The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Token Creek Chamber Music Creek to expand this summer, will bring back Robert Levin for Mozart and Emmanuel Music for Bach

March 3, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Well, here were — finally in the month when Spring arrives.

And Spring inevitably leads to thoughts of summer – which is a classical music season all its own in Madison.

We have the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, the Madison Early Music Festival, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Concert on the Green, the Madison Opera’s Opera in the Park and the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival – to name just the most obvious ones.

The Ear has just learned that the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival – which takes place in a beautifully refurbished barn (below)  and had all sell-outs last summer — will be extended this year to 12 days.

It will take place from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4 and offer programs that will elaborate on themes the festival has been developing over the past several years: music of the high Classical period; contemporary works a jazz cabaret; and the music of J.S. Bach.

As always, performers will include a mix of local and important artists, some familiar and some new, some mature artists and some early in their careers.

Here is a tentative schedule of the 2011 Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, co-directed by composer John Harbison (below top) and his wife violinist Rose Mary Harbison (below bottom).

I.   Season Opener: Two Pianos. Less common than one-piano four-hands, the festival opens with a duo recital by pianists Robert Levin (the Harvard professor and Mozart expert is a familiar and popular performer with the festival) and YaFei Chuang performing rarely heard modern works by Lutoslawski, Debussy, Stravinsky and Harbison. The Harbison piece will be the Midwest premiere and only the second performance ever of “Diamond Watch,” composed in 2010. There will be two performances: on Wednesday, Aug. 24, and Thurs. Aug. 25, both at 8 p.m.

II.  Mozart. Robert Levin (Levin, below with Rose Mary Harbison) is internationally acclaimed for his interpretations especially of classical repertoire, his authentic period improvisation, and his prolific scholarship. He will offer an all-Mozart program anchored by the famous “Coronation Concerto,” K. 537, joined by a small orchestra of largely Boston-based players appearing in the Midwest for the first time. There will be two performances: Saturday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 28, at 4 p.m.

III. Jazz Club: More Anniversaries. In keeping with the jazz anniversaries theme of the last several seasons, this year the festival anticipates the centennials of composer Burton Lane (1912-97) and lyricist Sammy Cahn (1912-93) in settings by Jule Styne.  It will welcome back trombonist Tom Artin (of Smithsonian Jazz) and vocalist Nicole Pasternak to join the Token Creek house band.  There will be three performances: Wednesday, Aug. 31, and Thursday, Sept. 1, at 5 p.m. and at 8:30 p.m.

IV. Season Finale: Bach. Following the incredible success of last season’s Bach concert, musicians from Emmanuel Music of Boston — the premiere institution in the U.S. dedicated to the performance of all of J.S Bach’s sacred and secular works — together with local players will perform: Cantata No. 199, several continuo sonatas, the G minor trio sonatas, and selected arias. 
There will be two performances: Saturday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m.

As always, each concert will include engaging, insightful, and provocative commentary by John Harbison.

And, as in the last several years, we will enhance the public spaces with the sculptures, paintings and photography of local artists (last year[s was Andree Valley’s work, below).

More information will available in late May and tickets will go on sale in June.

For more information, visit:

The plans sound good to me.

What do you think?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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