The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Chamber Choir will celebrate the Americas with two world premieres this Friday night

April 10, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Chamber Choir (below) will give two performances — one in Madison and one in Milwaukee — of the program “I Hear America Singing.”

The Madison program features two world premieres: Alleluia by Wayne Oquin and Shenandoah by Jae Lee. The Madison performance will also include a special guest ensemble: The University of Wisconsin–Whitewater Chamber Singers.

The local performance on this Friday, April 13, is at 7:30 p.m. in Grace Episcopal Church (below), 116 West Washington Ave., on the Capitol Square.

On next Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m., the WCC will perform at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 914 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee.

The concert is a musical celebration of all the Americas — North and South — and all Americans.

Also, in recognition of Robert Gehrenbeck’s 10th anniversary as artistic director, the WCC presents the world premiere of Alleluia by New York composer and Juilliard School faculty member Wayne Oquin.

Inspired by Randall Thompson’s classic setting of the same one-word text, Oquin’s new version updates Thompson’s musical style in his own harmonic language, which has been compared to Morten Lauridsen’s.

An extremely versatile musician, Oquin (below) boasts recent commissions and performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony, the United States Air Force Band, the Houston Chamber Choir, and the King’s Singers.

At the Madison concert the WCC will be joined by the UW-Whitewater Chamber Singers performing their own world premiere, Shenandoah, by New York composer, organist and former jazz pianist Jae Lee (below).

The remainder of the program spans music of four centuries and multiple nationalities. Masterpieces of the U.S. choral repertoire — Samuel Barber’s Reincarnations and Charles Ives’s Psalm 67 — share billing with a diverse selection of works from throughout the hemisphere.

They include music by Mexican Baroque master Manuel de Samaya (below top); Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla; African-American composers Bobby McFerrin, Hall Johnson, W. C. Handy, and Rosephanye Powell; and Native-American composer and longtime friend of the WCC, Brent Michael Davids (below bottom).

(You can hear a work that Robert Gehrenbeck commissioned for the UW-Whitewater Chamber Singers from Wayne Oquin in the YouTube video at the bottom, performed by the Houston Chamber Choir.)

The WCC’s award-winning organist, Mark Brampton Smith (below), will perform Samuel Barber’s virtuosic Wondrous Love: Variations On a Shape-Note Hymn on two amazing pipe organs: the 1987, 38-rank Casavant at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, and the 2012, 51-rank Schantz at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee.

Founded in 1998, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir has established a reputation for excellence in the performance of oratorios by Bach, Handel, Mozart and Brahms; a cappella works from various centuries; and world premieres.

Artistic director Robert Gehrenbeck (below), who directs choral activities at the UW-Whitewater, has been hailed by critics for his vibrant and emotionally compelling interpretations of a wide variety of choral masterworks.

Advance tickets for the April 13 performance in Madison are available for $20 ($10 for students) from www.wisconsinchamberchoir.org, via Brown Paper Tickets, or at Orange Tree Imports and Willy Street Coop (all three locations).

The April 21 performance in Milwaukee will be presented for a free-will offering.


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Classical music: The critically acclaimed vocal group Cantus sings about four kinds of love at the Stoughton Opera House this Saturday night. The Stoughton High School Concert Choir is a special guest performer.

March 30, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received word about an intriguing and appealing performance this weekend:

On this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., Cantus (below top, in a photo by Curtis Johnson), the critically acclaimed, nine-voice men’s vocal ensemble based in the Twin Cities, will perform at the Stoughton Opera House (below middle and bottom), known for its historical restoration and its fine acoustics.

Cantus Railing Clustered

Stoughton Opera House ext

StoughtonOperaHouse,JPG

Love has been the inspiration for artistic expression since the dawn of time. It is such a complex idea that the ancient Greeks broke it down into four different kinds: romantic, familial, friendly and unconditional or spiritual love.

Weaving together repertoire and interstitial remarks, Cantus regards this unquantifiable emotion from all sides.

The program spans multiple historical eras and cultural traditions.

It features music by Francis Poulenc, Edvard Grieg, Ludwig van Beethoven and Bobby McFerrin.

Each of those works is paired with newly commissioned works exploring each of the four loves (romantic, familial, friendly and spiritual) by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang (below top, in a photo by Peter Serling) as well as Roger Treece (second below), Joseph Gregorio (third below) and Ysaye Barnwell (below bottom).

david lang CR peter serling

Roger Treece

Joseph Gregorio

Ysaye Barnwell

The program brims with Cantus’s trademark programming juxtaposition, including pairing the Beach Boys’ “Their Hearts were Full of Spring” with  “Wedding Qawwali” by the Grammy Award- and Academy Award-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman (below) and Michael McGlynn’s setting of the traditional Gaelic “Ceann Dubh Dilis (Her Sweet Dark Head)” in a set about romantic love.

A. R, Rahman

While seemingly disjointed on its face, the variety of repertoire throughout blends seamlessly and highlights the universality of Love – our greatest and most fragile gift.

For more information about Cantus, including biographies, photos, videos and audio samples, visit this link:

http://www.allianceartistmanagement.com/artist.php?id=cantus&aview=dpk

Here is a YouTube video about the program, with musical samples, to be performed in Stoughton:


Classical music datebook: A week of small-scale concerts highlights songs, percussion and recreating the Beat movement by putting poetry to music.

February 15, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

While a major conflict between performers and presenters looms next week (the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra both have events on next Friday night, Feb. 24), this week features smaller groups in some unusual and interesting repertoire that ranges from Western percussion and Elizabethan songs to modern Beat poetry set to music, with a lot in between.

Take a look:

FRIDAY

Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, features mezzo-soprano Julie Cross and pianist Karen Boe (below)  in the music of Handel, Debussy and De Falla. For information visit www.fusmadison.org.

SATURDAY

At 7:30 p.m. Farley’s House of Pianos will present a classical voice and guitar duo “The Dream Songs Project” (below). The concert will be held at Farley’s House of Pianos at 6522 Seybold Road in Madison, on the city’s far west side near West Towne. Tickets are $15 general admission. Tickets are available at Farley’s or Orange Tree Imports. Call (608) 271-2626 to reserve tickets with a credit card.

The Minneapolis- and Madison-based duo, The Dream Songs Project, mezzo-soprano Alyssa Anderson and guitarist Joseph Spoelstra have collaborated on performances for nearly 10 years, but recently established a duo dedicated to exploring the diverse repertoire for voice and guitar–from Renaissance lute-song transcriptions to new commissions.

For this concert “The Dream Songs Project” will perform works by John Dowland, Franz Schubert and Matyas Seiber as well as transcriptions of Baroque and popular opera arias. The duo recently released “Mauro Giuliani: Songs for Voice and Guitar” on the independent label TDSP Records, and the program will also feature a number of pieces from the recording.

More information on the ensemble can be found at www.thedreamsongsproject.org

SUNDAY

This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” offers Lawrence University percussionist Dane Richeson (below) in “Paths in Percussion” 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery Number III at the Chazen Museum of Art.

Richeson, along with vocalist Timothy Troy, bassist Mark Urness, and digeridoo player Brian Pertl, will be reviving the beat poetry movement of the mid-20th century in their own way, presenting a program to be selected from works by William Shakespeare, James Dickey, Mary Oliver and Lawrence Ferlinghetti set to the music of their jazz quartet. The second half of the program will feature a modern reimagining of Igor Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du sold at” (The Soldier’s Tale) with vocalist Alex York as the Soldier.

Dane Richeson has been Director of Percussion Studies at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music for 27 years. Richeson has performed throughout the world as a solo marimbist, percussionist in contemporary music settings, world percussion specialist, and jazz drummer.

He has performed with such diverse artists as Bobby McFerrin, Gordon Stout, Nancy Zeltsman, and Gunther Schuller, among many others. Having lived in Ghana, Cuba, and Brazil, Richeson is a leading expert in world percussion and music cultures of the world.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can call ahead and reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited. All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For more information or to learn how to become a museum member, contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception follows the performance, with refreshments generously donated by Fresh Madison Market, Coffee Bytes and Steep & Brew. A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m. in Edgewood College’s St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood Drive, guitarist Nathan Wysock (below) will give a faculty recital.

Admission is $7 at the door and benefits music scholarships at the college.

Included in the program are an arrangement of three pieces from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”; Terry Riley’s “Ascención” and a collection entitled “American Bouquet” featuring George Rochberg’s arrangements of popular music by a wide array of composers, including Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and more.

WEDNESDAY

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Western Percussion Ensemble (below) and UW percussionist Anthony Di Sanza will give a FREE concert. No program is available yet.


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