The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Happy Father’s Day! Music is filled with bad paternal role models and some good ones too. NPR discusses some bad fathers and praises good ones.

June 15, 2014
6 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day.

Classical music is filled with notable father figures and not all of them are fathers you would want to emulate.

Take the overbearing and ambitious Leopold Mozart (below top), who browbeat and exploited his young son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below bottom).

Leopold Mozart colo

mozart big

And what about Ludwig van Beethoven’s father (below top) who used to come home drunk and threatened his young prodigy son with a beating to force him to practice the piano?

One has to wonder: Did such paternal abuse actually yield positive results on these two towering figures of classical music? Or did Mozart and Beethoven succeed despite their fathers’ bullying. Does an unhappy childhood benefit the art even when it hurts the artist?

beethoven's father BW

On the other hand, maybe some good parenting by Johann Sebastian Bach -– the “old wig” as  his more “modern” Classical-era sons called him –- led to such good achievements by his composer sons Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

The same might be said for Baroque composers Alessandro Scarlatti (below top), best known for vocal music, and his son Domenico Scarlatti (below bottom), best known for his keyboard music.

Alessandron Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti muted

There are a lot of fictional fathers to mention on this holiday too.

Especially in opera.

Those fathers were discussed this past week on NPR by Miles Hoffman. Hoffman is himself both the father of two daughters and a professional musician, both a performer and a teacher. His interview, with musical samplings, covered works by Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi and, as a positive counterpoint, Giacomo Puccini.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/13/321544999/just-in-time-for-father-s-day-bad-dads-in-opera

What real or fictional fathers -– good or bad — in classical music come to your mind?

The Ear would like to see the Father’s Day discussion of musical fathers expanded. So share good stories and bad stories about music and paternity — even if it is your own, because there are a lot of fathers who played a positive and encouraging role in music careers and musical stories.

The Ear wants to hear.

 

 

 


Classical music: UW-Madison tenor James Doing and his students continue to explore classical “standards” on Saturday night in a FREE song recital.

October 16, 2013
1 Comment

ALERTS: French pianist Philippe Bianconi (below in a photo by Bernard Martinez), who is in town this weekend to play three performances of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Madison Symphony Orchestra under the baton of John DeMain, will be the guest on Norman Gilliland’s “The Midday” program on THURSDAY from noon  to 1 p.m on Wisconsin Public Radio WERN 88.7 FM in the Madison area. And on Friday from 12:15 to 1 p.m., guitarist Steven Waugh plays Johann Sebastian Bach, John Dowland, Isaac Albeniz, Charlie Parker, Errol Garner and more for the First Unitarian Society’s weekly FREE FRIDAY Noon Musicale at 900 University Bay Drive.

Philippe Bianconi by Bernard Martinez

By Jacob Stockinger

Three years ago, University of Wisconsin-Madison tenor James Doing (below) launched an ambitious and much appreciated project that helps to acquaint classical music fans – especially fans of singing – with some basic and well-known repertoire and basic vocal techniques. The format is much like a master class to acquaint the general public with the music from the inside and to help non-musicians understand the process of learning how to sing.

The second installment of the series of four recitals will be this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. Admission is FREE and open to the public.

Here is how Doing recently explained the special concert to Kathy Esposito for “Fanfare,” the terrific new blog at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/doing1/

It is the kind of reinventing of the classical music recital that The Ear thinks should be done more often to attract new audiences, younger audiences and non-specialty audiences. I was there and it was terrific. It was especially moving to see teacher and students sing together as partners, which is in fact what they: master and apprentice. It is the oldest educational method in the world — and it still works.

Here is a letter that Doing has sent out via email to his many friends and fans and to The Ear:

James Doing color

“Three years ago I presented a “Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio” recital complete with program notes about vocal technique, diction and so on, and it was well received.  (A YouTube video with a lovely sampling from that first concert, of James Doing singing Reynaldo Hahn’s song, is at the bottom.) 

Jacob Stockinger had some nice things to say in his blog The Well-Tempered Ear: https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2010/02/16/classical-music-review-uw-tenor-james-doing-successfully-reinvents-the-art-song-recital/

The songs I sang on that recital are posted on my YouTube Channel, which has a link at the bottom.

On this Saturday night, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, my students and I are going to be singing another “Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio.” The pianist will be UW professor Martha Fischer (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

Martha Fischer color Katrin Talbot

Admission is FREE. And I would love to have many singers and teachers from the community come and share the evening with me and my students.

I’ll be performing 18 songs and five of my female voice students will assist by singing eight selections. (The students are: CatieLeigh Laszewski, Jenny Marsland, Olivia Pogodzinski, Melanie Traeger and Sheila Wilhelmi.)

The generous and varied program of English, Italian, German and French art songs and opera arias includes:

“Strike the Viol” by Henry Purcell (1659?-1695) from “Come, ye Sons of Art”; “Se Florinda è fedele” by Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) from “La donna ancora è fedele”; “Total eclipse” by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) from “Samson” and “V’adoro pupille” from “Giulio Cesare”, with CatieLeigh Laszewski, soprano; “Sebben, crudele” by Antonio Caldara (1670?-1736) from “La costanza in amor vince l’inganno”; “Và godendo” by George Frideric Handel (below) from “Serse” (Xerxes)  with Melanie Traeger, soprano; “An die Musik” by Franz Schubert (1797-1828); “Das Veilchen” (The Violet) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791); “Du bist wie eine Blume” (You Are Like a Flower) by Robert Schumann (1810-1856); “Sonntag” (Sunday) by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897); “Auch kleine Dinge” (And Small Things) by Hugo Wolf (1860-1903); “Ständchen” (Serenade) with Olivia Pogodzinski, soprano, by Richard Strauss (1864-1949).

handel big 2

And that is just before intermission. Then comes the second half.

The second half features: “Plaisir d’amour” by Johann-Paul Martini (1741-1816); “Lydia” by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924); “Claire de lune” and “L’heure exquise” by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947); “Si mes vers avaient des ailes” (If mY Word Had Wings) and “Les Papillons” by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899); and “Apparition” with Olivia Pogodzinski, soprano, by Claude Debussy (1862-1918); from “Le Nozze di Figaroby Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), “Giùnse alfin il momento . . . Deh vieni, non tardar” with CatieLeigh Laszewski, soprano, and “Voi, che sapete” with Sheila Wilhelmi, mezzo-soprano; “Go, lovely rose” by Roger Quilter (1877-1953); “The Green Dog” with Jenny Marsland, soprano, by Herbert Kingsley (1858-1937 … I think!); “Love’s Philosophy” with Olivia Pogodzinski, soprano, by Roger Quilter; “At St. Patrick’s Purgatory” from “Hermit Songs” by Samuel Barber (below, 1910-1981); and “When I have sung my songs” by Ernest Charles (1895-1984).

barber 1

Historical notes are being provided by Chelsie Propst (below), a fine young soprano who completed her Masters of Music in voice with Paul Rowe and is now a PhD candidate in Musicology. I add some Performance Notes/Suggestions and Diction pointers.

Chelsie Propst USE

For this concert of 26 songs we will provide the full notes on about 10 songs and I will provide my own translations and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcriptions for all of them (except the final set of English songs).

This concert is the second in a series of four with number three taking place April 3, 2014 in Mills Hall and number four taking place during the 2014-15 school year.

The goal or plan at this point is to eventually complete a book tentatively entitled 100 Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio. The book will begin with some chapters on vocal pedagogy, diction, ornamentation, and other issues followed by the 100 songs. Each song will have historical background written by Ms. Propst, followed by performance and diction pointers, translations and IPA.

Would you be so kind as to spread the word and announce this concert at your choir rehearsal?

Thank you so much. If you are able to attend please come and say hello after the performance.

Feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone you like:)

All the best,

Jim Doing, Tenor, Professor of Voice, University of Wisconsin School of Music, NATS National Voice Science Advisory Committee

www.music.wisc.edu

jamesdoing.com

seidelartistsmgmt.com

http://www.youtube.com/user/tenorjamesdoing


Classical music: It’s Father’s Day. Who is tops as a musical father figure? The Ear says Johann Sebastian Bach is the Father of All Fathers – literally and figuratively — when it comes to classical music.

June 16, 2013
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today, Sunday, June 16, is Father’s Day in the U.S.

The holiday just isn’t as important as Mother’s Day, as lower retail sales figures show. But it is well worth noting and is widely celebrated.

So The Ear has to ask: What is the best music to play on Father’s Day, and who qualifies as the most important father figure in classical music?

Of course there are many father figures in opera, with Verdi’s Rigoletto protecting his daughter Gilda as a prime example. (Below is a photo from a production by the San Francisco Opera.)

Rigoletto SF Opera

Then there is Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang’s dour, tyrannical and demanding father who played such a pivotal and not always good role in his son’s career.

leopold mozart 1

Same for Beethoven’s father, a drunk who forced and abused his son Ludwig into practicing in the middle of the night.

The talented Alessandro Scarlatti (below top) gave us the prolific composer of wonderful keyboard sonatas Domenico Scarlatti (below bottom).

Alessandro Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti muted

But I think the honors for today’s holiday must go to the Father of All Fathers: Johann Sebastian Bach.

Not only did he father a lot of children– 20 with two wives. He also fathered some pretty important composers in their own right who followed him and at times even disavowed or repudiated their own father’s style as old-fashi0ned and outdated: Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Johann Christoph Bach.

More importantly, Johann Sebastian (below) was — at least to my ears – the father of all Western classical music, if any single figure can be said to be that.

He was, in short, The Big Bang of classical music.

In that sense J.S. Bach was a father to all classical composers who followed him, whether they emulated him or rebelled against him.

Bach1

So here is a favorite work of mine by J.S. Bach to celebrate Father’s Day and the towering influence of Bach as a literal and figurative father:

If you can think of others father figures, please let The Ear know by leaving a remark in the COMMENTS section.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: The bigger concert hall doesn’t necessarily have the better music.

November 2, 2012
9 Comments

ALERT: On Saturday night ay 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall, UW bassoonist Marc Vallon (below, in a photo by James Gill, with modern and baroque bassoons) will perform a FREE concert on the University of Wisconsin School of Music Faculty Concert Series. The program will feature a variety of works by Georg Philipp Telemann; “Récit et Allegro “by Noël-Gallon; “Stick” by UW composer by Stephen Dembski; “Chamber Concerto for Bassoon and Strings” by David Dies and a selection of John Coltrane songs.

By Jacob Stockinger

This is A Tale of Two Concert Halls.

One is Mills Hall (below), the largest concert hall at the University of Wisconsin School of Music. It has a capacity of about 700.

The second is the smaller Morphy Recital Hall, which is right across from Mills. It has a capacity of about 170.

Mills is usually where the Faculty Concert Series takes place; where the UW Symphony Orchestra and Chamber orchestra take place; where the Choral Union and other large groups take place.

I know Mills mostly from smaller events such as student recitals, master classes and the annual concert by the winners of Beethoven Sonata Competition.

But last Thursday night, Oct. 25, provided a wonderful example of how you cannot and should not use the size of the hall to judge the quality of the music.

Most people in line were waiting to get into a flute recital that featured Stephanie Jutt with acclaimed pianist Christopher Taylor and cellist Trace Johnson. That was in Mills Hall and turned out to be, I have no doubt, a memorable concert.

But The Ear was going to the warm and woody Morphy Hall to hear a concert that was advertised simply as an appearance by the soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine and keyboardist-composer Scott Gendel.

That concert turned out to be so much more than was advertised.

Despite the comparatively small, though enthusiastic, attendance (below) and empty seats, the concert proved to be a perfect Homecoming event.

In addition to Guarrine and Gendel, who were classmates and graduated from the UW School of Music in 2005, we heard Guarrine’s husband Karl Knapp (below, who studied with UW professor and Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp)

These two distinguished and talented alumni, who have gone on to big careers as singer and composer, were also joined in Baroque music by UW oboist Marc Fink, Pro Arte Quartet violinist Suzanne Beia and UW trumpeter John Aley (see the three below).

In perhaps the most touching moment, her teacher of 12 years, UW tenor James Doing, joined Guarrine on stage for a warm and touching Nocturne by Donizetti.

So it was indeed a reunion in so many ways. As I said: A perfect event for Homecoming.

Other things only added to the concert.

The Baroque arias by Handel, Bach and Alessandro Scarlatti were wonderful – light, transparent, lyrical and soulful. Guarrine’s singing of bel canto from Donizetti and Bellini was admirable. And she sang two lovely songs by Gendel, who talked a bit about his music.

Imagine: A voice concert with no Mozart, no Schumann or Brahms, no Puccini or Verdi. But I did hear two beautiful songs (one is at the bottom) by the neo-Romantic Italian composer Stefano Donaudy (1880-1941, incorrectly identified on the program as his poet brother Alberto, whom I had never even heard of. I’ll have to check him out, and so should you. (See the YouTube video at bottom.)

As for Guarrine, who has sung locally with the University Opera and the Madison Opera as well as the Santa Fe Opera, the Minnesota Opera and many others, she is a voice to continue to watch as her career will no doubt continue to blossom. Her pitch is impeccable, her tone is beautiful and her diction is excellent. She has stage presence.

And she has power to spare. Gendel, who not only an award-winning composer but also a professional opera rehearsal pianist and vocal coach played difficult piano parts powerfully. His playing is not shy or timid. But Guarrine was never drowned out. She easily held her own and then some in great balance.

And as an encore for the standing ovation she received, she  delighted the audience with one of Harvard math professor Tom Lehrer’s old but enduringly naughty ditty “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.”

As I recently wrote, the UW School of Music really is attracting more and more talented students with better and better performances as a result:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/classical-music-hear-for-yourself-how-university-of-wisconsin-music-students-have-gotten-better-by-going-to-the-uw-chamber-orchestras-free-opening-concert-of-maxwell-davies-ravel-and-schube/

Here are links to individual websites that will convince you.

First, through her agent, for Jamie-Rose Guarrine:

http://jamieroseguarrine.com

Then for Scott Gendel:

http://www.scottgendel.com/Home.html

No doubt I will see and you will see me many more time this semester in Mills Hall.

But I also expect you will see me more than usual in Morphy Hall. I hope to see you there.


Classical music: Baroque arias and Schubert songs will be performed by Madison Bach Musicians harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson; guest artist Tallis Scholars soprano Amy Haworth; and Chicago viola da gambist Anna Steinhoff.

October 3, 2012
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The acclaimed local early music group Madison Bach Musicians will kick off its new season this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society, below), 900 University Bay Drive.

The MBM-sponsored program features “Baroque Vocal Masterworks” with English soprano
 Amy Haworth (below top) of the famed Tallis Scholars; MBM founder and harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson; and viola da gambist
 Anna Steinhoff (below bottom) who lives in Chicago and performs with the Newberry Consort and other well-known early music, period-instrument groups.

The chamber music program featuring vocal gems from the Baroque 
era composed by Monteverdi, Caccini, Luzzaschi, Caldara, Cesti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Purcell, J. S. Bach and G.F Handel.

Advance tickets are: $20 general, $15 students/seniors (over 65). At the door: $25 general, $20 students & seniors (over 65), $10 children ages 6-12
. Advance-price discount tickets are on sale at: A Room of One’s Own, Farley’s House of Pianos, 
Willy St. Co-op (east and west), Orange Tree Imports and Ward Brodt.
 Tickets are also available at the door.

The Baroque Vocal Masterworks 
Concert is part of a CD-Release Tour that runs Oct. 5-17. Other performances include: Friday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the 
Christ Church Episcopal, 5655 N. Lake Drive, Whitefish Bay, Wis.;
 Saturday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the
First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive in Madison, Wis.; Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in
 Sundin Hall at Hamline University, 1531 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul, Minn.
 (For advance tickets for Oct. 13 in St. Paul: call 651-523-2459, press 4); and Wednesday,
Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in
 Nichols Hall at Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Avenue, in Evanston, Ill.

Then on Wednesday evening, Oct.  10, at 7 p.m., soprano Amy Haworth (from the Tallis Scholars) and keyboardist Trevor Stephenson on the fortepiano will give an informal  “house concert”  of art songs by Franz Schubert (below, at the keyboard in a print by Moritz Schwind), that social amiable composer who often premiered his works at gatherings of friends called “Schubertiades.” That same week the two performers will be in the process of recording these 16 lieder for an upcoming CD.

The concert is at the home of Rose and Trevor Stephenson (below) 
at 5729 Forsythia Place on Madison’s far west side. Tickets are $35 with refreshments served. About 35 to 40 people can be accommodated. Reservations are required: email trevor@trevorstephenson.com or call 238-6092.

Says Stephenson (below), who is a master guide to and explainer of music: “We’re thrilled to have a chance to run the set for you and to discuss the pieces some as we go along. These are simply some of the most beautiful songs ever written, and I believe that the way in which the fortepiano’s vibrant immediacy and Amy’s outstanding pitch and diction combine will shed new light on these masterpieces. I hope so very much that you will be able to attend. The concert will be in our home music studio. Yummy treats and drinks will appear as well!! Please let us know if you can make it. It would be great to see you.”

For more background and information about both concerts, visit madisonbachmusicians.org or www.trevorstephenson.com, or call (608) 238-6092.


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