The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Music preservation meets land restoration as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert benefit the Midwest prairie Thursday night

July 13, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

Although the Madison Early Music Festival and the Madison Opera’s “Opera in the Park” dominate the classical music scene in Madison this week, they are not the only events.

This Thursday night, conservation, preservation and restoration in both nature ands culture will meet in a concert given at 7:30 p.m. in the Monastery Assembly Room (below bottom) , with light refreshments at 6:30 p.m., by the Madison Bach Musicians at the Holy Wisdom Monastery (below top) on Highway M in Middleton, around Lake Mendota.

For information about Holy Wisdom, including history, photos and directions, visit:

The $50-a-head concert is a benefit fundraiser “For the Land” through work done by Prairie Rhapsody. Tickets have sold well in advance, but there will still be some available at the door.

The performers are the Madison Bach Musicians founder and director Trevor Stephenson (above) on fortepiano; Brandi Berry on classical violin; Anna Steinhoff on classical cello; and UW-Madison graduate Emily Birsan, soprano.

The program, featuring music from the Classical era, will include Mozart’s Fantasy in D minor, K. 397; Haydn’s songs “The Mermaid’s Song” and “Fidelity”; Mozart’s Sonata in A major, K. 305, for violin and fortepiano; Schubert songs “Fruhlingsglaube” (Belief in Spring) and “Die Forelle” (The Trout)’ Beethoven’s Sonata in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2, for cello and fortepiano; and Mozart’s songs “Dans un bois solitaire” and “Beste Jüngling” (an aria from The Impresario).

For information about the Madison Bach Musicians (below) and the group’s next season, visit:

For information about Prairie Rhapsody, visit:

Learn how you can help sponsor and volunteer at Prairie Rhapsody.
For more information about Prairie Rhapsody or to sign up to volunteer,
contact Jan Lottig at (608) 836-1631 x123.

Here is more information about the individual performers:

Trevor Stephenson (below), artistic director of the Madison Bach Musicians, received a Doctor Musical Arts degree in Historical Performance of 18th-Century Music from Cornell University.  He is known for him witty and entertaining commentaries about music that are completely understandable to non-specialists.With his colleague, Norman Sheppard, he has rebuilt and customized a series of historical keyboard instruments ranging from Italian Renaissance harpsichords to Victorian pianos. In 1994 he founded the Light & Shadow concert and recording company and has 12 CD releases on that label. He tours throughout the United States as performer and lecturer. You can contact him at:

Violinist Brandi Berry (below) has appeared with groups throughout the U.S. and Canada, including King’s Noyse, Apollo’s Fire, the Newberry Consort, Toronto’s Classical Music Consort, the Indianapolis and Atlanta Baroque Orchestras, and Baroque Band.  She has appeared as soloist/concertmaster or section leader of Ars Antigua, the Madison Bach Musicians, and St. Louis’ Kingsbury Ensemble. Ms. Berry serves on the faculty of DePaul University as co-director of their Baroque Ensembles program.  A student of Stanley Ritchie and Cynthia Roberts, she holds degrees in violin performance from Indiana University and the University of North Texas.  She is a co-founder of the Chicago-based  Bach & Beethoven Ensemble and be reached at

Anna Steinhoff (below), cellist, enjoys making music old and new. As a baroque cellist she is a regular member of Baroque Band–Chicago’s period instrument orchestra–and a founding member of Wayward Sisters ( As a modern cellist, Anna is a former Civic Orchestra member, and has performed in many ensembles including the Chicago Philharmonic, the New Millennium Orchestra and Dal Niente. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Northwestern University, Anna studied with Peter Rejto and Hans Jensen. In addition to classical music, Anna has recorded and performed with bands such as of Saturday Looks Good To Me, Flashpapr, Function Ensemble, City Cricket, and Ontologist.

Soprano Emily Birsan (below) has a unique openness and intense passion for performance. Critics have recently called her performance of Bach’s St. Matthew’s passion “lovely, colorful and delicate”, and for her performance of Maria Stuarda, she was reviewed as having “delectable tone and wonderful sensitive stylishness and musicianship.”    She received her graduate degree in Opera at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, studying with Julia Faulkner as a Paul J. Collins Fellow. Her undergraduate degree is from Lawrence Conservatory where she studied with Karen Leigh-Post.   With UW-Madison Opera, Emily sang the title roles of Alcina (Handel), Thais (Massenet) and Maria Stuarda (Donizetti).  Emily made her professional debut as Barbarina in Madison Opera’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro.  For the 2011-12 season she has been chosen to join the prestigious Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center of the Chicago Lyric Opera.

Posted in Classical music

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