The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) presents fall concerts this weekend. Plus, the Pro Arte Quartet concert on Nov. 22 has been CANCELLED.

November 13, 2013

NEWS FLASH: The concert and all attendant events by the UW-Madison‘s Pro Arte Quartet, centered around the world premiere of Belgian composer Benoit Mernier’s String Quartet No. 3, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, has been CANCELLED. Plans are to reschedule the concert and events for the weekend of March 1 and 2, 2014. I will pass along more news as I get it.

By Jacob Stockinger

Last year was a very good year for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (below). Fundraising met or exceeded goals, enrollment of student musicians from around southcentral Wisconsin was up. Michelle Kaebisch, the Madison Symphony Orchestra‘s educational and outreach coordinator who is also a violinist, was named to succeed retiring longtime conductor Thomas Buchhauser. And public performances drew large, enthusiastic crowds as well as great playing from the students. (Full disclosure: The Ear sits on WYSO’s board of directors as of this past summer.)

WYSO Philharmonia Tom Buchhauser 2011

This year also has all the makings of a banner year for WYSO. Enrollment – by audition — is up. WYSO just landed a $200,000 gift to set up an endowment fund (from the Theodore W. Batterman Family Foundation in memory of former WYSO member Eric D. Batterman) for its percussion program. The chamber music program has expanded. Fundraising is going well. And a tour to South American is scheduled for the spring, including a concert at the famed Teatro Colon (a photo of its plush interior is below) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Teatro Colon interior

All that gives one reason to celebrate – which is exactly what you can do this Saturday and Sunday when WYSO groups perform for the public. And they can really play, as you can hear at the bottom in the YouTube video of WYSO student performing the difficult Finale to Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic Fifth Symphony.

Here is a summary, thanks to a WYSO detailed press release:

“WYSO will present its first concert series of the year, the Evelyn Steenbock Fall Concerts, on Saturday, November 16, and Sunday, November 17.

More than 350 young musicians will display their talents to the community during the three concerts, which are dedicated to local music teachers.

WYSO poster fall 2013

“The Evelyn Steenbock Fall Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW Humanities Building, 455 N. Park Street, Madison.

WYSO concerts generally run about an hour and a half in length, providing a great orchestral concert opportunity for families.

Tickets are available at the door, $10 for adults and $5 for youth 18 and under.

WYSO’s string orchestra, Sinfonietta, will kick off the concert series at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday with “Wood Splitter Fanfare” by Balmages; “America, the Beautiful” by Ward/Wagner; “Lincoln at Gettysburg” by Dabczynski; “Ashokan Farewell” by Ungar/Custer; “Labyrinth” by Zuehlsdorff; “Many Miles Away Across the Sea” by Day; and “Kentucky 1800” by Grundman/Longfield. (Below is a photo by Jon Harlow of the Sinfonietta’s violin section.)

Sinfonietta strings

The Concert Orchestra will follow with selections from “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein and “Russian Chorale and Overture” by Piotr Tchaikovsky.

WYSO Concert Orchestra violins 

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the popular Percussion Ensemble will perform “Sleepless” by Dan Moore and “Prelude to Paradise” by Jacob Remington under the direction of Vicki Jenks, in her 32nd season at WYSO.

WYSO Percussion Ensemble 2012

The Philharmonia Orchestra (below is its brass section) will then entertain the audience with “Rákóczi March” from “La damnation de Faust” by Hector Berlioz: the Largo from “Xerxes” by George Frideric Handel; “The Montagues and Capulets” from “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergei Prokofiev, and selected movements from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5

Philharmonia Brass Section

At 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Harp Ensemble will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Spinning Song,” “Nocturne” and “On Wings of Song.”

WYSO Harp Ensemble 2011

The Youth Orchestra will close out the concert series with Aaron Copland‘s “Billy the Kid” Suite and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88.

WYSO Youth  Orchestra

For more information, visit WYSO’s newly redesigned website:

The fall Steenbock concerts are is supported by Dane Arts with additional funds from the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of the The Capital Times. This project is also supported by the Alliant Energy Foundation and by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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