The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: Madison Community Foundation grant helps Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) to put the spotlight on “endangered” instruments — horns, violas and bassoons — with horns to be featured in a free concert with the UW Horn Choir this Thursday night. | November 27, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

This fall, Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras received a generous grant from the Madison Community Foundation to begin addressing an increasingly significant issue for youth and school orchestras: How to bring attention to three “endangered” instruments – the horn (below top), the viola (below middle) and the bassoon (below bottom).

Students and teachers cite the high cost of purchasing and maintaining the instruments as one of the main reasons that schools are often unable to introduce or teach the instruments in music classes.

Music educators have seen shrinking numbers of students in these sections each year. Hoping to restore the full, rich sound of a complete orchestra (below, Thomas Buchhauser conducting in a photo by Cheng-Wei Wu), WYSO began implementing the Endangered Instrument Workshop Series in September 2012.

Three prominent local music educators lead the individual instrument programs, supported by additional assistance from students of the UW School of Music.

Matt Beecher leads the “enCore” horn program.

University of Wisconsin School of Music Professor Marc Vallon (below with Baroque and modern bassoons, in a photo by James Gill) leads the “Begin the Bassoon” program.

Diedre Buckley leads the “Viola Explorers” program.

Each program provides students with access to an instrument, group lessons, individual attention, and the opportunity to continue their study through private lesson scholarships. The programs are open to both WYSO and non-WYSO members.

The enCORe horn program will hold a recital this Thursday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall to showcase the work of its young participants, ages 11-16. The UW Horn Choir will also perform at the recital, playing their own set of pieces and joining the young musicians to play works by John Williams and Danny Elfman.

The enCORe program will begin a new session in early 2013.

For more information about the Endangered Instrument Workshop Series, including opportunities for participation, contact WYSO by e-mail at or by phone (608) 263-3320.

For more information about WYSO, including its impressive history of public service, education and performance, visit


  1. Hi Susan, thanks so much for your interest in supporting this program! We would gladly welcome contributions to the Endangered Instrument Workshop Series, which will also continue in the 2013-2014 season. Donors can give online at, or send a check made out to WYSO to our office, 455 N. Park St., Rm 1625, Madison, WI 53706. Feel free to send an email to us at for more information or to indicate that your gift is designated for the Endangered Instrument Workshop Series.


    Comment by Nicole Sparacino — November 27, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  2. Is there a mechanism for individuals to contribute to finance this effort?


    Comment by Susan Fiore — November 27, 2012 @ 8:09 am

    • Susan,
      Thanks for writing and caring.
      The short answer is YES, there is a way to support the program.
      Please see the comment by Nicole Sparacino of WYSO.
      With gratitude,


      Comment by welltemperedear — November 27, 2012 @ 10:40 am

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