The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Middleton Community Orchestra wraps up its third season this Wednesday night with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique), Schumann’s “Julius Caesar” Overture and Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with UW-Madison student soloist Mark Bridges. | May 24, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Yet another group is wrapping up its regular season — and it won;pt interfere with the Memorial Day weekend..

The time the Middleton Community Orchestra (below) wraps up its third season this coming Wednesday night, May 29, with Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony, Schumann’s :”Julius CaesarOverture and Saint-SaensCello Concerto No. 1 in A minor.

Middleton Community Orchestra by William Ballhorn

The cello soloist is Mark Bridges (below), who is a graduate student at the UW School of Music and studies with Uri Vardi at the UW-Madison School of Music.

Mark Bridges

The performance of the MCO’s Spring Concert is at 7:30 pm at the Middleton Performing Arts Center (below too in the interior), attached to Middleton High School.

Middleton PAC1

Tickets are $10 general admission. Students are free. Tickets are available at the door, Willy St. Coop West or by calling 608-212-8690.

I have written before about the many things to like about this mixed group of professional and community musicians and its concerts with the friendly and informative social reception with both the musicians and the audience members (below) attached to it and the shorter programs that forego intermissions. MCO concerts are great and affordable family events.

Middleton Community Orchestra reception

Here is a review of the closing concert with pianist Thomas Kasdorf (below) last season:

Middletopn Community Orchestra Thomas Kasdorf playing

Here are some comments about the program for this season’s closing concert from the conductor Steve Kurr (below):

Steve Kurr.

Schumann’s “Julius Caesar” Ocerture by Robert Schumann (below):

This overture by Schumann (below) is based on Shakespeare, but it is not incidental music.  It is a concert overture from late in his life.  It has a pathos similar to the Tchaikovsky, so it will help to start the emotional motion of the whole concert.

Schumann photo1850

“The “Pathetique” Symphony by Tchaikovsky (below) is a musical journey though a wide spectrum of human emotions, but seems to dwell more in the areas of darkness.

“The first movement alone moves through subdued anguish, hectic gloom, expansive love, heated fury, and optimistic consolation.  The limping waltz in the second movement displays grace and refinement, with a center section full of plaintive tenderness.  The exhilarating third movement is the picture of triumph and celebration.

“The excitement at the ending of this march brings listeners to a high point (don’t applaud yet–it’s not over!), only to have this elation dashed by the misery and spiraling despair of the finale (at bottom in a YouTube video).  It is a trip through an emotional wringer, but we listen to music to be moved and this work will certainly do that.”

Tchaikovsky 1

“The Saint-Saens cello concerto may be set in a minor key, but that belies its optimistic nature.  Saint-Saens (below) decided to do away with a traditional three-movement structure and cast this work in a single work with many contrasting sections.  Our soloist Mark Bridges does an excellent job with the technical and lyrical demands of the work, bringing to life the many varieties of musical statements made by the composer.”

Camille Saint-Saens

Adds Mindy Taranto, who, with Larry Bevic, co-founded the group, and who plays with the MCO:

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”) is so beautiful, and hearing it performed in a couple of weeks by MCO will be a real treat. The orchestra which is only 3 years old, plays the symphony very tastefully and with a lot of passion.

“This concert is so tuneful and enjoyable that  parents might want to be encouraged to bring their kids to hear an elegant interpretation of the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto and a famous symphony which has so many great melodies.”

The Ear has also been told that concerts for the MCO’s fourth season will be announced shortly. So stay tuned.

Here is a link with more information about how to join the Middleton Community Orchestra, how to support it and what its future plans and programs are:


  1. […] A REMINDER: Tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 29) at 7:30 p.m. in the Middle Performing Arts of Middleton High School, the Middleton Community Orchestra (below, performing under conductor Steve Kurr) will wrap up its third season with a performance of  ”Romantic Favorites” that include Schumann’s “Julius Caesar” Overture, Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto No. 1 with UW-Madison student Mark Bridges as soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s famous and final Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”). Tickets are $10 for adults, free for students and young people. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. and the doors open at 7 p.m. Here is a link to more information in a post I did late last week that also includes a review of last season’s closer:… […]


    Pingback by Classical music: After the recent death of its namesake, the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is being held May 24-June 9 in Fort Worth, Texas. Here are links to many kinds of information, including live webcasts of performances, lists of — May 28, 2013 @ 12:01 am

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