The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This holiday season, why not give the gift of live music plus your time and companionship? Here are some suggestions from The Ear and from guest blogger Janet Murphy. Plus, what piece best expresses today’s Winter Solstice? | December 21, 2013

READER SURVEY: Today is the Winter Solstice at 11:11 p.m. CST. What piece of music most expresses or embodies that welcome event when the days finally start getting longer and the nights shorter — even if the warm and sunny weather is still far in the future? Let The Ear know with a COMMENT.

winter solstice image

By Jacob Stockinger

Well, it’s getting down to the wire when it comes to holiday shopping.

As I do every year, I suggest that you give the gift of live music. There wis nothing like it — nothing even comes close.

Of course, you can also couple it to new CD recording or a DVD video with the same performer or work, or even a new book about Johann Sebastian Bach or Ludwig van Beethoven or someone else.

Bach Music in the Castle of Heaven

But the other important thing to give is yourself: Some time and some companion ship. This is especially true for children and young people who need some guidance, and for older people who may have accessibility issues and need your help if they are to get out to an event.

It isn’t hard to put together. Let the recipient’s taste in music be your guide. You can go on-line and explore the possibilities. You can go to bigger and more expensive events by the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, which has a holiday ticket sale going on through Christmas Eve), the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Overture Center.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

Or you could seek out free or more inexpensive events, especially chamber music but also orchestra concerts, choral concerts and opera, at the University of Wisconsin School of Music (below is the Pro Arte String Quartet, which will present the FREE world premiere of a work it commissioned from Belgian composer Benoit Mernier on March 1-2) or Edgewood College or any number of small groups.

ProArte 2010 3

Just get a holiday cards and write out a heart-felt message with the event, date and time and your offer to go with the recipient, maybe even share a meal or snack before or after the event. And if it is weeks or months out, that just gives people something to look forward to once the holidays are over.

In that same spirit, guest blogger and UW Choral Union singer Janet Murphy (below) offered this specific gift idea:

Janet Murphy

Murphy writes: Arboretum Cohousing (www.ArboretumCohousing.org) aka. Arbco, is presenting an evening with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss of Madison (below) on Saturday, January 18.  Struggling to come up with a gift for the Impossible to Buy For?  Well, you could end the pain right now by buying the ITBF a ticket to see Kitt at:

www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/468942

But why?

Here are four good reasons to give the gift of concert tickets:

You want to go to the concert, so you cleverly buy a ticket for someone else to go with you.

Tickets produce nothing to clutter our lives, take back, assemble, be redeemed, or be discarded.  No batteries required.

You support the local arts with your holiday spending.  Musicians and venues need us today so they will exist tomorrow.

You and your guest get to enjoy those warm feelings of giving and receiving twice – first in the bleak mid-winter, and then again at concert time.

kitt reuter foss copy

And here are four good reasons you might choose to give the gift of Kitt Reuter-Foss tickets:

Madison doesn’t have enough opportunities to see one of our premier talents.

November’s Arboretum Cohousing concert with keyboardist Trevor Stephenson (below) was a ridiculous amount of fun.  If you missed it, you can make up for that mistake now.

Arbco Trevor answers questions

Intimate venues mean a value-added experience: Visit with fellow concert-goers, see the performers up close and personal, hear gloriously unamplified music, and expect to be surprised (something magical always happens).

There are sweets and savories galore (below) – and you can enjoy them while you listen.

Arbco Refreshments

In addition, you will be doing a good deed. All proceeds from the concert go to restore Arco’s vintage Mason and Hamlin grand piano (below), so the gift of music will also enable Arbco to present more music in the future.

With so many performances in Madison to make your ITBF happy, what are you waiting for?  Go for it.

Mason and Hamlin harp and strings


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