The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Best bets for Nov. 10-16 include contemporary chamber music with The JACK Quartet; cellist Alisa Weilerstein in Dvorak’s concerto; music by local composers John Harbison and Laura Schwendinger; and local student musicians taking a two-day spotlight

November 10, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

It’s another big and busy week in the high season of classical music in Madison. There is something worthwhile every night of the week, and sometimes more than one event.

Are we lucky or what? But good luck in choosing.

Like me, you may just have to resign yourself to missing some events and letting a few jewels slip through your fingers.


At 11 a.m. today in Mills Hall, The JACK Quartet gives readings (working performances) of works by School of Music composition students.

Admission is free and unticketed.

At 7:30 p.m. tonight in Mills Hall, the UW Guest Artist Series presents the acclaimed JACK Quartet (below) performing contemporary works for string quartet.

The program includes “Dig Deep” by Julia Wolfe; “String Quartet No. 7” by Salvatore Sciarrino; “String Quartet” by Laura Schwendinger (below), professor of composition at the UW School of Music; and “String Quartet No. 2, ‘Reigen seliger Geister’” by Helmut Lachenmann.

The JACK Quartet’s members first played together as students at the Eastman School of Music in 2003.  They have garnered laudatory reviews in the media for performances and recordings, including appearances at the Library of Congress, Miller Theatre, Morgan Library, Kimmel Center and festivals and music centers in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

The quartet’s recording of Iannis Xenakis’s complete string quartets appeared on “Best of 2009” lists in “The Los Angeles Times,” “The Boston Globe,” “The New Yorker,” NPR and “Time Out New York.”

Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld, violist John Pickford Richards and cellist Kevin McFarland, the quartet is focused on the commissioning and performance of new works and to working closely with composers.

In a feature article in “The New York Times” on Sept. 5, 2010, music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote, “In the last two years the quartet has grabbed the attention of critics and audiences internationally.”

Especially if you are a fan of contemporary classical music, this is MUST-HEAR concert.

For further information, visit

Also tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Middleton Performing Arts Center (below) at Middleton High School, the Middleton Community Orchestra (below) makes its public debut.

The program includes Dvorak’’s  “My Home” Overture; Ponchielli’s “The Dance of the Hours”; Still’s “Danzas de Panama”;
Borodin’s “In the Steppes of Central Asia”; and  the Finale from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2

Admission is $10 for adults, free for students with valid ID.

For more information, visit:


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall: UW Wind Ensemble’s Chamber Winds, featuring sub-groups from within the ensemble, will perform works by Richard Strauss, Antonin Dvorak and Astor Piazzolla. Scott Teeple (below) and Paul Bhasin are the conductors. Admission is free and open to the public.


This weekend the Madison Symphony Orchestra, under its maestro John DeMain, will perform its second subscription concert of the season.

The eclectic and accessible program includes the “Suite from ‘The Great Gatsby,’” by John Harbison (below). Harbison, an acclaimed composer who also co-directs the nearby Token Creek Chamber Music Festival each summer, recently completely this suite, made from his 199 opera commissioned by and performed at the Met, at the suggestion of David Zinman. It has a lot of local interest. This will be only the third public performance of the new work.

But for many listeners the highpoint will be the appearance of guest cellist Alisa Weilerstein (below), 26, who has been called their heir apparent to Yo-Yo ma and who will make her MSO debut in Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. When she played with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and then did a recital at the Wisconsin Union Theater, she drew standing ovations. (The Ear’s interview with Weilerstein appeared this past Monday.)

Richard Strauss’ sprightly tone poem “Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks” rounds out the program.

Performances in Overture Hall are Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15.50-$75.50. Call (608) 258-4141 or visit:

For more program notes, visit:

Also on Friday, the First Unitarian Society’s weekly Friday Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., will feature Kangwon Kim (below top) on baroque violin and Steuart Pincombe (below bottom)on viola da gamba.

The two will perform Biber’s Sonata No. 1 in A minor for solo violin; J.S. Bach’s Suite No.1 in G Major for Solo Cello, Zoltan Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7, and Mark O’Conner’s “F.C.’s Jig for Violin and Cello.

Admission is free and coffee is provided. You can bring a lunch.

The concert is in the Landmark Auditorium, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, at the Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive. For information, call (608) 233-9774.

The same program will be repeated on Monday at 7 p.m. at Oakwood Village West Auditorium, 6209 Mineral Point Road, also for free.


After the election, The Ear suspects even more school budget cuts loom, and that means even more cutbacks in arts and music education.

All the more reason we have, then, to support the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

This weekend will see more than 300 talented young musicians kick off WYSO’s 45th season with the Evelyn Steenbock Fall Concert — three concerts honoring southern Wisconsin’s private music instructors and school music teachers.

WYSO’s string orchestra, Sinfonietta, conducted by Mark Leiser, will open the concert series at 1:30 p.m. with selections including Britten’s “Salley Gardens,” and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” followed by the Concert Orchestra, under Christine Mata Eckel (below), playing Curnow’s “Phoenix Overture” and Stephens’s “Danse de Espana.”

At 4 p.m., the Percussion Ensemble, led by Vicki Peterson Jenks (below) in her 30th year with WYSO, will enliven the crowd with a spirited rendition of Jared Spears’s Windstone Suite. The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Tom Buchhauser, will follow, performing “Hoe Down,” and “Saturday Night Waltz,” from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, an audience favorite.

On Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m., WYSO’s top level performing group, the Youth Orchestra, under conductor James Smith (below), will perform John Harbison’s “Mary Lou,” in honor of the centennial year of Mary Lou Williams, the “First Lady of Jazz.” Youth Orchestra will also play Massenet’s “Le Cid,” and two movements of Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1.

The WYSO press release adds: “Each of the concerts honors music teachers in the southern Wisconsin region, recognizing their incredible educational work and thanking them for their partnership with WYSO. What they do everyday is irreplaceable in the lives of students.”

The Steenbock Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. in 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. Admission is $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.

Let us now praise sponsors: These WYSO concerts are supported by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, and the Overture Foundation. This project is also supported by the Alliant Energy Foundation and in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, visit

Also on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Chorale will perform under Bruce Gladstone (below in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

The concert entitled “With the Earth” features texts that focus on nature and care of the earth, including poems by Wendell Berry and W. S. Merwin. “Leafsongs” by Steve Heitzig and “In the Red Mountains” by Scott Lindroth feature choir, piano and percussion. Other works by Antonin Dvorak, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Joan Szymko, David Brunner and Alberto Grau.

Admission is free and open to the public.


“Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” features UW cellist Parry Karp  at 12:30-2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art.  He will be accompanied by his father and mother,  Howard and Frances Karp, on piano.  The program will feature music from Brahms’ Sonata in A Major for Piano and Violin, Op. 100; Hans Huber’s Romance in A-Flat Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 30; Samuel Barber’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 6; and Chopin’s Sonata in G Minor for Piano and Cello, Op. 65.

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

Karp (below) is Professor of Chamber Music and Cello at the University of Wisconsin Madison and has played with Pro Arte since 1976.  Howard and Frances Karp have each performed as soloists with symphony orchestras in the United States and Europe and frequently appear in solo recitals or together in chamber music concerts.

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.

At 2:30 p.m., the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra with conductor Blake Walter and guitar soloist Nathan Wysock (below), will perform in Edgewood College’s St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive in Madison.

The program features Villa-Lobos’ Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra as well as works by Felix Mendelssohn and W.A. Mozart.

Nathan Wysock began playing guitar at the age of nine and started classical studies at fifteen.  Wysock is an active soloist and chamber musician and has performed in both national and international competitions.

He has been a featured performer on Wisconsin Public Radio’s ‘Live at the Chazen’ and ‘Higher Ground.’  He has performed with the Lawrence University Chamber players, the Festival City Orchestra, the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, and L’ensemble Portique.  A native of Wisconsin, Wysock is currently on the faculty of Lawrence University in Appleton and Edgewood College in Madison.

Admission is $5, free with Edgewood ID.

At 6:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble

John Stevens (below right), director, with Stephanie Frye and Matthew Mireles as guest conductors, will perform works by Stevens, Mozart, Bateson, Morley, Tomkins, Nelhybel, Grainger, Forte, Barnes, Scheidt and Gabrieli.

Admission is free and open to the public.


At 7 p.m., violinist Kangwon Lee Kim and viola da gambist Steuart Pincombe at Oakwood Village West, 6209 Mineral Point Road. See Friday’s listing.

At 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the UW  Faculty Concert Series offers bassoonist Marc Vallon (below) in an all-French program.  Other performers include Diana Shapiro, piano; Dawn Lawler, flute; Karen Beth Atz, harp; and Sally Chisholm, viola.

The program includes “Pastorales de Noel” for flute, bassoon and harp by André Jolivet; “Sonata for bassoon and piano” by Camille Saint-Saens; “Duo Sephardim” for viola and bassoon by Philippe Hersant; and “Five French Folk Songs” arranged for flute, bassoon and piano by Marc Vallon.

Admission is free and open to the public.


At 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Overture Concert Organ Series continues with its second of three programs, “Too Hot to Handel.” The all-Handel concert features three Madison organists (below).

Bruce Bengtson (left) is Director of Music and Organist at Luther Memorial Church; Samuel Hutchison (middle) is the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Organist and Curator of the Overture Concert Organ; and Gary Lewis (right) is Director of Music and Organist at Bethel Lutheran Church.

Also on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Faculty Concert Series presents Mark Hetzler (below in a photo by Katrin Talbot), trombone, with pianists Martha Fischer and Jessica Johnson and percussionist Todd Hammes. “Night Set” by Robert Suderburg, “Leda and Zeus” by Michael Torke and “Three Views of Infinity” by Mark Hetzler.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Posted in Classical music

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