The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Madison Summer Choir for campus and community to do rarely heard Saint-Saens Requiem and perform for free June 29

May 22, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Ever since its grew out of UW School of Music budget cuts in 2009, the Madison Summer Choir (below, seen last year in performance), made up of campus and community members, is quickly becoming a tradition, one that is the summer equivalent of the UW Choral Union – and its rehearsals begin this Tuesday.

This summer, the Summer Choir will rehearse and then perform Camille Saint-Saens’ rarely heard Requiem for soloists, choir, harp, winds and strings on Wednesday, June 29, at 7:30 p.m., in Mills Hall in a program called “Remembrance of Things Past.” The Ear thinks that, for singer and audiences alike, it is a very interesting choice of repertoire by one of history’s most gifted prodigies and most underrated and underperformed composers.

Admission to the concert is FREE, so mark your calendars and datebooks.

Led by UW Music School alumnus Ben Luedcke, the Summer Choir is open to students and community members. Members of auditioned UW and auditioned Madison ensembles do NOT need to audition. Luedcke is also the director of the Choral Arts Society Chorale, the UW Men’s Choir and the music director Lake Edge United Church of Christ.

Rehearsals are twice weekly (May 23-June 28), Monday and Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. in Room 1351 Humanities.

There is NO rehearsal on Memorial Day (May 30), but there will be an extra rehearsal on Wednesday, June 1, from 5-7 p.m. in 1351.

There will also be a required rehearsal on Wednesday, June 22, in Mills Hall (below).

Membership is $35, $25 for students.

For information, contact Ben Luedcke at or visit the new website for more information or to schedule an audition, and to hear audio clips. You can also call 262-424-2989.

Here is a short Q&A given to The Ear by Ben Luedcke:

What and how did the Summer Chorus start and how did you become involved as the director?

The UW School of Music, facing budget cuts, eliminated its only summer singing ensemble, so I formed this ensemble in 2009 its place to ensure this summer singing opportunity would not be missed.

What works has it performed in the past?

We have performed Haydn’s Missa Brevis St. Joannis de Deo, dubbed the “Little Organ Mass” as part of a concert entitled “It’s the Little Things That Count.”  Last summer we did Morten Lauridsen‘s Lux Aeterna as part of a program entitled “A Light-Motif: The Sun, Stars and the Eternal.”  This is our third year and we will continue the tradition of an a cappella and piano-accompanied first half followed by a larger work with orchestra for the second half.

How many members does it usually have?

We have historically been about 75 voices.

Why did you choose the Requiem by Saint-Saens (below), which is rarely performed or recorded?

Any conductor can lump a bunch of unrelated and/or overdone audience-pleasers together for a good concert.  However, an artistic director can make a great concert by carefully selecting works as part of a theme that dramatically informs the audience’s reception, and can further all artistic energy by finding rare and under-programmed gems.

What would you tell the public about the Saint-Saens Requiem?

This will be a rare night to hear an under-programmed work by a master composer, as well as witness community members and UW students, both in the choir and orchestra, coming together despite cuts to the arts to ensure that Madison’s summer singing tradition remains intact.

What other pieces are on the program for the free concert?

Look for works by Dello Joio, Eleanor Daley, Matthew Harris and UW graduate Scott Gendel.

Posted in Classical music

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