The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Concerts of Beethoven, Brahms and Bernstein by the UW Choral Union on this Friday night and of Beethoven, Copland and Nielsen by the UW Symphony Orchestra on this Saturday night help finish off the first semester

December 8, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The end of the first semester is at hand. And this weekend two very appealing concerts will help finish off the first half of the new concert season at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

FRIDAY

At 8 p.m. on this Friday night in Mills Hall, the UW Choral Union and the UW-Madison Chamber Orchestra (below) will perform, for one performance only, three rarely heard works.

UW Choral Union and UW Symphony 11-2013

The orchestra and the campus-community chorus will be conducted by Beverly Taylor (below), the director of choral activities at the UW-Madison.

Beverly Taylor MSO portrait COLOR USE

The program of works that are relatively rare on programs includes the Mass in C Major by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Nänie: Song of Lamentation”  by Johannes Brahms (heard conducted by Claudio Abbado in the YouTube video below) and the “Chichester Psalms” by Leonard Bernstein.

Admission is $15 for adults; $8 for students.

Here are some notes about the works written by conductor Beverly Taylor:

“The Choral Union will present a 3 B’s concert, which includes masterpieces of three different types.

“The Bernstein “Chichester Psalms,” written in the 1960’s for a cathedral in Britain, is a setting of three psalms in Hebrew. The piece is for strings, brass and percussion, and lasts about 20 minutes. It features a flamboyant, joyful and somewhat dissonant opening full of exciting percussion writing.

“The second movement features a wonderful boy soloist, Simon Johnson, from the Madison Youth Choirs, with harp and strings. He is like the shepherd King David, who is peacefully in the fields with his sheep; contrasting that are the warring peoples, sung by the tenors and basses. The boy and women’s voices return singing peacefully above the warring mobs.

“The third movement starts in dissonant pain, but it dissolves into a beautiful, quiet psalm of praise and trust.

“The Brahms Nänie is a 15-minute setting of a poem by Friedrich Schiller on the topic of beauty and its inability to last; even beauty must die, and the gods weep too, but the beauty itself is worth all! The style is Romantic with the long arching melodic lines for which Brahms is well-known.

“The Beethoven Mass in C is one of just two masses that Beethoven wrote; in contrast to the long, loud, high, grand and overpowering “Missa Solemnis,” the Mass in C is more charming, Mozartean and approachable. It still has some Beethovenian touches of sudden dynamic changes, sforzandi (which are emphases or accents), and slow, elegiac quartets. Our solo quartet will be Anna Polum, Jessica Krasinki, Jiabao Zhang and John Loud.”

For more background and information about how to get tickets, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/uw-choral-union-and-chamber-orchestra/

SATURDAY

On this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra (below top), under the baton of James Smith (below bottom, in a photo by Jack Burns), will give a FREE concert.

UW Symphony violins 2015

james smith Jack Burns

The program features three works: the late “King Stephan” Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven (heard below in a YouTube video as conducted by Leonard Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic)  the “Billy the Kid” Suite by Aaron Copland; and the Symphony No. 4 “Inextinguishable” by Danish composer Carl Nielsen.

The Ear has heard both groups often and highly recommends both concerts.

He was quite amazed at how good the last UW Symphony Orchestra program he heard was. It offered two Fifth Symphonies — by Sergei Prokofiev and Jean Sibelius – only about three weeks into the semester.

It was nothing short of amazing how well the orchestra had come together in such a short time. It was a tight and impassioned performance. The Ear expects the same for this concert, which has had a lot more rehearsal time.


Classical music: A FREE organ and violin concert is this Saturday at noon at Grace Episcopal Church

November 16, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

Grace Presents, now entering its seventh year offering FREE public concerts at Grace Episcopal Church (below), located at 116 West Washington Avenue on the Capitol Square, will host resident organist Mark Brampton Smith with violinist Maureen McCarty on this Saturday, Nov. 19.

grace episcopal church ext

Grace Episcopal harpsichord

The concert begins at noon and ends at 1 p.m. Audience members are invited to bring their lunch.

The program — an asterisk indicates that both the violin and organ will play — includes:

Psalm 19: “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739)

*”Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). (You can hear an organ version of the popular work in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Partita on “Werde munter, mein Gemüte” (Sing not yet, my soul, to slumber) by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

*”Ornament of Grace” by Bernard Wayne Sanders (b. 1957)

Variations on ‘Cwm Rhondda’ by Mark Brampton Smith (b. 1954) Introduction – Allegro – Duo – Reflection – Finale

*Meditation from “Thaïs” by Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

Concerto in a minor, after Vivaldi (BWV 593) – Johann Sebastian Bach Allegro

Toccata and Fugue in d minor (BWV 565) – Johann Sebastian Bach

The final concert of 2016 will feature the widely renowned Russian Folk Orchestra on Dec. 10.

Mark Brampton Smith Biography:

Mark Brampton Smith (below) serves as the current organist at Grace Episcopal Church. Mark began his church music career as a boy soprano at St. Paul’s Parish on K Street in Washington, D.C., eventually serving on the music staff of churches in seven states. He holds degrees in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan.

As an organist, Mark won prizes in the Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor, and American Guild of Organists National Competitions, and he’s performed solo recitals at venues such as Overture Hall. As a collaborative pianist, Mark has worked with numerous singers, instrumentalists, and ensembles, including the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, University of Michigan choirs, Colgate University Chorus, and currently the Wisconsin Chamber Choir.

Mark Brampton Smith

Maureen McCarty Biography:

Maureen McCarty (below) began the violin in the Madison public schools, and played in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras for many years. She received a BA in violin performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

While working on her degree, she performed as a musician with American Players Theatre for five seasons. She has extensive orchestral experience playing in such local ensembles as the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, as well as various orchestras in five Midwestern states, the Barcelona City Orchestra and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria in Spain.

Maureen returned to UW-Madison for a teaching certificate in music education in 1999, and taught strings and general music for students in grades 3-12 in Monona Grove during her fifteen years in the district. Recently retired from public school teaching, she now teaches privately, performs with the Camerata String Quartet, tutors Spanish, and takes photographs for her local newspaper. Formative violin teachers include Eva Szekely, Sharan Leventhal, Thomas Moore and Vartan Manoogian.

maureen-mccarty

For more information, visit www.GracePresents.org


Classical music education: Madison Youth Choirs Presents the Fifth FREE Annual Madison Boychoir Festival this coming Saturday afternoon at West High School.

February 5, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Our friends at the Madison Youth Choirs write:

The Madison Youth Choirs, in close collaboration with the Madison Metropolitan School District and with special support from Edgewood College, will present the fifth annual FREE Madison Boychoir Festival on this coming Saturday afternoon, Feb. 7, at Madison West High School. (Below is the festival poster logo. For details, visit www.madisonyouthchoirs.org)

BoyChoir Festival logo 2015 2

The festival is a daylong celebration of choral music for boys in grades 2-12, culminating in a free concert for the community. Hundreds of young singers, joined by the men of the Madison Choral Project (MCP), will present repertoire from a variety of cultural traditions and historical eras, delving beyond notes and rhythms to discover the context, meaning and heart of the music.

Admission is FREE to the Madison Boychoir Festival Concert on this coming Saturday, February 7, at 12:30 p.m. in the Stevens Gym at Madison West High School, 30 Ash Street, Madison, WI 53726

Boychoir Festival 2014

Madison Youth Choirs conductors, as well as Madison Choral Project Director Albert Pinsonneault (below) and MCP guest artists, will work with singers on vocal technique, teach music for the festival’s afternoon concert (no advance preparation for the festival is necessary for the participants), encourage singers to meet new people, and most importantly, generate enthusiasm about choral music.

Albert Pinsonneault 2

Rehearsals will take place in classrooms at Madison West and will be open for observation by music educators, voice teachers, parents, and chaperones in attendance.

Here are the program and performers:

COMBINED CHOIRS Plato’s Take (sung in Greek) 
YOUTH CHOIR (Margaret Jenks, conductor; Andrew Johnson, piano/percussion)

Randal Swiggum

Take Time in Life Traditional Liberian folk song

MIDDLE LEVEL CHOIR (Randal Swiggum, conductor; Steve Radtke, piano)
Feste’s Song (from Twelfth Night) Traditional, arr. Swiggum

Words by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

HIGH SCHOOL MEN’S CHOIR (Albert Pinsonneault, Michael Ross, conductors; Jess Salek, piano) Spaséniye sodjélalye sí (Salvation is Created) Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944)

(sung in Russian)

THE MADISON BOYCHOIR (Randal Swiggum, Margaret Jenks, Michael Ross, conductors)
 Ayo visto lo mappa mundi, Anonymous, ca. 1450, Naples

Cindy Cameron-Fix, recorder; Elspeth Stalter, Paran Amirinazari, violins; Marie Pauls, viola; Lindsay Crabb, cello

COMBINED CHOIRS
 One Man’s Hands as sung by Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

This project is supported in part by the Madison Arts Commission, by the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Dane Arts with additional funding from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation.

ABOUT THE MADISON YOUTH CHOIRS (MYC)

Recognized as an innovator in youth choral music education, Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) welcomes singers of all ability levels, annually serving more than 500 young people, ages 7-18, in 11 single-gender choirs.

Our singers explore the history, context and heart of the music, becoming “expert noticers,” using music as a lens to discover the world. Through a variety of high-quality community outreach programs and performance opportunities, MYC strives to make the benefits of arts participation accessible to all.

For further information: Contact Madison Youth Choirs at www.info@madisonyouthchoirs.org or call (608) 238-7464.


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