The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: “Grace Presents” an all-Brahms program — with two violin sonatas plus the “FAE” Scherzo — in a FREE concert this Saturday at noon at Grace Episcopal Church on Capitol Square. | January 31, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

“Grace Presents” – a FREE and PUBLIC alternative concert series at downtown Grace Episcopal Church (below is the exterior) — started its spring season a couple of weeks ago. Here is a link to that post with background and information about that first concert:

grace episcopal church ext

This Saturday, Feb. 2, at noon will see the second concert of the “Grace Presents” spring series.

“All About Brahms” features two (Nos. 1 and 2)  of the three sonatas for violin and piano composed by Johannes Brahms (below). The sonatas are nothing short of sublime to me, as you can judge for yourself in a YouTube video at the bottom with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy in my favorite classic recording of the three Brahms sonatas.

Plus, the Grace Presents concert concludes with a separate Scherzo movement with opus number (WoO) Brahms composed for the same instruments as part of a collaborative “FAE” Sonata done with Robert Schumann and a Schumann student as a gift for the violinist Joseph Joachim.


The local performers are violinist Laura Burns and pianist Jess Salek.

All concerts in the “Grace Presents” series are open to all ages. 

Plus The Ear find the acoustics of the historic church, a church that also is acclaimed for its helping the homeless, are very good indeed (below in a photo of Grace’s interior).

grace episcopal church inter

In fact, the Spring Series of concerts o “Grace Presents” is dedicated to the memory of Steve Smith (below), who was a musician, educator and “passionate advocate” for those served by the Grace Church Food Pantry and the residents of Haiti.

Steve Smith

Saturday’s all-Brahms program is:

Sonata No. 1 for Piano and Violin in G Major, Op. 78: I: Vivace ma non troppo; II: Adagio; III: Allegro molto moderato

Sonata No. 2 for Piano and Violin in A Major, op. 100: I: Allegro amabile; II: Andante tranquillo; III: Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante)

Scherzo in c minor WoO  (Work without Opus) 2


Laura Burns (below), violin, is a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, where she also performs with the Rhapsodie String Quartet.  This is part of the Madison Symphony’s Heartstrings initiative that brings live music to individuals with disabilities.

Burns performs regularly with the Fresco Opera Theater, Oakwood Chamber Players, Oshkosh Symphony and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. This past summer included performances at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. In addition to performing, Laura teaches violin at Edgewood College and maintains a private violin studio in Oregon, Wisconsin. She serves as president of the Independent String Teachers of Madison and was recently elected president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.

Burns holds a master of music degree in violin performance (2007) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with the Pro Ate String Quartet’s first violinist David Perry.

laura burns color face shot

Jess Salek (below), a Wisconsin native, holds degrees in piano performance from Lawrence University and State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he studied with Catherine Kautsky and Christina Dahl. He is completing Doctoral Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, at Madison where studied with Howard Karp and Christopher Taylor.

Jess Salek has served on the teaching faculty of Interlochen Arts Academy and Prairie Music Academy. He also has served as adjudicator at music festivals and concerto competitions throughout Wisconsin.
He is theowner of Salek Piano Studio, Inc., a diverse studio of over 30 piano and music theory students.

An active and passionate performer, Salek has been featured in solo recital at Viroqua’s Syttende Mai festival and at Farley’s House of Pianos in Madison.
He works as substitute keyboardist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for Concerts on the Square. He also is accompanist for Madison Youth Choir.
He also is Music Director of Madison’s Fresco Opera Theatre, helping to create a whole new generation of opera lovers.

Jess Salek most recently founded the Mosaic Chamber Players, a group of local professional musicians dedicated to bringing chamber music to Madison.

Jess Salek  big BW

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