30-Minute Music Hour” give classical music a try?

Do you have performers or works of music you’d like to suggest?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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