The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra celebrates young composers and sibling soloists this Friday night with The Five Browns. | October 2, 2012

ALERT-REMINDER: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus, the Guest Artist Series presents violinist Wolfgang David and pianist David Gompper perform  a FREE concert that features  Schoenberg’s Phantasy, Op. 47, as well as works by Feldman, Gompper and Ravel.  Also, earlier on Tuesday — at 3:45  p.m. in Room 2511 of the Mosse Humanities Building, pianist David Gompper will hold a  Composition Masterclass.

By Jacob Stockinger

It is billed as “50 Fingers.”

You could also call it “3-M.”

Or maybe “The Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Whatever you call it, we are not talking chemistry, agriculture or biology.

We are talking classical music: Specially, the composers Mozart, Mendelssohn and Nico Muhly that span three centuries, the 18th, 19th and 21st.

That last name belongs to a modern composer whose has composed Four Nocturnes for Five Pianos — a piece clearly tailored for the guest soloists on Friday night’s opening concert of the new Masterworks season by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) under the baton of conductor Andrew Sewell, who is entering his 12th year as the WCO’s music director.

The concert will take place this Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of Overture Hall. Tickets are $15-$65. Call the Overture box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit:

The program strikes The Ear as vintage Andrew Sewell (below), an accomplished musician who has an uncanny ability to take well-known performers and well-known composers or works and mix them up with unknown ones in some kind of unusual angle, approach or theme that creates an unusual and informative synergy.

The Five Browns (below), you may recall, are the remarkable set of five sisters and brothers – three sisters and two brothers — from Utah who are all Juilliard-trained pianist and who perform sometimes together and sometimes in a tag team manner.

For background about the best-selling players who have been featured on TV and radio shows as well as in many traditional and new media outlets, visit:

You may have heard of them when the three daughters made sensational headlines by accusing their father Keith of sexual abuse. He was convicted and is serving time. But that is another story for another time.

Our concern here is musical, and it is in music – not crime – that The Five Browns, with the eclectic repertoire that runs the gamut from classical to pops, are unique.

Here are program notes from the WCO:

“A program celebrating composers in their youth are represented on this concert.

“Mozart’s Overture to “Il ré pastore” (The Shepherd King), K. 208, is from one of his earliest operas. Scintillating and delicate, it has all the hallmarks of the genius to come.

“Another early work, his Concerto No. 7 in F Major for Three Pianos, K. 242, completes our survey of the young master (below), having recorded No.’s 6, 8 and 9 on our Early Mozart CD in 2008.

“Nico Muhly (below) has already established himself as a composer to watch, and we are excited to present this work just one year after its premiere at the Ravinia Festival in August 2011.  “The Edge of the World” features four nocturnes for five pianos and chamber orchestra. 

“Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11, is a gem of a work too often overshadowed by the popularity of the later symphonies by Mendelssohn (below). It will keep us all on our toes.”

For more information about season and single tickets, the WCO and its guest artists, including videos, visit:

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