The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: More University of Wisconsin-Madison concerts will again charge admissions. Plus, the School of Music launches its new website and unveils its new season.

August 11, 2014
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Where has the summer gone? And so fast!

It is hard to believe that Labor Day is now only three weeks away. And that means the opening of a new concert season is not far off.

As a result, many groups are finally announcing their new lineups of concert dates, programs and performers.

Big organizations such as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Overture Center for the Arts have already done so, mostly in the spring. But the push is now on for both season subscription tickets and single tickets.

As a result, this week and next will be largely devoted to some of the smaller groups and their new seasons.

So get out your datebooks. There is that much going in the Madison area.

One major organization has just checked in. It is the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. And its lineup includes, as usual, resident faculty and guest artists. It also includes solo recitals, chamber music, orchestral music, choral music and opera. Most seasons, more than 300 events take place at the UW-Madison School of Music in Mills Hall (below top), Morphy Hall (below middle) and Music Hall (below bottom).


Morphy Hall 2


But there are quite a few new things to be aware of.

One major item is that the School of Music (SOM) website has been completely and impressively revamped, thanks to the hard work and continuing efforts of concert manager Katherine Esposito (below).

Kathy Esposito

The appearance is crisper and more appealing as well as professional, and the content is more informative and varied. You are also asked, but not required, to register for concerts, which is new. Plus there are links to events on SoundCloud, a YouTube-like site for sound rather than for videos. You can hear the wide variety of UW recorded offerings for yourself:

On the other hand, apparently the ability to stream SOM concerts from the school’s website within 24 hours of the performance will stop, again as a matter of staffing and finances.

Many programs of SOM concerts are missing or incomplete, but that is usually the fault of performers not deciding on the programs until later or not sending them on before publication deadlines. (A brochure of the UW-Madison concert season will soon be available.)

Here is a link:

Some snags have already emerged – which is typical for new websites — and no doubt more will be found. Esposito assures The Ear that they will be taken care of.

The worst and most annoying one right now is that when you click to go forward from when the calendar begins in August to, say, October, to see and read about the University Opera’s production of the chamber opera “Albert Herring” by Benjamin Britten (below), you cannot click on the arrow to return to the previous page (to see  say, about other competing concerts in October). Instead you get linked back to the beginning month of August. That is very time-consuming and frustrating. Try it out and see for yourself:

So then you have to start your search all over again for each event, which is a major pain. That oversight shouldn’t be very hard to fix, so The Ear sure hopes it gets fixed quickly.

Benjamin Britten

More important to many concert-goers will be that, for the first time in many years, the UW-Madison will return to charging admission — not for all concerts but for many of the ones that used to be free. (The Choral Union concerts — which this fall in late November will feature music by Antonin Dvorak, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Giuseppe Verdi — and the University Opera productions, which will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s “The Magic Flute” in the second semester,  have always been exceptions and charged admission to offset costs.) The fact that charging admission is common among peer institutions apparently sealed the deal.

Here are some examples of the “Showcase Concerts,” as was the Concerto Competition with the UW Symphony Orchestra last season.  Last season’s sublime and intimate “Schubertiade,” which was free, will now be part of a larger package, as will the solo faculty recital by star pianist Christopher Taylor. On the other hand, concerts by the Pro Arte Quartet will remain free.

Schubertiade 2014 stage in MIlls Hall


The need to charge admission, especially to high-profile and popular events, is due to an ongoing “structural deficit,” according to the school’s director Susan Cook (below).

Susan C. Cook UW SOM BW CR Michael Forster Rothbart

Anyway, take a look at the calendar and the events at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and see what you think.

Then let the rest of us know.

The Ear wants to hear.

And while you check it out, you can listen to the late Howard Karp (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) playing the rarely heard “Fugue on a Theme by Tomaso Albinoni” by Johann Sebastian Bach on SoundStream. The FREE memorial celebration for Howard Karp, who died this summer, will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31, in Mills Hall.

Howard Karp ca. 2000 by Katrin Talbot



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