The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra receives a National Endowment for the Arts grant for community outreach and music therapy, and gives its season-closing last performance of “The Gershwin Legacy” this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall. Plus, the University of Wisconsin Masters Singers give a FREE concert Monday night.

May 4, 2014
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Today brings some of this and some of that:

MSO GETS NEA MUSIC THERAPY GRANT

The federal National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) a $15,000 grant to support HeartStringsSM, an internationally-recognized music therapy-informed community engagement program for individuals with special needs.

The MSO, under music director John DeMain, is one of 886 nonprofit organizations nationwide that received grants totaling $25.8 million.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

HeartStrings uses live music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of children and adults with disabilities, long-term illnesses, dementia, and assisted-living needs.

The distinctive program is presented free-of-charge by the MSO’s Rhapsodie Quartet (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson), a professional string quartet comprised of principal MSO musicians: from left, they are violinist Suzanne Beia, violinist Laura Burns, violist Christopher Dozoryst and cellist Karl Lavine.

Rhapsodie Quartet MSO Greg Anderson

The Quartet leads a series of 9 group music therapy-informed sessions at 10 retirement communities, healthcare facilities, and state institutions across Dane County each year. It reaches nearly 3,200 individuals per season–many of whom would not otherwise have access to the restorative effects of live classical music.

Acting NEA Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, “These NEA-supported projects will not only have a positive impact on local economies, but will also provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in the arts, help our communities to become more vibrant, and support our nation’s artists as they contribute to our cultural landscape.”

Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. A complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support is available at the NEA website at http://arts.gov/.

MSO Education and Community Engagement Director Michelle Kaebisch (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) commented, “HeartStrings is a signature program of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and has transformed healthcare environments by bringing meaningful musical experiences directly to individuals across south-central Wisconsin. This nationally-recognized community engagement initiative combines the profound impact of live music with interactive, music therapy-informed activities designed to promote the well being of traditionally underserved populations.”

Michelle Kaebisch WYSO cr Katrin Talbot

THE “GERSHWIN LEGACY” PROGRAM ENDS MSO SEASON TODAY

Here is a link to background preview with information about tickets and program notes to the program about the musical legacy of American composer George Gershwin (see the photo of Gershwin further down) with music by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Harold Arlen.

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/classical-music-the-madison-symphony-orchestra-turns-this-weekend-to-george-gershwin-and-his-legacy-with-leonard-bernstein-stephen-sondheim-and-harold-arlen-to-close-out-its-88th-season-and-conducto/

Clearly, the program  points to what George Gershwin might have achieved had he lived longer than 39 and had he developed the orchestral skills he was exploring in the “Catfish Row” Suite he extracted from his folk opera “Porgy and Bess.” (You can hear it performed by conductor James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a YouTube video at the bottom)

Also, two stars are born at the MSO concert — by which I mean that two local talents were given the opportunity to stand out, and they did: the young pianist Garrick Olsen (below top) and the increasingly familiar soprano Emily Birsan (below bottom), who was trained at the University of Wisconsin-Madiosn School of Music and then the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Garrick Olsen MSO 2014

Emily Birsan MSO 2014

Just read the review by John W. Barker (below) for Isthmus. Here is a link: 

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=42665&sid=b176b1add7d22af437fc720c5a689e79

John-Barker

And here is a link to the review by Greg Hettsmanberger (below) for Madison Magazine:

http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Blogs/Classically-Speaking/May-2014/Madison-Symphony-Closes-Season-With-Two-Legacies/

greg hettmansberger mug

And here are links to the MSO’s new 2014-15 season:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/classical-music-madison-symphony-orchestra-announces-its-new-2014-15-season-including-programs-soloists-and-ticket-prices/

http://www.madisonsymphony.org/14-15

gershwin with pipe

UW MASTERS SINGERS PERFORM MONDAY

On this Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music Masters Singers will perform a FREE concert.

The choir will singer under the direction of Anna Volodarskaya and Adam Kluck (below).

Sorry, no word about the program.

Adam Kluck conducting

 

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Classical music: Making music is healthy for you, researchers say. It can lower blood pressure and increase a sense of well-being. You can even start music lessons as an older adult.

March 23, 2013
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about art therapy!

A close friend has often told me how the German army in World War I gave double rations to the piano players because they used so much energy doing their job of entertaining the troops.

I have never been able to prove the story. But it makes a lot of sense to this amateur pianist. I know the physicality of playing, and it takes stamina as well as finesse. And it involves both body and mind. (Below in a photo of University of Wisconsin pianist Christopher Taylor, whose playing is particularly physical and energetic, as you know well if you saw his recent astonishing recital of Franz Liszt‘s extremely virtuoso transcriptions of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and Fifth Symphony.)

Taylor_Chris_piano01

Contemporary researchers have taken an interest in studying how music affects one’s physical and mental health as well as social well-being, especially now that researchers can track changes through MRI and CAT scans.

Here is more good news: The suggestion, or even proof, by Dutch researchers that playing music lowers stress and lowers blood pressure. (Other studies show that listening to music also has benefits. But the one I am discussing dealt specific with actual music-making.)

Here is a link to the study:

http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/playing-music-may-lower-blood-pressure-51779/

Singing opera

And that story has a link to another study, done in Britain, that talks about the heightened sense of well-being one gets from making music – playing the piano or some other instrument or singing. And we know that conducting is particularly aerobic and healthy. Little wonder that conductors generally live along and healthy life.

http://rsh.sagepub.com/content/133/1/36.short

The Bottom Line? Music is good and good for you.

So I say to my fellow Baby Boomers and retirees who wanted to better their health: Music lessons, anyone?

Trust me, it’s never too late.

Just look at the YouTube video below that has had more than 9 MILLION hits:


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