The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Ear offers a big shout-out and good luck to three girl choirs in the Madison Youth Choirs. They are headed this week to a major world youth festival in Aberdeen, Scotland and give a FREE send-off concert this Tuesday night | July 25, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

Two years ago, it was the boy choirs of the Madison Youth Choirs that were invited to sing at the prestigious international festival in Aberdeen, Scotland.

It is, after all, the oldest youth arts festival in the world, about 40 years old and features performers form around the world.

Aberdeen International Youth Festival Opeing Ceremony

This week, on Thursday, 68 members of three girl choirs in the Madison Youth Choirs – the Capriccio (below top, in a photo by MYC director Michael Ross), Cantilena and Cantabile (below bottom) choirs — along with three conductors, are headed to the same festival.

Madison Youth Choir Capriccio CR Mike Ross

Madison Youth Choirs Cantabile

NOTE: You can hear a FREE send-off sampler concert on this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 326 South Segoe Road.

It is a BIG DEAL.

The repertoire the girls will sing covers classical music (Franz Schubert); folk music from Canada, Serbia, Bulgaria and Peru; and more popular music. Plus, they will sing in several languages. They will also sing a song composed in the Terezin concentration camp, or death camp, in Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II.

They will also give the world premiere of a piece – based on two Scottish melodies including a traditional walking song and the beautiful “The Water Is Wide” — that they commissioned from composer Scott Gendel, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. (You can hear James Taylor sing a heart-breaking version of “The Water Is Wide” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Scott Gendel color headshot

The Ear heard the girls sing live last week on the Midday program with Norman Gilliland on Wisconsin Public Radio. And they sounded great.

What an honor, especially in the wake of the concert tour to Italy two weeks ago by the Youth Orchestra of the Wisconsin Youth Chamber Orchestras.

Madison sure seems to be doing a fine job providing music education to its young people while many other areas of the state and country are cutting back on arts education and where many   politicians and businesspeople are mistakenly trying to turn public support to the so-called STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math — at the expense of the arts. But the arts and the sciences really feed each other, and success in one field often helps to assure success in the other.

madison youth choirs logo

Here is a link so you can learn more about the tour and how to support or join the Madison Youth Choirs, which serves young people in grades 5-12:

And here is a link to the festival itself:

And finally here is a link to the Facebook page for the Madison Youth Choirs, with face photos of participants:

1 Comment »

  1. Wonderful story, so I feel almost sordid making this technical comment about the difference between “death camps” and “concentration camps”. Horrible subject, and lots of people died in both.

    But historians recognize a difference. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies explains the difference as follows: “Extermination camps [sometimes referred to as “death camps”] were only constructed with one purpose: to mass murder Jews and other “unwanted” [usually Roma people, that is, “gypsies”, homosexuals, etc.].

    Concentration camps, on the other hand, had a number of purposes, among these to work as reformatory facilities, “punishment camps”, POW camps, transit camps, etc”

    Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka (the Operation Reinhard camps) and Chelmno were all “pure” extermination facilities. Only a few hundred Jews survived their encounter with these four extermination camps.There were 6 death camps in the Nazi system: the above 4 and Auschwitz-Birkenau and Majdanek.

    Both of these camps were originally concentration camps.

    Terezin (Czech name) or Theresienstadt (German name) concentration camp was located in the German occupied Czech city of that name. It had a population, at its “height” of 75,000, and thousands of people died there in brutal conditions but it was not a “death camp” like Auschwitz where roughly 1 million people were killed, most of them immediately after they arrived.

    Saul Friedländer, one of the leading experts on the subject, has an excellent discussion of Terezin in his masterful work,”Nazi Germany And the Jews, 1939-1945, The Years of Extermination”, starting at p. 351.

    At any rate, it is wonderful that the choral group will sing a song that was composed in such a hateful place. Kudos to them for doing so.


    Comment by fflambeau — July 25, 2016 @ 2:09 am

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