The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Week of Nov. 2-9 is big on operas and choral music as well as celebrations of Chopin and Schumann

November 3, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Is it high season yet?

Well, what else can it be when there is at least one major event or concert almost each night, and several major events or concerts on several different nights.

Opera and choral music seem to predominate this week. But there is plenty in the way of instrumental music too, from early music to contemporary music.

The bicentennial celebrations of the births of Chopin and Schumann especially loom large.

Anyway, just take a look at Saturday night. The choices are astounding and varied, even while big events bookend that night with many other worthy choices.

It’s all more proof that classical music has the fans and the performers to thrive in Madison.

And thriving it is.


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Symphony Strings will be led by David Grandis, graduate assistant conductor. The program features “Rumanian Folk Dances” by Bartok; “Intermezzo,” Op. 8, by Franz Schreker; “Danse sacrée et danse profane” by Debussy; and “Serenade for strings,” Op. 22 by Dvorak.  Admission is free and open to the public.


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra (below), conducted by James Smith and David Grandis, will perform “Le festin de l’araignée” by Roussel; “Much Ado About Nothing” by Korngold; and “Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major,” D. 125, by Schubert.  Admission is free and open to the public.


On Friday at 8 p.m. in Overture Hall, the Madison Opera opens its 50th anniversary season with Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” (A repeat performance is on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall.)

The production features an internationally acclaimed cast, with A. Scott Parry directing. On Monday and Tuesday, this blog posted a two-part interview with Parry.

Maestro John DeMain will conduct the orchestra.

“It was important for us to start this milestone season with a perennial favorite to really excite the community,” said General Director Allan Naplan.

There is a historical component as well: almost 50 years ago, a group of local singers known as the Madison Opera Workshop presented scenes from “The Marriage of Figaro” for the company’s second outing.

Today, Madison Opera’s production will feature a professional cast with credentials at leading U.S. and international opera houses, performing on the Overture Hall stage with a striking set design most recently seen at Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera.

“It just shows how much we’ve grown,” Naplan added.

Indeed, the cast, the sets, the costumes and of course the work itself all point to a MUST-HEAR event.

Tickets are currently available online at, by phone at (608) 258-4141, and at the Overture Center Box Office (201 State St., Madison.

Prices range from $16 to $114, with student and group discounts available.

Also on Friday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Faculty Concert Series features Parry Karp, cello (below), and Howard and Frances Karp, piano.  The program includes “Sonata in A major for piano and violin,” Op. 100 by Brahms, transcribed for cello by Parry Karp; “Sonata for cello and piano,” Op. 6 by Barber; “Two Romances” for cello and piano, Op. 30 by Hans Huber; and Sonata in G minor for piano and cello, Op. 65, by Chopin. Admission is free and open to the public.


At 7:30 p.m., Spanish pianist Daniel Del Pino (below) and the Iberia String Quartet will appear in a salon concert at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side near West Towne. (An Q&A with Del Pino will be posted here Friday.)

The unusual program marking the Chopin Year – 2010 is Chopin’s 200th birthday — includes Chopin’s Piano concerto No. 1, Opus 11, in E minor, and Piano Concerto No. 2, Opus 21, in F minor in chamber music settings.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and students with ID.  A reception follows the concert. You can reserve tickets with a credit card by calling 271-2626.  You can also purchase tickets at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, Madison or Orange Tree Imports on Monroe Street.

At 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the UW Faculty Concert Series offers Tyrone Greive (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), violin, Ellen Burmeister, piano, and Janet Greive, cello. The program  celebrates significant birth year anniversaries of three important Polish composers in 2010: Chopin (200 years), Wieniawski (175 years) and Paderewski (150 years). The program includes Piccole Sonate (Little Sonata) No. 14 in G major for violin and cello by Giuseppe Tartini; Sonata for solo violin, Op. 10 by Vincent Persichetti; Three solo piano pieces by Chopin arranged for violin and piano by Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler and Pablo de Sarasate; Legende, Op. 17 by Henryk Wieniawski; and Sonata in A minor, Op. 13 for violin and piano by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Admission is free and open to the public.

At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir, conducted by Beverly Taylor (below) will perform “Spem in alium,” by Thomas Tallis; “Super flumina Babylonis,” by Orlando Lassus; “Quomodo cantabimus” by William Byrd; “When David Heard,” by Norman Dinerstein; “Santa Fe Vespers,” by Robert Kyr; “The Making of a Drum,” by Robert Chilcott and arrangements of folk songs and spirituals by David Johnson, Moses Hogan, William Dawson and Astor Piazzolla..  Admission is free and open to the public.

At 7 p.m., at his home at 5729 Forsythia Place, early music specialist Trevor Stephenson (below) will perform and give a talk on Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations. He will play the concert on a two-manual harpsichord completed recently by Norman Sheppard in Madison. The instrument is modeled on an early 18th-century double keyboard harpsichord by Michael Mietke of Berlin, the same model that Bach traveled to Berlin around 1719 to purchase from Mietke.

Seating for this house concert is limited to around 30. To make a reservation, reply by e-mail or call (238-6092).

A 8 p.m. in the Promenade Hall of the Overture Center, Nathaniel Bartlett  (below) using marimba and computers, will perform: He describes it so: “A seamless meld of five-octave acoustic marimba with electronics, a powerful custom computer, and an eight-channel cube of loudspeakers, with the audience positioned in the center of the loudspeaker array, totally immerses the listeners. The positioning and movement of sounds in physical space, resulting in kinetic audio sculptures, is a central musical parameter. The three-dimensional sound field is enriched by the use of high-definition audio, all of which makes for a performance of sonic nuance.”

This concert is a “Musicians for WORT” event, with profit going to support Madison’s community radio 89.9 FM WORT (

Admission is $16, $10 for students and seniors. Call (608) 258-4141.

For more information, visit


“Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” will feature pianist Tim Schorr (below) from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art. It will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio (88.7 FM in the Madison area.)

Schorr will be playing Clara Wieck-Schumann’s Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann, Op. 20, as well as the Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17 and Carnaval, Op. 9, both by Robert Schumann. 2010 =is the 200th anniversary of Robert Schumann’s birth.

Schorr is currently Associate Professor of Music at Viterbo University.

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.

A reception follows the performance, with refreshments generously donated by Fresh Madison Market, Coffee Bytes and Fair Trade Coffee House. A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m., the Madison Opera repeats its performance of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” See Friday above.

At 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Horn Choir, directed by Douglas Hill (below), will perform original compositions by Hill and by UW composer John Stevens; arrangements of works by Bach and Beethoven; and Matthew Beecher’s arrangement of themes from “Star Trek.” Admission is free and open to the public.

At 7:30 p.m., Mills Hall, the Madison Early Music Festival and the School of Music present Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, celebrating the work’s 400th anniversary. Bruce Gladstone (below) conducts the Madrigal Singers with an orchestra of period instruments. The vocal soloists are soprano Chelsie Propst, mezzo-soprano Jennifer D’Agostino Sams, tenors William Bouvel and Jeremiah Cawley, baritone Paul Rowe and bass Jerry Hui. John W. Barker, professor emeritus of history, will give a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. The free concert is supported by a generous bequest to the Madison Early Music Festival from Jane N. Graff, who was an emerita professor in the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology.

Admission is free and open to the public.


At 2 p.m. in Room 2531 of the Mosse Humanities Building, The JACK Quartet (below) —  the nationally acclaimed group that performs contemporary chamber music and that will give a concert here Wednesday night — gives a workshop on the music of German composer Helmut Lachenmann (b. 1935). The quartet’s free concert on Wednesday — at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall — includes Lachenmann’s String Quartet No. 2, “Reigen seliger Geister.”

Admission is free and open to the public.

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, pianist Jeffrey Siegel (below) returns with another Keyboard Conversation about  “The Romantic Music of Robert Schumann: Fantasies Forbidden and Fulfilled.” The program includes the “Fantasy Pieces,” Op. 12 and “Symphonic Etudes,” Op. 13, among others. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Schumann.

Tickets are $34; UW-Madison students get in for free. Call (608)  262-2201. Youth tickets are only $14 with purchase of adult tickets with a limit of two youth tickets per each adult ticket. Youth tickets must be purchased at the same time as the adult tickets and are valid for youths 6-18 years old. Age verified at door. For tickets, call the Campus Arts Ticketing Office at (608) 265-ARTS, visit or purchase them in the lobby beginning one hour before concert.

Posted in Classical music

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