The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Madison likes it maestros. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra renews music director and conductor Andrew Sewell for another five years.

June 18, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Just two weeks away from the start of the 30th annual Concerts on the Square concerts, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has renewed the contract of its longtime music director and conductor Andrew Sewell (below) for another five years.


(The FREE and outdoors Concerts on the Square — below — will  run this summer on six consecutive Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from June 26 through July 31 on the King Street corner of the Capitol Square. Here is a link with more information, including specific artists and programs:

Concerts on Square WCO orchetsra

Madison sure likes its maestros. And with good reason.

This fall, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s music director John DeMain (below) marks his 20th season with the MSO. During his tenure he has reshaped and refined the orchestra, and led it to “triple” performances.

John DeMain full face by Prasad

Sewell arrived on the local scene in 2000. That is a long and solid tenure for the New Zealand-born Sewell, who is now a naturalized American citizen.

Little wonder that the WCO wants to retain him. Sewell revitalized his organization and helped bring the WCO back from the brink of ruin after the unexpected and premature death of David Lewis Crosby. He helped it secure a permanent home in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater.

Sewell (below) is a friendly, informal and congenial man plus an excellent conductor, especially in the Classical-era repertoire of Mozart and Haydn, who especially excels at eclectic programming. Under Sewell, the WCO is taken much more seriously for its winter “Masterworks” season than it ever has been. He finds and books outstanding yet affordable soloists, and he has recorded several noteworthy CDs with the WCO. Plus, he is in demand as a guest conductor around the world.

Madison is very lucky to have him and to hold him.

So, The Ear says “Congratulations, Maestro Sewell” and offers a shout-out with wishes for many more seasons with the WCO in Madison.

Andrew Sewell very casual Diane Seldick

Here is the official press release from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra:

MADISON, WI  – The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below, in the hallway to the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater) is pleased to announce the renewal of Maestro Andrew Sewell’s contract for another five-year term.

“Maestro Sewell was appointed music director on February 1, 2000, and since then has grown the orchestra’s repertoire, profile and stature in the Madison community and around the state.

WCO lobby

“I am delighted to continue my work here in Madison, my home, and am excited for what the next five years will bring” says Sewell.  “I feel privileged to live in a community that embraces the arts, and the opportunity to work with such extraordinary musicians.  I am pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish, with exciting guest artists and expanding repertoire, and look forward to performing many more seasons of beautiful music.” (At bottom, is the first of a two-part YouTube video in which Andrew Sewell reflects on music.)

“Doug Gerhart, executive director of the orchestra, remarks: “Andrew’s impressive artistic leadership has placed the WCO solidly among the top chamber orchestras in the United States.  He has an uncanny ability to create widely popular programs that link timeless masterpieces with contemporary, fresh compositions.”

“Gordon Ridley, chair of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra board of directors, adds: “Maestro Sewell has a knack of finding and bringing in extraordinary talent that we then see rise to new heights in the orchestral world.  We are very lucky to have him in Madison, Wisconsin.”

“Sewell is a sought after guest conductor, with recent guest engagements including the Illinois Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, the Salem Chamber Orchestra, the OK Mozart Festival and the Peninsula Music Festival.  In June 2012 he made his opera debut with Hong Kong City Opera, and last November conducted the University of Wisconsin-Madison opera production of “Medea” by Luigi Cherubini. (Below, Sewell is seen with Robert Bracey in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater, which is the WCO’s winter home.)

WCO Sewel Bracey B-9

“Entering its 54th year, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, led by Maestro Andrew Sewell, is a vibrant and thriving professional orchestra dedicated to connecting its audiences to the power of music.

“Annually, the WCO performs a five-concert Masterworks series in its permanent home at the Overture Center for the Arts magnificent Capitol Theater, two Holiday Pops, “Messiah” and Youth Concerts, and Madison’s premier six-concert outdoor summer event, Concerts on the Square®, celebrating its 30th year this summer.

“With a core orchestra of 34 musicians and an established endowment, WCO is one of the finest chamber orchestras in the country.  For more information, visit”

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