The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s FREE Christmas Carol Sing is this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall. Plus, FREE UW Wind Ensemble concert, featuring a world premiere, is this Friday night.

December 4, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger


The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) invites the entire community to a sing-along with the Overture Concert Organ (below) at a FREE Christmas Carol Sing in Overture Hall, 201 State Street, on this coming Saturday, Dec. 6, at 11 a.m. (A sample, with “Adeste Fideles” or “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” at Westminster Abbey in England is at the bottom in a YouTube video.)

Overture Concert Organ overview

All ages are welcome and the event is FREE. No registration or tickets are required.

MSO Principal Organist and Curator Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio) will lead the carol singing, which will last approximately 45 minutes.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio

For more holiday singing, come 45 minutes early to each performance of A Madison Symphony Christmas concert to hear the Madison Symphony Chorus sing Christmas carols in the festively-lit lobby of the Overture Center

Here is a link to more information about the concert:

Those concerts are on Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall and tickets can be purchased at and through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street or by calling the Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

With a gift from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts.

MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison programs and curates the instrument that was custom-built by Klais Organ Works in Bonn, Germany.

In addition to the Free Farmers’ Market Concerts, the instrument is featured in the annual MSO Christmas concert, along with several Free Community Hymn Sings and a Christmas Carol Sing.

See details for all organ performances at

Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. For more information, please contact the MSO at (608) 257-3734 or email


This Friday night, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the UW Wind Ensemble (below) will present “The Wisconsin Idea and a Premiere” with faculty soloists UW-Madison bassoonist Marc Vallon and UW-Madison baritone Paul Rowe.

UW Wind Ensemble performance

The UW Wind Ensemble continues its tradition of “Wisconsin Idea” performances when it shares the stage with the Oconomowoc (Wisconsin) High School Wind Symphony (below), Michael Krofta, conductor.

Ocononmowoc HS Wind Symphony

The UW Wind Ensemble will give the premiere performance of “A Dialogue with Self and Soul,” a concerto commissioned by the UW-Madison from composer and conductor James Stephenson (below).

James Stephenson composer

Basoonist Marc Vallon (below top, in photo by James Gill) and baritone Paul Rowe (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will be faculty soloists.

Marc Vallon 2011 James Gill (baroque & modern)[2]

Paul Rowe

Closing the program will be a sneak peek of the March 2015 Carnegie Hall performance and Wisconsin premiere of “The Frozen Cathedral” by John Mackey. Also included is Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral by Richard Wagner/Cailliet.

This concert will be streamed live on the Internet! Please check this link and sign up for a reminder preceding the concert.

Here is a link:

The ensemble’s director is Scott Teeple (below).

Scott Teeple

The Wind Ensemble is the premier wind and percussion ensemble at the UW-Madison School of Music. Repertoire varies from classical wind compositions to contemporary works. The Wind Ensemble actively commissions new works from world-renowned composers, often performing with internationally acclaimed soloists and guest conductors.




Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra presents this summer’s last FREE organ concert for the downtown Dane County Farmers’ Market at 11 a.m. this coming Saturday.

August 7, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will host the last of three FREE summer performances on the Overture Concert Organ, this time featuring guest organist Donald VerKuilen, during the Dane County Farmers’ Market (below) on this coming Saturday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall, 201 State Street.

dane county farmers' market

No tickets or reservations are needed for this 45-minute concert.

A Wisconsin native and current Oberlin College organ performance major, Donald VerKuilen (below) makes his Overture Hall debut in an exciting program. (You can hear VerKuilen performing “Variations on ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ in a YouTube video at the bottom.) 

Donald VerKuilen

The music includes the Fantasie in D-flat Major, by Camille Saint-Saëns (below top), the Allegro Vivace for Organ Symphony No. 5 by Charles-Marie Widor (below middle, at the organ in the church of St. Sulpice in Paris circa 1900) and the Suite for organ by Malcolm Archer (below bottom).

Camille Saint-Saens

Charles-Marie Widor at St. Sulpice in Paris ca 1900

malcolm archer

VerKuilen recently returned from a concert tour of French organs, and is certain to bring the same magic to the colossal Klais organ, custom-built by Klais-Orgelbau of Bonn, Germany, in Overture Hall.

Overture Concert Organ overview

The Madison Symphony Orchestra and Overture Center for the Arts present the Farmers’ Market Concert Series in partnership with 77 Square.

The Free Farmers’ Market Concerts are sponsored by Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

To see the Overture Concert Organ series of concerts for 2014-15 or to subscribe at a 25 percent savings, visit: www.



Classical music: This Saturday morning is the second of this summer’s three FREE Dane County Farmers’ Market organ concerts at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall by the Madison Symphony Orchestra. It marks the Madison debut of guest organist Ahreum Han. Plus, tonight at 7 p.m. violinist and concertmaster Suzanne Beia solos in classical repertoire in the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s FREE Concert on the Square.

July 16, 2014
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ALERT:  Here is a reminder that tonight, Wednesday, July 16, at  7 p.m., the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under conductor Andrew Sewell will perform the most classical Concert on the Square of this summer season. For the program “A Little Night Music,” the guest soloist will be WCO Concertmaster violinist Suzanne Beia (below), an accomplished and always busy musician who also plays in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Pro Arte Quartet.

The concert is on the King Street corner of the Capitol Square, and blankets may be placed on the lawn at 3 p.m.. It is road construction season, so remember to allow plenty of time for travel. It will be cooler than normal too, so bring something warm as to wear as the sun sets.

Click here for Suzanne Beia’s biography:

The program includes: The first movement from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the first movement from the Violin Concerto in E Minor by Felix Mendelssohn; the first movement from the Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” by Ludwig van Beethoven; and the third movement from the Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique” by Peter Tchaikovsky.

suzanne beia

By Jacob Stockinger

This won’t take long.

The Ear just wants to remind you about a FREE 45-minute organ concert by prize-winning Korean-American organist Ahreum Han (below), a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, that will take place this Saturday, July 19, at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall at Overture Center for the Arts.

Ahreum Han

Here is the press release:

“Step into the cool expanse of Overture Hall on Saturday, July 19, during the Dane County Farmers’ Market (below top) on the Capitol Square to enjoy the gift of beautiful music with the Madison Symphony Orchestra‘s Overture Concert Organ (below bottom) that was custom-built by Klais Organ Works in Bonn, Germany.

dane county farmers' market

“Bring your family and friends for a relaxing 45-minute concert. No tickets or reservations are needed and all ages are welcome!”

Overture Concert Organ overview

Here is more information and a detailed program from the MSO website:


Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), transcribed by Ahreum Han, “Overture to Orphée aux enfers” (Orpheus in the Underworld); Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Sinfonia from Cantata 29; Johannes Matthias Michel (b.1962), Three Jazz Preludes, I. Swing Five (Erhalt uns, Herr); II. Bossa Nova (Wunderbarer König); III. Afro-Cuban (In dir ist Freude); Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) “My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice” from “Samson and Delilah”; Louis Vierne (1870-1937), Naïdes from Fantasy Pieces, Op. 55, No. 4, and the Finale from his Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 59.

The program and artist subject to change.

For a full and very impressive biography of Han, who now lives and works in Davenport, Iowa, here is a link to the MSO website:

And here is a YouTube video of Ahreum Han performing another work, the opening of Organ Symphony No. 3 by Louis Vierne, at the Curtis Institute of Music:

Classical Music: Here is Part 3 of The Ear’s holiday gift-giving guide, featuring NPR’s “Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012.” Plus, how will you celebrate Beethoven’s birthday today?

December 16, 2012

ALERT: Be sure to listen to some Beethoven (below) today. Because Dec. 16 is Ludwig van‘s   242nd birthday  (born Dec. 16, 1770 in Bonn – died March 26, 1827 in Vienna).  

Beethoven big

By Jacob Stockinger

As in past years, and two weekends ago, The Ear will again be offering some holiday gift-giving ideas for classical music fans.

Of course, every year I recommend package gifts – gifts that combine a recording or video with a book or, best of all, a ticket to a live concert.

Two weekends ago, I offered the Classical Nominations for the 2013 Grammys. Here are links to the two postings:


One of my most trusted sources for sound judgment, when it comes to outstanding classical music, is NPR’s outstanding blog “Deceptive Cadence” and its exceptionally well-informed writers Tom Huizenga (below) and Anastasia Tsioulcas.


That blog publishes its list of the best classical recording halfway through the year, and then again an expanded version at year’s end. As usual, it provides a fine of established artists and well-known artists; vocalists and instrumentalists; established repertoire and contemporary music; big labels and small labels; large groups, small ensembles and individual performers..

Below is a link to the NPR list for this past year. Be sure to read comments and other suggestion for Best of 2012 by  readers and followers of the NPR blog.

You will notice that the pianist Jeremy Denk made the NPR  post for his Nonesuch debut recording (below) of some fiendishly difficult etudes by Gyorgy Ligeti combined with Beethoven’s epic last piano sonata, Op. 111 in C Minor.

Denk will perform in Madison on April 22 at 8 p.m. in Mills Halls, at the University of Wisconsin School of Music while the historic Wisconsin Union Theater is closed for renovations. A ticket to that concert, which is tentatively scheduled to have program of half-Brahms and half-Liszt, would be a welcome gift.

jeremy denk ligeti-beethoven CD

But you can find other connections — cellist Alisa Weilerstein (below) has performed several times in Madison — to make with local live concerts by orchestras, chamber music ensembles, soloists and opera companies.


Here is NPR’s “Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012,” which comes complete with CD covers and audio samples:

Have fun figuring out ways to bring about synergy and make your classical music gift even more rewarding and expansive!

In the COMMENTS part, tell me what you think of NPR’s suggestions.

And leave your own gift-giving suggestions!

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music news: How did deafness affect the way that Beethoven composed?

December 28, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Did Beethoven’s deafness shape his music? In a new study some experts say yes.

What caused his deafness and what kind of hearing impairment was it?

And how do you think deafness changed Beethoven (below) as an artist?

Check out if you are right. (And look below at the various ear trumpets, on display at the Beethoven House in Bonn, Germany, that the deaf composer used.)

Here is where you can find what the experts think.

But be sure to pursue a lot of the links in the stories to read the study and see some specific examples, including the late Symphony No. 8 and the String Quartet, Op. 130 (the famous Cavatina movement from that quartet is at the bottom):

And to read the full text of the  study, visit this site:

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