The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Exclusive Company on State Street is moving, but NOT going out of business. And WYSO holds a benefit Wednesday night with the Pro Arte String Quartet. | November 11, 2012

ALERT: This Wednesday evening, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras will host a fundraising benefit concert of chamber music by the renowned Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer) to benefit the WYSO scholarship program. Founded in Brussels in 1912, the original Pro Arte Quartet served as court musicians for Queen Elizabeth of Belgium and traveled the world performing both modern and classical pieces. In 1940, while on a 10-day performance run at the Wisconsin Union Theater, the musicians were stranded in the United States by the outbreak of World War II and accepted a residency at the UW-Madison. They are believed to be the oldest continually performing string quartet in the world. The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club. Tickets are $50 each. Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and will receive two complimentary drink tickets. The Pro Arte Quartet performance of music by Haydn, Schubert and John Harbison is to begin at 6:45 p.m. All proceeds will directly benefit WYSO students in need, providing tuition assistance for orchestra membership, the Chamber Music Program and private lessons. You can make reservations at the WYSO office at 608 263-3320 x10 or wyso@wyso.music.wisc.edu

By Jacob Stockinger

A good friend recently announced – with some alarm in his voice – that he saw that The Exclusive Company (below) at 508 State Street (phone 608 255-2433) was going out of business.

That would be too bad, thought the Ear, who shops there but had heard nothing about it. That longtime landmark store is one of the last remaining brick-and-mortar bastions of classical music in Madison. Even Barnes and Noble has cut back to the point of leaving consumers littler choice other than on-line places such as Amazon.com or Archivmusic.com.

So The Ear headed down to State Street to check it out.

Turns out that the storefront windows all have been papered over with messages that are easy to misread as a Going Out of Business SALE.

True, the store has cut back a lot on classics, especially since the days when the late Chuck Lunde (at bottom) headed up the classical department and had most of the basement to display his extensive stock.

But going out of business now is not what is happening, according to those who run the store, the local franchise of a Wisconsin company that has seven other locations around the state. (A far West Side location in Madison closed three years ago.)

For more about the Exclusive Company, visit:

http://www.exclusivecompany.com

It turns out that the Exclusive Company has lost its State Street lease. For more than a year, apparently, the landlord has been looking to dramatically increase the rent, maybe even double it.

Last year, the Exclusive Company said it couldn’t pay that much, so it went on a month-to-month lease while the landlord searched for another tenant.

It took quite a while, but apparently a new occupant has finally been found who is willing to pay the rent increase.

And the Exclusive Company is still looking for another location, preferably near the current state Street location but that is also affordable. I will keep you informed about the new location when I find out more about it.



Until then, you can still find a fair amount of new and old classical releases on CDs and DVDs, to say nothing of used CDs and DVDs. And what you don’t find on the shelf, you can usually order without a long wait. At least that is what The Ear has found.


2 Comments »

  1. So sad. Some of us like owning cd’s and browsing through a store’s holdings. Downloading tracks on a computer might have a function but its not the same as owning an “album”. Charles played a unique and greatly appreciated role in the classical music world in Madison and no one was able to continue this role at Exclusive or anywhere else after he had to go given where the industry was headed.

    Comment by Mindy Taranto — November 11, 2012 @ 8:53 am


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