The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: NEWS FLASH — Here are the winners of the Madison Early Music Festival’s first annual Handel Aria Competition. The Madison Symphony Orchestra bestows awards on several of its outstanding musician members.

July 9, 2013
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NEWS FLASH: On Monday night, the first FREE annual Handel Aria Competition was held in Mills Hall as part of the 14th annual Madison Early Music Festival. I will blog about the contest more on Wednesday. But here are the results as decided by the three judges (guest singers soprano Ellen Hargis and tenor William Hudson, plus local music critic and UW Emeritus Profess of Medieval History John W. Barker) and also by the audience. There were eight contestants (below top) and all acquitted themselves very well. First Prize went to mezzo-soprano Elisa Sutherland (third from the right); Second Prize went to soprano Alison Wahl (far left); and Third Prize went to soprano Winnie Nieh (second from the right) who also took home the Audience Prize. (An early version of this mistakenly reversed the second-place and third-place winners. I apologize for the error.)

Handel aria contestants MEMF 14

The festival continues tonight with a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m. in Room L-160 of the Elvehjem Building of the nearby Chazen Museum of Art with a concert  at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall by The Dark Horse consort (below) joined by UW baritone Paul Rowe and soprano Cheryl Bensman Rowe, who are co-artistic directors of the festival. For more information, visit:

Dark Horse Early Brass Consort CR  Tatiana Daubek

By Jacob Stockinger

We read, see and hear a lot about the turmoil that many American symphony orchestras are unfortunate;y going through right now – especially labor strife, growing debt and attendance problems.

So positive word about the internal affairs of a specific orchestra is all the more welcome. It is refreshing to hear news about the musicians as well as the maestro.

In that spirit, the Madison Symphony Orchestra last month recognized some of its own outstanding musician members, both paid and volunteer,  for their contributions to the ensemble. Some or even all of  them will no doubt be performing at the Madison Opera’s 12th annual FREE “Opera in the Park” (below) this Saturday night at 8 p.m. (Sunday is the rain date) in Garner Park on Madison’s far west side.

Here is a link to information about that event, from dates and times to performers and the program and even to  arrangements and rules for sitting outdoors in the park and eating:

Opera in Park 2012 crowd 2 James Gill

And here is a link to the Madison Symphony Orchestra and its next season, which will marks music director John DeMain’s 20th year with the MSO. You can also find biographies of the players, including those who are honored below:

Here is the MSO press release:

Madison Symphony Orchestra Recognizes Local Musicians

Local musicians received prestigious awards from the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) Board of Directors at its June meeting in recognition of their musical contributions.

Margaret Rupp Cooper Award

The Margaret Rupp Cooper Award is presented in honor of the Symphony’s original harpist, who performed in the first concert in 1926 through the 50th anniversary season.  The award is presented annually to two orchestra members based upon years of service, commitment to the orchestra, and musicianship.  This year’s awardees were Stephanie Jutt, MSO principal flute, and Bill Muir, MSO fourth horn.

Stephanie Jutt (below) is an accomplished international flute performer, recording artist, and educator.  She is currently on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-produces the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society summer music festival each summer in which she performs. Jutt has received numerous awards and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music.


In addition to fourth horn duties with the MSO, Bill Muir is also a member of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Artemis Horn Quartet.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from St. Olaf College and a master of music degree in horn performance from the UW-Madison.

MSO Brass Bill Muir

Marie Spec Award

The Marie Spec Award honors the Symphony’s long-time first violinist, who also played in the first performance in 1926.  The award consists of a fund that provides both the concertmaster and Madison Symphony Chorus accompanist with an annual bonus.  MSO Concertmaster violinist Naha Greenholtz and Chorus Accompanist pianist Dan Lyons received this year’s award.

Naha Greenholtz (below) has now completed her second season as concertmaster with the MSO.  A graduate of Juilliard and winner of the prestigious Concertmaster Academy Fellowship at Cleveland State University, she has held numerous concertmaster positions and has participated in music festivals as both a performer and music director.

Naha Greenholtz profile

A Chicago native, Dan Lyons (below) holds performance degrees from DePaul University and a doctoral performance degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied with Howard Karp. He has performed solo, concerto and chamber recitals throughout the Midwest. In addition to serving as the accompanist and chorus manager for Madison Symphony Chorus, he maintains a private teaching studio and continues to accompany throughout the Madison area.

Dan Lyons

Ann Stanke Award

The Ann Stanke Award is presented in honor of the former Madison Symphony Chorus accompanist and manager for her years of excellent service.  This year’s award was presented to chorus member Bennette Harris.

Bennette Harris (below) has been singing with the Madison Symphony Chorus for five years, along with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Emily.  Bennette retired from UW-Whitewater in 2011 after 29 years on the faculty in the mathematical and computer sciences department.  He is currently working as a UNIX engineer with EPIC in Verona.


The MSO will mark its 88th concert season in 2013-2014 by celebrating the 20th anniversary of John DeMain (below) as music director. The Madison Symphony Orchestra engages a wide range of audiences in classical music through a full season of concerts with established and emerging soloists of international renown, an organ concert series, and diverse educational and community outreach activities.

Find more information at

John DeMain full face by Prasad

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