The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The new 2012-13 concert season starts off with a crowded post-Labor Day weekend of concerts that includes two FREE tributes to avant-garde American composer John Cage.

September 6, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The 2012-13 concert season in Madison is starting off with a foretaste of just how congested it get can when so many local classical music performers and presenters are active in such a relatively small city.

Over the past two days, I wrote about a classical-jazz piano concert by Laura Caviani (below, in a photo by Ann Marsden) for the Madison Music Collective on this Sunday afternoon (3:30-5:30 p.m.) and workshop at the Brink Lounge.

Here is a sampling of other major events that may – or may not – be comprehensive and includes all kinds of music from early music to modern music, from opera to chamber music. It sure looks like it will be a full and varied season, no?

Fresco Opera Theatre will perform its original production of “The Good, the Bad and the Divas” in The Overture Center on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 8, at 8 p.m.; and on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 2 p.m.

It is a ballad opera, set in the Old West.  It is only uses Italian arias, and is “spaghetti western” opera.  It is a lot of fun, according to the company spokesperson, that features some great singers (many of which are in Madison Opera) along with a great chamber ensemble.

Adds the opera company’s spokesperson:

Fresco wanted to do a production centered around a “western” theme, with an original story. We originally wanted to use American operatic music, but as we developed the scenes, we realized that there was a lot of Italian music which fit better. We scrapped the American music idea and went with Italian and dubbed this production our “spaghetti western” opera.

This production is exciting for us because it is the largest ensemble to date for a Fresco show.  We will have a chorus that sounds awesome! We also have a lot of Madison Opera alumni, including Saira Frank, Caitlin Cisler and Heath Rush.

Are you in the mood for a good old-fashioned western? Well, “The Good, The Bad and The Divas” has adventure, betrayal, and love presented to you through beautiful operatic music. Fresco Opera Theatre presents an original Ballad opera based on the Western film genre, but with a twist: Italian arias will be sung, making this a “Spaghetti Western” opera. Fresco Opera has all the tradition, majesty, and prestige of your traditional opera while making it fun, engaging and snarky. Rookies to the genre will be introduced to opera through this fast and approachable performance. Seasoned opera fans will see a refreshing take on the art form.

For more information, check out the Overture Center website:

For the online program below:

Ensemble SDG (a local early music duo named for the Latin phrase “Only to the Glory of God” that J.S. Bach always put on his manuscripts) will give two performances of “Invitation to the Dance,” a program of 150 years’ worth of dance and dance-inspired music from France, Italy, Germany and Spain.  Edith Hines, baroque violin, and John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord, will welcome special guest Laura Guse on tambourine and castanets.

The first performance will be on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community (333 West Main Street in Madison).  The second performance will be on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 12:30 p.m. in Gallery Three at the Chazen Museum of Art (750 University Avenue in Madison).

Sunday’s performance begins the 2012-13 season of Wisconsin Public Radio‘s Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen and will be broadcast statewide.  If you can’t attend in person but would still like to listen, tune in to your local WPR station (in Madison, 88.7 WERN) or listen at

For more information about Ensemble SDG or to read program notes for the recital, please visit

PS: I wish I could offer you more information about the Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen weekly series of chamber music concerts (below). But as of this writing neither Wisconsin Public Radio nor the Chazen Music of Art has updated its website calendar from last May. But here is the address you will want to check for future performers and programs:

Also on Saturday, at 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the solo percussionist Garrett Mendelow (below) will perform a FREE concert called “A World of Contemporary Percussion.”

On Saturday, the music faculty at Edgewood College will open the Edgewood College season with a Tribute to John Cage (below), the avant-garde American composer whose centennial is being celebrated this year. The FREE concert is on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Auditorium, 1000 Edgewood College Drive. 

Featured on the performance are Kathleen Otterson, Nathan Wysock, Todd Hammes, Blake Walter, Julie Dunbar, and Bernie Brink, with a special guest appearance by Clocks in Motion. Included on the program are Cage’s “Radio Music,” “Child of Tree,” “Third Construction in Metal,” and “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs,” among other works.

UW soprano Mimmi Fulmer (below) will sing a FREE recital on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall as part of the University of Wisconsin’s Faculty Concert Series.

Accompanied by pianists Bruce Bengtson and Martha Fischer and violinist Tyrone Grieve, Fulmer presents a recital of Nordic and American songs. The first half of the recital features songs from Norway, Sweden and Finland. The second half begins with selections from “Songs of the Auvergne” by Joseph Canteloube, sung in Occitan. The program finishes with American songs by Cage, Babbitt and Foster.

Then on Monday, Sept. 10, it is the UW-Madison’s turn to celebrate John Cage. At 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall, Iktus Percussion will perform a FREE recital featuring the works of John Cage to commemorate the centennial of the composer’s birth. For more information about Itkus percussion, visit

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,268 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,368,715 hits
%d bloggers like this: