The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Carnegie Hall of Madison — the renovated Wisconsin Union Theater on the University of Wisconsin campus — will reopen next fall with a gala concert by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and other classical stars. | March 30, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear likes to call the Wisconsin Union Theater (below) “The Carnegie Hall of Madison.”

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.

WUT from stage 1

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.)

yo-yo ma and kathryn stott

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.

takacs quartet

Sharon Isbin, guitar, and Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano, on Saturday, March 21, 2015. Presented with the Madison Opera.

Sharon Isbin

Isabel Leonard mezzo

“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:

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  1. Let’s not forget to mention that one of the first concerts in the newly opened hall – SEPTEMBER 27, 2014 – is our own Pro Arte Quartet, completing its centennial commissions series with the premiere of a new clarinet quintet by Pierre Jalbert (Charles Neidich, clarinet).
    It’s so very fitting: the world renowned Belgian Pro Arte Quartet was in Madison playing a six-concert Beethoven cycle in May of 1940 as part of the festivities to open the then brand new Union Theater. When Nazi forces invaded Belgium the quartet was stranded here and UW-Madison – with courage and vision – created the first university ensemble residency in the U.S. for them. How fortunate we are to have had them in Madison since then, and how appropriate that, just as PAQ opened the NEW hall in 1940, now in 2014 they will once again open the hall – this time in its spectacular new renovation.

    Comment by Sarah Schaffer, for the Pro Arte Quartet — March 30, 2014 @ 10:54 am

    • Hi Sarah
      Thank you for adding that.
      The Wisconsin Union Theater does NOT include that concert as part of the formal re-opening season.
      And since the Pro Arte Quartet and the world premiere of its final centennial commission is FREE (that is right, no?), the public doesn’t need to buy a ticket.
      Does one have to get a FREE ticket?
      Or just first come, first served as long as there is space?
      Any help you can provide will be appreciated by many.

      Comment by welltemperedear — March 30, 2014 @ 11:08 am

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