The Well-Tempered Ear

Songs by Black composers trace their cultural realities in a free online UW performance TONIGHT of “Verisimilitudes.” Plus, the five winners of this year’s Beethoven Competition perform Sunday.

April 24, 2021
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ALERT: This Sunday, April 25, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. the five winners of this year’s Beethoven Competition at the UW-Madison will perform in a winners’ concert. Included in the program are the popular and dramatic “Appassionata” Sonata, Op. 57, and the famous and innovative last piano sonata, No. 32 in C minor, Op 111. Here is a link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMF0Hd1MJwMg. Click on “Show More” and you can see the full programs and biographical profiles of the winners.

By Jacob Stockinger

The concert could hardly be more timely or the subject more relevant.

Think of the events in and near Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere in the U.S.; of the Black Lives Matter movement and social protest; of the political fight for D.C. statehood and voting rights – all provide a perfect context for an impressive student project that will debut online TONIGHT, Saturday, April 24, at 7 p.m.

The one-hour free concert “Verisimilitudes: A Journey Through Art Song in Black, Brown and Tan” originated at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music. It seems an ideal way for listeners to turn to music and art for social and political commentary, and to understand the racial subtexts of art.

Soprano Quanda Dawnyell Johnson (below) created, chose and performs the cycle of songs by Black composers with other Black students at the UW-Madison.

Here is a link to the YouTube video: https://youtu.be/-g5hjeuSumw

Click on “Show More” to see the complete program and more information.

Here is the artist’s statement: 

“Within the content of this concert are 17 art songs that depict the reality of the souls of a diasporic people. Most of the lyricists and all of the composers are of African descent. In large part they come from the U.S. but also extend to Great Britain, Guadeloupe by way of France, and Sierra Leone.

“They speak to the veracity of Black life and Black feeling. A diasporic African reality in a Classical mode that challenges while it embraces a Western European vernacular. It is using “culture” as an agent of resistance.

“I refer to verisimilitude in the plural. While syntactically incorrect, as it relates to the multiple veils of reality Black people must negotiate, it is very correct. 

“To be packaged in Blackness, or should I say “non-whiteness” is to ever live in a world of spiraling modalities and twirling realities. To paraphrase the great artist, Romare Bearden, in “calling and recalling” — we turn and return, then turn again to find the place that is our self.

“I welcome you to… Verisimilitudes: A Journey Through Art Song in Black, Brown, and Tan”

Here, by sections, is the complete program and a list of performers:

I. Nascence

Clear Water — Nadine Shanti

A Child’s Grace — Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Night — Florence Price (below)

Big Lady Moon — Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

II. Awareness

Lovely, Dark, and Lonely — Harry T. Burleigh

Grief –William Grant Still (below)

Prayer — Leslie Adams

Interlude, The Creole Love Call — Duke Ellington

III. The Sophomore

Mae’s Rent Party, We Met By Chance –Jeraldine Saunders Herbison

The Barrier — Charles Brown

IV. Maturity

Three Dream Portraits: Minstrel Man, Dream Variation; I, Too — Margaret Bonds (below)

Dreams — Lawren Brianna Ware

Song Without Words — Charles Brown

Legacy

L’autre jour à l’ombrage (The Other Day in the Shade) — Joseph Boulogne (Chevalier de Saint-Georges, below)

The Verisimilitudes Team

Quanda Dawnyell Johnson — Soprano and Project Creator

Lawren Brianna Ware – -Pianist and Music Director

Rini Tarafder — Stage Manager

Akiwele Burayidi – Dancer

Jackson Neal – Dancer

Nathaniel Schmidt – Trumpet

Matthew Rodriguez – Clarinet

Craig Peaslee – Guitar

Aden Stier –Bass

Henry Ptacek – Drums

Dave Alcorn — Videographer

Here is a link to the complete program notes with lyrics and composer bios. And a preview audio sample is in the YouTube video at the bottom: https://simplebooklet.com/verisimilitudesprogramnotes#page=1


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Classical music: Singer-scholar Emery Stephens HAS CANCELLED his return to coach students about and to perform a FREE recital of African-American songs and spirituals on Tuesday night at UW

March 13, 2017
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ALERT: Please IGNORE the posted dates and times below. Professor Emery Stephens has CANCELLED his appearances this week at the UW-Madison due to illness. According to the UW-Madison,  Stephens will try to reschedule his master classes and recital layer this spring. The Ear apologies for any misunderstanding or inconvenience, but he just heard about the cancellation.

By Jacob Stockinger

The last time Professor Emery Stephens (below) visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, it was in 2015 and he lectured about “African-American Voices in Classical Music.”

(You can hear Emery Stephens narrate “The Passion of John Brown” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Now this week – today and Tuesday – the acclaimed scholar and baritone singer returns to the UW.

This time he will spend Monday coaching UW voice and piano students.

Then on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, Stephens plus the voice and piano students and UW collaborative pianist Martha Fischer will perform a FREE recital of African-American songs and spirituals. Also included are some solo piano works by African-American composer Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949, below).

Here is a link not only to more information about Stephens’ recital, including the program, but also to information about his last visit and about a performance on Wednesday from 1:20 to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union by the Black Music Ensemble.

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/emery-stephens-returns-african-american-songs-and-spirituals/2017-03-13/


Classical music: An newly formed early music trio will give two performances of rarely played 16th-century and 17th-century Baroque music this weekend at two Madison churches. Plus, Madison Symphony Orchestra maestro John DeMain discusses Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony on WORT-FM 89.9 Thursday morning.

January 22, 2014
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ALERT: Blog friend Rich Samuels, who hosts his “Anything Goes” show from 5 to 8 a.m. every Thursday on WORT-FM 89.9, writes: John DeMain joins me at 7:08 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, to talk about the Madison Symphony Orchestra‘s “Beyond the Score” presentation and performance of Antonin Dvorak‘s Symphony No. 9 on Sunday, 1/26. In addition to John DeMain’s take on the symphony “From the New World.” I’ll also be offering a 1927 discussion of the work by Leopold Stokowski (with musical examples performed by Artur Rodzinski, who was then Stokowski’s assistant at the Philadelphia Orchestra), and a 1956 analysis by Leonard Bernstein taken from an LP distributed by the Book of the Month Club. I’ll also be airing the one and only recording by African-American composer Harry T. Burleigh (below) who, as a young music student, introduced Dvořák to the Negro spiritual. And I’ll be playing Marian Anderson’s first recording (made when she was 26) of Burleigh’s arrangement of “Deep River.”

harry t burleigh

By Jacob Stockinger 

The Ear met Eric Miller (below) at Wisconsin Public Radio‘s now defunct “Bach Around the Clock,” which used to e held annual to mark the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. Miller, who plays the viola da gamba and is a friend of the blog, writes about two performances by an early music and  period instrument trio of 16th-century and 17th-century Baroque music coming up this weekend:

Eric Small

Miller writes: “Come hear our new trio, as part of the newly formed Wisconsin Baroque Musicians Collective, a collection of musicians from across the state interested in historically informed performance.

“The musicians for this concert are: Theresa Koenig (below top), recorder and dulcian; Sigrun Franzen (below bottom) on organ; Koenig; and me on cornetto and baroque cello:

Theresa Koenig

Sigrun Franzen

“Here is the program: Daniel Speer, Sonata II; Giovanni Cima, Capriccio and Sonate from “Concerti Ecclesiastici”; Girolamo Frescobaldi (below top), “Canzon Prima, Ricercar”; Phillipe Boddecker, Sonat Sopra la Monica; Giovanni Bassano (below bottom and in a YouTube video at the bottom), “Dolci rosate labia”; Giovanni Fontana, Sonata Nona”; and Bartolome de Selma, Canzon.

Girolamo Frescobaldi

Giovanni Bassano

“There will be two chances to hear this program: on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. in Saint Andrew‘s Episcopal Church (below), 1833 Regent Street, with a $15 suggested donation; and on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 2165 Linden Ave.; also with a $15 suggested donation, with all proceeds going to the Zion food pantry.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Madison Front

“The program will feature the beautiful organs at both Saint Andrew’s Episcopal and Zion Lutheran, both in Madison and a variety of instrument combinations, including the dulcian (below top), a predecessor of the modern bassoon, and the cornetto (below bottom), a wooden instrument with holes like a flute, but played with a brass embouchure.

Dulcian

cornetto 2

For more information, here is a link to a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/496065417177605/?source=1

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