The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Five alumni composers return to UW-Madison for two FREE concerts of their work this Thursday and Friday nights. On Tuesday night, UW trombonist Mark Hetzler and friends premiere four new works.

November 2, 2015
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ALERT: On Tuesday night at 7:30 in Mills Hall, UW-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler with be joined by Anthony DiSanza, drums/percussion; Vincent Fuh, piano; Ben Ferris, bass; Tom Ross-percussion; Garrett Mendelow, percussion.

Mark Hetzler and friends present a FREE concert titled “Mile of Ledges” with the premiere of four new works. Two new compositions (Falling and Mile of Ledges) by Mark Hetzler will feature lyrical and technical trombone passages, soulful and spirited piano writing, complex percussion playing and a heavy dose of electronics. In addition, the group will showcase new music by UW-Madison alum Ben Davis (his $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for quartet and electronics) and Seattle composer David P. Jones (a chamber work for trombone, piano, bass and two percussionists).

Read a Wisconsin State Journal about Mark Hetzler. Download PDF here.

By Jacob Stockinger

If The Ear recalls correctly, alumni who return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music are generally performers or scholars.

All the more reason, then, to celebrate this week’s major UW event, which was organized by UW-Madison composer and teacher Stephen Dembski (below). It features five composers who trained at the UW-Madison and who are now out in the world practicing their art and teaching it to others.

Steve Dembski's class

Steve Dembski’s class

Dembski writes:

This week, the UW-Madison School of Music will welcome back five graduates of the composition studio who have developed creative, multi-dimensional careers in a range of fields: acoustic and electronic composition, musicology, theory, audio production, conducting, education, concert management and administration, performance, and other fields as well.

The two-day event is intended to show the breadth of talent at UW-Madison as well as demonstrating that music students focus on much more than performance as a way to shape successful careers.

The composers include: Jeffrey Stadelman (below), who is now associate professor of music composition at the University at Buffalo.

jefffey stadelman

Paula Matthusen (below, BM, 2001), who is assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University.

paula matthusen

William Rhoads (below, BM, 1996), who is vice-president of marketing and communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.

William Rhoads

Andrew Rindfleisch (below, BM, 1987), who is a full-time composer living in Ohio. (You can hear his introspective and microtonal work “For Clarinet Alone” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Andrew Rindfleisch portrait

Kevin Ernste (below, BM, 1997), who is professor of composition at Cornell University.

kevin ernste

The UW-Madison School of Music will present two FREE concerts of their music, performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below top), the Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below bottom, in a photo by Michael Anderson), the UW Wind Ensemble, and other faculty members and students.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wingra Woodwind Quintet 2013 Michael Anderson

The FREE concerts are on this Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall; and on this Friday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. There will be workshops and colloquia yet to be announced.

For complete composer biographies, along with comments about their works, and more information about the two-day event, visit this site:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/2015/10/08/uw-madison-composers-return/


Classical music: The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society opens with a Big Bang and makes The Ear look forward to Weekend 2 this coming weekend. You should too.

June 17, 2015
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Every year, the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society chooses a theme to unify their three-weekend season.

This year’s theme is “Guilty as Charged” and you can read about its rationale in a previous post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/classical-music-the-madison-based-bach-dancing-and-dynamite-society-gets-its-24th-three-week-summer-season-called-guilty-as-charged-underway-this-coming-weekend-here-i/

BDDS poster 2015

But of course the theme is really just a pretext.

What really matters is the fine and eclectic repertoire that the BDDS chooses to perform and the undeniably first-rate performances they consistently turn in by using outstanding local and guest performers.

And boy, did the BDDS ever deliver the goods!

So here, in a series of mini-reviews — one-liners or maybe two-liners — are five reasons why The Ear loved the opening concert and is looking forward to the second series of concerts in Madison, Stoughton and Spring Green this coming weekend, which you can check out at the following link:

http://www.bachdancinganddynamite.org

WHAT THE EAR LOVED

  1. The inventive and unobtrusive backdrop by artists Dianne Soffa and Thomas Kovacich, with broken rearview mirrors and luminous colors in abstract shapes, adds visual beauty to sonic beauty. It greets you and enlivens the performance stage by adding a certain entertainment and class to the otherwise bare stage:

BDDS 2015 backdrop

  1. UW-Madison School of Music graduate soprano Emily Birsan (below) who, after completing further training at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, came to sing a wonderfully poignant and moving aria “Steal Me, Sweet Thief” by Gian Carlo Menotti (you can hear Dawn Upshaw singing the Menotti aria in a YouTube video at the bottom) as well as wonderful solo arias and duets by Johann Sebastian Bach plus Irish and Scottish folk songs arranged by – YES — Ludwig van Beethoven:

BDDS 2015 Emily Birsan

  1. Bass-baritone Timothy Jones, who is superb and who returned to BDDS to sing solo and with Birsan in music by Bach and Beethoven:

BDDS 2015 Timothy Jones

  1. The breezy chamber music by Franz Joseph Haydn, a divertimento for flute (BDDS co-founder and co-artistic director Stephanie Jutt), violin (Katarzyna Bryla) and cello (Parry Karp), substituting the cello for the outdated baryton that Haydn’s longtime patron Prince Esterhazy played and favored:

BDDS 2015 Haydn divertimento

  1. UW-Madison and Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp and BDDS co-founder and co-artistic director Jeffrey Sykes in an impressively virtuosic, vivacious and sensitive performance of the Cello Sonata No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn. Loved that slow movement based on a Bach chorale!!

BDDS 2015 Mendelsson Cello Sonata

I was not alone in my enthusiasm.

The audience in The Playhouse at the Overture Center jumped to its feet as soon as the Mendelssohn cello sonata ended.

BDDS 2015 audience

And here is the rave review that veteran critic John W. Barker wrote for Isthmus:

http://www.isthmus.com/arts/stage/bach-dancing-opener-is-smashingly-diverse/

 


Classical music: Let us now praise the young soloists and young composer who will be spotlighted at the University of Wisconsin School of Music’s annual FREE concerto competition concert this Friday night.

February 9, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

There is something heroic and stirring about a concerto that pits a single soloist against a big orchestra. So student instruments dream of the day and wait a long time for the big chance to perform a concerto.

Concertos are an exciting music genre to play and to hear, as you hear this Friday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall when the annual FREE UW concerto competition winners will perform with the UW Symphony Orchestra (below, with the UW Choral Union) under James Smith and David Grandis.

I say that as someone who played the piano in a concerto competition when I was 16 (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15) and lost to a 12- or 13-year-old who played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, very beautifully.

When friends find that out, they often said “I’m sorry you lost.”

But they shouldn’t be.

Concerto competitions do much more than declare winners.

In my case, the contest showed me exactly what needed to know: I didn’t have either the talent or temperament for a performing career. And it was better to have learned it sooner rather than later, after I had invested a lot of hard work, time and money in unrealistic fantasies of success.

But these young people at the University of Wisconsin School of Music have been tested in public performance before and I think their credentials speak well for them. The only thing I don’t like is that they perform movements, not entire concertos. But if that weren’t the case, the concert would last much longer.

I also like that singing is included. (That wasn’t the case in my day, as I recall.) And I like that less familiar instruments (like the marimba) get a chance to compete with the piano, strings, winds and brass. Finally, I like the young talent for composition is presented to the public.

It all reflects well on the teachers and teaching. In fact, the students at the UW School of Music just seem to get better and better as the years go by. I haven’t al these winners, but I have heard the piano in an absolutely first-rate and riveting performance of Beethoven’s final sonata, Op. 111 in C minor. So I assume the standards for winning were very high indeed.

Here is the UW press release with complete details

You don’t have to wait until after the concerts to applaud such persistence, hard work and talent.

UW SYMPHONY CONCERT FEATURES COMPETITION WINNERS

The UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of James Smith (below) will present its annual concerto and composition competition winners this Friday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall.

Admission is FREE and open to the public.

Five students were selected as winners in this year’s competition. Four will perform as soloists with the orchestra: Alice Bartsch, violin; Michael Roemer, baritone; Jeongmin Lee, piano; and Brett Walter, percussion.  In the separate category for composition, Youn-Jae Ok won for “Mi-Ryen,” which will be premiered by the orchestra on this same program.

Alice Bartsch (below) is a sophomore pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance and studies with Felicia Moye.  She hails from Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bartsch’s past teachers include Ellen Kim and Young-Nam Kim.  She currently holds scholarships from the School of Music and the School of Music Alumni Association.  In addition to being a full-time student, Bartsch is a member of the first violin section of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and teaches violin privately. In high school, she was a finalist in the Minnesota Youth Symphony concerto competition.  She has participated in both the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute and the Madeline Island Music Camp. Bartsch’s biggest aspiration is to perform in the pit orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera.  At this concert, she will perform all four movements of Max Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy.”

Michael Roemer (below) is currently pursuing the Master of Music degree in opera, studying with William Farlow and Julia Faulkner and holding a teaching assistantship in voice. He received the Bachelor of Music degree in voice performance at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he studied with Brian Leeper  A native of Brodhead, Wisconsin, he received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District in 2011.  In the same year, he performed with the Des Moines Metro Opera as an apprentice artist.  Last fall, he played the role of Marcello in University Opera’s production of “La Bohème” and next month, he will play the title role in the company’s production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” For the symphony program, Roemer will perform “Hai già vinta la causa . . . Vedrò mentre io sospiro” from “Le nozze de Figaro” by Mozart.  

Jeongmin Lee (below) is pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and pedagogy, studying with Todd Welbourne and Jessica Johnson.  Originally from Seoul, Korea, she received the Bachelor of Music degree from Seoul National University, where she studied with Nakho Paik and Haesun Paik. She earned an artist diploma in piano performance at Oberlin Conservatory studying with Haewon Song and the Master of Music degree in piano performance and pedagogy at Northwestern University studying with Alan Chow and Marcia Bosits.  Lee is the recipient of the Perlman Trio scholarship from the School of Music.  She previously taught piano at Yanbian University of Science and Technology and music at Yanbian International Academy in China. Lee will perform the first movement (Allegro moderato) of Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major,” Op. 58.

Brett Walter is pursuing the Master of Music degree in percussion performance, studying with Anthony Di Sanza.  Originally from Grafton, Wisconsin, he received the Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he studied with Cheryl Grosso. He previously studied with Tom Fischer. Walter was a member of the 2007 Colts Drum and Bugle Corps and won second place in the Green Bay Civic Symphony Concerto Competition  In addition, he is a freelance musician and an active sectional coach with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Walter will perform “Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra” by Keiko Abe.

Youn-Jae Ok (below) is a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition and has studied with Stephen Dembski and Laura Schwendinger.  His early schooling was in Korea and England and he completed the International Baccalaureate at the Chateau du Rosey in Switzerland.  Ok holds the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and the Master of Music degree from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts. His teachers include Stacy Garrop, Daron Hagen, Joel Hoffman, Michael Fiday and Mara Helmuth.  Ok was the winner of the 2007-08 Roosevelt Wind Ensemble Competition for “Audacity” and was a regional winner of the 2008 SCI/ASCAP student composition competition for “Zest for Olive Salad.”  He is a repeat winner of the School of Music’s composition competition, having won in 2009 for “Vacillation.”  

Ok’s program notes begin, “The title of the piece, ‘Mi-Ryen,’ is an emotional state that describes a mixture of the following feelings: longing, nostalgia, lingering, regret and hovering. . . .  Mi-Ryen is perhaps a piece that describes an emotional state rather than expressing it, opening possibilities for audiences to link the described emotion to their current emotional state.  In other words, its intention is to evoke the listener’s emotions and not to impose emotion of my own.”

The new work will be performed under the direction of graduate assistant conductor David Grandis (below). Grandis will also open the concert with the Overture to Verdi’s “La forza del destino.”

A free public reception for musicians and audience will follow in Mills Hall lobby, sponsored by the School of Music Alumni Association. Mills Hall is located in the Mosse Humanities Building on the UW-Madison campus, at the corner of Park Street and University Avenue.


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