The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Best Bets Dec. 8-14 include Handel’s “Messiah”; Cantus in “All Is Calm”; the Madison Youth Choirs; and the UW Symphony Orchestra in Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and a work by UW composer Joseph Koykkar

December 8, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

Make a joyful noise!

This is the last big week before the holiday intermission. But it is a big one, especially for holiday music and vocal music.

It offers one staple: Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and guest soloists as well as the Madison Youth Choirs in multiple performances.

It also offers an untraditional but by all accounts very moving vocal work for the holidays: “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” by Cantus at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

But there is quite a bit of other music to enjoy, including the Met’s hi-def live broadcast of Verdi’s opera “Don Carlos” on Saturday.


Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the UW’s Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below) performs on the Faculty Concert Series.

The program features music composed or arranged by former and current members including “March” by John Barrows (founding horn); the premiere of “Three Moods for Woodwind Quintet” by Douglas Hill (former horn); “Suite Française” by Francis Poulenc, arranged by Richard Lottridge (founding bassoon); music of Alec Wilder, Jimmy Dorsey and Duke Ellington arranged by Glenn Bowen (founding clarinet); and “Bagatelles” by Bela Bartok, arranged by Marc Vallon (current bassoon).

A post-concert reception honoring current and former members will be held in the lobby.

Admission is free and open to the public.


The First Unitarian Society’s free Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1p.m. will features the Odyssey Winds in the music of Bach, Danzi, Schifrin and Farkas. The concert is at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive. Call 608 233-9774 for information.

At 7 p.m. in the Blackhawk Church, 9620 Brader Way, in Middleton, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below), under maestro Andrew Sewell, and the Messiah Chorus with soloists will perform Handel’s oratorio “Messiah.”

Admission is $30.

Guest Artists are Sarah Hibbard, soprano; Emily Lodine, alto; Robert Bracey, tenor; Peter Van de Graaff, bass, and The Messiah Chorus directed by Scott Foss.

The soloists come with many qualifications and are familiarity to Madison’s classical music fans, but none more so than bass Peter Van de Graaf (below). He is the host and voice of the NPR/WPR News & Classical Music Network overnight service form 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. He draws his music selections from all eras, but focus on works from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. All selections are programmed from a record library of over 75,000 records and CD’s, focusing on the standards of the repertoire, but also drawing from the rich and varied music that comprises all of what is called “classical music.”

He started his radio career at KBYU-FM in Provo, Utah, where he was an announcer and senior producer for three years following his graduation from Brigham Young University with a degree in vocal performance.

As a professional singer, he has performed with opera companies and orchestras throughout the world, including the Czech State Orchestra and the symphonies of New Orleans, Utah, Colorado Springs and San Antonio. He has performed with opera companies in Rochester, New York, Milwaukee, Chicago and Boise.

At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Symphony Orchestra performs under conductor James Smith (below) and graduate assistant conductor David Grandis.

The program features “Six Pieces for Orchestra,” Op. 6 by Anton Webern; “Beyond Circumstance” by UW composer Joseph Koykkar (below) and “Symphony No. 4” (“Romantic”) by Anton Bruckner. “Beyond Circumstance” was composed in the fall of 2007 and received its premiere on March 8, 2008 by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

The commission was funded in part by the ASCAP Foundation and Meet the Composer. This performance will be the second for the work.

Admission is free and open to the public.


At 11:30 a.m at the Point and Eastgate cinemas, the Metropolitan Opera ‘s live hi-def broadcast of Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” will be presented.

Admission is $24, $22 for seniors.

You can visit the link below for a plot synopsis and the cast of the acclaimed new production:

At 3 p.m. in Luther Memorial Church, the Madison Youth Choirs’ high school ensembles perform. All the Youth Choirs are taking as their theme this season making connections between music and architecture, music inspired by incredible architectural spaces like Westminster, Abbey, Notre Dame, etc. Saturday will feature high school ensembles Cantilena, Cantabile, and Ragazzi. See alos Sunday below. Highlights of the program include Britten’s Missa Brevis in D with Bruce Bengtson, organ; excerpts from Purcell’s “Come, Ye Sons of Art”; “Stella Splendens” from the Red Book of Montserrat; works by Vaughan Williams, Holst, and more.

Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets (via the website)–$8 until this Thursday, then $12 at the door.  Kids under 7 are free.

For more information, visit:

Also on Saturday, the Festival Choir of Madison (below) will present “Olde Friends and New Adventures” at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the First Baptist Church, 518 North Franklin Ave., Madison. This year’s annual holiday concert offers a blend of traditional carols settings and songs as well as some new favorites. Featured on this concert are Gustav Holst’s festive Christmas Day, Gerald Near’s Cum Novo Cantico. This concert will be sung twice on the same day, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.  Your ticket will get you into either of these performances. For information and tickets, visit:

At 7:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater, the vocal group Cantus will perform “All Is Calm.” The title comes from “Silent Night,” the carol that German soldiers sang when the emerged from the trenches of World War I to mark a temporary Christmas Truce in December of 1914. (A Q/A with Cantus appeared here this past Monday.)

Tickets are $32 and $36 for adults, $20 for UW-Madison students. This is also a “Family Savings” event. Youth tickets are only $14 with purchase of adult ticket with a limit of two youth tickets per 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 is verified at the door. Call 608 262-2201.

(The Wisconsin Union Theater staff asks patrons to note that there is a UW hockey game the same evening, so they should allow themselves enough time to find parking.)

To Buy Tickets for Parking

You can also attend a free pre-concert lecture by retired UW history professor John W. Barker at 6:30 p.m. Check Today in The Union for location.

Click here for program.

Or visit:


Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen welcomes violinist Erin Alridge on Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m..

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.

Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen is a free, weekly chamber music series presented by the Chazen Museum of Art and Wisconsin Public Radio, with the cooperation of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music.

The series, hosted by music commentator Lori Skelton, is broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio stations WERN, 88.7 Madison; WHRM, 90.9 Wausau; WPNE, 89.3 Green Bay; WUEC, 89.7 Eau Claire; WVSS, 90.7 Menomonie; WHSA, 89.9 Brule; WGTD, 91.1 Kenosha; WLSU, 88.9 LaCrosse; and WHND, 89.7 Sister Bay. Generous support for the series is provided by individual donations to the Chazen Museum of Art and Wisconsin Public Radio.

At 2  p.m., First Congregational Church, the Madison Youth Choirs’ boychoirs (Purcell, Britten and Holst) will perform. Then again, at 5 p.m., also in the First Congregational Church, the girlchoirs (Choraliers, Con Gioia and Capriccio) will perform. For details about program, admission and tickets,, see Saturday.

At 3 p.m., University Carillonneur Lyle Anderson (below top, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) performs his final recital of the semester on the 56-bell UW Memorial Carillon (below bottom) at the corner of Charter Street and Observatory Drive. Visitors are welcome to climb the tower or listen from the grounds nearby. Recitals will resume on Sunday, Jan. 23.

Posted in Classical music

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