The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: The Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) is expanding its second season to two summer concerts and performs Copland, Faure and Haydn plus opera arias this Friday night.

June 12, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Madison may already be saturated and have more classical music that any city its size has a right to expect. But the classical scene here just keeps expanding.

Friday night marked the debut of the Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, a new chamber music group.

This Friday night will mark the opening of the expanded two-concert second summer season by the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO), pictured rehearsing below in a photo by Steve Rankin.

I asked the founder and conductor of MAYCO, Mikko Utevsky (below), an East High School graduating senior, to tell us about it. Here are his notes:

“The Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra is a student-directed summer festival ensemble dedicated to providing an intensive small orchestra experience for high school and college students. The orchestra prepares a full program over the course of each one-week summer session.

“The first concert is “Bombast and Beauty” and takes place next Friday night at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Admission is $5; students get in for free or by donation.

“MAYCO’s second season opens with a bang, with Aaron Copland‘s heroic “Fanfare for the Common Man” (featuring our brass section). After a delightful potpourri of salon music by the grandfather of the Impressionist movement, Gabriel Fauré in his suite “Masques et Bergamasques,” we are joined by critically acclaimed soprano Shannon Prickett for a selection of bel canto opera arias. We conclude with “Papa” Haydn‘s final symphony, the vivacious and riotously fun “London” Symphony in D major.

Here are some personal notes by conductor Utevsky on the repertoire:

“We will be presenting two concerts this season, on two Fridays — June 15 and August 18 – at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall. It is a tradition I hope to continue in future years.

“As I will be attending the UW-Madison this fall, the orchestra will remain, and I hope to be able to bring a few more undergraduate players into our sections to give them opportunities to lead, and to give the younger musicians the experience of working closer to a collegiate level — something that has been incredible for me to experience, having joined the UW Symphony a year early.

“I’m perhaps most excited to work with another outstanding soloist this season (continuing last year’s tradition), soprano Shannon Prickett (below).

“Readers here will be familiar with Shannon, who played Mimi in the University Opera’s production of “La Boheme” this season, as well as receiving critical acclaim on this blog and elsewhere for her singing in Verdi’s Requiem with the UW Choral Union. She’ll be singing works by both of those composers with us this concert, including excerpts from “La Boheme.”

“I also look forward to performing Haydn’s “London” Symphony at this concert, one of the master’s most-played works for good reason. So many young musicians have this idea that Haydn (below) is easy – or worse, boring! – and I’m hoping that we can correct that perception and discover as an orchestra how exciting and intricate his music is.

“For that, I think, the 104th symphony is perfect – he’s writing for Salomon’s orchestra in London, so it uses the full wind section, and in this particular symphony he really does make full use of the clarinets and the brass, which is more fun for the whole orchestra when nobody has to stay silent or stop playing  for half the piece.

“The “Masques et Bergamasques” Suite by Gabriel Faure (below) is a lovely little work, very much neglected in the repertoire, although Madison audiences may remember that the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra recorded it (beautifully, I might add) back in 2005.

“Rounding out the program we have famous “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copland (below), which seemed a fitting piece for the times. We all need to be reminded to celebrate the Common Man, for all the power and credence given to the rich and famous today. Whatever your political leanings, occupation, or income level, music is for everyone.

MAYCO’s second concert will be “A Celebration of Youth” on August 18 at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall.

“We have an unusual program for our second concert this season (our first time presenting two in a summer!), beginning with a world premiere by local composer Nate Levy.

“In memory of the late children’s author Maurice Sendak (below), we delve into the fairy-tale realm of Maurice Ravel‘s “Mother Goose” Suite next, a shimmering, gossamer sound-world bursting with color and beauty.

“To cap the evening, we offer Schubert‘s delicate, Mozartian Symphony No. 5, written when Schubert (below) was only 19! A charmingly witty work, the Fifth lacks none of the young composer’s famed lyricism. We hope you enjoy it.”

Here are some biographical notes about Mikko Utevsky:

Mikko Utevsky (below, shown conducting MATCO in a photo by Rosebud) is a violist and conductor starting his undergraduate studies on a full-tuition scholarship at the UW-Madison, having performed in the UW Symphony Orchestra and in the viola studio of Prof. Sally Chisholm for his senior year of high school.

He was also named the first-ever Assistant Conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra at his high school, where he was also a perennial featured soloist, and has performed for several years as principal viola in the top ensemble of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), under the baton of UW-Madison director of orchestras, James Smith.

He currently serves as the music director of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, a summer festival orchestra for high school and undergraduate musicians, which he founded in 2010.

The orchestra has been joined in the past by UW-Madison Artist-in-Residence Suzanne Beia, with whom Mr. Utevsky has studied chamber music for four years. His other mentors in conducting include Prof. David Becker, Thomas Buchhauser, Prof. James Smith, Prof. Tonu Kalam, and Kenneth Woods; on the viola, Diedre Buckley.

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