By Jacob Stockinger
That is the touchy question that was taken up last week by The New York Times senior music critic Anthony Tommasini in his opening night review of Domingo’s performance in the role of the King of Spain Don Carlo (below, in a photo by Sara Krulwich for The New York Times) in the opera by Giuseppe Verdi “Ernani,” which was based on the play “Hernani” by French writer Victor Hugo.
The production of “Ernani” is taking place at the Metropolitan Opera – hardly a strange stage to the veteran Domingo, who is now 74. James Levine led the orchestra. And Tommasini offered quite specific criticisms to back up his opinion about Domingo.
Here is a link to the review:
Read it and weigh in with your own an opinion about whether it is time for the great Placido Domingo to retire.
The Ear wants to hear.
ALERT: Just a reminder that this Saturday afternoon, the top-ranked Youth Orchestra (below) of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will perform under conductor James Smith at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street.
Also included are the winners of the WYSO Concerto Competition. Trumpeter Noah Mennenga will perform the Trumpet Concert by Alexander Arutiunian. Pianist Theodore Lau will play the third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, O;. 37, by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for young people 3-18. For more information, call (608) 263-3320 or visit http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/dianne-endres-ballweg-winterfest-concert-series/
By Jacob Stockinger
Spring Break starts tomorrow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
So The Ear wants students and faculty to leave on a positive note and then return with renewed energy and dedication, knowing that the UW-Madison School of Music still ranks relatively high (No. 24) among the nation’s top 30 public and private schools for overall programs and even higher (No. 10) for music education in an informal blog survey.
To be sure, the UW-Madison School of Music is facing a lot of complex challenges.
Those challenges range from finding enough scholarship money to compete in recruiting outstanding students to finding enough money to recruit and retain outstanding faculty.
And some of the challenges look to be made worse through budget cuts and policy changes proposed by the Republican-dominated legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker (below), though we will have to wait to see the final outcomes.
But the politicians sure are sending out signals that they want to treat the world-class university more like a trade school than a star player in the liberal arts, the arts and the humanities. They just don’t see those fields as adding much to economic development.
As if economic development is the bottom line for everything of personal and social value.
Besides, study after study shows the relevance of music education to success in other fields. (Below are the UW Symphony Orchestra and UW Choral Union.)
So before anyone starts fooling around and making major changes and cuts, it is good to be reminded of what a precious educational, cultural and economic resource the UW-Madison remains, as a world-class learning institution.
But it won’t take much negligence or wrong-headed tinkering for the UW to drop out of the ranking.
So here they are to read and then think about how to best protect the great university that the state of Wisconsin has.
First comes the overall ranking (No. 24) among private and public Schools of Music, which, if The Ear recalls correctly, has dropped over the past decade:
And then comes the ranking (No. 10) in the specific area of music education in a less prestigious blog poll done by an individual:
The Ear wants to hear.
1) In case you don’t already know them, here are the results of last night’s Final Forte: First Prize went to violinist Julian Rhee; Second Prize went to pianist Vivian Wilhelms; and Honorable Mentions went to harpist Maya Pierick and pianist Isabella Wu.
Here is a link to a complete story about the high school concerto competition:
2) This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, to be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meeting House of the First Unitarian Society of Madison at 900 University Bay Drive, will feature soprano Consuelo Sanudo (below) and pianist Jeff Gibbens who will perform music by Henri Duparc, Claude Debussy, Arnold Schoenberg and Franz Schubert.
By Jacob Stockinger
It has really been a busy past couple of weeks, with so many concerts that The Ear couldn’t even preview all of them. So it’s time to catch up and offer some critical appraisals of what I heard.
Let me begin with some background.
The supremely gifted, articulate and critically acclaimed American pianist Jeremy Denk, who has performed two solo recitals in Madison for the Wisconsin Union Theater, is fond of saying the he strives to make music sound as radical today as it was when it was first composed and first heard.
There is wisdom in that approach, which balances out the other great movement of the 20th-century that opened up our ears to another kind of difference. I am referring to the use of period instruments and historically informed performance practices to recapture how the music originally sounded.
But lately I had two examples that showed me just how exciting such an established “museum” composer as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below) can be if made to sound and look contemporary and radical to our modern ears without going backwards.
The two examples I have in mind are from recent performances of late works, when Mozart was in full command of his art: The opera “The Magic Flute” as presented by University Opera under the guest stage director David Ronis, who hails from New York City and teaches at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and the City University of New York as well as at Hofstra University; and the well-known penultimate Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550, as performed by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under Andrew Sewell.
THE MAGIC FLUTE
The award-winning David Ronis did several things to The Magic Flute that The Ear really liked and found effective.
He made some judicious cuts in an otherwise overlong work.
He used surtitles for the German text.
He used spoken contemporary vernacular English for the dialogue. That not only made the opera understandable, but also lent drive to push it along and give it momentum as well as contemporaneity.
Most of all, Ronis also used cinematic Bollywood-like dance gestures and choreography (below, in photos by Michael R. Anderson) – along with the bright fusion of East-West hybrid costumes and sets that added such movement and energy, color and humor, to the score.
I mean, don’t we see enough of opera singers just standing still, arms outstretched, with only their mouths moving?
Of course, some people and critics did not like the changes, and found them downright treasonous and disrespectful or just plain wrong.
Silly them. The Ear says the updating worked just fine. Great art is there to experiment with, not just depict. Art lives in time. It is why director Peter Sellars is such a forceful and creative influence in the world of classical music. If only classical music could be less classical and more musical! Entertainment is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, after all, why the performing arts exist.
I also think the changes are one reason why there were four sold-out performances -– not just the usual three -– and why I saw so many young people in the audience. It was, in short, a fun production.
To my eyes and ears, this production — coupled with his production of Benjamin Britten‘s “Albert Herring” in the fall — showed what a smart move it would be to hire David Ronis (below, in a photo by Luke DeLalio) full-time to lead the University Opera. He clearly knows how to get the best out of students, has a very personal artistic vision and is willing to shake things up – which both we and The Great Artists such as Mozart can use.
THE BIG G-MINOR SYMPHONY
As for the Mozart symphony – the big late one in G minor not the little early one — it was just part of an outstanding concert turned in by Sewell and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with the impressive guest cellist Amit Peled (below) and his unbelievably resonant cello that belonged to and was played by Pablo Casals. Together, man and instrument justifiably brought down the house.
But other parts of the program, which included works by Frank Bridge and David Popper, should not be overlooked or underestimated.
Conductor Andrew Sewell (below) has long demonstrated his ability to work with such Classical-era composers as Franz Joseph Haydn and Mozart as well as Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven. And here, in a very familiar work, you could hear why.
While Mozart was one of music’s great melodists, Sewell’s interpretation emphasized tempo, rhythm and repetitive motifs even as he brought out the various voices, counterpoint and melodic lines.
This Mozart had drive and pep. (You can hear the familiar first movement, with an interesting abstract graph profile, in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
In fact, the third Minuet movement sounded downright modern – a kind of percussive precursor to minimalism.
This was exciting Mozart, far from the genteel and primly elegant and blandly pleasant Mozart that The Ear refers to as Music-Box Mozart.
This playing by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) was precise and dramatic. It made you sit up and take notice. It engaged you.
It also showed why Mozart was such an exception to his age –- why his contemporaries and those who followed him so revered his talent and music. He was a radical in his day but we often overlook how he pushed the boundaries of music closer to modernism.
So The Ear offers shout-outs and hearty thanks to both David Ronis and Andrew Sewell for helping us to hear Mozart once again as a contemporary — not just a statically beautiful blast from the past.
Both cases proved to be an exciting and unforgettable experience. The Ear hopes we are in for more of them, particularly in Mozart’s symphonies and piano concertos.
Did you hear the opera and/or the symphony?
What did you think of the approaches to Mozart?
The Ear wants to hear.
ALERT: This Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Hunt Quartet will perform three great string quartets: the String Quartet No. 23 in F Major, K. 590, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the String Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata” by Leos Janacek; and the String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13, by Felix Mendelssohn.
The quartet is made up of four graduate students (below) at the UW-Madison School of Music. Here is a link to the event with impressive biographies and other information:
By Jacob Stockinger
Our friend Dan Broner, the music director of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, has sent the following note to The Ear:
On Sunday, March 29, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. the Society Choir of the First Unitarian Society of Madison will be joined by guest singers and instrumentalists in two performances of a masterpiece by French composer Maurice Durufle (below): his Requiem, Op. 9.
Both performances will take place in the modern Atrium Auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams).
Maurice Durufle (1902-1986) was a celebrated French organist and composer. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with the two most important French organist-composers of the day, Charles Tournemire and Louis Vierne, and he surpassed them both.
Durufle (below) won every major prize – in organ, harmony, accompaniment, counterpoint and fugue, and composition. In 1939 he gave the world premiere of Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and in the 1940s he was named Professor of Harmony of the Conservatoire. It was his exceptional penchant for self-criticism, however, that led to Durufle publishing only 13 works: six organ pieces, two works for orchestra, a chamber piece, and four choral compositions.
He kept re-writing and revising his compositions for years after they were completed. As a result Durufle is a relatively unknown composer to the general public, but is admired by composers and singers for the impeccable craftsmanship and sublime beauty of his work.
The Requiem for choir, soloists, orchestra and organ was completed in 1947 and is based on Gregorian chants from the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead. Stylistically it is influenced by the 20th-century organ music of Tournemire and Vierne, the Impressionist school of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, the elegant Romanticism of Gabriel Faure, Renaissance polyphony and above all Gregorian chant. These elements form a tapestry held together by Durufle’s command of harmony and structure.
Durufle wrote three different accompaniments for the work: the original for large orchestra, a version for organ accompaniment, and one for organ and chamber orchestra. It is this last version that we will be using for our performances. (Below is a photo of Dan Broner conducting the choir. At bottom, you can hear the fourth movement, the Sanctus, as performed by Robert Shaw and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Sorry, but I don’t know why there is no video to accompany the audio.)
The concert will also introduce the new Allen digital organ gifted by William Wartmann (below) in memory and honor of his late wife, Joyce Wartmann, and her lifelong friendship with retired FUS Assistant Music Director and Organist, Eva Wright.
Joining the Society Choir will be guest singers from the Meeting House Chorus and community; baritone Paul Rowe (below top) and soprano Heather Thorpe (below bottom), who directs the FUS Children’s Choir.
Retired UW-Madison professor and Concertmaster of the Madison Symphony, Tyrone Greive (below top, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), will lead the string section, which will be joined by three trumpeters, timpani and harp, all conducted by FUS music director Dan Broner. Linda Warren (below bottom) will be the harpist and the guest organist will be Sheri Masiakowski, a doctoral student of UW organist, John Chappell Stowe.
I hope you will be able to join us on March 29 to experience some of the most beautiful music ever penned for choir and orchestra.
By Jacob Stockinger
On Saturday, April 18, 2014, from 6 to 10 p.m., at CUNA Mutual, 5810 Mineral Point Road, on Madison’s far west side, WYSO will hold its annual Art of Note gala fundraiser, this year called “Believe in Music.”
You can join dozens of major corporate underwriters and small business sponsors as well as individual attendees in helping WYSO to meet its goal of raising $50,000 for music education.
Study after study confirms that music education reaps lifelong benefits in academic and career success that go far beyond making music. And no single music educational organization in Wisconsin reaches more students or listeners than the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), which is based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
“WYSO has served nearly 6,000 talented young musicians from more than 100 communities throughout south central Wisconsin over the past 49 years,” says executive director Bridget Fraser (below right, seen at last year’s Art of Note with Libby Bestul, chair of the Art of Note fundraiser).
But such a mission is not easy to run or cheap to fund.
WYSO provides many scholarships and undertakes local concerts and TV appearances as well as international tours — two summers ago, to Vienna, Prague and Budapest (below); this past summer to Argentina. Another international tour, to Italy, is being planned.
That is why WYSO needs your help.
Adds Fraser: “The Art of Note Gala garners community-wide support from those who people are passionate about music education, ensuring that WYSO remains one of the top youth orchestra programs in the country.”
The evening will feature fine food and live music performed by several WYSO student groups (a WYSO string quartet is below), including an honors ensemble of students from the Madison Music Makers.
Fundraising events include silent and live auctions of more than 100 items that include everything from fine wine and restaurant gift certificates to holiday getaways and tickets to major sporting and arts events.
Of special note are the recycled violins (below) that have been hand-painted and transformed into works of art by local artists.
Individual admission is $100 in advance, $110 at the door. ($65 is tax-deductible as a charitable donation per person.) Tables for 4 are available for $375; tables for 8 for $750.
For reservations and more information about attending or sponsoring the gala, about donating auction items and about WYSO’s overall program as well as upcoming concerts, visit WYSO’s home website at http://wyso.music.wisc.edu and the special event’s page with a list of sponsors at http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/artofnote/
For more information, you can also call (608) 263-3320, ext. 2.
By Jacob Stockinger
Four of Wisconsin’s most talented young musicians will perform in concert with the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) as Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) offer a live broadcast of “Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte” at 7 p.m. this Wednesday night, March 25.
WPT will air an encore presentation 11 a.m. Sunday, March 29.
The Final Forte features (below) harpist Maya Pierick, a student at Madison West High School, violinist Julian Rhee, a student at Brookfield East High School, pianist Vivian Wilhelms, a student at Waunakee High School and pianist Isabella Wu, a student at Madison Memorial High School. (Below are, from left to right, pianists Isabella Wu and Vivian Wilhelms, violinist Julian Rhee and harpist Maya Pierick.)
The four young artists will perform in the Capitol Theater (below) of the Overture Center for the Arts with MSO music director John DeMain conducting the MSO as the four teenagers vie for honors and scholarship money in the 2015 Bolz Young Artist Competition.
Each finalist will perform a movement from a concerto while judges determine who will win scholarships. The winners will be announced at the end of the concert.
Be sure to include your name and the number in your party. We are expecting a full house, so if you make a reservation and are unable to attend, please let us know.
Audience members MUST be seated by 6:45 p.m.
Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte is a partnership of Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Wisconsin Young Artists Compete: The Final Forte is part of WPT’s multi-year Young Performers Initiative, a statewide effort to raise the visibility of the arts, celebrate the creative achievements of Wisconsin’s young people and support the arts in education.
Major funding is provided by Diane Ballweg, Fred and Mary Mohs, Stephen D. Morton, and The Boldt Company, with additional funds from Sentry Insurance Foundation, AHMC Properties, A. Paul Jones Charitable Trust, Margaret C. Winston, W. Jerome Frautschi, James Dahlberg and Elsebet Lund, Larry and Julie Midtbo, Kato L. Perlman, Anne W. Bolz, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.
The Final Forte is the final round of the MSO’s Bolz Young Artist Competition. Young artists from across the state of Wisconsin competed in the Bolz Young Artist Competition’s two preliminary rounds for a chance to perform a movement from a concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra during the final round.
The 90-minute WPT program features profiles of each of the finalists.
Tune in to these ENCORE broadcasts:
HISTORIC COLLABORATION WINS AWARDS
The unique collaboration among the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below), Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television is producing award-winning programming. In addition to an Emmy Award nomination, the Final Forte earned First Place in the “Special Interest” category from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association in 2007 and was rated the fifth most-watched program in the February 2007 Nielsen ratings (the television audience was 63 percent greater than WPT’s average audience in the Madison market). The 2008 broadcasts on WPR and WPT reached more than 60,000 viewers in the Madison market alone and there were an estimated 200,000 statewide viewers and listeners for the 2009 broadcasts.
CONDUCTOR JOHN DEMAIN’S TAKE: “This has been a very auspicious partnership,” says John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad). “The quality of the broadcasts and the performances of the finalists are simply spectacular. I think this sends a magnificent message to our community and to the entire state of Wisconsin about the importance and effectiveness of our music education programs. It is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to feel the commitment and energy of these young performers and to reflect on the central role the arts play in our lives. I look forward to these events with great joy.”
DeMain will lead the MSO in the final movement of the Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120, by Robert Schumann while the four judges are evaluating the performers.
TO SUPPORT THIS PROGRAM
Please contact Director of Development Casey Oelkers at (608) 257-3734 or email@example.com.
HERE ARE BIOGRAPHIES OF THE FOUR PERFORMERS. YOU CAN ALSO FIND VIDEOS, DONE BY WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION, ABOUT THEM ON YOUTUBE. JUST PUT THEIR NAME OR “FINAL FORTE” INTO THE SEARCH ENGINE.
MAYA PIERICK, HARP
Maya Pierick, age 17, is a senior at Madison West High School. Having started early in Suzuki violin, she began playing harp at age eight with Karen Atz. She currently studies with Danis Kelly of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Maya has played harp in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) from 4th through 11th grade. After playing for 6 years at the Youth level under conductor James Smith, she toured Argentina with WYSO in 2014.
Maya’s realized her love of singing with choir director Heather Thorpe at First Unitarian Society. In high school she has furthered her achievements in voice by successfully auditioning into the Cantabile choir of the Madison Youth Choirs under the direction of Michael Ross, as well as West High School’s Concert Choir under the direction of Anthony Cao – with whom she recently completed a semester as teaching assistant to the Freshman Choir.
In her spare time Maya also enjoys dance, ceramics, circus arts and photography. In college, Maya plans to study Harp Performance and Physics.
She will play Marcel Tournier’s “Feerie” for Harp and Strings.
JULIAN RHEE, VIOLIN
Julian Rhee, age 14, is a freshman at Brookfield East High School. Julian recently won the 2015 Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Young Artist Competition; the 2015 Milwaukee Youth Symphony Concerto Competition; and the 2015 Concord Orchestra Dorothy J. Oestreich Concerto Competition. Also, Julian is one of the 11 violinists advancing to the semi-finals of the prestigious Johansen International Competition for Young String Players, where he will be traveling to Washington, D.C. representing Wisconsin.
Julian won the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Fall Youth Concerto competition in 2011 and 2013. Julian has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Menomonee Symphony Orchestra, as well as being the youngest semi-finalist of the 2013 Stradivarius International Violin Competition at age 12.
In addition to violin, Julian has studied piano since age 7, and loves to read, play basketball and video games, and is an avid local sports team fan. Julian is Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Youth Senior Symphony Orchestra and is currently studying privately with Ms. Hye-Sun Lee at the Music Institute of Chicago.
He will perform the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, by Johannes Brahms.
VIVIAN WILHELMS, PIANO
Vivian Wilhelms, 16, is a sophomore at Waunakee High School. Vivian began playing piano at age four and currently studies with Bill Lutes. In 2010, she was the winner of the MSO Fall Youth Concerto Competition, and in 2013, she was a winner of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition. In 2014, she received first place in the UW Madison School of Music High School Piano Extravaganza Competition and was the runner-up in the WMTA Badger State Competition. This year, she also received an honorable mention in the Lacrosse Rising Star Concerto Competition. Vivian has studied violin with Janet Chisholm since she was eight years old and has been an active member of WYSO since 2011.
In school, Vivian is a member of the varsity forensics and Science Olympiad teams. She also loves volunteering as a mentor for beginning violinists through Madison’s Music Makers program and frequently visits the Waunakee Manor, a local retirement center. In her free time, Vivian enjoys swimming, writing, listening to music, and hanging out with her friends.
She will plays the second movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor by Camille Sant-Saens.
ISABELLA WU, PIANO
Isabella Wu, 16, is a sophomore at Madison Memorial High School. She began piano at age 5 with Shu-Ching Chuang. Isabella won the 2010 and 2012 Madison Symphony Orchestra Fall Youth Concerto Competitions, the 2014 Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Youth Artist Competition, the 2014 Chippewa Valley Symphony Kristo Orthodontics Young Artist Competition, and received honorable mention at the 2013 Midwest Young Artists National Walgreens Concerto Competition. She also won the 2009 Wisconsin State Badger Competition and placed runner-up in the 2012 Music Teachers National Association Wisconsin State Competition.
Isabella additionally plays violin and studies with Liz Norton. A member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) since 5th grade, she has won the Philharmonia Concerto Competition on violin, the Youth Concerto Competition on piano, and served as concertmaster and principal second.
This year, Isabella is a percussionist in her school’s highest band. Outside of music, she is a Mathcounts coach, Lincoln-Douglas debater, member of Future Business Leaders of America, and writes for the school newspaper. Isabella enjoys art, literature, and philosophy, and can be found wandering through the woods on bike or foot.
She will play the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 1, by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear is one of them. And to this day he remains an avid amateur pianist.
But how much do I really know about my chosen instrument? Not enough, it turns out.
And how well do you know the Piano From A To Z? The BBC Music Magazine has listed 26 facts about pianos -– some of which The Ear knew and many of which he didn’t.
See how you do – and let us know.
Here is a link:
By Jacob Stockinger
Yesterday — Friday, March 20, 2015 – brought us the first day of spring.
It also marked the centennial of the birth of the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (below).
Richter was such a complex and towering figure that it would take a book to really do justice to him and to his career.
With one exception that gets no mention.
Somehow that information seems particularly pertinent to The Ear, given the growing acceptance of LGBT people and of marriage equality.
Still, Wigler’s essay is an excellent read and includes a YouTube video – there are many, many YouTube videos of Richter, who had an immense repertoire, playing. This video is of a live performance by Richter in which he plays the last movement of the first piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
You can hear the power and energy, the subtleties and excitement, to say nothing of the originality of interpretation, that Richter brought to music.
Enjoy it -– and tell us if you ever heard Richter live and what is your favorite performance by Sviatoslav Richter with a link to a YouTube video is possible.
By Jacob Stockinger
Three items deserve attention today.
J.S. BACH TURNS 330 ON SATURDAY
This Saturday is the 330th birthday of composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). That means you can expect to hear a lot of Bach played on Wisconsin Public Radio and streamed by other radio stations and music institutions from around the country and world.
To mark the occasion, the program “Grace Presents” – which takes place at Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Avenue, on the Capitol Square – is presenting a FREE concert by the early music group the Madison Bach Musicians from noon to 1 p.m.
Explains MBM founder and director Trevor Stephenson: “Madison Bach Musicians (MBM) was formed to foster a love of music and to provide education about great music within the community. MBM is dedicated to presenting the music of Bach-as well as works by other great composers of the Baroque, Renaissance and Classical periods — to both the general public and to educational institutions through performances, lectures, and workshops.
“Bach’s music was chosen as a focal point because of its outstanding beauty, variety and profundity, and because it speaks with urgency to modern audiences.
In pursuit of the greatest clarity of musical texture, MBM performs primarily on period instruments, using historically informed performance practices, and the ensemble sizes are typical of those used by Bach himself. MBM provides a unique forum for experienced professional and exceptionally talented young professional musicians to work together in an exciting period performance style.”
Grace Presents is a FREE monthly concert series that takes place in the historic Grace Church on Madison’s Capitol Square. The series features a diverse range of music, everything from classical and folk to jazz and bluegrass.
Members of the Madison Bach Musicians (below) include: Kangwon Kim, baroque violin; Martha Vallon, viola da gamba and baroque cello; Chelsea Morris, soprano; and Trevor Stephenson, harpsichord.
Here is the program for Saturday’s concert:
Sonata No. 4 in D major from Sonatae unarum fidium by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (below, 1623-1680)
Sonata in G Major, BWV 1027, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Adagio; Allegro ma non tanto; Andante; Allegro moderato
Prelude & Fugue in E-flat minor, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I by Johann Sebastian Bach
Violin Sonata in F major, HWV 370, by George Frideric Handel (below, 1685-1759)
Adagio; Allegro; Largo; Allegro
Aria from “Gott, wie dein Name, so ist auch dein Ruhm” BWV 171, by J.S. Bach
The harpsichord (below) to be played in Saturday’s concert was made by area instrument builder Norman Sheppard in 2009 and is modeled on a circa 1720 German double-manual instrument by Michael Mietke of Berlin, one that Bach bought and used.
PLEASE NOTE: Madison Bach Musicians will repeat the FREE concert on this Sunday, March 22, at 3 p.m. in the West Middleton Lutheran Church, 3763 Pioneer Road in Verona.
WISCONSIN BRASS QUINTET PERFORMS SATURDAY NIGHT
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below, in a photo by Megan Aley) performs a FREE concert SATURDAY night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall — NOT tonight as incorrectly first stated here.
The program includes music by William Mathias, James Stephenson, Anders Hillborg and Malcolm Arnold.
Here is a link to background about the members of the faculty ensemble that was founded in 1972 at the UW-Madison School of Music:
Here is link to the program:
ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, MADISON-BORN PIANIST KATHRYN ANANDA-OWENS STREAMS MOZART’S D-MINOR PIANO CONCERTO WITH HER OWN CADENZAS
The following news has come to the attention of The Ear: Pianist Kathryn Ananda-Owens (below), is a graduate of James Madison Memorial High School on Madison’s far west side and the first winner of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition. She was promoted to full professor at St. Olaf College in February.
On this Sunday at 3:30 p.m., with the St. Olaf Orchestra, she will perform the dark, dramatic and lovely Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below) — with her own cadenzas. (The concert will be live-streamed. St. Olaf officials say to tune in 10 minutes ahead).
For anyone who might be interested, here is the link to the streaming part of the website, and scroll to March 22:
By way of background, the Mozart piano concerto cadenzas were the study of Ananda-Owens’ doctoral dissertation and lecture recital at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore that is attached to Johns Hopkins University.
Mozart wrote cadenzas for some, but not all, of his 27 piano concertos. No one else has analyzed the topic in-depth, and she is more than halfway through turning her dissertation into a book, thanks to a sabbatical during academic year 2012-13. She annually lectures at the Juilliard School (and occasionally at some other places, including internationally) on this topic.
By Jacob Stockinger
Pulitzer Prize-winner George Crumb (below, b. 1929) is one of America’s foremost composers and one of the most influential and innovative composers of the latter half of the 20th Century.
UW-Madison composer and professor Laura Schwendinger, who is the Artistic Director of the UW-Madison Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, designed the 2015 CRUMB FESTIVAL – to take place from this Friday, March 20, through Monday, March 23, at the UW-Madison School of Music — to celebrate his 85th birthday.
“We wish to celebrate this unique and singular voice,” says Schwendinger. She describes Crumb’s influence in this way: “He is one of the most important, and influential composers of our time. He simply makes us listen to sound in a new way, and there are very few composers who can do that.”
The Festival will feature four concerts and nine works by Crumb.
Here is a schedule of events by each day.
On Friday, March 20, at 8 p.m. in Music Hall, “Lakeshore Rush,” which features three all-star UW alumni, will be performing Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale).
On Saturday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m. and also in the Music Hall, the UW Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (below top) will be presenting a concert featuring the Pro Arte String Quartet’s Parry Karp (below bottom) in Crumb’s Solo Cello Sonata and saxophonist Steve Carmichaelin’s Quest.
UW graduate student, conductor Kyle Knox will be conducting University of Southern California professor Donald Crockett’s “Whistling in the Dark” and Les Thimmig will be leading his saxophone quartet in a work by University of California-Davis professor Laurie San Martin, in her Miniatures for Saxophone quartet; a work by University of California-Berkeley Music Department Chair Cindy Cox will round out the program.
Schwendinger adds “none of these works could have been composed without Crumb’s influence, yet are distinctive examples of their composers’ individual styles.”
On Sunday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, Nunc (below top, Latin for “now”), a New York-based music ensemble will perform, headed by the star violinist Miranda Cuckson (below middle), called “superb,” “deeply satisfying,” and “prodigiously talented” by the New York Times.
The program includes Eleven Echoes of Autumn, and the Four Nocturnes for violin and piano as well as works by Augusta Read-Thomas, Sebastian Currier, and Laura Schwendinger’s The Violinists in My Life, a work for which the third movement is dedicated to Cuckson. Schwendinger (below bottom) adds that “this work of hers, is much influenced by the drama of the Crumb’s Solo Cello Sonata.”
Finally, on Monday, March 23, at 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall, Due East (below), the flute and percussion duo of Erin Lesser and Greg Byer, lauded as “superb” (New York Times) and “brilliant” (New York Concert Review), will be joined by NYC-based harpist, Jacqui Kerrod, vocalist Amanda deBoer and bassist Mark Buchner, will be performing George Crumb’s colorful and enticing Madrigals (1-4) in a stunning multi-media presentation, which presents a “triptych video montage” that becomes a “magical and powerful environment,” along with works written for them by the Chicago Composers Consortium and also inspired by the works of Crumb.
The consortium has been a staple of Chicago’s New Music scene for 25 years now and has counted as part of its membership some of Chicago’s best-known composers.
In addition to the four concert offerings, Miranda Cuckson, Blair McMillen, Erin Lesser and Greg Beyer will all be offering master classes, and Nunc will be reading works by student composers as part of a composer workshop.
Schwendinger says “the festival is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of composers to be exposed to Crumb and learn from the performers who play his music.”
Susan C. Cook (below), music historian and director of the UW-Madison School of Music, is currently teaching a course focusing on George Crumb. An expert in contemporary and American music of all kinds, Cook singles out Crumb as central to her own desire to study modern music.
“As an undergraduate at Beloit College, I first heard Crumb’s ‘Ancient Voices of Children,’ then less than a decade old, in a music theory course,” Cook says. “It simply grabbed hold of me, and I knew I wanted to understand how it came to be and share it with others.”
All events are open to the public.
Nunc and Due East are ticketed events. Visit the Events Calendar at www.music.wisc.edu for more information.
Here are some online resources, including YouTube videos:
Crumb: Vox Balanae
Crumb: Eleven Echoes of Autumn
Links to other works on the concerts:
Donald Crockett Whistling in the Dark
“Violinists in My Life” with violinist Eleanor Bartsch and pianist Thomas Kasdorf performing with the UW Contemporary Chamber Ensemble in Mills Hall in 2014
Sebastian Currier, Verge:
Featured performers in other works: