The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Pianist James Giles will replace Ya-Fei Chuang for TONIGHT’s recital at Farley’s House of Pianos

April 6, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the followed announcement from Farley’s House of Pianos about its solo recital tonight.

“We are sad to announce that pianist Ya-Fei Chuang has sustained an injury that will prevent her from performing for us TONIGHT and teaching a master class on Sunday. It is our intent to reschedule her as soon as her health and schedule permit.

“In the meantime, we are very fortunate that James Giles (below), of Northwestern University, is able to step in and perform for us, and we are excited about the program and repertoire he has shaped for us.

“We apologize for this last-minute change, but are excited to introduce James Giles to our Salon Piano Series audience, and look forward to seeing you TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. at 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side near West Towne Mall.”

His recital at Salon Piano Series will include works of Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Isaac Albeniz, Ignaz Jan Paderewski, Leopold Godowsky and others.

An artist’s reception will follow the concert.

Tickets are $50 in at the door ($10 for tickets) and $45 in advance at:

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3499200

For more information about the master class, including participants and repertoire, call Farley’s at (608) 271-2626 or go to:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/classical-music-acclaimed-pianist-ya-fei-chuang-plays-works-by-schubert-liszt-and-ravel-this-saturday-night-at-farleys-house-of-piano/

Giles has been praised as “a technically polished, elegant pianist” (Sibelius Academy, Helsinki), “with a riveting intelligence given to everything he play[s],” (Wigmore Hall, London), a “distinctive interpretive persona [and] beautiful pianism … direct and unmannered” (Alice Tully Hall, New York). His Paris recital at the Salle Cortot in 2004 was hailed as “a true revelation, due equally to the pianist’s artistry as to his choice of program.” (You can hear Giles playing the Humoresque by Robert Schumann in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Giles regularly performs in important musical centers in America, Europe, and Asia, in solo and chamber recitals and as concerto soloist. A native of North Carolina, he studied at the Manhattan School, the Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, and at Oberlin College. He was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study in Italy with the legendary Russian pianist Lazar Berman.

Coordinator of the Piano Program and Director of Music Performance Graduate Studies at Northwestern University, Giles is director of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival during the summers, and was director of the 2017 American Liszt Society Festival.


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Classical music: Madison Symphony Orchestra names Greg Zelek as its new principal organist

June 30, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following important news:

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has announced that Greg Zelek (below) will become Principal Organist and Curator of the Overture Concert Organ, beginning Sept. 1, 2017.

Zelek will succeed Samuel Hutchison, who retired after 16 years in the position. Hutchison will remain active in an advisory role during the transition to his successor.

MSO Music Director John DeMain said “Greg Zelek’s decision to move to Madison and become our principal organist, is a testimony to the international reputation both the instrument and organ programs have gained in the past 12 years. Greg is simply a phenomenal virtuoso on the instrument and will be a wonderful addition to the symphony, the organ program, and the community.”

Samuel Hutchison (below) said:  “Greg comes to Madison as one of the brightest lights of a new generation of concert organists. His effortless facility at the organ console coupled with highly creative programming ideas will provide great excitement for our organ audiences. I anticipate his tenure with great enthusiasm as he launches the new season of organ concerts with his inaugural recital on August 26.”

Greg Zelek is recognized as one of the most exciting young organists in the American organ scene. The South Florida Classical Review praised Zelek for his “effortless facility on the instrument.” He has performed with orchestras as both a soloist and professional ensemble member throughout the US, including appearances with the Miami Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Carnegie Hall.

He was the organist in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Faust, and performed twice with the New World Symphony, including a performance of Lukas Foss’s Phorion, under Michael Tilson Thomas. Zelek was chosen by The Diapason magazine as one of the top “20 Under 30” organists in 2016, a feature which selects the most successful young artists in the field.

Zelek has appeared in multiple venues throughout the US, including a performance of Cochereau’s Bolero for Organ and Percussion in Alice Tully Hall. He closed the WQXR Bach Marathon at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, which was streamed live on New York City’s only classical music station.

A proponent of new music for the organ, Greg (below) has premiered and performed works by fellow Juilliard composers and faculty, including Wayne Oquin’s Reverie and Samuel Adler’s Partita for Organ in concerts. Awards he has received include First Prize in both the 2012 Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition and the 2012 West Chester University Organ Competition, and selection as a 2010 NFAA Young Arts Silver Medal Winner.

He won First Prize, as well as the “Bach Prize,” at the East Carolina University Organ Competition, and was a prizewinner in the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival. Most recently, Greg was the Audience Prize winner and finalist in the 2016 Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition. (You can hear Greg Zelek perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Greg’s engagements have included serving as the Music Director and Organist at the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy in New York City; Organ Scholar at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, New York; Music Director of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Miami; and summer organist for San Pedro Apostol Church in Ramales de la Victoria, Spain.

He is completing an Artist Diploma as a student of Paul Jacobs at the Juilliard School. A recipient of the inaugural Kovner Fellowship, Greg also received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard.

Zelek is enthused about the opportunity and says. “I’m deeply honored to have received this unique opportunity with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to building on Sam Hutchison’s outstanding work of promoting and elevating the art of organ music in performance and the magnificent Klais organ (below) to new heights.”


Classical music: The amateur and accomplished Middleton Community Orchestra and guest cellist Andrew Briggs perform music by Dvorak and Mendelssohn this Wednesday night.

February 22, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

On this Wednesday night, Feb. 24, the mostly amateur and very accomplished Middleton Community Orchestra (below top) will present the Winter Concert of its fifth anniversary season.

Middleton Community Orchestra press photo1

The concert will feature cellist Andrew Briggs (below) as soloist in the famously tuneful and dramatic Cello Concerto by Antonin Dvorak. (You can hear the opening that hooks you at once, played by superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma, in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Andrew Briggs

Also on the program, to be conducted by Steve Kurr (below) are two works by Felix Mendelssohn: the Hebrides Overture and the Symphony No. 3 “Scottish.”

Steve Kurr conducting

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. in the Middleton Performing Arts Center (below) that is attached to Middleton High School, 2100 Bristol Street. General admission is $10. All students are admitted free of charge. The box office and doors open at 7 p.m. For information call 608 212-8690.

Middleton PAC2

Middleton PAC1

A meet-and-greet informal reception (below) for the public and the musicians takes place after the concert.

MCO June 2014 reception

For more information about the Middleton Community Orchestra and its remaining concerts this season as well as how to join it – there are openings now in the string section — and support it, visit:

http://middletoncommunityorchestra.org

Here is some biographical information about the talented local soloist:

Cellist Andrew Briggs performs on an international scale, from giving recitals in his native Colorado to performing concerts in Italy and the UK. His travels have taken him to a growing list of prestigious music festivals, including the International Holland Music Sessions (NL), the Abbey Fontfroide Masterclasses (FR), and as a Fellow of the Aspen Music Festival (US).

Andrew Briggs playing

Recently moving to Madison from New York City, Andrew has performed in venues such as Alice Tully Hall (NY), the Guggenheim Museum, and Macky Auditorium (CO).

Briggs’ 2015-2016 season includes both solo and chamber engagements. Recent recitals include solo programs at the Remonstranse Kerke in Alkmaar, Netherlands; the Abbey Fontfroide in Narbonne, France; Morphy Hall at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and on the Sunday Recital Series at West Middleton Lutheran Church in Wisconsin.

Briggs is also a part of UW-Madison’s Hunt Quartet, a graduate string quartet that will give a recital in early March.

Andrew Briggs on bench in park

A dedicated performer of all eras of music, Briggs plays music from Baroque to contemporary. Studying Baroque cello with Phoebe Carrai at the Juilliard School, Andrew most recently performed with the Madison Bach Musicians and as a continuo cellist for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s opera production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro).

Briggs also enjoys playing music of contemporary composers, most recently playing with New Muse Ensemble and Domaine Musicale of Madison, Wisconsin. At Juilliard, he performed chamber music works of contemporary composers in the FOCUS! Contemporary Music Festival, ChamberFest, and with Axiom Ensemble.

You can learn more by visiting:

http://andrewbriggscello.com


Classical music news: For the next two weeks Madison will again become the summer capital of Cello World – and this time the public is invited to participate.

May 29, 2012
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Attention, all cellists and cello lovers! Madison, Wisconsin is about to become the temporary Cello Capital of the world.

The cello (or violoncello, below) has been, is and will remain very popular, largely, The Ear suspects, because its beautiful sound so resembles the human voice and because it uses total body involvement and has a wonderful repertoire. Just go to Google Images and check out how many schools, colleges, universities and conservatories have a Cello Choir. You will be amazed at how many exist.

Starting this Friday, June 1, the biennial National Summer Cello Institute will take place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It will run through June 16, when it cuminates with a FREE and PUBLIC concert at 8:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. It will feature music by Bach, Bloch, Bruch and Villas Lobos,

Once again, the sessions will be under the general guidance of UW-Madison cellist and institute founder  Uri Vardi (below top) and his wife Hagit Vardi (below bottom), who is a trained practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method and was a professional flutist in her native Israel. Another important figure is the institute site administrator, Cathy Spann, a UW alumna who is a cello teacher and performer and helped found the Wisconsin Cello Society with Uri Vardi.

And here are links to a two-part Q&A the Vardis did for The Ear last summer:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/classical-music-interview-how-the-feldenkrais-method-helps-both-the-physical-and-artistic-side-of-making-music-part-1-of-2/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/classical-music-interview-how-the-feldenkrais-method-improves-the-physical-and-artistic-sides-of-making-music-part-2-of-2/

Famous cellists and teachers – including the well-known performer Ralph Kirshbaum, who now teaches at USC — will teach, many come from such prestigious music schools as Juilliard, Mannes and the University of Michigan among others. Students highly praise the results.

This year – for the first time – the public will be allowed to audit the clinics and master classes for $15. There will also be a FREE public concert by the Cello Choir on June 16 at 8:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. For a full schedule of events with times and places, visit:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar?eventcategory_id=0&ensemble_id=0&faculty_id=0&month=6&year=2012

In addition from June 1-6 there will be on-going sessions and workshops called “Your Body Is Your Strad” — great title, no? Make me wonder: Is My Body My Steinway? Anyway, the sessions teach the Feldenkrais Method to help cellists relax and use their bodies to play more efficiently and make them less prone to injury.

The NSCI is co-sponsored by the UW-Madison School of Music and The College Music Society (CMS), and this year received additional grants from the UW Chancellor’s office, the Evjue Foundation (the charitable branch of The Capital Times newspaper) and the UW Anonymous Fund.

For more details about the Feldenkrais sessions – which are NOT open to the public for auditing – and about the National Summer Cello Institute, visit:

http://www.yourbodyisyourstrad.com/main/Home.html

And listen to the YouTube videos included in this posting:

Here is a schedule of highlights – where auditing fees apply:

June 3: Seminar with Dr. Mark Erickson: “Kinesiological Considerations for Musicians”

June 4: Seminar with Dr. Raymond Purdy: “Brain Plasticity and its Relevance to Musicians”

June 8: Seminar with Timothy Eddy (below):  “Natural Resources”

June 11, 12: Seminar with Richard Aaron: “Teaching Young Children”

Cello master classes include:

June 7 and 9: Timothy Eddy

June 3, 4 and 8: Uri Vardi

June 12 and 13: Richard Aaron (below)

June 14 and 15: Ralph Kirshbaum

All events are at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music Mills Hall or Morphy Hall.

Here is the program for the FREE concert at 8:30 p.m. on June 16 in Mills Hall by the NSCI CELLO CHOIR, conducted by German Marcano: the “Chaconne” from Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor BWV 1004 by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) as arranged by Laszlo Varga; “Pájaro Guaracha” for cello ensemble by Paul Desenne (1959); “Rochela” for cello ensemble by Ricardo Lorenz (1961); “Kol Nidrei,” Op. 47, by Max Bruch (1838-1920) with soloist Uri Vardi and arranged for cello ensemble by Gunther Rinke; the “Bachianas Brasileiras” No. by Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959).

If you wonder about the credentials of the participants, here are a couple of impressive biographies:

PAUL DESENNE: The 2009 Guggenheim Fellow Paul Desenne (below) began composition studies at the age of 14 under Greek composer Iannis Ioannidis, and as a cellist, he became a founding member of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in 1977. He moved to Paris and studied cello with Michel Strauss and Philippe Muller; composition with Marc-Olivier Dupin and Luc Ferrari. He won first prize in cello performance at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris – the dean of the jury was the great Pierre Fournier.

His works are performed around the world, with venues and festivals including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Juilliard, MoMA‘s Summergarden series in New York, the Sonic Boom Festival, Focus! Festival, Caramoor, Faneuil Hall in Boston, among many others.

His works have been performed by the Simón Bolívar Symphonic Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, Boston Classical Orchestra, the Bogotá Philharmonic, I Musici de Montréal, the Miami Symphony, Nederlands Blasers Ensemble, the New Juilliard Ensemble, by various artist such as the Verdehr Trio, pianist Gabriela Montero, clarinetists Paquito d’Rivera and Jorge Montilla, flutists Luis Julio Toro, Marco Granados, Javier Montilla, and Jacques Zoon, violinists Alexis Cárdenas, Virginie Robilliard, and Jennifer Curtis, violinist/violist Nicholas Mann, and cellist Iseut Chuat, with conductors including Tania Léon, Olivier Grangean, Joel Sachs, Yuli Turovsky, among others

RICARDO LORENZ: Venezuelan-born Ricardo Lorenz has served as Composer-in-Residence in several programs and presenting organizations, such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Armonía Musicians Residency Program (1998-2003), the Billings Symphony (1998-1999), and Music in the Loft chamber music series (1999-2000).

Lorenz has also been the recipient of several other distinctions and awards from American Bandmasters Association, National Flute Association, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Organization of American States (OAS), Concert Artists Guild, Meet-the-Composer, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, the Newhouse Foundation, Illinois Community College Trustees Association, and ASCAP.

Although Ricardo Lorenz has resided in the United States since 1982, he has always maintained close ties with Latin America.  Between 1987 and 1992, Ricardo Lorenz held the position of Interim Director of the Indiana University Latin American Music Center.

During this time he established a network of composers from the continent and compiled the sourcebook Scores and Recordings at Indiana University’s Latin American Music Center (Indiana University Press, 1995) nominated to receive the 1996 Best General Reference Source Award by the Association of Recorded Sound Collections.  Ricardo Lorenz holds a Ph.D. degree in composition from the University of Chicago and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University.  He studied composition under Juan Orrego Salas, Shulamit Ran and Donald Erb.

He has taught at Indiana University, The University of Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, and he is currently Associate Professor of Composition at Michigan State University.

Lorenz’ compositions are published by Lauren Keiser Music and Boosey & Hawkes.  They can also be heard on the following record labels:  Arabesque Recordings, Albany Records, Indiana University LAMC Series, Doublemoon Records (Turkey), Urtex Digital Classics (Mexico), SOMM Recordings (UK), Cedille Records, and Navona Records.


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