The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: UW Choral Union won’t get to perform in Overture Hall this season — but maybe next season

September 13, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Tonight is the first rehearsal of the University of Wisconsin Choral Union, an outstanding choral group of some 150 to 200 campus and community members.

The first rehearsal also brings relevant news.

Longtime Choral Union director Beverly Taylor (below) recently told The Ear that a tentative plan for the group to perform in Overture Hall at the Overture Center ran into a wall.

So the hoped for performance there won’t happen.

That’s because the Madison Symphony Orchestra beat them to one date, and UW rules prohibit doing the performance a weekend closer to spring finals.

The net effect is this: This fall semester the Choral Union will perform Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” with the UW Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. Then on Saturday, April 30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m., it will perform Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the UW Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets will be $15 general admission, $8 for senior and students. However, they are not yet available.

Next fall, says Taylor, will probably see the group do a modern or contemporary work, though she didn’t say which one.

And then if the Overture Hall concert materializes, they will do either Verdi’s Requiem or Brahms’ “German” Requiem. Mozart’s Requiem may also be a possibility.

But there is a big IF: fundraising.

Taylor has asked adult community members of the chorus to contribute $20 — in the form of a first-time ever “participation fee” — towards the goal of meeting rent and soloist costs. I expect some members will give more, and that other donors, large and small, will be sought out or voluntarily come forward. Certainly the accomplished group deserves a chance to perform in a great venue (below) with its outstanding acoustics. (It is also a way of dealing with UW budget cuts prompoted by the state deficit.)

Apparently, Overture Center, for all its talk about being a community organization, is not willing to give a break on the substantial rent to the UW to make it affordable for a non-profit student group.

I mean, times are tough but even so – it would a wonderful service for this community group to have higher profile.

Well, what do you think?

Which work – the Brahms, Verdi or Mozart Requiem — would most attract you to the Overture Hall and fill it with other listeners? I think the Brahms but am anxious to hear from others.

Do you think the Overture Center should give big discounts to student groups?

Finally, as either a participant or listener, do you have an opinion of the Choral Union and its repertoire and performances?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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