The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: For reviving and securing Bach Around the Clock, The Ear names Marika Fischer Hoyt as “Musician of the Year” for 2017 | December 30, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Regular readers of this blog know how much The Ear likes to recognize community-based initiatives, amateur participation, and events that are affordable or free to the public and so help build and widen the audience for classical music.

On all those counts, the Musician of the Year for 2017 goes to Marika Fischer Hoyt (below) who revived Bach Around the Clock and has given it a seemingly secure future.

In Madison, Bach Around the Clock was originally sponsored and put on for several years by Wisconsin Public Radio’s music director Cheryl Dring. But when Dring left for another job five years ago, WPR ended the event, which got its national start in New Orleans and is now celebrated in many other cities to mark the March birthday of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Yet it is not as if Fischer Hoyt didn’t already have enough on her plate.

She is a very accomplished and very busy violist.

As a modern violist, she plays with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and is a founding member of the Ancora String Quartet (below), with which she still plays after 17 seasons. She is also  a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

As a specialist on the baroque viola, she is a member (below far left) of the Madison Bach Musicians who also plays for the Handel Aria Competition and the Madison Early Music Festival.

In addition, she is a private teacher who finds time to attend early music festivals around the country.

To get an idea of what she has done to put Bach Around the Clock (BATC) on a stable footing here, read the update posting from a couple of days ago:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/classical-music-bach-around-the-clock-2018-is-set-for-march-10-here-is-a-year-end-update-with-more-impressive-news/

Not only did Fischer Hoyt obtain the participation of some 80 performers — students and teachers, amateurs and professionals, individuals and groups– she also got cooperation, facilities, performers and help from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1833 Regent Street, on Madison’s near west side.

She obtained donations of money and even food to stage the event.

She herself played in the event that drew hundreds of listeners.

She lined up local sound engineers who recorded the entire event, which was then broadcast in parts by Rich Samuels (below) on WORT-FM 89.9 and streamed live as far away as London.

She served as an emcee who also conducted brief interviews about the music with the many performers (below right, with flutist Casey Oelkers)

Recognizing she can’t keep doing so much by herself, the energetic Fischer Hoyt has turned BATC into a more formal and self-sustaining organization with a board of directors.

She has sought advice from experts about Bach and Bach festivals.

She applied for and won one of five national grants from Early Music America in Boston.

She has consulted legal help to make BATC a nonprofit charitable organization, which should help guarantee a steady stream of funding.

And artistically, she has added a back-up mini-orchestra to accompany singers and instrumentalists.

The event this year is on Saturday, March 10, a little early for Bach’s 333rd birthday (March 31, 1685) but a smart decision to avoid spring break in the schools and at the UW, and to help recruit the many performers who are also important, if secondary,  Musicians of the Year.

But the center of the event, the force holds it all together, is Marika Fischer Hoyt and all the hard work, done over a long time, that she has invested in making Bach Around the Clock a permanent part of Madison’s classical music schedule and cultural scene.

If you didn’t go last year, try it this year. It is wonderful, inspiring and enjoyable.

Please join The Ear in congratulating Marika Fischer Hoyt for making Bach Around the Clock the success it now is and giving it the future it now has. Leave your comments about her and BATC in the COMMENT section.

To celebrate, here is a YouTube video of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach:


5 Comments »

  1. Marika made a special effort to enable Melinda Certain and me to play the first movement of the piano concerto in C Major for two pianos. We are not professionals, but the piece went very well and the enthusiastic response of the audience was life affirming! This tribute is so well deserved! Betty Hasselkus

    Comment by Betty Risteen Hasselkus — December 30, 2017 @ 9:40 am

  2. Ear, thank you for this great choice. While I love the professional level of the playing, I love the unexpected moments of struggle yet commitment to music. Amateurs at the piano. Over a dozen children in Suzuki strings style playing as if there were nothing better in life to do than this.

    Comment by Ronnie Hess — December 30, 2017 @ 9:21 am

  3. How wonderful for someone with all the committments she already has to go above and beyond to revive and sustain this wonderful community event. Thank you, Ms. Fischer Hoyt, for your passion and committment to music and your community.

    Comment by Edwina Kavanaugh — December 30, 2017 @ 8:57 am

  4. Ahhh….who hits them better?! And many thanks for providing my photo at the piano — complete with my Hitchcock-ian pout!

    Comment by Tim Adrianson — December 30, 2017 @ 7:29 am

  5. An act of heroism by Marika!!

    Comment by Phil — December 30, 2017 @ 6:58 am


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