The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: On Friday, June 21, the Summer Solstice, Madison will be filled with outdoors music by the first Make Music Madison citywide festival. But so far, no acoustic piano is available for pianists and more classical musicians of all kinds are needed to sign up by the deadline of May 15.

May 6, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

I can’t help it. The image of Jack Nicholson playing Chopin’s Fantasy in F Minor on the back of a truck during a massive freeway traffic jam in the film classic “Five Easy Pieces” keeps coming to mind. (The image is below.)

Five Easy Pieces

That is because the first Make Music Madison citywide festival be wide held on Friday, June 21, the summer solstice. It will mainly take place between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., although events are scheduled all day long. The city has chipped in $25,000 to make it happen. Public and private donations are also being sought.

Here is a link to the event’s main website with a list of venues and participants

Make Music Madison logo square

So far, according to organizers, the public response has been very good. And as one might expect, the offerings are heavy on rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, blues, roots and other kinds of music. All told so far some 125 musicians have signed up to create a continuous outdoor Wall of Sound as you wander around the city.

Here is a link to the festival’s main website with a list of the venues and music-makers signed up so far:

But curiously, what bothers The Ear is that no acoustic piano has yet been secured, and neither has a venue for acoustic piano playing, including classical music.

piano keys

One of the problems is that technically, everyone is suppose do play outdoors -– with the apparent exceptions of hospitals and airports. And that is a problem for heavy pianos, which also need tuning and regulating from a technicians. Can any piano technician volunteer to help out? (Below is a photo of live music at the Saturday morning west side Farmers Market.)

Farmers Market music

What about churches as piano venues? The Ear asks, like the Pres House (below) right off Library Mall where Wisconsin Public Radio used to hold the annual Bach Around the clock to celebrate J.S. Bach’s birthday?

BATC 3 Denise Taylor and Ellie Taylor violin

Or maybe they could use a UW concert hall, like Morphy Recital Hall (below) or the Mosse Humanities Building? Or the auditoriums at Capitol Lakes Retirement Center downtown or Oakwood Village West on the city’s far west side? Or even Old Music Hall at the foot of Bascom Hill?

Morphy Hall 2

Maybe one of the local piano stores could team up with a trucking store and provide the Jack Nicholson solution for Madison.

This much seems certain: It is odd for a music festival to leave out perhaps the most popular and populist instrument –- after voice — that so many young people and adults study, one that has such a huge repertoire and so many amateur and professional players devoted to it.  (See the YouTube video at the bottom of two men playing the piano outdoors in New York City.)

And if you have an idea about solving what I am calling The Piano Dilemma, including the possibility of you yourself singing up to play the piano, please contact the festival at the link above by the deadline of Wednesday, May 15.

Adds Michael Rothschild, a retired business school professor who is heading up the venture: “At this moment we don’t have any acoustic pianos, although we have been in discussions with someone re: the possibility of getting some. It’s pretty iffy right now, but on our list. Classical music certainly is welcome.  We seek all genres of music and all skill levels.”

Of course, you can also leave word or suggestions in the COMMENTS section of this blog for the organizers and other participants or venue owners of Make Music Madison to see.

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