The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: FREE Handel aria concert by area high school singers is this Saturday afternoon at Capitol Lakes

January 23, 2019
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ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature flutist Marilyn Chohaney, of The Oakwood Chamber Players, with pianist Joseph Ross and clarinetist James Smith. The program is salon music by Arnold Bax, Florent Schmitt, Claude Debussy and Dmitri Shostakovich. Sorry, no titles have been given. The concerts run from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

By Jacob Stockinger

On this coming Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, 333 West Main Street – two blocks off the Capitol Square — there will be an hour-long program featuring five young singers performing Handel arias.

There will also be a guest performance of a Handel duet by the Handel Aria Competition’s new artistic director Sarah Brailey (below top) and founding artistic director Cheryl Bensman-Rowe (below bottom).

You can hear Brailey, who won the Handel Aria Competition in 2015  and is now doing graduate work at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music while pursuing her growing career, in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Karlos Moser, professor emeritus of the UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music’s opera program, will accompany on the piano.

The performance is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

“Our goal is to encourage high school singers in the Madison, Wisconsin area to explore works from Handel’s vocal repertoire,” says Brailey.

All participating high school singers will receive a $100 Handel Aria Competition scholarship towards voice lessons or membership in the Madison Youth Choirs.

The high school singers who will perform are: Allana Beilke from Madison West High School; Daphne Buan from Verona Area High School; Ava DeCroix from Middleton High School; Cecilia League from McFarland High School; and Virginia Morgan from Madison West High School.

The students are all very active in the local arts scene and have participated in Wisconsin Badger All-State Choir, the Madison Opera Youth Apprentice Program, the Madison Symphony Chorus, the 50th anniversary Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Treble Choir, and have won numerous awards in the National Association for Teachers of Singing Student Auditions and the State Solo and Ensemble Festival.

The program will include selections from operas and oratorios “Agrippina,” “Joshua,” “L’Allegro,” “Semele” and “Solomon.”


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Classical music: The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society will wind up its current summer season of masterful music-making with two MUST-HEAR programs this weekend.

June 25, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you needed more proof about why you should take in one or both of the final two programs – “Crooked Business” and “Highway Robbery” — by the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, you should have been at one or both of the BDDS concerts last weekend.

BDDS poster 2015

For this coming weekend of the 24th season: “Crooked Business” features the Sonata for Flute and Keyboard in B Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach; the chamber music reduction of the Piano Concerto in C minor, K. 491, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and a chamber music arrangement version of the Serenade in D Major, Op. 11, by Johannes Brahms.

“Highway Robbery” offers the First Rhapsody for Clarinet by Claude Debussy; “Seven Seascapes” by the American composer Kevin Puts, who won the Pulitzer Prize; and the great Octet by Franz Schubert.

For more information about programs and performers, venues and tickets, visit: http://www.bachdancinganddynamite.org

The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society continues to be incapable of being boring, ordinary or mediocre. It’s just not in their genes or DNA.

Last Saturday night, The Ear took in the “Breaking and Entering” concert in The Playhouse of the Overture Center. The theme was meant to explore how composers broke new ground and violated boundaries.

The theme might seem a bit of a stretch — they often do — and when one of the two fake security guards frisked an audience member for a gun or weapon, it might have struck some audience members as uncomfortable or in questionable taste rather than amusing or funny, given the recent shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

BDDS Breaking 2015 guard

But humor and silliness aside, there is no question that the music received the superb performances it deserved.

The San Francisco Trio, veteran BDDS guest artists, delivered two masterful readings of two Romantic masterpieces. The trio opened the concert perfectly with the lovely and short “Notturno” (1827) by Franz Schubert. Then it closed the concert with the revised version of the substantial and even epic Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major (1854, revised in 1889), Op. 8, by Johannes Brahms. The trio is made up of pianist Jeffrey Sykes (a co-founder and co-artistic director of BDDS), violinist Axel Strauss and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau.

BDDS Breaking SF Trio

Then came the somewhat eccentric Sonatina for Trio (1934) by the rarely performed French composer and eccentric music critic Florent Schmitt.

The players were an unusual combination of flutist Stephanie Jutt (the UW-Madison professor is a co-founder and co-artistic director of BDDS as well as principal flute of the Madison Symphony Orchestra); local pianist Thomas Kasdorf, who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music; and the incredible clarinetist Alan Key from New York City who teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School, and who plays with the respected Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

BDDS Breaking 2015 Jutt, Kasdrof, Kay

Violinist Axel Strauss, who teaches at McGill University in Montreal, sure showed some impressive fiddling skills in two crossover pieces – “Pining for Betsy” and “Who Let the Cat Out Last Night?” — by Paul Schoenfield (b. 1947). It brought audible WOWs and cheers from the audience. (Listen for yourself to the virtuosic “Cat” piece in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

BDDS breaking 2015 Axel Strauss

An unusual and rarely heard piece by the Venezuelan composer Paul Desenne (b. 1959)  imagines Franz Joseph “Papa” Haydn and a South American composer discussing music at the Esterhazy estate where Haydn worked. The work was delivered with great panache by flutist Stephanie Jutt, clarinetist Alan Kay and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau.

BDDS Breaking 2015 Jutt, Fonteneau, Kay. jpeg

Both the variety of the repertoire and the players and the quality of the performances recommend the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society to any serious classical music fan as well as to beginners. The Ear says: Go have some classical fun!

 


Classical music: The Oakwood Chamber Players take a musical journey to modern Hungary and France this weekend. Plus, the UW-Madison Wisconsin Brass Quintet marks 40 years with a FREE concert TONIGHT that will be STREAMED LIVE.

March 15, 2013
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ALERT REMINDER: The 40th Anniversary Season Finale Concert by the UW-Madison‘s Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below) will take tonight at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. Admission is FREE and open to the public. The program is a serious and challenging one. As trombonist Mark Hetzler told the Wisconsin State Journal, “This [brass] music, while it is virtuosic and exciting, is also quite intellectual and cerebral. Imagine modern music for string quartet. This kind of music branches into those deeper places like that sort of music would.” On the program are: “Gravikord,” written for the quintet’s 40th birthday by UW horn professor Daniel Grabois; “Magnum Mysterium,” by local celebrity composer John Harbison; “Suite of Madrigals,” by Carlo Gesualdo, arranged for brass quintet by Mark Hetzler; and “Adam’s Rib,” by James MacMillan. And here is another first: If you cannot attend in person, consider watching it LIVE on your computer via streaming! It starts at 8 p.m. CDT; subtract or add hours as your time zone requires.

Livestream webcast link

Read a story by Gayle Worland in last Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal:

“A milestone of note for Wisconsin Brass Quintet”

Wisconsin Brass Quintet 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

For three decades, The Oakwood Chamber Players have offered the most imaginative programming of chamber music you will find in the Madison area.

The OCP consistently chooses off-the-radar composers and works to perform, And the players invariably bring off the programs they choose with professionalism and welcoming good cheer.

This weekend provides an ideal example. That’s when the Oakwood Chamber Players will offer two concerts with works from France and Hungary.

The concerts are on this Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Oakwood Village University Woods Auditorium (below above), in Madison far west side at 6209 Mineral Point Road; and on this Sunday, March 17, at 1:30 p.m. at the UW-Arboretum Visitor Center (below bottom).

Oakwood wheelchair

UW Arboretum Visitor Center

The “Influences” concerts will explore music from composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries who created their music while living in times of tremendous compositional changes and political upheaval.

Six composers will be featured during the concerts -– four are French and two are Hungarian – and the focus will be on their fascinating relationships and creative exchanges. The composers to be performed include:

Phillipe Gaubert (below): The famed flute performer, teacher, conductor and prominent French composer will be highlighted through his “Medailles Antiques” for flute, violin and piano.

Philippe Gaubert

Francis Poulenc (below): A jaunty Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon will showcase this early 20th century French composers, one of The Ear’s favorites. With great tunes, textural clarity and charm, he often sounds like a modern-day Gallic Mozart.

Francis Poulenc

Albert Roussel (below): A love of poetry and creative projects will be represented in his violin, cello and piano Trio, Op. 2.

Albert Roussel.jpeg

Florent Schmitt (below): After losing some of his initial rise in popularity due to Nazi connections, his work is now seen as evocative and beautifully melodic. The Oakwood Chamber players will play his Piano Trio.

Florent Schmitt

Ference Farkas (below): The composer of “Five Antique Dances,” a woodwind quintet, harkens back to spirited older musical traditions.

Ferenc FarkasGyorgi Ligeti (below): Censored for his groundbreaking and “dangerous” musical style, these “Six Bagatelles” for woodwind quintet catapault the audience through rapid shifts in tempo and texture. 

gyorgy ligeti

The Oakwood Chamber Players (below) is a group of Madison-area professional musicians who have rehearsed and performed at Oakwood Village for 30 years.

Tickets are available at the door:  $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

Visit www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com for more information.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 1

The Oakwood Chamber Players are a professional music ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries and the Oakwood Foundation, in collaboration with Friends of the Arboretum, Inc.


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