The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The acclaimed Isthmus Vocal Ensemble performs old and new music this Friday night and Sunday afternoon when its new director also makes his debut

August 2, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

Since it was founded in 2002, the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (below) has been critically acclaimed for the concert it puts together each summer in just a couple of weeks or less. (You can hear a sample in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

This summer, the group will be under the baton of its new artistic director, Michael McGaghie (below), who will be making his performing debut with the group.

McGaghie directs choral activities at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and also conducts the Harvard Glee Club Alumni Chorus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The program this weekend ranges from the 16th century and early Baroque to the contemporary.

It will begin with works from  established masters such as Thomas Tallis, Heinrich Schütz and the Soviet conductor-composer Nikolai Golovanov.

It will then explore works from contemporary composers such as Jocelyn Hagen, Morten Lauridsen and Dale Trumbore in a program called Horizons. (Sorry, The Ear has not received the titles of specific works on the program.)

Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. Tickets can be bought at the door or ordered at the links below.

Concert venues are:

This Friday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lutheran Church of the Living Christ, 110 North Gammon Road, on Madison’s west side. For tickets, go to:

https://isthmusvocalens.yapsody.com/event/index/282736/ive-2018-friday-concert

This Sunday, Aug. 5, at 3 p.m. in Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 East Gorham Street. For tickets, go to:

https://isthmusvocalens.yapsody.com/event/index/282791/ive-2018-sunday-concert

For more about the impressive background of the new director, go to: https://www.isthmusvocalensemble.org/artisticdirector/

For more about the past performances and the organization, including sound samples to listen to and how to join or support the group, go to: https://www.isthmusvocalensemble.org


Classical music: Christopher Hogwood is dead at 73. But the early music pioneer was no purist.

September 27, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Christopher Hogwood (below, in a photo by the Associated Press), who, along with Trevor Pinnock, Gustav Leonhardt, John Eliot Gardiner  and Frans Bruggen, became synonymous for many us with the movement to promote early music with authentic instruments and historically informed performance practices, has died.

He died Wednesday and was 73, and he had been ill for a brief time. He died at his home in Cambridge, England.

Chrisotpher Hogwood conducting AP

There are many things that The Ear loved about Hogwood, but nothing more than his recordings of string concertos by Antonio Vivaldi for their verve and of symphonies and concertos by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for their sweetness and transparency, energy and clarity. (You can hear Hogwood conducting the Academy of Ancient Music in  2009 in Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan. They are playing the spectacular and virtuosically contrapuntal last movement of Mozart’s last symphony — Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”– at the bottom in a YouTube video. Just listen to the cheers!)

Hogwood’s version of the popular oratorio “Messiah” by George Frideric Handel is still my preferred one. Hogwood always seemed to serve the music first and foremost, and not fall into the kind of goofy or quirky readings that, say, Nikolaus Harnoncourt often did. Everything he did seemed balanced and just plain right, but nonetheless ear-opening in its originality. He made you say: THAT’S the way it should sound. 

But curiously, Hogwood (below, in a photo by Marcus Borggreve) seems to have understood other people and performers who prefer early music played in more modern approaches or idiosyncratic or individualistic manners. The Ear likes that kind of non-purist and tolerant approach to early music, to all music really. He is what Hogwood said in one interview:

‘THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH PLAYING THINGS HISTORICALLY COMPLETELY INCORRECTLY: MUSIC IS NOT A MORAL BUSINESS, SO YOU CAN PLAY ABSOLUTELY IN A STYLE THAT SUITS YOU AND PLEASES YOUR PUBLIC. IT MAY BE COMPLETELY UNRECOGNISABLE TO THE COMPOSER BUT SO WHAT, HE’S DEAD.’

christopher christopher hogwood CR Marcuys Borggreve

Here are some links for you to learn more about the achievements of Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music, which he founded and is now directed by Richard Egarr.

Here is a fine story from NPR (National Public Radio):

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/09/24/351193303/remembering-christopher-hogwood-an-evangelist-for-early-music

Here is a comprehensive obituary from The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/26/arts/christopher-hogwood-early-music-devotee-dies-at-73.html

Here is a story from The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/christopher-hogwood-conductor-who-gave-new-drive-to-classical-warhorses-dies-at-73/2014/09/25/a148ff2a-44cb-11e4-b47c-f5889e061e5f_story.html

And here is a small story that appeared in Hogwood’s native Great Britain, even though Hogwood also directed American groups in Boston, St. Paul and elsewhere:

http://www.classicalmusicmagazine.org/2014/09/christopher-hogwood-10-september-1941-24-september-2014/

Here is a link to a 70-minute podcast that the magazine Gramophone did to mark Hogwood’s 70th birthday:

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/remembering-christopher-hogwood

 

 

 

 


Classical music: Acclaimed organist Janette Fishell plays music by J.S. Bach and other Romantic and modern composers in her Madison and Overture Hall debut this Friday night.

March 18, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you thought that the Madison Symphony Orchestra only programmed orchestral music, you would be very wrong.

The MSO also programs chamber music, such as string quartets, and even organ recitals on the Overture Concert Organ.

Take this Friday night, for instance.

Here is how a press release from the MSO puts it:

“How many concerts does it take to play the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach (below)?

Bach1

Internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell (below) found out that 21 was the magic number when she performed the complete cycle of Bach’s organ music.

Now she will bring some of this magic to Madison.

The third installment of the 2013-14 Madison Symphony Orchestra Overture Concert Organ series will feature  Fishell, an internationally renowned organist, as she makes her Overture Hall debut in a recital this Friday night, March 21, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Overture Center. 

Single tickets are $20, and a special $10 student rush will be offered on the day of the performance.

Janette Fishelle

The program, entitled “Bach and Beyond,” will include organ music composed as far back as the early 1700s, and as recently as 1976, displaying the wonderfully diverse repertoire at the hands of the modern organist. (Below is photo of the beautiful, custom-built Klais concert organ in Overture Hall.)

Overture Concert Organ overview

Three pieces by J.S. Bach are included on the program: the Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535; selections from the Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001; and the Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 (you can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video). The works will exhibit the Baroque style in which the organ, on which Bach was a master, flourished.

Fishell will then move on to three works composed in the late 1800s or later:  Ethyl Smyth’s “O Trauerigkeit, O Herzeleid”; Lionel Rogg’s Partita sopra “Nun Freut Euch”; and Louis Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 3 in F-sharp minor, Op. 28. The works will display the intriguing evolution of organ music in recent centuries.

Janettte Fishell has been described as “…a tour de force” (The Diapason) and “…fabulous…flawless!” (comments from a National Convention of the American Guild of Organists). She is a seasoned recitalist, having performed in many of the world’s greatest concert venues in Tokyo, Cambridge, Berlin, Budapest and Prague.

She has been featured at five national conventions and five regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and is professor of music and chair of the organ department at the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

The concert is sponsored by John and Christine Gauder, with additional funds from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

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Classical music: NPR gives us a FREE Christmas gift of vocal music from the acclaimed early music Stile Antico. Plus, the Madison Symphony Orchestra is offering its cut-rate tickets gift special through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24

December 15, 2013
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ALERT: The Madison Symphony Orchestra is again running hits holiday special. That includes an all-Beethoven concert and an inside look at Antonin Dvorak‘s “New World” Symphony as well as the Mozart Requiem and a concert highlighting the George Gershwin legacy. Tickets to all MSO upcoming subscription concerts are just $20 or $45. You’ll get A, B and B/C section seats (valued at up to $82.50 each) for just $45. And C and D section seats (valued at up to $43.50 each) are just $20. For more information visit:

http://www.madisonsymphony.org/sale

SONY DSC

By Jacob Stockinger

I have nothing big, important or particularly useful for you to read today.

If you want that, go back to yesterday’s post with all the nominations for the 56th Grammy Awards in the Classical Music categories.

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/classical-music-here-are-the-new-56th-annual-grammy-award-nominees-for-classical-music-as-a-guide-for-holiday-gifts/

Instead of suggesting gifts you can give, here is one you gift get to receive: NPR’s wonderful blog Deceptive Cadence, has posted a FREE one-hour concert by the acclaimed and best-selling early music group Stile Antico (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve), which sings beautiful music a cappella – that is, without accompaniment.

And the fine acoustics of St. Paul’s Church, located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., where the concert was recorded live, only enhance the sound.

stile antico cr marco borggreve

It is quite lovely, even breath-taking and haunting, as it offers some unusual repertoire by William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Sheppard and Tomas Luis de Victoria for the holiday season. So stream it and listen to it — don’t just read the transcript — if you can.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/12/03/166416569/a-choral-christmas-with-stile-antico

Enjoy!


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