The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s three FREE monthly organ concerts on Farmers’ Market Saturdays this summer start TOMORROW.

June 17, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will host the first of three FREE summer organ concerts during the Dane County Farmers’ Market tomorrow, Saturday, June 18, at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall, 201 State Street. (Below is the organ keyboard in a photo by Zane Williams.)

Overture Organ close up CRE ZaneWilliams

No tickets or reservations are needed for this 45-minute concert featuring guest organist Adrian Binkley.

Adrian Binkley 2016

Adrian Binkley, a young organist from Madison, Wisconsin and a student of MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison (below) recently won first place in the national Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition, being one of only three finalists chosen from high school organists across the United States.

Sam Hutchison close up

Binkley also recently won a full scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and has previously studied at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan.

His program includes the music of Renzo Bossi, Marcel Dupré, Charles-Marie Widor and others.

The MSO and Overture Center for the Arts present the Farmers’ Market Concert Series in partnership with the Wisconsin State Journal/Madison.com. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ (below), which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts.

Overture Concert Organ overview

Learn more about this program and the other Farmers’ Market Organ Concerts at: http://madisonsymphony.org/farmers

Learn more about the Overture Concert Organ Season 2016-17 and a savings of 25% on subscriptions at: http://madisonsymphony.org/organseason16-17


Classical music: The University of Wisconsin-Madison hosts its second annual Brass Festival this Friday through Sunday.

October 5, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

A fanfare, please!

The brassier, the better!

Last year’s inaugural Brass Fest at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music proved so successful that another will take place later this week.

This year’s Brass Fest – which seems on its way to becoming an annual event — will run from this coming Friday, Oct. 9, through Sunday, Oct. 11.

The organizer and director of the festival is the virtuoso trumpeter John Aley (below), who teaches at the UW-Madison and is also principal trumpet with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. He also gives workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

john aley color

Some festival events are FREE while others -– concerts on Friday and Saturday nights — require admission that benefits the scholarship fund at the UW School of Music.

The repertoire is varied and includes classical music, jazz and folk music.

The lineup of performers is impressive.

It includes the Axiom Brass Quintet (below), which you can hear in a YouTube video at the bottom:

Axiom Brass

It includes trumpeter Adam Rapa (below top) and singer Elisabeth Vik (below bottom):

Adam Rapa

Elisabeth Vik

And it includes the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below):

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

But the details are so many and the impressive biographies of performers so long that The Ear thinks it is better not to duplicate them. So instead I am directing readers right to the UW-Madison School of Music’s website and A Tempo blog where you can find out all the details.

Here are three links:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/2015/09/16/brass-fest-ii-to-feature-eclectic-mix-of-jazz-and-folk-vocals-solo-trumpet-and-works-for-brass-quintet/

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/brass-fest-ii-axiom/

https://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com

 


Classical music: University of Wisconsin percussion group Clocks in Motion will give a FREE concert of unusual new music, including the world premiere of the winner of its first composing contest, this Sunday afternoon. Plus, on Saturday a harpsichord recital of Baroque masters will be given at the First Unitarian Society.

February 13, 2014
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ALERT: This Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium at the historic Meeting House at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, Stephen Alltop of Northwestern University will give a harpsichord recital. The program features the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Toccata in E minor, Preludes and Fugues in D major and D minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I), Domenico Scarlatti (two sonatas), Jean-Philippe Rameau (Suite in A Minor), Franz Joseph Haydn (Sonata No. 6 in G Major) and George Frideric Handel (Suite in G Minor). A free will offering will be taken. 

Stephen Alltop harpsichord

By Jacob Stockinger

Clocks in Motion, Madison’s cutting-edge new music ensemble, will present Unfamiliar Voices 1.0, an expansive program featuring music from both the heart of the established percussion ensemble literature and the forefront of modern percussion composition. 

The FREE performance is this coming Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. in Mils Hall. It will celebrate composer and UW-Madison student Ben Davis, the 2014 Clocks in Motion Call for Scores winner, with the world premiere of his exciting new work, “Night.”

The ensemble will also perform the meditative percussion quartet, “Threads,” by Paul Lansky and the grand percussion sextet, “Kryptogramma,” by Georges Aperghis.

clocks in motion in concert

Ben Davis (below), a composer, trumpeter and teacher from Richmond, Virginia, writes for unique instruments built by Clocks in Motion. His new work employs sixxen — large aluminum keyboard instruments that are tuned microtonally (vastly different from the standard repeating 12-tone scale in most western music).

ben davis

The three sets of sixxen (below, in the foreground with other percussion instruments) in the piece are purposefully out of tune with each other, creating an entrancing sound cloud of beading frequencies for the listener.  In contrast, the other three players in the piece each play a bombastic multi-percussion setup of tom toms, snare drums, kick drums, and china cymbals.  Davis’ innovative work is sure to impress.

sixxen ensemble foreground-1

Paul Lansky (below) shares some insightful thoughts on his 2005 work: “Threads… is a half-hour long ‘cantata’ for percussion quartet in ten short movements. (You can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.)

Adds Lansky: “There are three “threads” that are interwoven in the piece: Arias and Preludes that focus on the metallic pitched sounds of vibraphones, glockenspiel and pipes; Choruses in which drumming predominates; and Recitatives made largely from John Cage-like noise instruments, bottles, flower pots, crotales, etc. The aim of the different threads is to highlight the wide range of qualities that percussion instruments are capable of, from lyrical and tender to forceful and aggressive, and weave them into one continuous ‘thread.’ The movements are performed without interruption.”

paul lansky

Georges Aperghis’ 1970 composition “Kryptogramma” is a massive undertaking. Puzzling instrumental combinations and bizarre rhythmic structures make this one of the most fascinating and complex percussion ensemble works ever written.

“Kryptogramma” means “concealed text/writing”.  In the  words of composer Aperghis (below): “Every cyptogram [in the piece] conceals a text or number sequence, behind which information is hidden…simple rhythms…are developed in a tapestry of soaring movements, and…subjected to a mass of variation.”

georges aperghis

Clocks in Motion members are Dave Alcorn, Jennifer Hedstrom, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewski James McKenzie, and Joseph Murfin.  For the concert on Feb. 16, Clocks in Motion will welcome percussionists Vincent Mingils and Somali Wilson as guest performers.

All performers are either current or former students of the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds rare instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

Formed in 2011, the ensemble is currently in residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.  The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles.

Among its many recent engagements, the group served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Rhapsody Arts Center, University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Admission is free. For more information, including repertoire, upcoming events, biographies, and media, visit http://clocksinmotionpercussion.com.

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