By Jacob Stockinger
Bassoonist Marc Vallon and saxophonist-clarinetist Les Thimmig, who both teach and perform at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, are emerging as two of the most interesting, eclectic faculty members, who display a variety of gifts and talents, at the UW School of Music.
Vallon (below, in a photo by James Gill) not only performs bassoon music from the Baroque and Classical eras, he is also a conductor who will lead two performances later this month of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” for the Madison Bach Musicians.
Thimmig plays jazz as well as classics, and recently finished his three-concert exploration of trios by the American composer Morton Feldman.
Here are the details that were sent by Marc Vallon to The Ear:
“I thought I would let you know about my next musical adventure.
“In the 1960s, French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (below) had a group, called Le Domaine Musical, that played contemporary music mixed with early music by Bach, Dufay and Guillaume de Machaut — unusual music for the time.
“As an homage, Les Thimmig and I are reviving the concept in a FREE concert on this coming Friday, April 4, at 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall.
The program includes Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op.5 (1920), by Alban Berg (below top); Twelve Notations (1945, in a piano version performed by Maurizio Pollini in a YouTube video at the bottom) by Pierre Boulez (born 1925); “D’un geste apprivoisé” for bassoon and tape (1997) by Jose-Luis Campana (born 1949); and ) “Sequenza VII” for oboe (1969) by Luciano Berio (below bottom, 1925-2003).
After intermission, we will perform “Kontra-punkte for 10 instruments” (1953) by Karlheinz Stockhausen (below top, 1928-2007); and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (dedicated in 1721) by Johann Sebastian Bach (below bottom, 1685-1750).
There will be a presentation of the pieces and an introduction to “Kontra-Punkte” by Lee Blasius (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), who teaches music theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
The performers include: Mi-Li Chang, flute; Kirstin Ihde, piano; Sung Yang Sara Giusti, piano; Kai-Ju Ho, clarinet; Les Thimmig, bass clarinet; Mary Perkinson, Baroque and modern violin; Eric Miller, baroque and modern cello; Joe Greer, trombone; Jessica Jensen, trumpet; Rosalie Gilbert, harp; Ross Duncan, bassoon; Kangwon Kim and Nate Giglierano, baroque violin; Sally Chisholm, Ilana Schroeder and Erin Brooks, baroque viola; Martha Vallon, Anton ten Wolde, Baroque cello; John Chappell Stowe; harpsichord; and Marc Vallon, bassoon.
By Jacob Stockinger
The reason is simple. Ever since the historic WUT opened, that is where the really great classical music talents of the 20th century performed, especially long before there was a Madison Civic Center or an Overture Center.
Two seasons ago, the Wisconsin Union Theater closed for repairs and started holding concerts in Mills Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
But the renovations are almost completed. For more information about the two-year renovation, visit:
So the Wisconsin Union Theater has announced a gala and celebratory 2014-2015 Concert Series in the renovated theater.
The press release reads: “The Wisconsin Union Theater is proud to announce its 2014-2015 Concert Series. Reopening for its 75th anniversary (and the Concert Series’ 95th anniversary) after a two-year renovation, the theater offers a magnificent series, which includes:
Yo-Yo Ma, cello, with pianist Kathryn Stott, piano on Saturday, October 18, 2014. (At the bottom, you can hear the duo perform the “Meditation” from the opera “Thais” by Jules Massenet in a YouTube video that has more than 1 million hits.)
Valentina Lisitsa, piano, who has been an Internet sensation and procured a contract with Decca Records from her millions of followers on YouTube, on Thursday, November 20, 2014.
Chanticleer singers on Saturday, February 21, 2015.
Takacs String Quartet on Saturday, February 28, 2015, for the Fan Taylor Memorial Concert.
“As was promised when the theater closed for renovations, past and current subscribers are given first priority to place an order for the series and request their preferred seating area. Others can subscribe later and single tickets will be available in August.
“This is just the beginning, says WUT officials. Details of the theater’s complete season will be released at a later date and will include many additional superb artists and performances.
“The season is presented by Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Performing Arts Committee.
Single ticket prices range from $25 t0 $125 for the Yo-Yo Ma concert. The others generally run from $12 to $45 or $50.
Brochures will be mailed in mid-June.
For more information visit:
ALERT: Tonight is the gala Art of Note annual fundraiser for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO). It will be held at CUNA Mutual at 5910 Mineral Point Road, on Madison’s far west side, from 6 to 10 p.m. and features great food and many items for auctions as well as performances by student music groups. For more information, visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
Even as many Badger eyes will be turned tonight to the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA’s annual March Madness “The Big Dance” national college basketball championship in Anaheim. California, tonight at 7:49 p.m. CDT on TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) with the hopes that the University of Wisconsin-Madison Badgers will win over top-seeded University of Arizona Wildcats and go on to advance to the “Final Four” and further — we would do well to remember the students who excel in other fields besides athletics but who receive far less media coverage and much less popular acclaim than they deserve.
Take student classical musicians, for instance.
Chances are you already know the news if you were there in person Wednesday night at “The Final Forte” in Overture Hall at the Overture Center, or if you heard the performances that were broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio.
But now it is official, complete with the press release from the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) that names the results of the state annual teenage concerto competition called the Bolz Young Artist Competition.
The four instrumentalists performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, under guest conductor James Smith of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, who filled in for MSO music director John DeMain.
The four finalists who competed in two preliminary rounds and who are pictured below in a photo by James Gill, were (from the left):
Violinist David Cao, 15, who attends James Madison Memorial High School in Madison. He played the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Minor by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He took First Prize and $2,000. (you can hear a YouTube video of the first movement of this demanding concerto at the bottom.)
Violinist Bethany Moss, 17, is a senior home-schooled in Appleton, Wisconsin. She performed the third movement of the Violin Concerto in B Minor by French composer Camille Saint-Saens. She received an Honorable Mention.
Pianist Bobby Levinger, 17 is a senior at Central High School in La Crosse. He played the first movement of the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. He received an Honorable Mention.
Marimba player Ephraim Sutherland, 15, is a sophomore at Viroqua High School. He performed the Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra by French composer Emmanuel Sejourne. He received Second Prize and $2,000.
Cao and Sutherland also performed as soloists with the Madison Symphony Orchestra at the MSO’s Spring Young People’s Concert on Thursday, March 27, which area school children attended. (Below is a photo by Greg Anderson of a previous Young People’s Concert.)
Do you agree with the results?
If you have an observation to make about the competition and performances, or wishes to leave the contestants, please use the COMMENTS section of this blog.
Major funding for this concert is provided by Diane Ballweg, Larry and Julie Midtbo, Fred and Mary Mohs, The Berbeewalsh Foundation, and The Boldt Company, with additional funds from the A. Paul Jones Charitable Trust, Stephen D. Morton, Mildred and Marv Conney, James Dahlberg and Elsebet Lund, Kato L. Perlman, Sentry Insurance Foundation, W. Jerome Frautschi, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.
By Jacob Stockinger
Two fine and FREE concerts are on tap this Saturday night:
WISCONSIN CHAMBER CHOIR
The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church (below top is the exterior, below bottom the acoustically terrific beautiful interior), located at the corner of West Washington Avenue at Carroll Street, on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison.
The concert features Russian music. But it worth noting that even an event this small and this local shows the ripples of the political situation in Ukraine where Russia has illegally annexed Crimea. Tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for students. “Because of the situation in Ukraine (below), the choir made a decision to change the title of the concert from “Back to the U.S.S.R.” to just “Spring Concert,” the choir says. “We are confident the change will help our audience focus on the beautiful music and not current politics.”
The riches of Russian choral music will be represented by selections from the Vespers by Sergei Rachmaninoff (below top) along with ravishingly beautiful works by Alexander Grechaninov (below middle in 1912) and Pavel Grigorievich Chesnokov (below bottom and at bottom in a YouTube video).
The scope widens to include sacred and secular music from various former Soviet Republics. Works by Veljo Tormis (below top) of Estonia), Pēteris Vasks of Latvia (below middle) and Vytautas Miškinis of Lithuania (below n bottom) exemplify the vibrant choral traditions of the Baltic states.
Sacred and secular works from Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus round out this fascinating and varied program. There is also the possibility of something by the Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney (blew left and right, respectively) to bring things to a rousing close.
Advance tickets are available for $15 from www.wisconsinchamberchoir.org, via Brown Paper Tickets, or at Willy Street Coop (East and West locations) and Orange Tree Imports. Student tickets are $10. Founded in 1999, the Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Choir has established a reputation for excellence in the performance of oratorios by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Franz Joseph Haydn; a cappella masterworks from various centuries; and world-premieres. Robert Gehrenbeck (below) is the Wisconsin Chamber Choir’s artistic director.
WISCONSIN BRASS QUINTET
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below, in a 2013 performance photo by Jon Harlow) in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, will perform a FREE concert on Saturday night, March 29, 8 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Maidson campus.
WBQ members include John Aley, trumpet; Jessica Jensen, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn; Mark Hetzler, trombone; John Stevens, tuba; and special guest Abby Stevens, soprano, who is the daughter of John Stevens, who is retiring this May.
The program offers “Distant Voices” by David Sampson; “Brass Calendar” by Peter Schickele, aka P.D.Q. Bach); “Contrapunctus” by Johann Sebastian Bach; and a selection of songs by George Gershwin sung by Abby Stevens.
By Jacob Stockinger
This Sunday, the Madison Area Trombone Ensemble will makes its official local debut when it performs its inaugural concert, with UW trombone professor and member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet Mark Hetzler as a special guest soloist.
A new all-volunteer ensemble, MATE features many of the areas top trombonists, students, as well as members of the community, all of whom share a passion for music-making and trombone. Members play in a wide variety of groups, such as the Madison Symphony, the WYSO Youth Orchestra, the Madison Jazz Orchestra, the Madison Mellophonium Jazz Orchestra, the Madison Brass Band and Phat Phunktion. (Performance photos below come from MATE when it performed at Barnes and Noble booksellers as part of the Wisconsin School Music Association’s “Music in Our Schools” Month Bookfair on March 13).
Mark Hetzler will be the guest soloist in David P. Jones’ “Bone Moan,” a work for solo trombone and six-part trombone choir. The piece draws on rhythms and harmonies found in not only jazz, but also reggae and Latin popular music. In both the solo and ensemble parts, the piece uses a full range of the trombone’s capabilities through the use of glissandi, mutes, flutter tonguing and other techniques.
MATE will also perform a piece by Madison-area bass trombonist and prolific composer-arranger Rich Woolworth, plus arrangements for trombone choir that span a variety of eras and styles, including works by Luca Marenzio, Franz Joseph Haydn, Randall Thompson and Duke Ellington.
The Ear asked MATE founder and player Kevan Feyzi (below) to talk about MATC and he kindly responded with an email Q&A:
When, why and how did the Madison Area Trombone Ensemble come into being?
Last summer, I was playing a bit with the Madison Mellophonium Jazz Orchestra (a large jazz band which performs charts from the Stan Kenton library). I looked to my left and right, and noticed that all four other trombonists are some of the finest players in the area and were doing this pro-bono. They each truly love to play, and do so as much as they have the time. In other groups I work with many other fine trombonists who have the same philosophy. All of us seem to get along quite well. So the light bulb then popped into my head: What if we all got together to make some music?
In the fall, I floated the idea around to trombonists around town and received very positive feedback, so I decided to go ahead with it. With some help from Steve Ash, who directs the Glenwood Moravian Trombone Choir, and the generosity of the staff of First United Methodist Church, the group finally got off the ground in January. We’re now 15 strong!
What do you and other members like about the trombone so much as to have created an all-trombone ensemble?
We’re all certainly biased, but consider this: Are any of the other members of the brass family as dynamic and versatile as the trombone? The amount of tone colors we can generate is so vast. I can hardly think of a genre of music where a trombone wouldn’t fit in. So we can play any sort of music, even in a group setting. And when you have a dozen-plus trombones playing together, you get something really remarkable. To me, it’s a collective sound that’s unsurpassed by any other collection of instruments.
I also have a lot of fun arranging for trombone choir — we can cover about the same range as a human, SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir. Choral music lends itself quite well to a group of trombones: in fact, on the March 30 concert we’ll be playing my choral arrangement of Randall Thompson’s well-known “Alleluia.” (You can hear a tribune choir perform Morten Lauridsen‘s “O Magnum Mysterium” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
What kind of repertoire will you favor? Original compositions? New music? Older established repertoire? Transcriptions? Classical music? Jazz and crossover music?
I make a point NOT to favor any one style (jazz versus classical) over another. Trombones sound great in all music, so let’s show off our versatility! For example, we’ll start off with some Renaissance music, some Haydn, and move chronologically forward — more or less — into the 20th century and jazz. There are all kinds of great arrangements and transcriptions for trombone choir—some great ones being done by members of the group in fact — but original repertoire is harder to come by.
So I’m particularly excited about a piece contributed by Monticello-based trombonist and composer Rich Woolworth (below top) called “Octagon,” as well as the piece we’ll feature Mark Hetzler (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) in, David P. Jones’ “Bone Moan.”
Mark Hetzler and David P. Jones (below) are long-time friends, and the two have collaborated on many compositions for trombone. I like to feature a few original trombone choir compositions on any performance, but these two stand out because of the local connections. The more we can play from the output of area composers, arrangers or members of the group, the better.
Do you worry about establishing another music group in a city with so many music groups already?
I suppose if money were a concern then I might, but this is a community group. MATE’s mission is one of music-making and camaraderie, while sharing the unique sound of a trombone choir with music lovers. I think that we can achieve that regardless of the amount of other groups in town. For a mid-sized city, we have a notably large music scene in Madison, which means that some very fine players can’t always commit to a series of weekly rehearsals and a performance or two.
About the only thing I’m concerned about is having enough players to make the group viable. But I’m quite satisfied about how the group has grown — 15 is a great number for a trombone choir, and it should only grow from there.
What are your plans for future concerts and events? Is membership open and how does one audition?
I have a summer performance in the works much like what we’re doing this month, but I’d like to introduce the group into other performance settings as well. A group of trombones works just as well at a jazz festival as it does in a concert hall — we just have to play the appropriate repertoire. Membership is open to anyone in the community who plays the trombone solidly, and has a decent amount of experience. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to sit in for a rehearsal to see if they enjoy it.
What kind of support is the group seeking to keep it going?
A good-sized audience at our performances, and lots of positive vibes! I don’t keep a budget for the group: the players are all volunteering their musical talents, and I volunteer my own time outside of rehearsal to promote the group and keep things running smoothly. That being said, donations will be accepted at performances in order to purchase new music.
Is there anything else you would like to say or add?
Creating and directing this group has been a real bright spot for me in what’s been one of the worst winters in history. I’m very thankful for all the trombonists who have donated their time and efforts toward getting us off the ground, and I’m excited to keep it going!
ALERTS: Our good friend and frequent contributor Mikko Utevsky writes: Dear Friends, I am giving a viola recital this Thursday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community (333 West Main Street, near the Capitol Square). The program includes works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Ernest Bloch (the Suite Hebraïque), and viola sonatas of Johannes Brahms (Op. 120, No. 2) and Darius Milhaud (No. 1). I will be joined by pianists Jeff Gibbens and Adam Kluck. I hope the short notice will not prevent some of you from joining me there. Best, Mikko
For more details, here is a link to a previous post:
By Jacob Stockinger
Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT-FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.
By John W. Barker
Here’s a Handelian heads-up, and with a Madison accent!
The Milwaukee-based Ensemble Musical Offering is to make its first appearance in Madison on this Sunday afternoon, March 30, at 2 p.m., at the First Unitarian Society of Madison’s new and crisply designed Atrium auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) at 900 University Bay Drive.
Tickets are $15, payable at the door, and available in advance from www.ensemblemusicaloffering.org or by calling (414) 258-6133.
The group, whose supplemental title is the Midwest Bande for Early Music, was founded in 2000 by harpsichordist and director Joan Parsley. As she herself defines the ensemble: “Its mission is to foster appreciation for early music, circa 1580-1750, through professional performance on period instruments, educational activities, and community outreach.”
Winner of several grants, the ensemble not only performs regularly in its home city, but supports the Greater Milwaukee Baroque Festival, which is a competition for students of string and keyboard instruments, plus a one-week Summer Baroque Institute.
The instrumental membership of the ensemble (below) consists of about 10 players — divided between strings and winds — including harpsichord. All play baroque instruments, and use the one player per part approach.
For their Madison appearance, the EMO will present a program aptly titled “Hallmarks of Handel.” It will contain a balanced survey of the great composer’s instrumental and vocal music.
The most familiar music will be the G-major Suite, the third and last division of George Frideric Handel’s beloved and popular “Water Music” (at bottom in a YouTube video played on modern instruments by Sir Neville Marriner and the Acadmey of St. Martin in the Fields) — the set that features only woodwinds, without brass, against the strings.
There will also be no less than two of the Op. 3, Concerti Grossi, Nos. 4 and 6, which give strong roles to winds (as well as harpsichord in the latter). It will be interesting to hear these works, usually treated as “orchestral,” in this more intimate chamber-music character.
One more instrumental work is a composite of music that Handel used in his opera “Ottone.” Because of the prominence of the bassoon in the scoring, it will be presented in this program as a Sinfonia for Bassoon, Strings and Continuo.
The other side of the program is vocal, and touches upon what was, for Handel, his major areas of composition, his Italian operas and English oratorios. There will be two arias drawn from Handel’s first London triumph, “Rinaldo,” composed in 1711.
The oratorio realm will be represented indirectly. The program will allow a rare opportunity to hear examples of some two-dozen chamber duets and trios, with continuo, that Handel composed over the years to Italian texts, following patterns set by role model Agostino Steffani.
Handel seemed to use these brief, three-movement mini-cantatas as tryouts of some vocal ideas, and he then incorporated many of those ideas into larger works. The two to be offered, composed in July 1741, contain musical germs that Handel allowed to blossom as three choral movements in “Messiah,” composed later that year. Listeners will surely be surprised and delighted to recognize those inimitably Handelian ideas in their first form.
Though headquartered in Milwaukee, the EMO draws upon musicians from beyond their city, as, indeed, so many early music groups do — witness the Madison Bach Musicians. For EMO, there is a particular reliance on personnel from around our state, and from Madison in particular.
Thus, two admired Madison early music players are involved: Baroque violinist Edith Hines (below top) as leader of the strings, and Teresa Koenig (below bottom), a specialist in Baroque wind instruments.
In addition, this program offers two sopranos for the vocal pieces, each with a Madison connection. Sarah Richardson is currently a doctoral candidate at the UW School of Music, studying with University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music professor and baritone Paul Rowe. And Chelsea Morris Shephard, who has sung with the Madison Bach Musicians, will be remembered as a finalist in in last summer’s Handel Aria Competition for the Madison Early Musical Festival.
Such a rich menu of Handel is bound to appeal to lovers of this fabulous composer’s wonderful music, and attract those who should be such lovers.
By Jacob Stockinger
HAPPY BELATED BACH BIRTHDAY
For The Ear, Sunday morning is always Bach Time.
True, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (below) is good to listen to anytime of the day or night. And indeed on Friday, which as Bach’s actual birthday in 1685, the commercial station Sirius XM radio played all-Bach while Wisconsin Public Radio played generous helping of Bach.
But something about the Baroque style and about Bach’s music in particular, beyond its religious or theological aspects, seems especially suited to morning and especially to Sunday morning. (Am I alone in that feeling?)
That is when I especially love to listen to a cantata, a violin or keyboard concerto, some of the solo suites for violin, cello and piano. It just feels right for Sunday morning.
So, go ahead: Celebrate Bach’s birthday today, even if it is a bit belated. What piece of Bach do you most love to listen to? Tell The Ear in the COMMENT section.
And while you are at it, try taking the Bach Puzzler quiz that appeared on NPR. It asks 10 questions about Bach’s music and life, and teaches you things you might not know. The Ear scored 9 out of 10. He’s betting many of you can do better.
Here is a link:
THE FINAL FORTE
The FREE concert, under the baton of University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music guest conductor James Smith (below), who is filling in for John DeMain, features performances by the four finalists (two other rounds have already been completed) for the Bolz Young Artist Competition -– in other words, a teenage concerto competition.
It will start at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast LIVE over Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio.
To add to the excitement, right after the performances are over, and while the orchestra plays on its own, the judges will caucus and vote, and the winners and prize placements will then be determined and announced.
PLEASE NOTE: Those attending the performance in person must be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. And they must make reservations by calling the MSO at (608) 257-3734.
The four young artists competing are (below, from left to right, in photo by James Gill):
Violinist David Cao, 15, who attends James Madison Memorial High School in Madison and who will play the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Minor by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Violinist Bethany Moss, 17, is a senior home-schooled in Appleton, Wisconsin. He will perform the third movement of the Violin Concerto in B Minor by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.
Pianist Bobby Levinger, 17 is a senior at Central High School in LaCrosse. He will play the first movement of the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
Marimba player Ephraim Sutherland, 15, is a sophomore at Viroqua High School. He will perform the Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra by French composer Emmanuel Sejourne. (You can hear the first movement in a YouTube video at the bottom)
In case you have to miss the Final Forte this Wednesday night, you can always record it. But there will also be encore broadcasts of the competition.
For more about these impressive sounding performers, including more complete biographies of them, and for broadcast dates and times, visit these two sites:
By Jacob Stockinger
Perhaps you have been seeing the many news reports about the major student-led political and social protests going on in Venezuela. They concern corruption, poverty, food shortages and the general ineptitude of Nicolas Maduro, the narrowly elected leader who followed the populist and leftist strong man Hugo Chavez after he died a year ago.
Then the protests spilled over into the artistic world.
Take the Venezuela-born pianist Gabriele Montero (below). You may recall that not long ago she played the Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15, by Ludwig van Beethoven with the Madison Symphony Orchestra under John DeMain. She is also known for her improvisations, once of which she performed as an encore in Madison.
Montero has voiced a strong protest over the deadly upheaval in her native land.
She also called on her colleague, superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel (below), who now leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as the student Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Venezuela, to speak up about what was happening in his homeland. When he didn’t, she took him to task and protested his silence or his tacit endorsement of the failing government.
Montero compared Dudamel handling of Venezuela to the election endorsements that two well-known Russian musicians with international reputations — conductor Valery Gergiev (below top on the right with Vladimir Putin) and opera diva Anna Netrebko (below bottom on the right with Putin) — gave to Russian President and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. (Hmm–The Ear wonders how Gergiev and Netrebko stand on Ukraine and the Anschluss or illegal annexation of Crimea.) But that is another issue for another time and another post.
Here is an open letter that Montero wrote to Dudamel, as it was reprinted in British critic Norman Lebrecht’s blog “Slipped Disc”:
Dudamel has been silent or timid at best, and many have said it is because Hugo Chavez (below top, on the left with Gustavo Dudamel) and his successor Nicolas Maduro (below bottom) have both been generous to “el sistema,” the national music education program out of which Dudamel emerged. Many observers speculated that Dudamel was watching out for the interest of his young followers and successors.
Here is his letter response to Montero, also as it appear on Lebrecht’s blog:
But now Dudamel has spoken out forcefully and more at length, defending himself and saying that he intends to keep politics and arts separate.
Except that his removing himself from the controversy is itself political enough, and getting more so. The Ear recalls the saying of the 19-century Romantic French novelist Stendhal that speaking of politics in things of the imagination (like art) is like firing a gun in the middle of a concert.
Anyway, The Ear recently stumbled across a story by The Boston Globe that provided a very good wrap-up of Dudamel’s current position and also included an excellent chronology and summary of the background including Montero’s point of view and accusations.
Here is a link:
What do you think?
Should Gustavo Dudamel speak up about the protests and government killings in Venezuela?
Or should art and politics be kept separate?
Does this controversy change what you think of either pianist Gabriele Montero or conductor Gustavo Dudamel?
The Ear wants to hear.