The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Starting this Sunday, radio station WORT-FM 89.9 will air recordings that Rich Samuels made of many live performances in the Madison area

March 21, 2020
6 Comments

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ALERT: The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will be suspending the remainder of its spring season until further notice. Music director Kyle Knox and executive director Bridget Fraser says they are hopeful that an adjusted end-of-year schedule might be possible. Many ideas are under consideration. But they say they have no idea at this point what might be possible given the restrictions currently in place at the UW-Madison. “All we can do is explore possible scenarios and be ready to react if the restrictions are lifted,” they add.

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following note from Rich Samuels (below), a retired Chicago reporter and broadcaster who is often seen at concerts with microphones and a laptop computer. His public service is especially commendable and useful during the current coronavirus pandemic when almost all live concerts in music-rich Madison have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future.

Jake:

WORT (89.9 FM and at wortfm.org) will shortly start to air recordings of past public performances by Madison area classical musicians within its regularly scheduled classical music broadcasts.


This should help keep our local musician friends in the public ear even though their local venues have been shuttered and their gigs canceled.

I’ve had the good fortune to record hundreds of hours of local performances since 2012. I’m now editing them into segments that can be inserted into the shows of WORT’s classical music hosts.

The first segment to air, if all goes well, will be part of the “Musica Antiqua” early music program, hosted by Carol Moseson, this Sunday, March 22, from 8 to 11 a.m.

It will feature Eric Miller on viola da gamba and Daniel Sullivan on harpsichord performing a suite by French Baroque composer Louis Couperin. I recorded the concert (below) last Oct. 11 in the Landmark Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society of Madison (FUS).

Other such segments will follow on the weekday classical music shows that air from 5 to 8 a.m. We are still working on the details.

Additionally, I’ll be pre-recording three-hour broadcasts that can be run in place of the regularly scheduled classical music shows, assuming the host, for whatever reason, is unable to make it to the station.

These will hopefully include complete concert performances from the FUS Friday Noon Musicale, Grace Presents (in the YouTube video at the bottom) and Willy Street Chamber Players (below) series.

I gave up my own Thursday morning WORT show about a year ago after my wife developed some health issues. But I’ve continued to record local musicians whenever possible. (My wife, by the way, is presently in good shape).

Hopefully, this WORT effort will benefit both local musicians and their audiences. (Below is Samuels recording at Bach Around the Clock, which has been canceled this year.)

Please join The Ear in thanking Rich Samuels and WORT for their service to the community by leaving word in the Comment section.

What do you think of his project?

 


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Classical music: The Ancora String Quartet performs an all-Italian program four times this month starting this weekend and returns as an ensemble-in-residence at the First Unitarian Society of Madison

September 3, 2019
3 Comments

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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following information to post:

The Ancora String Quartet (below) opens its 19th season with a program of works by three Italian composers more usually associated with opera, or solo violin music, than with string quartets.

Members of the Ancora String Quartet (ASQ, below from left in a photo by Barry Lewis) are violins Wes Luke and Robin Ryan; violist Marika Fischer Hoyt; and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb.

Violin virtuoso and composer Antonio Bazzini (below) led a rockstar’s life, touring Europe and hobnobbing with Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn. He later settled in Milan, winning first prize in the Milan quartet competition in 1864 with this piece. The Scherzo shows Mendelssohn’s influence, and the Andante sostenuto delivers breathtakingly beautiful passages of lyrical romance and tender passion.

Opera great Giaocomo Puccini wrote Chrysanthemums (Crisantemi) in one night, upon hearing the news of the death of his friend the Duke of Savoy in 1890. The six-minute piece expresses the composer’s sorrow, in themes that bring to mind the poignant melodies of “Madama Butterfly.” (You can hear “Chrysanthemums” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The String Quartet in E Minor (1873) by Giuseppe Verdi (below) opens with restrained moodiness, but the drama quickly leaps off the page. Written to pass the time while waiting for the delayed opening of his opera “Aida,” this quartet demonstrates Verdi’s mastery of purely instrumental writing — although the cello solo in the Trio of the Scherzo could pass for a tenor aria. The work ends, surprisingly, with an elaborate fugue.

The quartet is gearing up for four performances in September, listed below.

In related news, the Ancora String Quartet, like the Madison Bach Musicians, will become a Resident Ensemble at the First Unitarian Society of Madison (FUS) starting this fall. We are pleased to reconnect with our FUS audiences, and hope our Regent Street fans will make the trip as well.

Here is the September schedule of the Italian program:

  • This Friday, Sept. 6, from noon to 1 p.m. in an interview on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Midday with host Norman Gilliland. WPR is Madison station WERN 88.7 FM. The ASQ will perform the entire Bazzini quartet.
  • This Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the FUS, Landmark Auditorium, Madison. Tickets at the door are $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors and $6 for students.
  • Sunday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. at FUS, Landmark Auditorium, Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, Madison. Tickets at the door are $15, $12 and $6.
  • Next Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Germantown Community Library, N112W16957 Mequon Rd., in Germantown. The concert is FREE and open to the public.


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Classical music news: Chamber music doesn’t come more exciting than Mendelssohn’s String Octet. Hear it this Saturday and Sunday performed by the Ancora String Quartet and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie Quartet.

May 16, 2012
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear thinks one of the most exciting and enjoyable pieces of chamber EVER written is the Octet for two string quartets written by Felix Mendelssohn (below) in 1825.

I still hold very fond memories of two performances by the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet, one of which was performed with the acclaimed Emerson String Quartet at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

There is an inherent element of competition as well as teamwork  that only adds to the excitement of a performance.

This weekend on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon you can hear the Ancora String Quartet (below) team up with guest artists from the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet to perform the Octet by Mendelssohn plus Prokofiev’s String  Quartet No. 1. A champagne reception follows the performance Saturday evening.

Tickets for general seating will be available at the door for $15; $12 for seniors, students and FUS members; and $6 for children under 12.

In addition, the quartet’s co-founder and violist Marika Fischer Hoyt has also started a blog to go with the group’s website.

Here is a link to the Ancora’s website, which has more information and biographies:

http://ancoraquartet.com/

And here is a link to the new and welcome blog:

http://ancoraquartet.com/blog/

Finally here is the press release about this weekend’s upcoming concerts.

“Please join the critically acclaimed Ancora String Quartet for the final concert of our 11th season.  In this season, entitled The Musician and His Muse, we are exploring the fascinating working relationships between four master composers and the violinists who inspired, critiqued, and ultimately premiered their now-famous string quartets.

Our May 19 and 20 recital program includes works by Prokofiev (below), the String Quartet in B minor, Op. 50, composed in 1930-31; and by Mendelssohn, the Octet; there will be an examination of their working relationships with Antonio Brosa and Eduard Rietz, respectively.

‘The program features the famous Mendelssohn Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 20, (composed in 1825 for Rietz’ 23rd birthday), for which we will be joined onstage by The Rhapsodie String Quartet (below), of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s HeartStrings Community Engagement Program.  We are delighted to play with our respected colleagues, and have added an extra performance to accommodate the anticipated increased demand for tickets.

The pair of recitals will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., in the Landmark Auditorium, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive. That is also where the Ancora Quartet remains artists-in-residence.

Tne Ancora Quartet (below, at the FUS) consists of violinist Leanne Kelso League and Robin Ryant; violist Marika Fisher Hoyt; and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb. The Rhapsodie Quartet  consists of violinist Suzann Beia and Laura Burns; violist  Christopher Dozryst; and cellist Karl Lavine.


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