The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music shout-out: The Madison Symphony Orchestra will expose 5,000 young students on Tuesday to classical music related to art and to young concerto winners who are their peers.

November 21, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

As our so-called “business-friendly” state government takes its knives to school budgets and arts agencies, and as art education and music education inevitably suffer, was there ever a better time to recognize those individuals and organizations that enhance the future involvement of our society’s children in the arts?

Hence this post, which is really little more than a well-deserved shout-out to the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below), which will perform three Fall Youth Concerts to packed houses, for a total of about 5,000 upper elementary and middle school students, on this Tuesday morning and afternoon on Overture Hall.

To be fair, many local arts organizations, including the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Wisconsin School Music Association and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, do similar events and also deserve praise.

I went to two of the three concerts last year (below), and was impressed by the size and enthusiasm of the student houses as well as by the players and maestro John DeMain (below, at last year’s Fall Youth Concerts), who related to the students so easily and naturally.

The theme this year is the relationship between art and music. The Ear considers that a theme to be two-fer in the current arts-hostile and education-hostile environment of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration. (Tellingly, the Wisconsin governor recently snubbed the Governor’s Arts Awards.)

Many, many choices of both music and paintings or art works are possible (see below).

But the music programmed by the MSO includes, of course, excerpts from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures an an Exhibition” as well as Vivaldi’s “Autumn” Concerto “The Four Seasons” and Copland’s “El Salon Mexico.” Images include paintings by Van Gogh (below), Monet, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera among others.

The two winners of the 2011 Fall Youth Concerto Competition will be also this year’s honored guest soloists. At the 9:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. performances, pianist Audrianna Wu will play Mendelssohn’s Capriccio Brilliant, Op. 22 in B minor: and at the 11:15 a.m. performance, violinist Julian Rhee will play Sarasate’s Fantasy on Bizet’s “Carmen,” Op. 25.

For information about the concerts and how they are organized, visit:

For notes and a downloadable curriculum guide about the program (which last year I found useful to adults and seasoned concert-goers as well as to students), go to:

Meanwhile, parents and teachers, please encourage your students who went to the concert to tell The Ear what they thought by writing a short critique or reaction in the COMMENTS section of this blog.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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