The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The UW’s fifth annual Schubertiade traced the composer’s entire career with lovely singing and beautiful playing

January 31, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show once a month on Sunday morning on WORT FM 89.9 FM. For years, he served on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison. Barker also took the performance photos.

By John W. Barker

The annual “Schubertiade” has become not only a firm tradition but also invariably one of the highlights of each season. And so it was again on last Sunday afternoon on-stage at the UW-Madison’s Mills Hall.

These programs have been organized, run and performed by that magnificent couple (below), Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes.

Each plays the piano and Martha also sings (below).

For this year’s fifth annual Schubertiade, the program was not just a replica of the musicales that Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and his friends would enjoy. It was instead an extra-long venture (running almost three hours) in chronological comprehensiveness, offering one or more selections from each successive year of the composer’s creative span (1812-28). It was funded this year, by the way, by the generous Ann Boyer.

The result was a mixture of 21 solo songs, three vocal ensembles, two chamber works and three pieces for four-hand piano duo—the last played, of course, by our founding couple.

There was one guest singer, mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood (below), a sensitive artist who teaches at UW-Whitewater, but whose vibrato was somewhat excessive. Otherwise, the performers were faculty members or students at the UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, and all of them were simply wonderful.

Of the two instrumental ensemble pieces, one was an adaptation of Schubert’s Sonatina written for violin and piano but played in an adaptation for cello by Parry Karp (below).

The other was the superb Quartettsatz (Quartet Movement), played with mature power by the Hunt Quartet (below), made up of graduate students.

The three ensemble items were delightful novelties. The first was Schubert’s rewrite of a trio, Die Advokaten (below), in which two lawyers squeeze their fees out of a rich client.

Another was a charming soprano duet. The third was a vocal quartet with piano, Des Tages Weihe (Consecration of the Day), rich in ensemble beauty. (You can hear the piece on the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The songs were also a mix of very familiar and rarely heard, so many of them rich experiences. It is daunting to single out exceptional ones, for there was so much lovely singing and there were so many masterpieces. Personally, I found myself particularly moved by the absolutely gripping performance of Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel) by soprano Claire Powling (below).

And I really admired the beautiful singing of young soprano Talia Engstrom and veteran tenor Benjamin Liupiaogo. Beyond the solo performances, though, was an interesting expansion of the Erlkönig done by four singers cast in distinct “roles” in the text.

After the whole company took bows (below), there was the customary finale in the song An die Musik (To Music) in which the audience joined the singers.

Long may this wonderful Schubertian tribute that the founding couple has created continue!


Classical music: On Friday night, UW bassoonist Marc Vallon and friends perform a FREE concert of music from the Baroque and modern eras. You can also hear a FREE concert of songs and guitar music at noon.

January 25, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

Although the major classical music event on Friday is the concert, at 7:30 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, with violinist-wife and cellist-husband soloists Soh-Hyun Park Altino and Leonardo Altino, there are two other concerts worth noting.

This Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature guitarists and singers Helen Avakian and Dave Irwin (below). They will perform music by Peter Mayer and Enrique Correa as well as traditional Greek music.

On Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, UW-Madison bassoonist Marc Vallon (below, in a photo by James Gill) and friends will perform a faculty recital of music from the Baroque and modern eras, including arrangements by Vallon himself.

The other performers are: John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord; Aaron Hill and Zachary Pulse, oboe; Daniel Fung and Satoko Hayami, piano; and David Scholl, contrabass.

The program includes:

Franz Schubert: Sonatina for Violin D. 384 (written in 1816) by Franz Schubert

Jan Dismas Zelenka (below ): Sonata No. 5 for two oboes, bassoon and continuo, ZWV 181 (1720-22), which you can hear in the YouTube video at the bottom.


Marc Vallon: Cantus II for bassoon and piano (2017)

Béla Bartók (below), Five Romanian Folk Songs (1907-1910), arranged by Marc Vallon. Bagpipers-Bear Dance- The Peacock- Lamento- White Lily

Various authors, Three English songs (ca. 1965) arranged by Marc Vallon

Classical music: The fifth annual Schubertiade is this Sunday afternoon at the UW-Madison and will chronicle Franz Schubert’s short but prolific career year by year

January 23, 2018

CORRECTION: The concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra this Friday night in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center starts at 7:30 p.m. — NOT at 7 as was incorrectly stated in an early version of yesterday’s posting and on Wisconsin Public Radio.

By Jacob Stockinger

On this Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., the fifth annual Schubertiade — celebrating the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828, below) will take place in Mills Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

The informal and congenial mix of songs and chamber music in a relaxed on-stage setting and with fine performers is always an informative delight. And this year promises to be a special one. (Performance photos are from previous Schubertiades.)

Tickets are $15 for the general public, and $5 for students. Students, faculty and staff at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music get in for free.

A reception at the nearby University Club will follow the performance.

For more information about the event and about obtaining tickets, go to:

Pianist and singer Bill Lutes (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), who plans the event with his pianist-wife and UW-Madison professor Martha Fischer, explained the program and the reasoning behind it:

“This year’s Schubertiade is a program that could never have actually occurred during the composer’s lifetime. It is in fact a year-by-year sampling of Schubert’s music, spanning the full range of his all-too-brief career.

“As with our previous programs, we still focus on those genres which were most associated with the original Schubertiades (below, in a painting) – those informal social gatherings in the homes of Schubert’s friends and patrons, often with Schubert himself presiding at the piano, where performances of the composer’s lieder, piano music, especially piano duets, and vocal chamber music intermingled with poetry readings, dancing, games and general carousing.

“Our hope on this occasion is to present the development of Schubert’s unique art in much the same way we might view a special museum exhibition that displays the lifetime achievements of a great visual artist.

“Thus we will follow Schubert from his earliest work, heavily influenced by Haydn and Mozart, and his studies with Antonio Salieri, to the amazing “breakthrough” settings of Goethe’s poems in 1814 and 1815, and on to the rich procession of songs and chamber music from his final decade. (Below is a pencil drawing by Leopold Kupelwieser of Schubert at 14.)

As always we have chosen a number of Schubert’s best-known and loved favorites, along side of lesser-known, but equally beautiful gems.

We are also particularly delighted to work with a large number of School of Music students and faculty, as well as our featured guest, mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood (below), who teaches at the UW-Whitewater.

(D. numbers refer to the chronological catalogue of Schubert’s work by Otto Erich Deutsch, first published in 1951, and revised in 1978.)

SCHUBERTIADE 2018 – Schubert Year by Year: Lieder, Chamber Music and Piano Duets by Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


Rachel Wood (RW)

Katie Anderson (KA), Matthew Chastain (MC), James Doing (JD), Wesley Dunnagan (WD), Talia Engstrom (TE), Mimmi Fulmer (MFulmer), Benjamin Liupiaogo (BL), Claire Powling (CP), Cheryl Rowe (CR), Paul Rowe (PF), singers

The Hunt Quartet, Chang-En Lu, Vincius Sant Ana, Blakeley Menghini, Kyle Price (HQ)

Parry Karp, cello (PK)

Bill Lutes (BL) and Martha Fischer (MF), pianists (below)


1811   Fantasie in G minor, D. 9 (MF, BL)

1812   Klaglied, D. 23 (Lament )– Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (MF, BL)

            Die Advokaten, D. 37 (The Lawyers, comic trio) after Anton Fischer)     (PR,BL, WD, MF)

1813   Verklärung, D. 59 Transfiguration – Alexander Pope (RW, BL)

1814   Adelaide, D. 95Friedrich von Matthisson (WD, MF)

            Der Geistertanz, D. 116 The Ghost Dance – Matthisson (MC, BL)

            Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118 Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel –         Goethe (CP, MF)

1815   Wanderers Nachtlied I, D. 224 Wanderer’s Nightsong – Goethe (MF, BL)

            Erlkönig, D. 328 The Erl-king – Goethe (TE, MC, WD, CP, MF, BL)

1816  Sonata for violin and piano in D Major, D. 384 (PK, below, BL)

           Allegro, Andante, Allegro vivace

1817   Der Tod und das Mädchen, D. 531 Death and the Maiden – Matthias   Claudius (RW, MF)

            Erlafsee, D. 586 Lake Erlaff – Johann Mayrhofer (CR, BL)

            Der Strom, D. 565 The River – anon. (PR, MF)

1818   Deutscher with 2 Trios in G (MF, BL)

            Singübungen, D. 619 Singing Exercises (CP, TE, BL)


1819   Die Gebüsche, D. 646 The Thicket – Friedrich von Schlegel (RW, BL)

1820   String Quartet #12 in C Minor “Quartetsatz” (HQ)

1821   Geheimes, D. 719 A Secret – Goethe (TE, MF)

1822   Des Tages Weihe, D. 763 Consecration of the Day (KA, MF, WD, MC,BL)

1823   Drang in die Ferne, D. 770 The Urge to Roam – K.G. von Leitner (MC,BL)

             from Die Schöne Müllerin, Mein, D. 795 Mine – W. Müller (WD, MF)

1824   Grand March No. 6 in E major, D. 819 (MF, BL)

1825   Im Abendrot, D. 799 Sunset Glow – Karl Lappe (RW, MF)

             An mein Herz, D. 860 To my Heart- Ernst Schulze (BenL, MF)

1826   Am Fenster, D. 878 At the Window – J. G. Seidl (MFulmer, below, BL)

1827   from Winterreise Frühlingstraum, D. 911 Dream of Spring – Muller(RW,MF)

1828   Die Sterne, D. 939 The Stars – Leitner (KA, BL)

          from Schwanengesang (Swansong), D. 957

          Ständchen (JD, MF) –Serenade – Ludwig Rellstab

          Die Taubenpost (PR, MF)The Pigeon Post – J.G. Seidl

An die Musik, D. 547 To Music (below) – Franz von Schober

Everyone is invited to sing along. You can find the words in your texts and translations.


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Classical music: What is it like to play music with a spouse? Local wife-and-husband violinist and cellist open the winter Masterworks season of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with the Brahms Double Concerto this Friday night

January 22, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

This Friday night at 7:30 p.m. — NOT 7 as first stated here mistakenly — in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, 201 State Street, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below top) and music director-conductor Andrew Sewell (below bottom) will open the WCO’s winter Masterworks season.

The program is typical of Sewell’s eclecticism. It features well-known and lesser-known works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

It includes the Sinfonia in A minor by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach; the Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9, by Arnold Schoenberg; and the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms.

Tickets run $15-$80 with $10 student tickets available.

For more information about the concert, the performers, tickets and pre-concert dinners, call (608) 257-0638 or go to the website:

The highlight of the concert is sure to be the wife-and-husband team who are soloists in the Brahms concerto. They are violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music, and cellist Leonardo, or Leo, Altino, who teaches full-time at the Wheaton College Conservatory near Chicago and occasionally privately in Madison.  Together they have also recorded for the MSR Classics label the CD “En Voyage” with sonatas for violin and cello by Zoltan Kodaly, Maurice Ravel and Paul Desenne.

If a small ensemble such as a string quartet or piano trio has special personal dynamics to contend with, imagine how intense a husband-and-wife pairing can be.

What is it like for spouses to make music together?

That is what The Ear wanted to explore and the two soloists (below) graciously responded with the following Q&A:

Is playing together any different from playing separately or alone? How so?

Soh-Hyun: Playing together and separately are completely different experiences because of the types of listening that are involved. When we play together, our ears are immediately drawn to how our playing is matched or not in terms of articulation, shape, and decay of the notes and phrases.

We have different strengths and weaknesses that we’re now well aware of after 16 years of playing together, and we naturally rely on each other’s strengths in preparing for performances.  We have played together a lot in string quartets, piano trios  and also as a duo; I definitely feel at ease if Leo is part of the ensemble.

Leo: Absolutely! Allow me to explain it this way. Preparing for a concert is much like preparing a great meal. There are a lot of steps that go into it. You must have a clear idea or vision of what dishes you want to serve, how they complement each other, what ingredients to get, the quality of the ingredients, the proportions when combining, prepping the ingredients and on and on.

Playing together is like cooking with someone whom you’ve cooked with for decades. We anticipate each other’s moves a lot better. There is little explaining needed. We have performed together during the entirety of our marriage, and it has brought us closer together musically and emotionally. We come easily to agreement on musical issues, but we also agree philosophically – why we play and how we view each performance. We also support each other a lot and have become each other’s best teacher.

How do you resolve differences of interpretation and other issues in a given work or score?

Leo: We try each other’s ideas wholeheartedly. We make sure to give our best effort to each other’s ideas, make suggestions and try again if necessary, and often record ourselves playing so that we can be more objective. Then we make the decisions together. Sometimes, we simply go with the person with the stronger opinion about a passage.

Soh-Hyun: In the beginning of our relationship, we used to talk a lot to explain our interpretations and how to play them. Now we are convinced that the end results that we want in any passages are pretty similar; therefore, there is less talking and more trusting.

From time to time when our ideas do seem different, we go straight to recording ourselves and listen to it together. That usually stops any further arguments.  On a practical level, as parents of a seven-year-old, rehearsing together is often costly; we either need a babysitter or rehearse late in the evening. This encourages us to be efficient in our discussions and listen better in order to resolve our differences.

What role has making music together played in your relationship and your marriage?

Leo: Because we’ve played so much together, we have learned a lot about one another – how we think, what we value, each other’s pet peeves, etc. Music has helped us learn to talk – even resolve conflicts – about things that we each feel passionate about in a constructive way. (You can hear them play part of the Piano Trio No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Soh-Hyun: We are both teachers of music, and that means that we are in the business of helping others listen and play better. I think in the first several years of our relationship, I used to struggle a lot with receiving constructive criticism from Leo. I guess I felt as though I should have been able to fix the problems myself.

But now I feel lucky that I can have a free lesson whenever I want. It’s common that I will pop into the kitchen and say, “Which sounds better?” and play a few different versions of a passage. Leo gives me his preference and even tries out the passage holding my violin like a cello (which, by the way, I don’t always feel at ease about).

What else would you like to say about performing together, the Brahms Double Concerto, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra or any other topic?

Leo: This was the first piece we performed together after we got married. It’s wonderful to go back to it after all these years. Writing a concerto for two solo instruments is a big challenge for any composer. The way Brahms (below) wrote for the violin and cello is almost like describing the relationship between two people who know each other deeply. Each has a unique personality. The two argue, but ultimately discover how to have a unified voice.

For example, the concerto begins with a dramatic cadenza in the cello, which winds down at the end to prepare for the more introspective entrance of the violin. The two instruments exchange ideas, raise their voices, and soon culminate in a unified manner at the end of their cadenza to invite the orchestra in.

It is a powerful and beautiful piece. I also think that great composers like Brahms wrote pieces like this almost like a tone poem in that every voice has a very significant role. Often during the concerto, even while the soloists are playing, other instruments may have equal or more important parts.

BOTH: It’s an honor to perform the Double Concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and conductor Andrew Sewell, and we’re really looking forward to our working together this week.


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Classical music: NPR and pianist Stephen Hough offers a fine appreciation of the contradictory but life-affirming gay 20th-century French composer Francis Poulenc on the 50th anniversary of his death.

February 10, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Francis Poulenc (below, a photo from Getty Images) remains one of my favorite 20th century composers.


His music is accessible and tonal, but distinctly modern. It is filled with wit and pathos as well as wonderfully bittersweet melodies and harmonies. And he wrote “crossover” before crossover was cool. He drew on the historical traditional of classical music but also on the French institution of the Music Hall.

Once treated as the buffoon of “Les Six” composers, he has proven the most durable of The Six, the one composer with the deepest talent and the most to say.

So I was particularly pleased to read the appreciation of Thursday, Jan. 30, the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death – the same day as the 216th birthday of Franz Schubert (below), another composer whose music is also so congenial and deep at the same time.

Schubert etching

There is something summery about Poulenc’s music, as I have written before, so thinking about him in deep winter is refreshing.

The more recent appreciation — complete with a wonderful YouTube video clip from the Concerto for two Pianos — was written by NPR classical music blogger Tom Huizenga (below), who directs the blog “Deceptive Cadence.” It captures the contradictions and beauty of this unique composer and man who seems like he would be good to know as a friend.

Here is a link to the blog post:


Here is a link to a wonderful appreciation by the gay British pianist Stephen Hough (below), who wrote it for his blog:


And here is one of my favorite pieces, his Novelette No. 1 for solo piano, with its poignant and charming neo-Classical or neo-Mozartean flavor, even down to the ornaments, as played on a YouTube video by Gabriel Tacchino along with the other two novelettes — the second one whimsical and the last darkly romantic. The triptych seems to capture the different sides of Francis Poulenc:


Classical music: Classical music host Rich Samuels at WORT-FM community radio in Madison wants to record and then broadcast recordings by local performers to mark J.S. Bach’s birthday on March 21, 2013.

January 30, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Attention professional and amateur musicians! Attention teachers and students, both private and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College!

Here is some news that The Ear thinks is so good and so welcome, you will probably want to forward it, link to it, Facebook and Twitter it.

You might remember that this year there will be no “Bach Around the Clock” from Wisconsin Public Radio, as The Ear announced in an earlier blog post:

But here is something of a substitute, or at least an addendum or supplement, to that event to celebrate the great Johann Sebastian (below).


It is an urgent but polite request, a direct solicitation from radio host Rich Samuels (below), who writes:

Rich Samuels

I’m preparing a special Bach’s Birthday edition of the Thursday 5-8 a.m. classical music program I host on WORT 89.9 FM, which will air, of course, on March 21. (WORT’s headquarters at 118 South Bedford Street in Madison is pictured below.)

WORT FM 89.9

“I’m hoping to include pre-recorded segments featuring performances by local Bach lovers. (I have the capability to make broadcast-quality recordings in the field).

“If you know of anyone who would like to participate in this joint effort, please let me know.”

Rich Samuels, WORT, 118 South Bedford Street, Madison WI 53703

WORT logo

Here is more contact information:

By way of details, Samuels adds:

“You can mention my effort whenever you wish. I’d like to get the recordings made in February. Of course, I have no idea how many people want to participate in this effort.

Participants will have to provide their own instruments, page-turners and performances spaces (but they are probably clever enough, in the case of keyboard artists, to have access, somewhere, to a well-tuned piano or harpsichord).

It’s probably best for people to contact me via this email address, so we can work out times and places.

My goal since I began hosting this show a couple of years ago is to feature local performers as much as possible.

rich samuels 2

And here is a link to an interesting story about Rich Samuels, who used to be a TV reporter in Chicago, and his new life in Madison:


Classical music: Are you listening, Richard Simmons? Classical music is great for exercising and improves our health. It lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, lowers stress and makes us more relaxed. And guess which piece by which composer does all that best? Plus, there is a FREE trombone recital, with two U.S. premieres, at the UW-Madison tonight.

January 28, 2013
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ALERT: TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, guest trombonist Dylan Chmura-Moore (below), who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, will perform a FREE recital fetauring “Subadobe” by Frederik Högberg; “Last Judgment” by Frederic Rzewski; “Saturniana” by Miguel Basim Chuaqui; the U.S. premiere of “BaKaTaKaBaKa” by Daniel Moreira; and the U.S. premiere of “Rouse” by Neal Farwell.

Dylan Chmura-Moore

By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about Sweatin’ to the Oldies!!!!

Campy fitness guru Richard Simmons (below) has nothing on Longhairs! And Golden Oldie Hits from the Sixties have nothing on Romantic-era composers from 200 years ago.


Can listening to classical music improve your health? And which part of which piece by which composer might do that the best? Check this out.

According to researchers and experts, it seems that classical music can indeed reduce your blood pressure and heart rate (or pulse).


So you might just want think about bringing some sweatpants, a tank top and workouts shoes to the upcoming concert by the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) on Feb. 8-10 when the MSO will perform the less frequently heard Fourth Symphony (the annotated fourth and final movement is in a YouTube video at the bottom) by Beethoven as well as Ravel’s “Rhapsodie Espagnole” and Prokofiev’s rarely heard “Sinfonia Concertante” with cello soloist Alban Gerhardt.


Beethoven big

Putting the salutary effects of musical beauty aside – and The Ear doesn’t think that any beauty should ever be put aside — you just might ask: Why and how does classical I music improve health?

Go to this link and see what the latest scientific research has to say about classical music and human health – including which pieces by which composers seem the ideal choice, and what criteria you  should use to personalize your choices of classical music to listen to reap health benefits:


Classical music: Can music provide a kick as big or as good as drugs? The Ear says it depends on the drug and the music. But NPR blogger Tom Huizenga and some others think so. What do you think? Check out The Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” production of “Maria Stuarda” today.

January 19, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is another Metropolitan Opera “Live in Hi Def” broadcast to movie theaters (at 11:55 a.m. CST at the Eastgate and Point cinemas in Madison).

The opera is Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role (below and at the bottom in a YouTube video of a previous production).

Here is a link with program notes and other information about the 3 hour and 15 minute production:


It has gotten good reviews. But none was better than the comments by Tom Huizenga (below), the director of and writer for NPR’s outstanding Deceptive Cadence” blog and some its readers. (Be sure to read the comments.)


Huizenga compared the jolt he got during the production to the ecstasy of some drugs.

Well, music and opera are sure a lot healthier ways to get high, if a bit less intense.

But you can decide for yourself.

Read his remarks.

Then please offer an opinion plus any examples of classical music when you too were taken by music, carried away as if by drugs. Was it the piece? The performer? Special or personal circumstances you found yourself in?

Did you get a “sonic high,” if you will.

Here is a link to Huizenga’s posting:


Classical music: Wisconsin Public Radio announces the annual Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition for 2013. Fortepiano house concert of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert is almost sold-out.

January 14, 2013
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AN ALERT: Word comes from early music master Trevor Stepehenson (below): “We have only eight seats remaining for the upcoming house concert with foretpiano on this coming Sunday afternoon, January 20.  I’ll play and talk about: Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor, K. 475, Haydn’s Sonata in F major, Hob. XVI:23, Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor op. 13 “Pathétique,” Chopin’s Nocturne in F major op. 15 no. 1, and a couple of Schubert’s Moment Musicaux. The concert starts at 3 p.m.; the house opens at 2:40 p.m. Drinks and treats will be served. Admission is $35. Reservations are required. Please let us know if you’d like to attend.  Very best wishes in the New Year! Trevor and Rose Stephenson, 5729 Forsythia Place, Madison WI 53705. Trevor Stephenson, Artistic Director of the Madison Bach Musicians. Contact and  Or call 608 238-6092.

Prairie Rhapsody 2011 Trevor Stephenson

By Jacob Stockinger

Every year, Wisconsin Public Radio offers young classical musicians a chance to win a statewide competition that brings both public exposure and prize money.

The contest, which many years ago started out for soloists, is open to soloists, duos, trios, quartets and quintets.

The deadline for entering is Jan. 25, 2013. Judging from live performances is on March 24. The winners’ concert and live broadcast on WPR’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” is April 7, 2013. (Below is the 2013 poster for the competition.)

Neale-Silva Poster 2013

Here is a link to the 2012 winners pictured below:

Neale-Silva winners 2012

Here is a link to general information:

Here is a link with rules and other information for this year’s competition:

And here is a link to an application you can download:

The winners’ concert this year will be broadcast from the “Sunday Afternoon Live at the Chazen” series (below, at the Chazen Museum of Art) rather than at the Wisconsin Union Theater, which is undergoing major renovation.


Some wonderful musicians get known through this competition and get heard far and wide. I know because I have heard them more than once. One noteworthy performer I particularly remember is Minnesota-raised violist Daniel Kim (below), who was a winner in 2011, while he was studying with Professor Sally Chisholm at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where she is also the violist of the Pro Arte String Quartet) and while he was playing with the Madison Symphony Orchestra; and who is now studying at Juilliard with Samuel Rhodes, the retiring violist of the famed Juilliard String Quartet.

neal-silva Daniel Kim

Another winner who went on to a large carer in music is tenor and composer Steven Ebel, who was a winner in 2001. Here he is during a recital and interview on WPR’s “The Midday” show:

And finally, here are some very young audience members and listeners with their reactions to the Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition’s winners recital in 2010:


Classical music: What New Year’s resolutions or wishes do you and other classical music fans and classical music makers have for 2013?

January 13, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

What should you wish for to benefit classical music in the coming year?

NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog put that question to two outstanding and Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary composers including Jennifer Higdon (below top, with her cat Beau) whose “blue cathedral” will be performed next weekend by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Kevin Puts, below bottom, whose work the MSO has also performed), a producer, a performer, a presenter and a couple of bloggers.

Jennifer Higdon and cat Beau

Kevin Puts pulitzer

The answers are predictable, for the most part.

But I see that as a plus.

With such unanimity or at least agreement, maybe these wishes can come true – to the betterment of classical music — in the coming year and the years that follow it.

My favorite wish is asking people to forego recordings for live concerts. Very do-able, no?

But take a look for yourself.

Then let us know what you think.

And leave your own wishes or resolutions in the COMMENTS sections.

Here is a link:


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