By Jacob Stockinger
This week will be a busy one at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, which is now funded in large part by the Mead Witter Foundation.
The big event is the long-awaited groundbreaking for the new performance center. That, in turn, will be celebrated with three important and appealing concerts.
Here is the lineup:
From 4 to 5:30 p.m., an official and public groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hamel Music Center will take place at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue. (Below is an architect’s rendering of the completed building.)
At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, pianist Christopher Taylor (below) will perform the “Goldberg” Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach on the two-keyboard “Hyperpiano” that he has invented and refined. (You can hear the opening aria theme of the “Goldberg” Variations played by Glenn Gould in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
For more information about the concert and the innovative piano, visit:
Tickets are $18 and are available at the Wisconsin Union Theater box office. Last The Ear heard, the concert was close to a sell-out.
At 7 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW-Madison faculty bassoonist Marc Vallon (below, in a photo by James Gill), who studied and worked with the recently deceased French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, will lead a FREE “Breaking Ground” concert of pioneering music from the 17th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
For more information and the complete program, go to:
At 3 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet will give a FREE concert.
For more information about the group and the program, go to:
By Jacob Stockinger
The mostly amateur Middleton Community Orchestra (MCO, below), which has gotten better and better and rarely disappoints even in ambitious and difficult music, will wind up its fifth anniversary season this coming Wednesday night with a brass extravaganza.
The performance is at 7:30 p.m. in the modern, comfortable and spacious Middleton Performing Arts Center (below) that is attached to Middleton High School.
Tickets are $10; students get in for FREE.
Advance tickets are available at Willy Street Coop West. The Box office opens at 6:30 p.m. and the doors open at 7 p.m.
The program includes The “Capriccio Italienne” by Peter Tchaikovsky; the Carnival Overture by Antonin Dvorak; the Horn Concerto by Reinhold Glière with soloist Paul Litterio (below); and the world premiere of the Tuba Concerto by University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music graduate Pat Doty, who will also be the soloist.
Steve Kurr (below) will conduct.
Here is a link with more information about the MCO and how to join it and support it:
Composer and tuba performer Pat Doty (below, in a photo by Steven Thompson) answered an email Q&A for The Ear:
Can you tell us briefly about your background, including your education and performance history?
I grew up in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. I hold a master’s degree in tuba performance from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where I was a member of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band for four years, including three trips to the Rose Bowl.
While at the UW-Madison, I performed with the Wind Ensemble (including a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City), Concert Band, Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble, the Middleton Community Orchestra, Low Brass Ensemble, 4BA Tuba Quartet, Madrigal Singers and the Lumberjack Brass Quintet.
My solo tuba performance credits range from solo recitals to guest appearances at schools across southern Wisconsin.
When and how did you start composing? What works have you written in the past?
I first started writing music when I was in high school and I was very interested in singer/songwriters like Elton John and Billy Joel. During my time at Mount Horeb High School, I wrote more than 500 songs, most of which never made it past the grand piano in the living room.
When I started graduate school, the tuba studio at UW-Madison was treated to a guest performance by Øystein Baadsvik, who really inspired me to start writing for tuba. I was also heavily influenced by my undergraduate professor, John Stevens (below).
My catalogue now includes dozens of works for solo tuba, chamber ensembles and large ensembles. It probably comes as no surprise that I compose rather frequently for tuba quartet and brass quintet.
Additionally, I write a great deal of music for my wife Brigid, who holds a degree in vocal performance from UW-Madison, to sing with me accompanying her on the piano.(You can hear them in a YouTube video at the bottom in a song by Pat Doty.)
How would you describe your compositional style — tonal or atonal, accessible, melodic and so forth?
My music is tonal, accessible, melodic and so forth. I jest, but I really do strive to write music that is very fun, beautiful and accessible to a wide-ranging audience.
My major influences are not famous classical composers, but rather those musicians who I listened to when I was growing up.
For example, I draw a lot from pop music and classic rock. I know that might seem like an odd connection — pop music and the tuba — but I have always fallen back on my vocal training to instruct my tuba playing, and I see no reason why the same connection shouldn’t exist in my compositions.
To put it simply, I approach writing for solo tuba (with any sort of accompaniment) in quite the same way that I approach writing a song at the piano. I always have a poem, an idea, something in mind that inspires me. For example, my tuba duet “Mendota” is based on a poem that I wrote for a pop song, but it works beautifully for an instrumental piece.
What would you like the public to know about your new Tuba Concerto, which you will perform and premiere with the Middleton Community Orchestra?
First and foremost, my Tuba Concerto doesn’t take itself too seriously. That is a recurring theme in my music. I am very excited for the premiere with the Middleton Community Orchestra, which is sounding great by the way, and I really hope that people have as much fun and find as much joy in listening as I do playing this music.
A couple of interesting quirks to note are that there is a large, essential euphonium part in this piece, and that there is a marimba solo in the third movement. These are both things that, I think it is safe to say, are not particularly common in orchestral music.
I used a euphonium (below) and no tuba in the orchestra because I want this to be a piece that an orchestra could use to feature their own tubist if they so choose. Also, I am friends with quite a few euphonium players.
What else would you like to say?
First, I would like to say thank you to the Middleton Community Orchestra for premiering my Tuba Concerto. I am very much looking forward to the performance for many reasons, not the least of which is that this will be my first chance to present my compositions to a broad classical music audience.
I would also like to mention my new record label, Merp Entertainment, which I co-founded with my wife Brigid last year. Our debut CD “Dare to Entertain” has found national success, particularly on the internet streaming service Spotify, where it has amassed more than 3 million song streams to date.
ALERT: Kathryn Smith, the general director of the Madison Opera, which is presenting Mark Adamo‘s opera “Little Women” tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, writes: “One thing you might let your readers know is that Mark Adamo is doing the pre-show talk TONIGHT in tandem with me — meaning I’m going to ask him questions, so he can talk about his opera instead of me doing so as usual. That is at 7 p.m. in the Wisconsin Studio of the Overture Center, and is free to ticket holders.”
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear has received the following message that you may want to print out or write into your datebook:
The Chazen Museum of Art is pleased to announce the continuation of Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen for 2016.
On the FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH, the Chazen presents chamber music performances in Brittingham Gallery III of the old Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.
This year marks the 38th season for Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen. Until 2015, the series took place weekly and was broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio.
When WPR stepped away, the Chazen took over the series.
Lori Skelton, the producer of Sunday Afternoon Live at WPR for many years, has again volunteered to program the concert series and act as its host. Without her musical expertise, as well as her generosity of spirit, the Chazen would not be able to continue this popular program.
During the intermissions, live stream listeners will hear an interview or conversation featuring the museum’s director, Russell Panczenko. Topics include current exhibitions and the permanent collection.
Concerts begin at 12:30 p.m.
All concerts are free and open to the public. However, seating is limited. Chazen Museum of Art members may call 608-263-2246 to reserve seating the week before the concert.
March 6: Pro Arte String Quartet
April 3: Clocks in Motion percussion ensemble
May 1: Pro Arte Quartet
June 5: Madison Bach Musicians
July 3 TBD
August 7 TBD
September 4: Black Marigold Wind Quintet
October 2: Pro Arte String Quartet
November 6: Parry Karp, cello
December 4: Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer)
ALERT: This Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale, to be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meeting House of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features pianist Olivia Mussat, who studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, in music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt and Alberto Ginastera.
By Jacob Stockinger
Grace Presents is currently in its fifth year of offering free public concerts on the Capital Square. The series features local musicians and is a lively and eclectic mix of genres each month.
This Saturday, as part of Grace Presents, the versatile Madison Brass Quintet (below) will perform a FREE holiday program from noon to 1 p.m. at the newly remodeled Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Ave., where it joins Carroll Street on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison.
The well-known regional ensemble has been performing throughout the Midwest since 1982 and featuring some of the finest musicians in Southern Wisconsin. The Madison Brass features custom-tailored programs for any event from their extensive repertoire, which encompasses music from the 1500’s to the New Millennium.
The Madison Brass Quintet will play traditional and contemporary holiday and Christmas favorites for their concert.
Here are samples you can listen to:
Website: http://www.sandylaclair.com (Click on Madison Brass)
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).
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.
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.
Paula Matthusen (below, BM, 2001), who is assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University.
William Rhoads (below, BM, 1996), who is vice-president of marketing and communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.
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.)
Kevin Ernste (below, BM, 1997), who is professor of composition at Cornell University.
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.
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:
By Jacob Stockinger
The program includes: the Canzona per sonare No. 2 by the Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1554-1612); “In the Zone” by UW-Madison alumnus Andrew Rindfleisch (b. 1963); the Brass Quintet by Ira Taxin (b. 1950); and Rounds and Dances for Brass Quintet by Jan Bach (b. 1937)
Members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet are (below in a photo by Michael R. Anderson, left to right): Mark Hetzler, trombone; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Tom Curry, tuba; John Aley, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn.
Here is some background about the Wisconsin Brass Quintet:
Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.
In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble. Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.
With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.
The quintet performs annual live radio broadcast concerts on Wisconsin Public Radio. Its three CD recordings, on the Summit, Mark and Crystal labels, feature music by John Stevens, Douglas Hill, Verne Reynolds, Daron Hagen, John Harbison and Enrique Crespo.
An earlier LP recording features the only recording of Jan Bach’s “Rounds and Dances” and Hilmar Luckhardt’s “Brass Quintet.” Each of these works was composed for the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, in keeping with the WBQ’s commitment to commissioning and performing new music of the 20th and 21st centuries. (You can hear the Wisconsin Brass Quintet perform a commissioned work in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
Barry Kilpatrick writes for the American Record Guide: “I’ve reviewed over 250 brass recordings in the past five years, and this is one of the very best. The WBQ is a remarkable ensemble that plays with more reckless abandon, warmth, stylistic variety and interpretive interest than almost any quintet in memory.”
By Jacob Stockinger
A fanfare, please!
The brassier, the better!
Last year’s inaugural Brass Fest at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music proved so successful that another will take place later this week.
This year’s Brass Fest – which seems on its way to becoming an annual event — will run from this coming Friday, Oct. 9, through Sunday, Oct. 11.
The organizer and director of the festival is the virtuoso trumpeter John Aley (below), who teaches at the UW-Madison and is also principal trumpet with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. He also gives workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Some festival events are FREE while others -– concerts on Friday and Saturday nights — require admission that benefits the scholarship fund at the UW School of Music.
The lineup of performers is impressive.
It includes trumpeter Adam Rapa (below top) and singer Elisabeth Vik (below bottom):
And it includes the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below):
But the details are so many and the impressive biographies of performers so long that The Ear thinks it is better not to duplicate them. So instead I am directing readers right to the UW-Madison School of Music’s website and A Tempo blog where you can find out all the details.
Here are three links:
By Jacob Stockinger
Get out your datebooks.
The final schedules for the upcoming season by most major classical music groups in the area are now available.
Last but not least is the biggest of them all: The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, which offers some 300 events in a season, most of them FREE to the public.
Some things are new. For example, you will note that the UW Choral Union has gone to just ONE performance instead of two, as in the past for many years.
Concert manager and public relations director Kathy Esposito (below) writes:
The UW-Madison School of Music is jazzed about its upcoming season and we’d like the world to know. Please make plans to attend!
Here is a link to the online calendar, which is now complete except for specific pieces on programs and last-minute changes: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/
Our events of 2015-2016 range from performances by a vocal dynamo (soprano Brenda Rae, Sept. 27) to a in-demand LA jazz woodwind musician (Bob Sheppard in April) plus an enterprising young brass quintet (Axiom Brass, October) and a dollop of world music in March (duoJalal). In addition, we offer ever-popular opera productions, faculty concerts and student ensembles ranging from classical to jazz to percussion.
Full concert calendar link: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/
Other social media connections include:
Our Newsletter, A Tempo!
Hear our sound: https://soundcloud.com/uw-madisonsom
Here’s a partial list with highlights (Semester 1 is posted today; Semester 2 will be posted tomorrow):
August 30: “Performing the Jewish Archive”: Shining a Spotlight on Forgotten Jewish Performance Works. Various venues and times; click link for details.
The U.S. component of an international research project led by the University of Leeds, England, with UW-Madison leadership provided by Teryl Dobbs, chair of music education. Featuring a Sound Salon with Sherry Mayrent and Henry Sapoznik (below) of the Mayrent Institute; Chamber Music with the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society; and a Cabaret Performance with Mark Nadler. Events continue in May, 2016. All events are free.
September 7: 37th Annual Karp Family Concert. Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
Chamber music of the 19th and 20th centuries for piano and strings. Pianist and patriarch Howard Karp (below center) passed away last summer, but the family continues with a long-standing tradition. With Suzanne Beia, Violin; Katrin Talbot, Viola; Parry Karp, Violoncello; Frances Karp, Piano; Christopher Karp, Piano. Free.
September 26: Soprano Brenda Rae with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
On the program: Reinhold Gliere’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano. A benefit for University Opera.
Brenda Rae (below) is a 2004 graduate of the School of Music, and has been impressing audiences and critics all over Europe for many years. Her 2013 U.S. debut as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” won her praise from James R. Oestreich of The New York Times: “Ms. Rae soared beautifully in the early going, but it was in her pianissimo singing that she really shone.”
Master class: Friday, September 25, Music Hall, 5-7 PM.
October 7: Pro Arte Quartet (below top, in a photo by Rick Langer) with Violist Nobuko Imai (below bottom, in a photo by Marco Borggreve). Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the Munich and the Geneva international competitions.
Master class: October 6, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. Both events are free.
October 9-10-11: BRASS FEST II!
Last year’s Celebrate Brass festival was so much fun, we decided to program another. Three days of exhilarating music from leading brass players and ensembles, including the award-winning Axiom Brass Quintet (below, now in residence at the Tanglewood Music Festival) and trumpeter Adam Rapa. With the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and students from the UW-Madison School of Music.
October 9: Axiom Brass, Mills Hall, 8 PM. Tickets $15.
October 10: Festival Brass Choir with Axiom Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and trumpeter Adam Rapa. Tickets $15.
October 11: Trumpeter Adam Rapa and vocalist Elizabeth Vik. Classical and jazz. Free concert.
Buy tickets for both concerts for $25.
October 23-24-25-27: University Opera presents Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Mozart and da Ponte’s masterpiece of comedy and intrigue, shows the two geniuses at the height of their powers. Directed by David Ronis (below, in a photo by Luke De Lalio); music conducted by James Smith.
Music Hall. Tickets $25/$20/$10.
November 5-6: Celebrating Alumni Composers. UW-Madison prize-winning alumni composers of new music Andrew Rindfleisch (below), Paula Matthusen, Jeffrey Stadelman, Bill Rhoads and Kevin Ernste return for a two-day event featuring their acoustic and electronic music.
November 5, Mills Hall, 7:30 PM: Performances by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, and smaller ensembles of faculty and students.
November 6, 7:30 PM: Performance with the UW Wind Ensemble, Scott Teeple, conductor.
Both concerts are free.
November 13: Debut Faculty Concert with Violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino (below in a photo by Caroline Bittencourt). Altino takes the stage as the newest member of the school’s string faculty. With pianist Martha Fischer.
Mills Hall, 8 PM.
Tickets $12. Students free
December 10: Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below, in a photo by Michael Anderson). With Stephanie Jutt, flute; Marc Vallon, bassoon; Kostas Tiliakos, oboe; and welcoming new members Wesley Warnhoff, clarinet; and Joanna Schulz, horn.
Morphy Hall, 7:30 PM. Free.
December 12: UW Choral Union & UW Symphony Orchestra with Beverly Taylor, conductor. Presenting “Gloria” of Francis Poulenc and “Symphony of Psalms” by Igor Stravinsky.
Mills Hall, 8 PM.
Tomorrow: Highlights of Semester 2
By Jacob Stockinger
Rolf Smedvig, the Norwegian-Icelandic trumpeter extraordinaire, died suddenly this past week at age 62, apparently of a heart attack.
Once the young principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony and renowned soloist, he also cofounded and played with the Empire Brass.
Passing along the news seems especially timely and appropriate since the Empire Brass will perform in Overture Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12.
Tickets are $20. Call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141.
The brass ensemble will perform with organist Douglas Major (below top), former organist at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., at the console of the Overture Center Concert Organ (below bottom).
The program is a delightfully and largely Baroque one, which should highlight the brass sound. It features music by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Tomaso Albinoni, Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann Pachelbel and Dietrich Buxtehude and Henry Purcell. (You can hear the Empire Brass, with Rolf Smedvig, performing Handel’s “Water Music” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
But one wonders: Is there a substitute for Rolf Smedvig? Or has the brass group changed its membership since the publicity photo? It sounds like the latter is the case, but The Ear doesn’t know for sure. Do you?
Here is a link for more information about the Madison concert:
ALERT: The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music’s brass festival, “Celebrate Brass,” starts TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall with the UW-Madison Wisconsin Brass Quintet and composer Anthony Plog. It runs through next Monday. All events and concert except the big one on this Saturday night — are FREE and open to the public.
Here is a link to a previous story about it:
And here is a link to a complete schedule of the festival:
By Jacob Stockinger
Recently, the famed Metropolitan Opera (below) in New York City had to weather some pretty severe turbulence –- labor strife that threatened to close down the Met and delay the opening of its season.
But general director Peter Gelb (bel0w) and his negotiators reached an agreement with several labor unions, and everything remains on schedule.
That means the new season of “Met Live in HD” will open this Saturday with the acclaimed production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Macbeth” that features soprano Anna Netrebko in a major role that is unusually and unexpectedly dramatic for her. The conductor is Fabio Luisi.
That successful production should be very good news. The “MET Live in HD” program in seen in hundreds of cities around the world, and is one of the big moneymakers for the Met.
Main showings in Madison are this Saturday at 11:55 a.m. at the Point Cinemas on Madison’s far west side and the Eastgate Cinema on the city’s far east side. Running time is about 3-1/2 hours.
Admission is $24 for adults, $18 for children.
Encore showing are usually at 6:30 pm. on the following Wednesday and cost $18.
Here is some background including a review by New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini and a profile of Anna Netrebko (below), who can be heard singing an aria from the same opera, in a different production with conductor Valery Gergiev in Russia, at the bottom in a YouTube video.
Here is the link to the review by Anthony Tommasini:
And here is the feature about diva Anna Netrebko:
Want to know more about the Met’s HD season so you can plan?
Here is a link to see other information, including the entire season’s offering with dates, times, artist biographies, audio-video clips, synopses and program notes.