The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society announces its upcoming summer season of “Alphabet Soup” this June

March 18, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

The time for announcing new seasons has arrived.

Pretty soon, over the next several weeks and months, The Ear will hear from larger and smaller presenters and ensembles in the Madison area, and post their new seasons.

First out of the gate is the critically acclaimed and popular summer group, the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. (You can see a short promo video about BDDS on the YouTube video at the bottom.)

It has just announced its upcoming summer season this June, and sent out brochures with the season’s details.

This will be the 26th annual summer season and it has the theme of “Alphabet Soup.”

The concept is explained online and in a brochure newsletter (also online) in an editorial essay by BDDS co-founder and co-artistic director flutist Stephanie Jutt (seen below with co-founder and co-director pianist Jeffrey Sykes).

By the way, Jutt is retiring from the UW-Madison this spring but will continue to play principal flute with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and to work and perform with BDDS.

In many ways it will be a typical season of the eclectic group. It will feature local and imported artists. Many of both are favorites of The Ear.

His local favorites include UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor; violist Sally Chisholm of the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet; UW violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino (below top, in a photo by Caroline Bittencourt); and Pro Arte cellist Parry Karp (below bottom).

Among The Ear’s favorite guest artists are violinist Carmit Zori, clarinetist Alan Kay, the San Francisco Piano Trio (below top); UW alumna soprano Emily Birsan; pianist Randall Hodgkinson; and baritone Timothy Jones (below bottom).

As usual, the season features 12 concerts of six programs over three weeks (June 9-25) in three venues – the Playhouse in the Overture Center (below top), the Hillside Theater (below middle) at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Spring Green and the Stoughton Opera House (below bottom).

In addition, there is a FREE family concert in the Overture Playhouse on June 10.

What does seem somewhat new is the number of unknown composers and an edgier, more adventurous choice of pieces, including more new music and more neglected composers.

Oh, there will be classics by such composers as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Luigi Boccherini, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Bela Bartok, Arnold Schoenberg, Benjamin Britten and others. These are the ABC’s of the alphabet soup, according to BDDS.

But also represented are composers such as Philippe Gaubert, Czech Holocaust victim Gideon Klein (below), Guillaume Conneson, Carl Czerny, Paul Moravec and Franz Doppler. These are the XYZ’s of the alphabet soup.

In between come others. Contemporary American composer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Kevin Puts (below) is a BDDS favorite and is well represented. You will also find less performed works by Ned Rorem, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gerald Finzi.

For the complete programs and schedules as well as the list of performers, some YouTube videos and ticket prices, both for season tickets ($109.50, $146, $182 and $219) and for individual concerts ($43), and other information, go to:

http://bachdancinganddynamite.org/concerts/festival-concerts/


Classical music: Does movie music qualify as classical music? Edgewood Chamber Orchestra concert this afternoon has been CANCELLED

February 25, 2017
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ALERT: The concert by Edgewood Chamber Orchestra scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today — Sunday, Feb. 26  — has been CANCELLED. The cancellation was caused by a heating issue in the performance venue. The Chamber Orchestra’s season will continue with its next performance on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

By Jacob Stockinger

The Oscars (below) will be given out this Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. CST on ABC-TV.

Around the nation and the world, more and more symphony orchestras and chamber music groups are turning to performing movie music to attract new audiences — and to explore new repertoire.

And that includes the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Two seasons ago, acclaimed British violinist Daniel Hope soloed with the MSO to explore movie scores by exiled European composers including Franz Waxman, Miklos Rozsa and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

This past fall, the MSO put the Chaconne from the film “The Red Violin,” composer by John Corigliano, on the opening program of this season. And this summer, the MSO will perform music by John Williams used in the Harry Potter films.

This morning from 10 a.m. until noon, Wisconsin Public Radio will use the listener’s choice program “Classics By Request” to air its annual Salute to the Oscars that includes past film scores and those up for Academy Awards this year.

YL Oscar foods statue

So this seems a great time to raise the question: “Do film scores qualify as classical music”?

The question was recently debated for Gramophone magazine by the critic Jed Distler and two distinguished contemporary composers who have written for the concert hall and for Hollywood: Philip Glass (below top) and John Corigliano (below bottom).

Philip Glass

John Corigliano

It is a fascinating discussion that may surprise you. One great crossover example that The Ear loves is the String Quartet No. 3 by Philip Glass, which is based on the same composer’s full score for the film”Mishima.” (You can hear the last movement in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is a link to that discussion:

https://www.gramophone.co.uk/feature/debate-when-is-film-music-classical

Don’t forget to leave your favorite movie score and what you think about movie music and classical music in the COMMENTS section.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society will perform a FREE concert this Sunday afternoon to help bring neglected Jewish music “out of the shadows” of history. Part 2 of 2.

August 27, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society write:

The U.S. component of a major international research project, “Performing the Jewish Archive,” led by the University of Leeds, in England, has attracted significant funding to shine new light on forgotten works by Jewish artists.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the City of Madison are uniquely situated as the sole hosts for the global project’s performance events within the United States; one of the premier public research-intensive universities in the world, located in a community that lives and breathes diverse arts, while striving for social change.

Out of shadows poster

Here, in Madison, under the leadership of Teryl Dobbs, Chair of Music Education at the UW-Madison, “Out of the Shadows: Rediscovering Jewish Music, Literature and Theater” will be a full-day event held on this Sunday, August 30, 2015.

Local partners include the UW-Madison School of Music, Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture, and the Arts Institute at UW-Madison; and the Bach Dancing andDynamite Society.

Yesterday The Ear posted the schedule of all FREE events.

Here is a link to that post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/classical-music-the-uw-madison-and-the-bach-dancing-and-dynamite-society-will-hold-free-events-this-coming-sunday-to-help-bring-neglected-jewish-music-and-culture-out-of-the-shadows/

Today’s post focuses on the classical music in the event:

The Ear’s friend Jeffrey Sykes of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society writes:

The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is proud to partner with Performing the Jewish Archive’s “Out of the Shadows” event by performing neglected and suppressed Jewish music from the early 20th Century.

The FREE concert will be held this Sunday 2:30-4:30 p.m. in the Atrium Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive.

The program includes music from two composers who died at Auschwitz. Erwin Schulhoff’s flute sonata is a passionate mix of impressionism and jazz. Dick Kattenburg’s quartet for flute, violin, cello and piano is an irrepressible romp full of Gershwin-esque melodies and harmonies.

Robert Kahn (below) is a composer from an earlier generation whose work was suppressed by the Nazis. We perform his gorgeous song cycle “Jungbrunnen” (The Fountain of Youth) for soprano, violin, cello and piano.

Robert Kahn

The program concludes with two works by the Viennese wunderkind Erich Wolfgang Korngold (below). Already well-known in Austria, Korngold had begun to compose music for Hollywood movies. He was working California in 1938 when the Anschluss took place, and he never returned to his homeland.

We begin with three beautiful songs he composed for his mother and continue with his Suite for piano left-hand, two violins and cello based on those songs. A thrilling and important composition, the Suite was written for the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm in World War I.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold BW piano

Adds BDDS flutist Stephanie Jutt:

Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg (1919-1944, below) barely got started before his career and his life ended at Auschwitz at age 24. A supremely gifted young composer, bursting with originality and ingenuity, his love of jazz and the popular idioms of the day make his music irresistible – by turns a bit of Stravinsky, a bit of Wizard of Oz, a bit of Duke Ellington. His two dozen complete works were hidden in the attic where his mother had kept them, and were discovered by his sister, Daisy.

Dick Kattenburg

The music of Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942, below) has become widely known over the last 20 years. Denounced as “Entartete Musik” (degenerate music) by the Nazis, he died in Wülzburg concentration camp. During the 30 years of his active career he wrote sonatas, quartets, sextets, jazz piano pieces, stage music, an opera, eight symphonies, and at least one oratorio.

Schulhoff, like Kattenburg, also fell in love with American jazz, and his flute sonata of 1927 reflects the infectious American rhythmic vitality with his great interest in the traditional music of Czechoslovakia.

Erwin Schulhoff

Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society performers are: Emily Birsan, soprano; Stephanie Jutt, flute; Parry Karp, cello; Leanne League, violin; Axel Strauss, violin; and Jeffrey Sykes, piano.

PROGRAM

Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942): Flute Sonata (1928). Jutt, Sykes

Robert Kahn (1865-1951): Seven Songs from Jungbrunnen, op. 46, for soprano and piano trio (1906). Birsan, League, Karp, Sykes

Dick Kattenburg: Quartet for flute, violin, cello and piano. Jutt, Strauss, Karp, Sykes.

Intermission

Erich Wolfgang Korngold 
(1897-1957): Three Songs, op. 22, for soprano and piano (1930). Birsan, Sykes

Erich Wolfgang Korngold 
(1897-1957): Suite, op. 23, for piano left hand, two violins, and cello (1930). Strauss, League, Karp, Sykes

For more about the performers, visit bachdancinganddynamite.org.

Here are biographies of the performers:

Founding Artistic Director STEPHANIE JUTT (below) is professor of flute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and principal flute of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. She is a winner of the International Pro Musicis Competition.

Stephanie Jutt in Gustavino at Taliesin BDDS 2014

Founding Artistic Director and pianist JEFFREY SYKES (below) is a faculty member of the University of California-Berkeley. He is a member of the San Francisco Piano Trio.

jeffrey sykes

Soprano EMILY BIRSAN (below) has completed her third year as a member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, she is appearing with the Boston Lyric Opera this year.

Emily Birsan MSO 2014

Cellist PARRY KARP (bel0w) is artist-in-residence and professor of chamber music and cello at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been cellist of the Pro Arte Quartet for the past 37 years.

Parry Karp

Violinist LEANNE KELSO LEAGUE (below) is assistant concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and associate concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. She also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and is a member of the Ancora String Quartet.

Leanne League profile

Violinist AXEL STRAUSS (below), winner of the International Naumburg Award, is professor of violin at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal. He is also a member of the San Francisco Piano Trio.

Axel Strauss


Classical music education: WYSO honors James and Geri Grine with the Rabin Youth Arts Award for Youth Arts Supporters. Plus, the final performance of “Exiled in Hollywood” by the Madison Symphony Orchestra is TODAY at 2:30 p.m.

March 8, 2015
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ALERT: This afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall is the last performance of “Exiled in Hollywood” with British violin soloist Daniel Hope (below) and John DeMain conducting the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The music, composed by refugees from Nazi Europe, is by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa and Franz Waxman.

Here is a link to my Q&A with Daniel Hope:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/classical-music-violinist-daniel-hope-explores-the-music-created-by-musicians-who-emigrated-from-the-nazi-europe-to-hollywood-and-composed-film-scores-he-performs-that-music-with-the-madison-symphon/

And here is a link to a rave review by Greg Hettmansberger for his Madison Magazine blog “Classically Speaking”:

http://www.channel3000.com/madison-magazine/arts-culture/Madison-Symphony-mixes-movies-with-more-musical-magic/31668436

Daniel Hope playing

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following news from the office of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO):

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2015 Rabin Youth Arts Award recipients.

They are James and Geri Grine, who will receive the award in the category of Artistic Achievement. The award is a glass sculpture (below) designed and made by artist Colleen Ott of Spring Green. It will be presented at state Arts Day on this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at the downtown Central Branch of the Madison Public Library.

Colleen Ott Rabin award 2015

Deserving individuals and organizations from across the state were nominated for their support of youth arts across all disciplines.

Jim and Geri Grine have been fervent supporters of the arts in Oshkosh and throughout Wisconsin. Through their careers as musicians, conductors, teachers and arts administrators, the Grines have promoted and expanded performing arts opportunities for youth in Oshkosh and the state of Wisconsin.

Geri Grine (below) has been a long-time orchestra director and music teacher at both Oshkosh high schools. She has been the conductor and Musical Director of the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra for 28 years. Geri created the Oshkosh Youth Symphony’s Philharmonia Orchestra in 2008. She has sponsored several hands-on artist residencies for local high school students as a board member for Project SOAR.

Geri also founded the Suzuki program at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. From 1996 to 2006, Geri built a Suzuki string program in her native Hawaii. This would be become the first string program on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Geri Grine

Since 2008, Jim Grine (below) has served as the Volunteer Executive Director of the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra. He has been instrumental in raising funds to support the symphony’s Art and Music Synergy Programs, which has led to several collaborations between local arts organizations. Under Jim, the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra devotes one-third of its annual income to supporting the Oshkosh Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Jim was also instrumental in the creation of the Water City Chamber Orchestra which performs an annual concert for third graders in the Oshkosh School District.

Jim Grine

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, located in Madison, Wisconsin, presents the Rabin Youth Arts Awards in honor of their founding conductor, Marvin Rabin (below), as a means to honor those who follow in his footsteps. The awards are a forum for promoting quality youth arts programs and honoring those who work diligently to provide arts opportunities for children throughout Wisconsin. They also serve as a means to elevate awareness in our community about the importance of arts education for all children.

marvin rabin BW

Now celebrating its 49th season, WYSO membership has included more than 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin. WYSO, currently under the artistic direction of James Smith, includes three full orchestras, a string orchestra, a chamber music program, a percussion ensemble, a harp ensemble and a brass choir program. For more information, visit www.wyso.music.wisc.edu


Classical music: Violinist Daniel Hope explores the music created by composers who emigrated from Nazi Europe to Hollywood and wrote film scores. He performs that music with the Madison Symphony Orchestra this weekend.

March 2, 2015
6 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

British violinist Daniel Hope (below) is a man on a mission.

Hope wants to foster the public’s appreciation of the composers who had to flee from Nazi Europe during World War II and who ended up exiled in Hollywood, where they composed film scores. They ended up creating the  “Hollywood sound” and often won Oscars or Academy Awards, but recognition as serious concert composers usually eluded them.

Daniel Hope playing

Until recently.

Lately, a rediscovery of their merits has been taking place, and Hope will explore that legacy with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and its longtime music director and conductor John DeMain.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

John DeMain full face by Prasad

Performances are in Overture Hall on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

The program for “Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound” includes the Violin Concerto and Suite from “Captain Blood” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold; the Sinfonietta for Strings and Tympani, and the score to “Taras Bulba” by Franz Waxman, who also founded the Los Angeles Music Festival in 1947; and the “Theme, Variations and Finale” as well as “The Parade of the Charioteers” and the “Love Theme” from “Ben-Hur” and the “Love Theme” from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” by Miklos Rozsa.

Tickets are $16-$84 plus fees for the Overture Center.

For program, information about tickets and links to audio samples, visit: http://madisonsymphony.org/hope

For more about the music, here are the program notes by MSO trombonist Michael Allsen who also teaches at the UW-Whitewater:

http://facstaff.uww.edu/allsenj/MSO/NOTES/1415/6.Mar15.html

The award-winning Daniel Hope, who is busy touring and recording, graciously took time to answer a Q&A for The Ear:

Daniel Hope full face

How would you compare in seriousness and quality these “exiled in Hollywood” composers and their music to other well-known 20th-century composers and mainstream modern classical music?

I don’t make comparisons in music. The composers who escaped the Nazis found themselves for the most part in a very different set of circumstances than those for which they were trained. They were incredibly talented and had to adapt quickly.

I think the more interesting question is what would have happened to 20th-century music if countless musicians and composers had not been forced to leave Europe. (Below is a photo of Igor Stravinsky, on the left, and Franz Waxman in Los Angeles, where Waxman founded a music festival in 1947.) The world of music would be a very different place indeed.

franz waxman with stravinsky

Why do you think these composers and this music were kept out of the concert hall for so long? What traits most mark each composer’s style?

In those days, even writing one number for a movie would almost certainly have ruined your reputation as a “serious composer.” It was seen as selling out. The fact that many of these composers were trying to survive, to support their families and to get their relatives out of Europe, was often forgotten — especially after World War II.

But they were also phenomenally talented at what they did. As the son of Miklos Rozsa (below) wrote to me recently, one day these composers may actually be forgiven for writing film music.

Miklos Rozsa BW

In the case of Korngold (below), he was one of the first to really introduce a leitmotif, a recurring theme that followed the character throughout the film. Essentially an operatic composer, Korngold described each film for which he scored as “an opera without singing,” his music no longer passively accompanying the images but actively engaging in dialogue, emotion and presentation. I believe both Korngold and Max Steiner totally changed American film music, also by adding a fin-de-siècle European symphonic grandeur.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold BW piano

How much of their current appeal is cultural interest, human interest or personal stories, or the quality of the music itself?

I think it’s all of the above. But if you look at the symphonic works of some of the composers, Korngold’s and Rosza’s Violin Concertos or Waxman’s oratorio “The Song of Terezin,” you will find music of the highest quality. And let’s not forget, it was Mahler and Richard Strauss who forecast a great future for the young Korngold. (You can hear the lovely second movement of Korngold’s Violin Concerto performed by Hilary Hahn in a popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

What factors explain their revival as concert music? How did you rediscover them and become interested in them? Has a loosening of formal definitions of classical genres helped their revival?

I think both the role and the appeal of film music have changed in today’s society. I had long been aware of this group of émigré musicians.

Next to music, I’ve always had a passion for film, most of all for the movies of “vintage Hollywood,” for me the period beginning with the epic cinematic storytelling of the 1930s. As a young violinist, I was struck as much by the sound of the violin in these movies of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. I especially took note of the violinists playing this glorious mood music. To a young boy in London, names like Toscha Seidel, Felix Slatkin, Eudice Shapiro and Louis Kaufman sounded as exotic as the films they embellished.

But then writing for the studio musicians of prewar and postwar Hollywood was a group of astonishing composers, many of whom had escaped the Nazis, and who helped shape what was to become the Hollywood Sound. (Below, y0u can hear excerpts from a sampler from the Deutsche Grammophon CD on which Daniel Hope explores the Hollywood Sound.)

Hollywood muisicians with reels of film

You have recorded this music and performed it many times elsewhere. How do audiences typically respond to it?

Audiences are generally extremely enthusiastic about the music. And many of them are moved or intrigued by the stories of these composers.

 

 

 

 

 


Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra announces its new 2014-15 season. It includes programs from Bach to Hollywood exiles from Hitler and the Nazis, acclaimed soloists and ticket prices with only modest increases.

March 19, 2014
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) has just announced its next season for 2014-15.

MSO-HALL

It strikes The Ear as both deeply interesting and tightly cohesive, a good blend of sure-fire hits and unknown or rarely heard repertoire. It also features some fine local talent and some unusual repertoire, though, unlike the past several seasons, no new or contemporary music is included. After all, this is a business with seats to fill, not some theoretical exercise in programming.

“You can’t have everything, especially when you are playing only eight concerts,” lamented MSO maestro John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) when he discussed the new season with me.

But, DeMain added, the MSO is exploring doing another Chicago Symphony Orchestra “Beyond the Score” format concert — like this season’s presentation of Antonin Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, which sold out — probably in January and probably with more than one performance, if they can find a sponsor to front the $50,000 cost. Then he will decide on what work out of more than 20 possibilities would be right.

John DeMain full face by Prasad

Concerts take place in Overture Hall in the Overture Center on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday nights at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.

The deadline for subscriptions renewals and keeping your current seat is May 8.

Here is the official press release that unveils the new season. The Ear also talked at length one-on-one with MSO music director and conductor John DeMain. Since the announcement is long enough for one post, DeMain’s insightful comments will appear a bit later in another post.

mso from above

MADISON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCES 2014-15 SEASON

Maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will deliver a diverse and exciting season of composers and guest artists for 2014-2015.

Beginning with a September program that focuses on the highly-talented musicians in the orchestra, DeMain will lead the audience through an exhilarating variety of themes and cultures throughout the season.  Russia, Scandinavia, and Golden-Age Hollywood are just a few of the sound worlds the MSO will explore, while monumental works central to the orchestra, such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, will anchor the year.

A world-class roster of guest artists has been invited to Madison for the season’s performances, including violinist Sarah Chang, pianist Olga Kern, violinist Daniel Hope, pianist Ingrid Fliter and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music pianist Christopher Taylor.

SEPTEMBER 19, 20 and 21, 2014

“Orchestral Splendor,” John DeMain, Conductor

RICHARD STRAUSS, “Also sprach Zarathustra”

FRANK MARTIN, Concerto for Seven Winds

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS, Symphony No. 3 (“Organ” Symphony)

German composer Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra was once among his least performed works, but it is now firmly established as standard orchestral repertoire.  The trumpet theme and thunderous timpani entrance (heard in Stanley Kubrick’s epic film “2001: A Space Odyssey”) are unmistakable.

Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds was written in 1949.  It features seven solo instruments, exploring differences in sonority and expression.  The virtuosic and conversational writing in these piece results in a playful, sportive character.

French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, known also as the “Organ” Symphony, draws on elements of both the conventional symphony and the tone poem. Formally unusual in its own time, yet popular from its conception, the work features virtuosic piano and organ passages and a masterful display of the vast colors possible in the symphony orchestra.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

OCTOBER 17, 18 and 19, 2014

“The Russian Spirit” with John DeMain, conductor, and Olga Kern (below), piano

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY, Suite from “Swan Lake”

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF, Concerto No. 1 for Piano

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH, Symphony No. 6

The Suite from “Swan Lake” tells the magical tale of a young prince enchanted by a swan maiden under the moonlight.  Peter Tchaikovsky’s charming work utilizes haunting melodies, captivating waltzes, Russian and Hungarian folk themes, and a Spanish dance.

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano displays a youthful freshness and an assertive, extroverted personality.  Indeed, the composer began this work when he was 17!  For audience members who delight in keyboard fireworks, this piece will thrill.

Symphony No. 6 by Dmitri Shostakovich, written as war clouds were gathering in Russia, was quite a contrast to Symphony No. 5.  Lopsided movement lengths, a lack of obvious theme, and characters of anxiety and desolation reflect the intriguing political situation of the time, as well as Shostakovich’s own remarkably wide emotional compass.

Olga Kern, Mogens Dahl Konsertsal 26.1.2009

NOVEMBER 7, 8 and 9, 2014

“Scandinavian Wonders” with John DeMain, conductor, and Sarah Chang (below), violin

EDVARD GRIEG, Lyric Suite

JEAN SIBELIUS, Concerto for Violin

CARL NIELSEN, Symphony No. 4 (“The Inextinguishable”)

Over the course of his long career, Edvard Grieg composed 66 Lyric pieces for piano, strongly rooted in the songs, dances, mythology, and spirit of Norway.  He selected four of these fragrant and diverse miniatures for an orchestral suite, premiered in 1906.

 “…For…10 years it was my dearest wish to become a great virtuoso.” wrote Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in his diary.  Unfortunately the composer never reached great proficiency on the instrument, and his Concerto for Violin, awash in Nordic textures, expresses a melancholic farewell to that childhood dream.

As a philosophical guideline to his often raging Symphony No. 4, Danish composer Carl Nielsen said, “Music is life, and, like life, inextinguishable”.  Four interlinked movements of frequently agitated energy lead to a climax of ultimate triumph and grand 19th century symphonic tradition.

Sarah Chang playing

DECEMBER 5, 6 and 7, 2014

A Madison Symphony Christmas

With John DeMain, conductor; Alyson Cambridge (below), soprano; Harold Meers, tenor; the Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, director; the Madison Youth Choirs, Michael Ross, artistic director; and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir, Leotha Stanley, director.

John DeMain and the Madison Symphony don their Santa hats for this signature Christmas celebration. This concert is filled with traditions, from caroling in the lobby with the Madison Symphony Chorus to vocal performances by hundreds of members of Madison’s musical community. Christmas classics are interwoven with enchanting new holiday music. The culminating sing-along is Madison’s unofficial start of the holiday season!

Alyson Cambridge

DeMain Santa Bob Rashid

FEBRUARY 13, 14 and 15, 2015

“Fliter Plays Chopin” with John DeMain, conductor, and Ingrid Fliter (below), piano

BENJAMIN BRITTEN, Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge

FREDERIC CHOPIN, Concerto No. 2 for Piano

ROBERT SCHUMANN, Symphony No. 4

Frank Bridge, one of Benjamin Britten’s earliest composition teachers, was certainly responsible for the surpassing clarity, individuality, and discipline in Britten’s most cherished works.  Britten’s “Variations” on Bridge’s theme range from passionate to playful, capturing the heartfelt musical admiration of a pupil for his teacher.

From the moment he arrived in Paris at age 21, Frederic Chopin drew the admiration of both the public and esteemed critics, alike.  Concerto No. 2 was in fact his first concerto, displaying the composer’s prolific improvisatory and imaginative style.  

In composing Symphony No. 4, Robert Schumann departed significantly from the standard Classical form he previously employed, connecting all four movements with recurring musical ideas–a novel proposition at the time.

Ingrid Fliter playing

MARCH 6, 7 and 8, 2015

“Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound” with John DeMain, conductor, and  Daniel Hope (below), violin

FRANZ WAXMAN, Sinfonietta for Strings and Timpani Ride of the Cossacks from “Taras Bulba”

MIKLÓS RÓZSA, Theme, Variations and Finale;  Parade of the Charioteers from “Ben Hur”;                          Love Theme from “Ben Hur”; Love Theme from “Spellbound”

ERICH KORNGOLD, Concerto for Violin and the  Suite from “Captain Blood”

This unique concert features the works of great classical composers before they fled Nazi persecution and also showcases their later brilliant contributions to Hollywood film scores.

Franz Waxman (below) is responsible for a long list of memorable Hollywood scores, including “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Rebecca.”  His Sinfonietta, written for only strings and timpani, is comprised of three wildly different movements. Waxman also composed the soundtrack for the 1962 epic, “Taras Bulba.”  “Ride of the Cossacks” is the exhilarating theme to which Taras and his army gallop to Dubno.

Franz Waxman

According to Miklos Rózsa (below), his “Theme” was conceived in the manner of a Hungarian folk song, then treated in variations of contrasting feeling, and summarized in a wild and swift finale.  The 1934 work earned him his first international success. By the late 1940’s Rózsa was an Oscar-winning, film score composer, and joined the staff of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer.  His thrilling score for the 1959 film “Ben Hur” is one of his lasting achievements, earning him his third and final Oscar.

Miklos Rozsa

The Concerto for Violin, written by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (bel0w top) in 1945, perfectly blends the two musical lives of the composer, unapologetic in both its rigorous craftsmanship and its Hollywood charm. “Captain Blood” was a milestone for Korngold, as it was his first fully symphonic movie score.  Produced in only three weeks, the music evidences his most professional and imaginative effort.

erich wolfgang korngold at piano

savannah_french

APRIL 10, 11 and 12, 2015

“Piano Genius” with John DeMain, conductor, and Christopher Taylor (below), piano

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, Concerto No. 4 for Clavier

FRANZ LISZT, Concerto No. 1 for Piano

ANTON BRUCKNER, Symphony No. 7

Concerto No. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach is part of a set of six concertos, dated to 1738.  The piece was originally written for harpsichord and is ripe with movement and ornamentation. Bach’s concertos laid a crucial formal and harmonic groundwork for centuries of composition to follow.

Franz Liszt’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano is more than a century-long leap forward in time. Liszt’s Romantic genius is unabashedly on display, with thick orchestration, cadenzas that range from delicate to thundering, and lush harmonies.

Anton Bruckner was a country man, transplanted into bustling cosmopolitan Vienna, and he and his music were unlikely successes with audiences and critics. His music was said to “compel the element of the divine into our human world”.

ChristopherTaylorNoCredit

MAY 8, 9 and 10, 2015

“Ode to Joy” with John DeMain, conductor; concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below top), violin; Melody Moore, soprano; Gwendolyn Brown, contralto; Eric Barry, tenor; Morris Robinson (below bottom), bass; and the Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, director.

LEONARD BERNSTEIN, “Serenade” (after Plato’s “Symposium”)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”)

Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade” for violin and orchestra, resulted from a rereading of Plato’s charming dialogue, “The Symposium.”  The music dances through a series of inter-related “speakers” at a banquet (Phaedrus, Aristophanes, Erixymachus, Agathon, and Socrates), praising love.

Naha Greenholtz [playing

Ludwig van Beethoven’s last and monumental Symphony No. 9 stands apart from his other symphonies by virtue of its humanistic message, enormous scale and organic unity of design.  The mammoth fourth movement, operating like a symphony in miniature, is like nothing else in symphonic music.  Four soloists, full chorus, the entire orchestra, and the famous “Ode to Joy” theme will conclude the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s season. (You can hear a populist flash mob version of the “Ode to Joy” at the bottom in a popular YouTube video that had almost 4-1/2 million hits.)

Morris Robinson

MSO Chorus CR Greg Anderson

Single tickets for individual concerts have increased slightly and are $16 to $84 each, and go on sale Aug. 16. They are available at www.madisonsymphony.org/singletickets and through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street or call the Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

New subscribers can receive savings up to 50%.  For more information and to subscribe, visit www.madisonsymphony.org/newsub or call (608) 257-3734.

Groups of 15 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information visit, www.madisonsymphony.org/groups

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.

You can also check out the official MSO website announcement of the new season by visiting:

http://www.madisonsymphony.org/14-15

The Madison Symphony Orchestra engages audiences of all ages and backgrounds in live classical music through a full season of concerts with established and emerging soloists of international renown, an organ series that includes free concerts, and widely respected education and community engagement programs. Find more information at www.madisonsymphony.org.

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Classical music: NPR explores the music soundtracks for movies that nominated for Academy Awards and could receive an Oscar at tonight’s ceremonies airing on ABC-TV.

March 2, 2014
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Oscar would no doubt say that movie soundtracks deserve special attention and serious consideration as art music.

YL Oscar foods statue

Of course purists will probably argue that movie soundtracks are not really classical music – except in certain cases like Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” “Shine,” “Amadeus” and such obvious fare.

And it would be hard to disagree with them.

Perhaps some would say that movies are the real operas of our day, except that the music plays a secondary or tertiary role.

Besides, more and more symphony orchestras are turning to concert programs that feature movie soundtracks, perhaps to attract new and younger audiences.

And radio stations seem to be mixing in and playing more and more movie music on their classical programs.

And more and more composers who aspired to be classical composers but who were forced earn a living in Hollywood –- Erich Wolfgang Korngold (below) comes immediately to mind –- are being increasingly programmed for their classical fare as well as their commercial Hollywood work.

erich wolfgang korngold at piano

Besides, “crossover” and “fusion” are the key words of the day in the classical music scene, as you can see with the success of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project (below top) and the “new tangos” by Astor Piazzolla (below bottom), to name but two examples.

Silk Road Ensemble

astor piazzolla

So perhaps it is only natural that, in the run-up to the Academy Awards tonight, NPR and its terrific blog “Deceptive Cadence’ have featured several posts about the music that is featured in nominated movies, especially the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the late 110-year-old pianist (below, in photo by Yuri Dojc) who survived Auschwitz by playing music, especially the etudes of Frederic Chopin -– and who just died last week. (You can hear her speak and play the piano at the bottom in a popular YouTube video that has almost a million hits.) 

The Ear suspects her story, “The Lady in Number 6,” will win the Oscar for short documentary because she was the oldest survivor of the Holocaust and was a testament to the power of music, and therefore of all art and beauty, over evil and adversity. She embodied hope — a cherished value.

Here is a link to her fascinating and detailed obituary in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/world/europe/alice-herz-sommer-pianist-who-survived-holocaust-dies-at-110.html

Alice Herz Sommer CR Yuri Dojc

So as you prepare to watch the live broadcast on ABC-TV tonight starting at 6 p.m. CST (it will also be streamed live), here are links to consider when you think about music and films.

Here is the link to a story about music and documentaries:

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/28/283072030/music-takes-center-stage-in-oscar-nominated-documentaries

Here is an overview of several nominees, including William Butler (below) of Arcade Fire, for Best Score:

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/26/283026146/and-the-oscar-goes-to-mr-star-wars-or-arcade-fire

william butler of arcade fire

And here is a link to another story about quiet music — specifically, composer Alexandre Desplat and his score for “Philomena” starring Judi Dench (below) — and how hard it is to compose and perform:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/02/08/273151282/philomena-and-the-power-of-a-quiet-film-score

Judi Dench in %22Philomena%22

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Classical music: What classial music do you like to hear to commemorate 9/11? This Sunday promises a lot of UW-Madison opera and chamber music by both alumni as well as current students and faculty. Plus, Edgewood College singer Kathleen Otterson’s recital is SUNDAY at 2:30 p.m., NOT Saturday as was mistakenly stated yesterday.

September 11, 2013
6 Comments

TODAY IS 9/11: WHAT PIECE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC DO YOU LIKE TO HEAR TO MEMORIALIZE THAT TRAGIC DAY IN 2001? LET THE EAR KNOW IN A COMMENT WITH A LINK TO A YOUTUBE VIDEO, IF POSSIBLE.

AN IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Yesterday The Ear mistakenly said that Edgewood College mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson will give a recital on this Saturday – which was WRONG. The concert is SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT 2:30 P.M. Otherwise the story and the details are correct. I apologize for the error.

Here is a link to the corrected story:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/classical-music-edgewood-college-mezzo-soprano-kathleen-otterson-will-perform-a-recital-of-songs-by-gustav-and-alma-mahler-berlioz-rossini-and-andre-previn-this-coming-saturday-afternoon/

Kathleen Otterson 2

By Jacob Stockinger

True, the new concert season at the University of Wisconsin School of Music officially opened up over a week ago with the 36th annual Labor Day Concert by the Karp Family.

But this is a reminder that this Sunday – really the first busy weekend of the academic year the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music – promises to have a lot of music.

Here are the various concerts, as described in press releases:

— Sunday, Sep. 15, 2013 at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall.

UW Professor Les Thimmig will give the first Faculty Concert

Thimmig (below) will present “The Feldman Trios,” Part One. Three lecture-performances of the late-period work of American composer Morton Feldman (below).  The other sessions are on October 27 and February 2, 2014.

Les Thimmig color

The First concert is: “Why Patterns?” It features Prof. Les Thimmig on flutes; Jennifer Hedstrom on keyboards; and Sean Kleve on percussion. (See the YouTube video at the bottom.)

American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987, below in a New York Times photo from 1985) was first noted for his inclusion in the “Cage School,” a group of four composers, the others being Earle Brown and Christian Wolff, associated with the composer John Cage. The three trios for flute, piano, and percussion included in this series were written for the members of this group during the last nine years of Feldman’s life. During this period, his works radically increased in length, lasting from 30 minutes to multiple hours of single-movement, very slowly unfolding development. At issue were the distinction of “form” and “scale.”

Morton Feldman NYT 1985

— Also on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall is the Second Annual “School of Music Alumni Association Showcase.” For more information, go to http://uwsomaa.org/and click “alumni recital.”

The program features:

Hornist Alex Weaver playing: Concert Etude for Solo Horn by Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958) and Suite for Horn and Piano by Alec Wilder (1907-1980).

Alex Weaver

Flutist Kristine Rominski (below) playing: “Tenderness of Cranes” by Shirish Korde

Kristine Rominski

Percussionist Michael Mixtacki (below) playing: “Uma Mulher” by Seu Jorge, arr. Mixtacki and “Obbatalá,” Traditional Afro-Cuban, arr. Mixtacki.

Michael Mixtacki

Kristine Rominski and Michael Mixtacki playing duets: “Piedra en la Piedra” by Ricardo Lorenz and “Kembang Suling” by Gareth Farr

Singer Sam Handley (below, in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago) performing:  “L’air de Sancho” from “Don Quichotte” by Jules Massenet  (1842-1912); “Bin ich nun frei?” from  “Das Rheingold” by Richard Wagner  (1813-1883); “Her Face” from “Carnival!” by Bob Merrill (1921-1998); and “La Calunnia” from “The Barber of Seville” by Gioachino Rossini  (1792-1868).

Sam Handley in Britten A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

— The third concert, the Opera Props Showcase, on this Sunday will held at 3 p.m. NOT on the UW campus but instead at the historic landmark and Frank Lloyd Wright Unitarian Meeting House (below), 900 University Bay Drive. For information, visit:

http://cpanel101.mulehill.com/~uwoperap/

FUS exterior  madison

Opera Props annual fall Showcase Concert will introduce University Opera’s extraordinary singers in a program of celebrated arias. This benefit event includes several new singers who will be featured in the upcoming season’s productions. 

University Opera Director William Farlow has selected eight young singers and a program of favorite arias for Opera Props’ fall Showcase Concert this year.

It includes several new singers who will be featured in the upcoming season’s productions. Opera Props is a booster group for the UW School of Music’s opera program, and acts as liaison between the program and the local community. So a valued part of this annual event is the reception, which follows the concert:  Singers and their teachers enjoy sharing discussion with the audience, along with lavish chocolate and other treats.

Tickets are $25 per person ($10 for students) and may be purchased at the door.  Proceeds will help recruit and fund young artists for the University Opera program.

Here is more information: The student singers (below is a photo of Opera Propos singers in 2011) will sing arias by George Frideric Handel, Jules Massenet, Giocchino Rossini, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, accompanied by pianist Thomas Kasdorf.

Opera Props 2011

One of the singers is mezzo-soprano Lindsay Metzger (below), who will sing the aria “Parto, ma tu ben mio” from Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.”

Metzger hails from Chicago, where she studied with Jane Bunnell at DePaul University. Last year she was an Apprentice Artist with the Des Moines Metro Opera, and this past summer she sang the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” with Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy.

Mezzo Lindsay Metzger

Metzger is now completing the second year of a Master’s degree at the UW-Madison where she holds a Paul Collins Fellowship. She already is rehearsing the title role of “Ariodante” for this semester’s production on campus of George Frideric Handel’s opera.  Next semester she is scheduled to sing Béatrice in Hector Berlioz’s opera “Béatrice et Bénédict.” 

For more information about Opera Props and University Opera productions and events, visit:

http://cpanel101.mulehill.com/~uwoperap/


Classical music: Once again the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society violates taboos and brings me wondrous surprises and rare finds in their final two programs of this 22nd season.

July 1, 2013
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

I am still not sure how they do it. But every summer, the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society brings me and its devoted audiences many surprises – revelations, even – that fill even experienced listeners with both pleasure and awe.

This past weekend provided the last of three weekends and six programs in their 22nd season –- hence the overall theme of “Deuce Are Wild” and the stage sets and costumes based on playing cards – and it proved no exception.

The Ear heard both programs: “Poker Face” on Friday night at the Stoughton Opera House; and “Play the Hand You’ve Been Dealt” at the Overture Center’s Playhouse. Both concerts had good sized and enthusiastic audiences, though not the sold-out houses they deserved.

BDDS 6 2013 Playhouse audience

In “Poker Face,” BDDS explored the art of transcription – one of the taboos that these supremely talented but also humane, funny and down-to-earth musicians like to break as they take the music seriously, but not themselves.

In this case, the program featured another Classical era concerto in a chamber music arrangement. This time is was Mozart’s lovely Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-Flat, K. 482, as arranged by the pianist, composer and student of both Mozart and Beethoven, Johann Nepomuk Hummel. (Last year, it was a late Haydn symphony as arranged by Haydn’s friend and impresario, Solomon.)

BDDS 5 2013 Mozart concerto 22

Five Songs, or “melodies,” for soprano and piano by Sergei Prokofiev also were re-arranged for the flute and piano. One wonders what happened to the words, if any ever existed and the music was not originally simple vocalises. But they nonetheless provided a sparkling opening or curtain-raiser.

Finally – and most impressively – the BDDS guest players, the San Francisco Trio of BDDS pianist Jeffrey Sykes plus guests violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau -– played a very usual arrangement. It was the String Sextet in G Major by Brahms that was arranged for piano trio by Brahms’ friend Theodor Kirchner (below).

theodor kirchner

Unusual maybe; but it proved very successful. Little wonder that, as Sykes explained, Brahms knew of the transcription and approved of it. For one, the trio form allowed the piano to contrast with and cut through the very rich texture of the original six string instruments. Brahms liked the piano trio as a genre, and composed three great ones. So, why not a derivative one?

BDDS 5 2103 Stoughton Brahms Trio

Once again, BDDS showed how transcriptions popularized music into home and smaller venues and groups in the days before radio and recordings.

Transcriptions are often looked down upon these days –- sort of crossover music. But almost all of the great Baroque and Classical era composers borrowed from their own works and others’ to make transcriptions.

Sticking to the original form is just another of those serious longhair myths or fictions – like not clapping between movements and not playing isolated movements from great works – that just don’t stand up as historical fact.

We are lucky to have someone to show us the mistakes of overzealous purity. And that is something BDDS does supremely well every summer.

The second  program also had its unusual moments. For one, it offered a Flute Quartet by the Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg (1919-1944, below), who died in Auschwitz at 24. What a loss! Who even knew of this composer, who could sounds both classical and jazzy a la George Gershwin (check out the slow moment of the Flute Quartet that the BDDS played in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Dick Kattenburg

And if you look down on YouTube, you might do well to recall that pianist Sykes himself apparently discovered the music of Kattenburg on YouTube, which is using hi-tech to rescue serious composers from near-total obscurity. He wrote such wonderful and suitably eclectic and playful pieces that BDDS promises to perform more in future season, including a work for piano-four hands and a tap dancer.

In the same concert, BDDS played a work by another composer who survived the Holocaust by fleeing to Hollywood where he became better known for his scores to swashbuckling movies than for his serious concert music. But Erick Wolfgang Korngold has been undergoing a rediscovery, and his Suite for two violins (with Madison Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Naha Greenholtz making her BDDS debut), cello and piano LEFT-HAND was an impressive and welcome new offering.

(PS: The unusual left-hand scoring comes because the work was commissioned by pianist Paul Wittgenstein (below), brother of famed philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I and then commissioned the famous Concertos for Left Hand from Maurice Ravel and Sergei Prokofiev.)

Paul Wittgenstein

This proved both a forcefully fiery and lyrical work that deserves a wider hearing. But so far as I know, both the flute quartet by Kattenburg and the suite by Korngold (below) were premieres for Madison and maybe even Wisconsin or the Midwest.

erich wolfgang korngold at piano

What can one say but: Thank You.

And to show that BDDS isn’t just about horsing around – although there was some of that in card costumes (below) and everyone sang Happy Birthday to a 17-year-old audience member – the San Francisco Piano Trio turned around and closed out the season by showing how a new approach illuminates an old masterpiece.

BDDS 6 2013 Card costumes

The work in question was Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio, Op. 97, an unqualified giant and genius of a work from The Master. But instead of the loud, somewhat martial approach that the opening theme invites — similar to the “Emepror” Piano Concerto — the players emphasized the softer side and balance, especially the dialogue between the violin and cello.

The effect of such subtlety and nuance was to hear an old and familiar work as if it were new and unfamiliar. It was a quiet triumph that proved beautiful and totally engaging.

BDDS 6 2013 Playhosue Beethoven Archduke Trio

So at the end of the BDDS season, what are you left with?

Well if you are at all like The Ear, you are not especially anxious for winter to return, especially given the long, wet and cold spring and summer we have had so far.

But if you are like me, you too are anxious to see what cards (so the speak) the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society has up its sleeve for next season – its 23rd– and eventually for its Silver Anniversary 25th season.

The old saying has it that the only thing we can be sure of is change.

In the case of BDDS, The Ear would simply add the words “and great music.”


Classical music: Even summer now has its classical music “train wrecks” and scheduling conflicts. Just look at this Saturday night with simultaneous performances by the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and the Madison Summer Choir.

June 28, 2013
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s bad enough when you have to choose between two or more very appealing concerts taking place at the same time during the regular fall, winter and spring season.

But the now the summer concert season has grown so rich that more and more of such scheduling conflicts – of “train wrecks,” as a good friend of The Ear and of classical music likes to call them – keep happening.

Last Friday night, I had to choose between the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, among other events on the Summer Solstice and during the Make Music Madison festival. Both were, by all accounts, very rewarding events.

What, one wonders, will the future bring?

For the moment, however, my focus is on the present — on another such conflict that will happen this coming Saturday night, June 29. That’s when I and others will have to choose between two events very worthy events that are both attractive.

For one, there is the opening of the third and final weekend of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. in the Overture Center‘s Playhouse (below).

BDDS 4 ovation

The intriguing and quite original program includes Dick Kattenburg’s Quartet for flute, violin, cello and piano; Erich Wolfgang Korngold‘s unusually scored Suite for Piano, Left Hand, Two Violins and Cello; and Ludwig van Beethoven‘s famed “Archduke” Piano Trio.

The performers, who have proven reliable and inspired in past years, include cellist Jean–Michel Fonteneau (below top) and violinist Axel Strauss (below bottom), who, with BDDS co-founder and co-director pianist Jeffrey Sykes, make up the San Francisco Trio. 

Jean-Michel Fonteneau

Axel Strauss

And for the Korngold suite, Madison Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below) will make her BDDS debut — and not her last appearance, The Ear suspects.

Naha Greenholtz profile

(On Friday night at the Stoughton Opera House and on Sunday at the Hillside Theater (below) at the Frank Lloyd Wright historic compound Taliesin in Spring Green, the trio will Aaron Copland’s Violin Sonata transcribed for flute; a Mozart piano concert (No. 22 in E-flat, K. 482) in a chamber arrangement; and a very intriguing piano trio arrangement of Johannes Brahms String Sextet in G Major, Op. 36. For information about all the BDDS concerts visit: http://www.bachdancinganddynamite.org

taliesin_hillside2

Competing with that event, and right at the other end of State Street, is the single performance of “The Power of Music” by the Madison Summer Choir (below) under the very active and capable Madison choral conductor Ben Luedcke. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

Summer Choir 2011 orchestraI

The unusual and appealing program includes the “Saint Cecilia” Mass by French composer Charles Gounod as well as music by Virgil Thomson, Johannes Brahms, Josef Rheinberger and Thomas Tomkins.

Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for students. For more information, visit: http://madisonsummerchoir.org

Why, The Ear asks, can’t there be more cooperation among performers and presenters to prevent that kind of conflict, which benefits no one?

Such solutions do happen.

It used to be, for example, that for quite a few years a concert-goer had to choose on a mid-July Saturday night between attending the All-Festival Concert (below top) of the Madison Early Music Festival and going to the very popular outdoors and FREE “Opera in the Park” (below bottom) put on by the Madison Opera and members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

MEMF 2011

Opera in the Park

But the two groups seem to have worked out a solution that should satisfy all fans of vocal music and singing.

This summer, for example, the MEMF’s final concert “Stuttgart 1616,” featuring music by Michael Praetorius and others, will take place on Friday night, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall; while Opera in the Park will be on Saturday night, July 13, at 8 p.m. in Garner Park. The two events might be close and crowded, but attending both is quite do-able.

So, I ask, why couldn’t the Madison Summer Choir perform on, say, Sunday night, since the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society has had its summer schedule pretty well set for many years. Maybe the hall was already booked; maybe it was just a mistake or an oversight.

True, one could drive to Spring Green to catch up with the BDDS on Sunday (when BDDS will perform its Friday program at 2:30 p.m. and its Sunday program at 6:30 p.m.) after attending the Madison Summer Choir concert. But that seems a bit extreme and hectic to ask of people.

Anyway, The Ear hopes – and suspects that many listeners share that hope – that such mutually exclusive choices can be eliminated or at least minimized next summer and in the future.

In the meantime I will readily admit that such conflicts between worthy concerts may be the price we have to pay for having such a vibrant and active classical music scene in Madison. But it is unfortunate nonetheless.

I hope both events draw good audiences and prove artistically successfully. I expect they will.

Yet however satisfied you feel about whatever one you go to, I suspect you will also feel a sense a loss of the one you didn’t and couldn’t attend.

And that is too bad.

What are you thoughts about this?

How do you resolve such conflicts for yourself, and think performers and presenters should?

The Ear wants to hear.


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