By Jacob Stockinger
Over the years, The Ear has heard quite a few child prodigies, many of them impressive.
But he has heard only one Julian Rhee (below).
Rhee, from Brookfield, is a young Milwaukee area violinist who has won numerous awards from and has performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Rhee will perform again with the WCO (below), playing the complete Brahms Violin Concerto — not just separate movements or excerpts — this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center.
What makes Rhee so outstanding is that the level of his musicality matches his high technical mastery.
When he performed some of the Brahms concerto in the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Final Forte competition, which he won two years ago, all eyes and ears popped open with the first notes. You just knew right away who was going to win.
(You can hear the Final Forte introduction to Julian Rhee, which aired on Wisconsin Public Televisi0n, in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
Rhee’s playing exuded a maturity that even seasoned listeners did not expect. And the Brahms is a perfect vehicle to display his interpretive maturity as well as his technical virtuosity. Surely Rhee still has room to grow musically. But his mastery is already something to behold.
If you enjoy being able to say “I heard him when …,” this concert has all the hallmarks of being a must-hear, do-not-miss event.
But there are other attractions on the program, to be played under music director Andrew Sewell, who has again combined works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Igor Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du soldat” (The Soldier’s Tale) will be performed with guest narrator Jim DeVita (below) of American Players Theatre in Spring Green. The story involves a soldier who sells his soul to the devil.
And there will also be the Symphony No. 102 in B-Flat Major by Franz Joseph Haydn, a composer whose style brings out the best in WCO music director and conductor Sewell (below), an accomplished interpreter of music from the Classical era.
To read Julian Rhee’s complete and impressive biography, and to find out more information about the program, the performers and tickets, go to:
ALERT: The week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meeting House of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features pianist Bill Lutes in a solo recital. The program includes the “Papillons” (Butterflies) by Robert Schumann and the final Sonata in B-Fat Major, D. 960, by Franz Schubert. The program runs from 12:15 to 1 p.m.
For more information about Bill Lutes and his series of recitals, go to:
By Jacob Stockinger
This weekend, the Madison Choral Project (below top), Madison’s professional choir under the direction of Albert Pinnsoneault (below bottom), a former Edgewood College professor who now teaches at Northwestern University, will present two performances of its fourth annual Holiday-themed program “I Was Glad.”
The performances are on Friday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. Both performances will be held at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, near Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Tickets are available in advance at www.themcp.org, or at the door.
(Preferred Seating is $40, General Admission is $24/$28 and Students are $10)
The concerts feature a carefully curated selection of vocal music and readings, with the intent to lead the listener along a sublime journey of music and text.
Madison Choral Project is will partner again with Wisconsin Public Radio’s news editor Noah Ovshinsky (below), who will perform readings from works of Tim O’Brien, Billy Collins, William Wordsworth and others.
The Madison Choral Project will sing an eclectic mix of holiday-themed music in four sets, ranging from the 17th century to brand new compositions.
The program features two exciting world premieres by Eric Barnum (below top), the choral director at UW-Oshkosh, and MCP’s Composer in Residence, Jasper Alice Kaye (below bottom).
The first set of pieces, “Welcome to the Holy Space,” includes A Child’s Prayer by James MacMillan, Sanctus from Mass in G by Francis Poulenc and Our Father by Alexandre Gretchaninoff.
The second set, “Winter Comforts,” features two new commissions written for Madison Choral Project. Winter by Eric William Barnum will be followed by The Invitation by Jasper Alice Kaye. Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre will finish the set.
The third set, “Glad Tidings,” includes the concert’s titular piece, I Was Glad by C.H.H. Parry (heard in the YouTube video at the bottom), as well as beautiful works by Matthew Culloton, William Dawson and Jan Sandstrøm.
The final set, “Gathering and Blessing,” contains joyous settings of familiar texts set by Francis Poulenc, Ludwig van Beethoven, and arranger John Ferguson.
For more information or tickets, go to www.themcp.org.
By Jacob Stockinger
Was Shinichi Suzuki (seen below teaching British students in 1980) a fraud?
You might recall that he is the man who invented the famous Suzuki Method for learning strings and other kinds of musical instruments, including the piano. Entire schools are based on his method.
O’Connor (below) is the same musician who teaches at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston and who plays and records best-selling CDs like “Appalachian Journey” with bassist Edgar Meyer and superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Now The Ear suspects there will be millions, probably tens or hundreds of millions, of parents and young people – all Suzuki students at one time – who might wish to disagree with O’Connor.
And it sure seems like the Suzuki has led to a lot of Asian students and others who learned through Suzuki playing in major orchestras and attending major conservatories.
At the bottom is YouTube method by a Dallas-based Suzuki teacher who tries to explain and defend the Suzuki Method as a “natural” method that is based on the idea of a “mother tongue.”
But you should make up you own mind about such matters, which are as ethical as they are pedagogical or musical and which force us to confront the practicality and efficacy of competing teaching methods.
Be sure to read the more than 100 comments from readers.
See what you think and then let us know.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Today is Mother’s Day, 2014.
That makes it the 100th anniversary of the national holiday that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in 1914, as World War I was beginning. The timing then seemed appropriate since the now festive and consumer-driven holiday was started in 1908 by Anna Jarvis as a way to honor fallen soldiers and to work for peace.
Here is a link to a story about the holiday’s history — with information about how Mother’s Day is celebrated in the Midwest and the Arab world — from National Geographic Society:
In past years I have asked: What is the best music you can think of to express Mother’s Day? ?Songs My Mother Taught Me” by Antonin Dvorak? The lovely and moving “mother” movement from the “German” Requiem by Johannes Brahms? The beautiful song cycle “Frauenliebe- und -leben” (A Woman’s Loves and Life) by Robert Schumann?
Here is a Top 10 list from Limelight Magazine:
Today I want to challenge to take a Mother’s Day quiz that appeared on the “Deceptive Cadence” blog on NPR.
Here is a link:
But this year my thoughts are more personal.
The Ear lost his Mom a year ago last March, but in the time since then I have had plenty of time to think about the loss and to see what music comes to mind when I think of her.
Now she was not a sophisticated listener of classical music.
But she loved a lot of fine music and had good taste.
But it also embodies my Mom for two reasons.
One reason: When I was young she took to see Arthur Rubinstein (below top) at Carnegie Hall (below bottom) – she even got STAGE sets — for his all-Chopin recital on Nov. 10, 1961. (I later found out that a young Emanuel Ax was also in the audience that evening, and was as impressed it as I was.) Rubinstein played that waltz, as I recall, perhaps as an encore.
More importantly, she also liked the particular Chopin waltz because I played it. In fact she probably liked the way I played more than the way Rubinstein did.
I was her son, after all, and Rubinstein wasn’t.
So this one is for you, Mom, on your day:
Now, if you care to, please leave me a REPLY, with a link to YouTube video if possible, of the one piece of music -– instrumental, song or opera aria, whatever -– that you would like to play and dedicate to you Mom whether she is living or not.
The Ear wants to hear.
And so would your Mom.
By Jacob Stockinger
School is out, for the most part, and many families will be looking for a way that children can pursue cultural enrichment activities.
Or maybe parents are looking for a way to replace what many budget-strapped schools districts have been cutting out.
For that case, music lessons might loom large – whether they are started in the summer, or the summer is an interim before music lessons start in the fall.
But parents, especially parents who themselves have no experience in music, can have a lot of hard questions:
When should children start taking music lessons?
What is the best instrument for a particular child?
How can you tell if you have found the right teacher?
How can get your child to practice without being a nag?
And how far should you be encouraging of playing and performing?
These are just some of the tips that were feature all this past week on NPR, derived from the radio show “From the Top,” which highlights and showcases young talent around the country. The series is called, in a reference to a composition by British composer Benjamin Britten, “The Young Person‘s Guide to Making Music.”
The Ear found the series – which has a lot of specifics and a lot of links – a terrific primer. Now he wonder if they will do the same for ADULT MUSIC STUDENTS since they often face difficult and confusing questions, as well as self-doubt and a lack of confidence, about starting late.
Anyway, here are some of the topics covered by the NPR series, which has performed a valuable public service and deserve all our thanks. BE SURE TO READ SOME OF THE COMMENTS AND TIPS ABOUT THE SERIES LEFT ON THE NPY BLOG ‘DECEPTIVE CADENCE.”
And if you have tips from personal or professional experience, please share them in the COMMENTS section of this blog.
Finding the right instrument for your child:
Finding the right teacher for your child:
Getting kids to practice without a fight:
How to be a supportive and encouraging parent without becoming overbearing and overly ambitious:
How to help your child through the anxiety of the nerve-wracking process of auditioning or competing in a competition?