The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Let us now praise and appreciate the Madison Symphony Orchestra during The Dark Days for so many American orchestras. Plus, violist Elias Goldstein returns to the University of Wisconsin for a FREE recital on Monday night.

October 14, 2012
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REMINDER: Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, two UW alumni — violist Elias Goldstein (below) and pianist Thomas Kasdorf (below bottom) — will give a free recital at the University of Wisconsin School of Music. Goldstein’s performance is a part of this year’s Guest Artist Showcase of former Collins Fellows. The program includes “Piano Divertimento” by Thomas Kasdorf, “Suite No. 2 in D Minor” by J. S. Bach, “Sonata No. 6 in A Major” by Luigi Boccherini, “Pièce de concert for Viola and Piano” by Georges Enescu and “Caprice No. 24” by Nicolo Paganini.

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend, I very much look forward to hearing the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, as seen from above in Overture Hall), which is performing its second set of concerts for the season.

On the MSO program are Berlioz’ Overture to “Beatrice and Benedict”; Bartok’s violin Concerto No. 2 with guest soloist, the highly acclaimed Canadian violinist James Ehnes in his Madison and Wisconsin debut; and Brahms’ titanic last Symphony No. 4 (the dramatic fourth and final movement is at bottom). MSO music director John DeMain will be on the podium to conduct.

If you want to know more, here is a link to a Q&A that violinist Ehnes did with The Ear:

Here is a link to a review by John W. Barker for Isthmus, which might make you want to hear this concert:

And here is a link to Lindsay Christians’ review for 77 Square, The Capital Times and The Wisconsin State Journal:

Should you want to attend the last remaining performance, which is this afternoon, Sunday afternoon, at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, tickets are $16.50 to $78.50. Call the Overture Center‘s box office at (608) 258-4141. You can also check out

In the meantime, it will only enhance your respect for the achievement of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and for the concert-going public here, to read about how bigger name groups in bigger cities – like the Minnesota Orchestra, below in a photo by Greg Helgeson — have been having a rough time of it lately with labor disputes, lockouts, possible bankruptcies and other woes.

NPR’s always reliable and always excellent “Deceptive Cadence” blog recently featured a fine story, originally broadcast on “Morning Edition” about the state of symphony orchestras in the U.S.

It is a sobering read that makes The Ear grateful to be in Madison.

The story is well worth reading and remembering that Madison is blessed not only with the MSO, but also with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, the UW Chamber Orchestra, the Edgewood College Chamber Orchestra, the accomplished Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras and several community orchestras – all of which seem to be weathering the national crisis pretty well.

True, last season the MSO did post a small deficit for the first time in its history. Nonetheless, the MSO is polling subscribers and seriously thinking about going back to nine concerts per season, perhaps to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Maestro John DeMain (below, in a photo by James Gill) coming to Madison, which is next season.

In any case, here is a link to the NPR story.

What do you think of the problems plaguing symphony orchestras around the US?

What do you think is a good and fair solution?

And how does it make you feel about the classical music scene in Madison?

The Ear wants to hear.

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