The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What is good music to listen to on Labor Day and to honor work? Here is a list to choose from. Can you add more?

September 7, 2015

REMINDER: The 37th annual Labor Day Concert by the Karp Family will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Admission is FREE. The program includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Benjamin Britten as well as William Shakespeare.

Here is a link to a recent post with more details:

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Labor Day, 2015. (Below is a famous work photo by American photographer Lewis Hine.)

working Lewis hine photo

How can you celebrate it in music?

Here is a list of classical music that pertains to labor.

And here is a poll from famed radio station WQXR FM in New York City:!/story/poll-what-music-best-captures-spirit-labor-day/

Below is “The Fruits of Labor” by famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Diego Rivera The Fruits of Labor

Finally, here are links to three previous posts about Labor Day that The Ear did.

The first one is from 2014, when the day seemed a good occasion to remember all the other unnamed people besides performers — from the box office and administration to the stage — who make the musical performances we enjoy possible:

The second post is from in 2013 and talks about the hard work of creating art and performing it  — such as required from a huge symphony orchestra (below) or a small ensemble or an individual. It also features other lists and something fitting from the “Farewell Symphony” by Franz Joseph Haydn:


The final posting is from 2010 and features lots of reader suggestions as well as Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”:

What music would you suggest listening to on Labor Day? Tell us in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.

Giuseppe Verdi’s hammer-pounding “The Anvil Chorus” from the opera “Il Trovatore” usually ranks high on all the lists and suggestions.

So for this year’s Labor Day, here it is in a YouTube video at the bottom, in a lively and visually engaging and muscular performance from “Live From the Met in HD”:



Classical music: Acclaimed organist Janette Fishell plays music by J.S. Bach and other Romantic and modern composers in her Madison and Overture Hall debut this Friday night.

March 18, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you thought that the Madison Symphony Orchestra only programmed orchestral music, you would be very wrong.

The MSO also programs chamber music, such as string quartets, and even organ recitals on the Overture Concert Organ.

Take this Friday night, for instance.

Here is how a press release from the MSO puts it:

“How many concerts does it take to play the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach (below)?


Internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell (below) found out that 21 was the magic number when she performed the complete cycle of Bach’s organ music.

Now she will bring some of this magic to Madison.

The third installment of the 2013-14 Madison Symphony Orchestra Overture Concert Organ series will feature  Fishell, an internationally renowned organist, as she makes her Overture Hall debut in a recital this Friday night, March 21, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Overture Center. 

Single tickets are $20, and a special $10 student rush will be offered on the day of the performance.

Janette Fishelle

The program, entitled “Bach and Beyond,” will include organ music composed as far back as the early 1700s, and as recently as 1976, displaying the wonderfully diverse repertoire at the hands of the modern organist. (Below is photo of the beautiful, custom-built Klais concert organ in Overture Hall.)

Overture Concert Organ overview

Three pieces by J.S. Bach are included on the program: the Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535; selections from the Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001; and the Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 (you can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video). The works will exhibit the Baroque style in which the organ, on which Bach was a master, flourished.

Fishell will then move on to three works composed in the late 1800s or later:  Ethyl Smyth’s “O Trauerigkeit, O Herzeleid”; Lionel Rogg’s Partita sopra “Nun Freut Euch”; and Louis Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 3 in F-sharp minor, Op. 28. The works will display the intriguing evolution of organ music in recent centuries.

Janettte Fishell has been described as “…a tour de force” (The Diapason) and “…fabulous…flawless!” (comments from a National Convention of the American Guild of Organists). She is a seasoned recitalist, having performed in many of the world’s greatest concert venues in Tokyo, Cambridge, Berlin, Budapest and Prague.

She has been featured at five national conventions and five regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and is professor of music and chair of the organ department at the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

The concert is sponsored by John and Christine Gauder, with additional funds from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

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Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s series of four organ concerts begins this Friday night. Also, the Oakwood Chamber Players perform on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.”

October 10, 2013
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ALERT: This Sunday, Wisconsin Public Radio’s live statewide broadcast “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. will feature the Oakwood Chamber Players of Madison. Sorry, but no word on the program yet. And there is still no listing of upcoming SAL concerts and performers on the new WPR website.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 2

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO)’s 2013-2014 Overture Concert Organ Season will start this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. In Overture Hall. (Below is a photo of the custom-built Klais organ in Overture Hall of the Overture Center.)

The series includes four diverse performances from the MSO’s principal organist, several dynamic guest artists, and the impressive Madison Youth Choirs.  Each concert will be in Overture Hall, where the MSO’s concert organ resides.

Overture Concert Organ overview


The first concert this Friday at 7:30 p.m. features solo works performed by Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio), the MSO’s principal organist and curator.

Highlighting the concert will be Hutchison’s transcription of the Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin,” and his interpretation of Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm (the fugue is in a YouTube video at the bottom).  Considered one of the pinnacles of Romantic organ composition, the sonata’s furious fugue and thrilling conclusion make for an unforgettable sonic experience.

Works by Gabriel Pierné, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Marco Enrico Bossi will also be performed.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio


On Friday, Nov. 8, sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch (below top and bottom, respectively) will join Hutchison in a program for organ and violins. The program features J.S. Bach’s Double Concerto and Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in D Minor. The sisters are a powerful pairing: both are members of the MSO’s first violin section and have impressive performance resumes.  Each sister has also won prestigious competitions at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.

In addition to performing with the Bartsch sisters, Hutchison will present solo works for organ by composers Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger, Tomoso Vitali, and others.

Alice Bartsch

Eleanor Bartsch


On Friday, March 21, the third Overture Concert Organ Performance will feature internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell (below), making her Overture Hall debut.

Fishell is a seasoned recitalist, having performed in many of the world’s greatest concert venues in Tokyo, Cambridge, Berlin, Budapest, and Prague.  She has been featured at five national conventions and five regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and also holds a professorship and chair in Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

The program, entitled Bach and Beyond, will include the music of J.S Bach, Miloš Sokola, Ethyl Smyth, Lionel Rogg, and Louis Vierne.

Janette Fishell CR Forrest Croce


On SATURDAY, May 10, the final Concert Organ performance will feature dozens of guest artists as Samuel Hutchison takes the stage with the Madison Youth Choirs Saturday.

Michael Ross, artistic director for the Choirs, has received significant praise from MSO Conductor John DeMain: “I can never say enough about the good work that Michael Ross is doing with the Madison Youth Choirs; they are an essential and beloved part of our Christmas Concerts.”

Works by John Rutter, J.S. Bach, Lili Boulanger and Herbert Howells will be performed.

Madison Youth Choirs Ragazzi cr Karen Holland

General admission for the above Overture Concert Organ performances is $20. Season subscriptions to all four concerts are available for $63 through TODAY, Oct. 10, at Other organ events for the 2013-2014 season include Free Community Hymn Sings Saturday, Nov. 16 (11 a.m.) and March 8 (11 a.m.), as well as a Free Community Christmas Carol Sing Sunday, Dec. 1 (7 p.m.).

Organist Nathan Laube (below) will also join the Madison Symphony Orchestra April 4-6, 2014, to perform Jongen’s “Symphonie Concertante.” 

Nathan Laube at console

The organ series is made possible by major funding from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and from the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the backdrop of all MSO concerts in Overture Hall.

Classical music Q&A: The FREE Friday Noon Musicales start again this week at the First Unitarian Society of Madison. FUS music director Dan Broner discusses how the programs come together. Plus, the UW Chamber Orchestra performs a FREE concert of Schumann, Haydn and Wagner on Tuesday night.

September 30, 2013

REMINDER: The UW Chamber Orchestra (below) performs a FREE concert tomorrow, on Tuesday night, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m in Mills Hall. The program, under conductor James Smith, features Robert Schumann’s “Overture, Scherzo and Finale,” Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 and Richard Wagner‘s “Siegfried Idyll.” 

UW Chamber Orchestra low res

By Jacob Stockinger

Madison has so much fine free music to offer listeners, especially at the University of Wisconsin School of Music through the Faculty Concert Series and various student groups.

But one of the most enjoyable events is also one of the most low-profile.

I am speaking about the weekly Friday Noon Musicales (below) that take place in the Landmark Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society’s historic Meeting House, near University Hospital, at 900 University Bay Drive off, just University Avenue on the city’s near west side. 


It is not surprising that the Friday Musicales exist because the Unitarians in Madison — which has the highest concentration of Unitarians in the U.S. —  always place a major emphasis on music, as did its famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. (An excerpt from an All-Mozart Sunday is in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

You can bring lunch, drink coffee or tea, or, as I do, eat before and take along a small dessert.

But so often the midday music concert is itself the dessert, the real treat. Imagine the fun of hearing live music for a daytime break. It is like a parenthesis, a time-out or an oasis in the day. Often I have walked into the concert with less enthusiasm and energy than I left with. The music recharges me and provides a spark to get through the rest of the day.

The setting and presentation are informal. But I have found the audiences very appreciative and generally quiet and well-behaved, though sometimes the knitters and readers, especially if they are in the front rows, strike me as rude and disrespectful to the performers.

I have heard singers and solo pianists, string trios and string quartets, all kinds of soloists and ensembles and music.

The Musicale series starts again this week, this Friday Oct. 4. So The Ear asked the First Unitarian Society’s music director Dan Broner to provide some background.

The many-talented Broner (below) not only plans the concerts and performers, he also plays the pianist himself as an accompanist in many of the concerts.

Here is Dan Broner’s email Q&A with The Ear:

Dan Broner BIG mug

How long have the Free Friday Noon musicales been held? Are they expensive to put on and how are they funded?

They have been held since 1987. They are an outreach program to the community and funded by the First Unitarian Society’s operating budget. The costs are that portion of my salary for administering and performing in the series, plus piano tuning and minimal utility expenses.

The musicians donate their services, and the 45-minute concerts (they run 12:15 to 1 p.m.) are free and open to the public.

How successful have they been? What is the typical attendance and how it is trended in recent years? Do certain kinds of concerts (instrument, voice, program, performer) attract a bigger or smaller audience?

The Musicales attract listeners of all ages, but are particularly attractive to seniors, and workers who can attend during their lunch break.

They regularly attract between 50 and 75, numbers, which have been consistent for the past 11 years of my tenure.

Attendance would most likely be higher if it we had more parking. But we share the lot with the Meeting House Nursery School, which limits availability.

Generally instrumental performances attract a larger audience, and more well-known artists will generate a larger crowd as well.

What do you hear from the public as a reaction to the concerts?

Almost every week I will receive favorable comments from attendees who enjoy the Musicales. Some have stated that they are their favorite musical events.

The Musicales are scheduled between October and May and many folks have said that they are eager for the season to begin.

How do you line up artists and programs? Do they come to you or you come to them?

Many artists contact me. They are attracted by the historic Frank Lloyd Wright landmark venue (below): the architecture, acoustics and the fully restored 1889 Steinway Model A grand piano.

Often they are students and teachers from the University of Wisconsin School of Music and other area universities who would like a trial run of recitals they are preparing.

Every summer I send out an email to every artist who has performed in the series and many elect to perform again.


Are there special programs you would like to point out for the current season?

There are many intriguing musicales this season, but a few do stand out for me personally. I’m eager to hear the young Madison pianist Garrick Olsen (below top), who is playing on Dec. 6. I always enjoy hearing the fine violinist, Kangwon Kim (below middle), and I look forward to collaborating with her on the Johannes Brahms’ Sonata in G for Violin and PIano on Friday, Jan. 10.

The fine Chicago area virtuoso pianist Mark Valenti will be performing at the Musicales for the first time on Jan. 31. Madison native pianist Kathy Ananda-Owens, from the St. Olaf College music faculty, plays on Feb. 7 and the Black Marigold Woodwind Quintet (below bottom), which is always fun, performs on March 14.

Garrick Olsen 2

Kangwon Kim

Black Marigold

Is there anything else you would like or add or say?

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this unique series. We welcome new listeners and musicians interested in performing.

Please join us for the first Musicale on this Friday, October 4, at 12:15 p.m. Violist Shannon Farley (below), with guitarist Christopher Allen and pianist Greg Punswick, will be performing music of J.S. Bach, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Cesar Franck.

Shannon Farley viola FUS

Classical music: Why am I turning off Wisconsin Public Radio more often? Too many second-rate composers and works? Too much harp music? Too many ads and promos? What do you think? Plus, UW baritone Paul Rowe sings Baroque cantatas this Sunday afternoon.

September 20, 2013

REMINDER: In a FREE concert this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison baritone Paul Rowe (below) will perform a promising and appealing concert of cantatas for solo voice and instruments composed between 1600 and 1720. Performers include John Chappell Stowe, harpsichordist and organist; Eric Miller, cellist and viola da gambist; and Alice Bartsch and Madlen Horsch Breckbill, violinists.

The program includes: Small Sacred Concertos by: Ludovico da Viadana (1564-1645) “Salve, Regina” and “Cantemus Domino” from Cento concerti ecclesiastici (1602); Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672), “Ich liege und schlafe,” SWV 310 from “Kleine Geistliche Konzerte,” Op.9 (1639); Secular Cantatas by: Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764): “Thetis” (1718); George Frideric Handel (1685-1759): “Cuopre tal volta il cielo” (circa 1708); and J. S. Bach (1685-1750): “Amore traditore,: BWV 203 (circa 1720).

Paul Rowe

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s a Friday morning as I am writing this.

And I just turned off “Morning Classics” on Wisconsin Public Radio.


WPR Logo

That saddens and disappoints me because I have long loved and listened to WPR, and I almost always write as a close friend rather than a critic. The WPR people I know and have met, from director Mike Crane to many of the show hosts, are all fine, intelligent and sensitive people.

But lately I find myself turning off Wisconsin Public Radio more than I ever have before.

Why is that? I began to wonder.

Some of it has to do with recent schedule changes.

Today is Friday and since a few weeks ago that means the 9-11 a.m. Morning Classics slot will feature the weekly Classics By Request show.


Requests used to be on Saturday morning. That was a great slot in which smaller excerpts of usually well-known works set up the longer, often lesser well-known opera broadcasts. It also allowed children and students to listen to snippets of tried-and-true masterpieces.

True, the morning show’s new host Ruthanne Bessman (below) still seeks out requests from kids. But does anyone want to bet that most of the children are in school when the requests get played on Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.?

Sorry, like some other good and loyal WPR friends I know, I turn it off.

Ruthanne Bessman WPR

Then too I find that WPR is programming too much harp music these days, mostly in the morning but not exclusively. I mean, I like the harp probably as much as anyone — excepting harp players of course. But I the harp in its place, which is usually as an ensemble instrument with an orchestra or smaller chamber group, where it can add a distinctive texture and tone.

But I am hearing too many solo works for harp and too many goofy and thoroughy forgettable harp pieces, especially arrangements. One recent offering was J.S. Bach’s keyboard “Italian Concerto” arranged for Harp Ensemble. That is misusing such a fine member of the family of “brunch instruments.” Kind of like an arrangement I recently heard of Tomaso Albinoni’s famous Adagio for Strings and Organ that used the flute, played by the famous James Galway, to suck all the pathos out of the piece.

It turned the profound into the pleasant.

So once again I turned the radio off.


Maybe audience surveys and focus groups tell WPR executives that the public likes the harp and other members of the “brunch instrument” family that much. But I don’t. Do you?

It all makes me miss the former morning host Anders Yocom (below top), who used to play what he called “The Minimum Daily Requirement” of Bach (below bottom) every morning. And who else but Bach – serious Bach – can meet that daily requirement? Yocom also usually featured big and beefy concertos and symphonies and sublime chamber music .

I mean the kind of music I want to hear mostly is the kind of music you don’t want to live without.

It is the kind of music that led the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to proclaim” “Life without music would be a mistake.”

anders yocom studio  head shot cr Jim Gill


WPR also seems to be airing more ads and acknowledgements, more teasers and promos, more fundraising appeals and mentions of corporate sponsors, than it used to. I suppose it needs to. But it seems to becoming more like the same mainstream commercial networks that it was originally designed to be an alternative to.

I realize that it is not easy being in public radio these days, when conservatives refuse to recognize their outstanding merits and want to defund PBS and NPR, and when competition for money is so fierce.

But still.

It also doesn’t help that some of the programmers and hosts seem more interested in airing rarities than in disseminating great and inspiring music that gets the pulse going and proves compelling or irresistible. Maybe these programmers know the masterpieces too well, but the rest of us like to hear great and music – not just obscure pieces and neglected composers that interest more than inspire.

So I would urge programmers and hosts to alternate the great and the obscure, and to keep the non-specialist listeners in mind. Some Bax is fine; but lots more Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, to say say nothing of lots more Handel and Vivaldi and Haydn and Mozart and Schubert and Chopin and Schumann and Dvorak and Tchaikovksy and Debussy and Ravel and Stravinsky and Prokofiev and Shostakovich and on and on — is even better.

But then again maybe all this carping comes back to me — to my own taste or personal preferences. So I want to know:

Does anyone out there share my concerns about Wisconsin Public Radio? Or do you think I am totally off-base?

the ear

While you consider the question, I think I’ll go to my library to pick out a CD to play instead of listening to the Classics By Request show.

Then I will try turning WPR back on again – and hope I don’t end up once again turning it off until the news comes on.

What do you think of Wisconsin Public Radio, and of its new schedules changes and the music it plays?

Leave something in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music: The Ear generally doesn’t like countertenors. Do you? Is it sexist or artistically wrong to prefer female singers to countertenors and to boy sopranos, especially in Bach cantatas. What do you say about the choices?

July 26, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

No doubt about it: Countertenors are once again cool.

Finally, after centuries of being ignored, slighted and downright ridiculed, countertenors are back in. They are mainstream these days and their numbers are increasing, as are their popularity and their quality.

When you plug the word “countertenor” into the YouTube search engine, you get more than 106,000 results. (At bottom is YouTube video of French countertenor Philippe Jarousskey singing a Vivaldi aria that has almost 2.5 million hits.)

On this past Thursday, NPR’s “Morning Edition” featured a terrific piece about countertenors with Miles Hoffman, the music commentator who is also a professional violist.

The report and commentary concerned the upcoming world premiere this weekend of the opera Theodore Morrison’s “Oscar,” based on the life and trial of Oscar Wilde, at the open air Santa Fe Opera (below).

santa fe opera house

The main point about the singing is that the lead role is played by the universally acclaimed countertenor David Daniels, for whom the opera was specifically composed. And Daniels (below, on the right, as Oscar Wilde in a photo by Ken Howard for the Santa Fe Opera) has a voice that was described as “high” and heavenly.”

Here is a link to the story with audio clips of other performances by Daniels including music by Handel and Franz Schubert:


Now, I have heard a few countertenors, in live performances and on recordings, and there are times when I liked them a lot. I certainly was impressed by them and glad that they now have place in the mainstream of vocal music and opera.

The resurgence of countertenors over the past 15 or so year was inevitable, I suppose, given the revival of Baroque opera and especially the operas of George Frideric Handel (below), who usually wrote his high-pitched hero roles for countertenors.

handel big 2

In fact, here is a link to an earlier piece that NPR “Deceptive Cadence” blogger Tom Huizenga wrote about the Handel recording by another prominent countertenor Bejun Mehta (below):

Bejun Mehta

But I found myself disagreeing with Miles Hoffman (below) and others who think that countertenors somehow bring an added richness to the singing.

Miles Hoffman NPR

My ears tell me just the opposite. So now is a good time to files what appears to be a minority report.

I generally find the countertenor tone uncomfortable. In general, I find adult women’s voices or ordinary male tenors more convincing and expressive, less artificial and more normal to my standards.

I feel the same way about using boy sopranos in choruses of J.S. Bach’s cantatas. There are times when I love the sound of boychoirs and boy sopranos.

But even in period performances of early music – by far, my preference — Bach’s cantatas seem much more convincing and beautiful to me with a soloists and choruses of adult men and adult women.

Of course, we all live in history.

But the fact of the matter is that women were not used for singing not because high male voices were superior but because earlier epochs were heavily sexist and discriminated against women.

That is also, I believe, why the roles of young women in Shakespeare’s plays were usually played by young men. Women were simply not allowed full participation in the performing arts.

And although we may want to reconstruct such practices out a curiosity for historically informed performance and to hear how a certain piece of music originally sounded, I say that earlier periods – not ours – were the more deprived epochs.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing from readers and sophisticated fans of vocal music about whether my objections are misplaced and inappropriate, or whether they agree with me. Not that I expect the trend toward  using countertenors will abate. I am sure it will only grow.

In the end, I suspect, it was comes down to taste and personal preference – as is so often the case, given the inevitable subjectivity of art.

But let me know what you think.

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music: Here is the impressive lineup of concerts for the 2013-14 season at the University of Wisconsin School of Music. Today is the Semester I; tomorrow is the second semester.

July 22, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

It is only mid-July and Kathy Esposito, the concert manager and director of public relations at the University of Wisconsin School of Music, is on the job.

Kathy has sent The Ear the copy for the UW School of Music’s new brochure with the dates and artists for the impressive lineup of concerts during the upcoming 2013-2014 season. The brochures themselves will be ready in August.

You will notice that a lot of artists and groups have still not submitted programs. But whatever is available right now is here.

So get out your datebooks and start checking for conflicts and penciling in your favorites.

The list is long, so the first semester – the Fall Semester — is featured today; the second semester – the Spring semester — will be featured tomorrow.

Here is Kathy’s introduction:

Hello all,

Attached herewith is our 2013-14 season schedule, which is in the end stages of design and will be printed and mailed this August. I wanted to give you a heads-up, for obvious reasons.

You’ll notice a slew of very interesting concerts. We will feature several highly successful UW alumni, including conductor Ken Woods (below, now working in England); Nate Stampley, Broadway singer; Chris Washburne, a trombonist now based in NYC; and Ilia Radoslavov, a pianist now at Truman State University


Other guests include Todd Reynolds, a violinist from NYC, Taiseer Elias & Menachem Wiesenberg (presenting classical Arabic and Israeli music), duoARtia (the piano duo of Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi & Holly Roadfeldt), and Third Coast Percussion of Chicago.

Our tuba professor and SOM director John Stevens (below top) is retiring this year, and he will conduct Chicago Symphony Oecgestra’s Gene Pokorny in the work that Stevens wrote for CSO, some years ago. Opera director Bill Farlow (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will also retire, and will present Hector Berlioz’ “Beatrice et Benedict” in his final appearance as director.

john stevens with tuba 1


We also have much in the way of more contemporary music, both new classical and electro-acoustic, plus many masterclasses and talks that are open to the public. There’s a lot of experimentation happening all the time at the UW School of Music (SOM).

Best of all: concerts are free – unless otherwise noted with a $$. 


Annual Karp Family Opening Concert

Mon 2, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Featuring Isabel & Ariana Karp, narrators; Suzanne Beia, violin; Katrin Talbot, viola; Ariana Karp, cello; Parry Karp, cello; Christopher Karp, piano; Howard & Frances Karp, pianos

Music of Handel, Harbison, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn.

Karp Family in color

Les Thimmig, “The Feldman Trios” Part 1 Faculty Concert

Sun 15, Mills Hall, 1 pm

Prof. Les Thimmig, flutes; Jennifer Hedstrom, keyboards; Sean Kleve, percussion

Three lecture-performances of the late-period work of American composer Morton Feldman; subsequent concerts on Oct 27 and Feb 2.

School of Music Annual Alumni Recital

Sun 15, Morphy Hall, 3:30 pm

Alex Weaver, horn; Michael Mixtacki, percussion; Kristine Rominski, flute; & others

The Center for New Music, University of Iowa Guest Artist

Sat 21, Mills Hall, 8 pm

Performances devoted to late 20th and early 21st-century repertoire.

Paul Rowe, baritone Faculty Concert

Sun 22, Mills Hall, 2 pm

Baroque cantatas for strings, voice, and continuo, featuring works by J.S. Bach, J. Ph. Rameau, Heinrich Schutz, and G.F. Handel.

Paul Rowe

Nate Stampley Guest Artist & UW-Madison School of Music Alumnus

Concert: Sun 22, Mills Hall, 5 pm

Masterclass: Mon 23, Music Hall, 1:15-3:15 pm

Broadway singer and 2008 School of Music alumnus Nate Stampley (below) will return to Madison to perform a free concert of show tunes from recent productions. Stampley, who studied with voice professor Mimmi Fulmer, will star this fall as Porgy in a national Broadway tour of “Porgy and Bess.” Stampley has also appeared on Broadway as Mufasa in “The Lion King” and in many other roles in New York, London, Chicago, and other cities.

MJS Nathaniel Stampley.jpg stampley

Black Music Ensemble

Thurs 26, Morphy Hall, 8:30 pm

Richard Davis, director

An eclectic group of musicians exploring repertoire of black composers.

richard davis playing

UW Symphony Orchestra

Sun 29, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

James Smith, conductor

Featuring Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, in celebration of the work’s 100th anniversary.



UW Chamber Orchestra

Tues 1, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

James Smith, conductor

Pro Arte Quartet UW Ensemble in Residence

Thurs 3, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

David Perry & Suzanne Beia, violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; Parry Karp, cello

Music of Mozart, Kreisler, and Brahms.


UW Wind Ensemble

Fri 4, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Scott Teeple, conductor

Third Coast Percussion Guest Artist

Concert: Wed 9, 7:30, Mills Hall

Owen Clayton Condon, Fractalia

Steve Reich, Mallet Quartet

John Cage, Third Construction

Augusta Read Thomas, Resounding Earth (commissioned work)

Masterclasses on Western percussion music & the commissioning process: TBA

Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion (below) explores and expands the extraordinary sonic possibilities of percussion repertoire through performances, teaching, and the creation of new works. Founded in 2005, Third Coast Percussion has performed hundreds of concerts across the country, teaches musicians of all ages and experience levels, and has commissioned dozens of new works.

Third Coast pPercussion

Noa Kageyama: Performance Psychologist Guest Artist

Workshops: Wed/Thurs 9/10, Morphy Hall, 7-9 pm

Keynote Address: “Performance Skills of Top Performers,” Thurs 10, 12-1 pm, Mills Hall

Dr. Noa Kageyama (below) is on the faculty of The Juilliard School and is the performance psychology coach for the New World Symphony in Miami. He specializes in working with performing artists and teaching them how to utilize sport psychology principles and more consistently demonstrate their full abilities under pressure.

Noa Kageyama


UW Wind Ensemble

Fri 11, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Scott Teeple, conductor

Presenting “Collage,” an hour of non-stop performances showcasing a variety of musical ensembles and styles from within the UW-Madison arts disciplines.

Scott Teeple

Wisconsin Brass Quintet UW Ensemble in Residence

Sat 12, Mills Hall, 8 pm

John Aley & Jessica Jensen, trumpets; Dan Grabois, horn; Mark Hetzler, trombone; John Stevens, tuba

Music of Peaslee, Sampson, Scheidt, and others.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet Cr Katrin Talbot

UW Concert Band

Sun 13, Mills Hall, 2 pm

Scott Teeple, director

UW University Bands

Sun 13, Mills Hall, 4 pm

Matthew Mireles, conductor

John C. Stowe, harpsichord Faculty Concert

Sun 13, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

UW Choral Collage

Sat 19, Mills Hall, 4 pm

Beverly Taylor, director

James Doing, tenor Faculty Concert

Sat 19, Mills Hall, 8 pm

With Martha Fischer, piano


Michael Norsworthy, clarinet Guest Artist

Sun 20, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

With David Gompper, piano (University of Iowa Center for New Music)

Music of Bermel, Beaser, Schwantner, Epstein, Foss and Gompper.

Michael Norsworthy (below), professor of clarinet at the Boston Conservatory, is one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire, having premiered over 125 new works with leading contemporary music groups.

Michael Norsworthy clarinet

Javier Calderon, guitar Faculty Concert

Thurs 24, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

University Opera & UW Chamber Orchestra $$

Fri 25, 7:30 pm / Sun 27, 3 pm / Tues 29, 7:30 pm, Music Hall

William Farlow, opera director

James Smith, orchestra director

George Frideric Handel, “Ariodante”

Call (608) 265-ARTS (2787) for ticket info.

Mark Hetzler, trombone (below) & Martha Fischer, piano Faculty Concert

Sat 26, Mills Hall, 6:30 pm

“Meditations and Visions: The Music of Anthony Plog and Anthony Barfield”: Two modern works that feature lyricism and technical virtuosity in a rich romantic language.

Mark Hetzler 2011 BIG COLOR Katrin Talbot

Les Thimmig, “The Feldman Trios” Part II Faculty Concert

Sun 27, Mills Hall, 1 pm

Les Thimmig, flutes; Jennifer Hedstrom, keyboards; Sean Kleve, percussion

Three lecture-performances of the late-period work of American composer Morton Feldman. Next concert Feb 2.

Parry Karp, cello Faculty Concert

Sun 27, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Thomas Kasdorf, piano; Suzanne Beia, violin; Parry Karp, cello

Piano trio recital.

Parry Karp 

Michelle Stanley, flute, with cellist Yoriko Morita Guest Artists

Concert: Mon 28, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

Masterclass on flute performance: Mon 28

Music of Lonnie Hevia and Cherise Leiter.

Michelle Stanley is assistant professor of music at Colorado State University and Yoriko Morita is an active cellist in the Boulder/Denver area.


UW Symphony Orchestra with guest violinist Rachel Barton Pine  $$

Conducted by Kenneth Woods, UW-Madison School of Music alumnus

Concert: Sat 2, Mills Hall, 8:00 pm

Johannes Brahms, Violin Concerto

Part of the Wisconsin Union Theater Concert Series. Tickets $25 general public, $10 students. Call (608) 265-ARTS (2787) for ticket info.

Chicago native Rachel Barton Pine (below) was a child prodigy who had her earliest appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 10 and 15 and won numerous national and international competitions while still in her teens. The youngest person (at age 17) and first American to win a gold medal at the prestigious 1992 J.S. Bach International Competition in Leipzig, Germany, she also has won top prizes in many international competitions. Rachel Barton Pine also performs rock and heavy metal music with her band Earthen Grave and has jammed with the likes of Slash, Guns N’ Roses, and other rock and metal stars.

Author, conductor, and cellist Kenneth Woods has worked with many orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Budapest Festival Orchestra, and the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, he takes up a new position as Artistic Director and conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra’s subscription concerts. In 1993, Ken Woods received a master’s degree in music from UW-Madison; he is also an alumnus of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Rachel Barton Pine

UW Contemporary Chamber Ensemble

Tues 5, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Laura Schwendinger, director

CCE continues its mission to present the music of living composers. This year’s featured composers include Kathryn Alexander, Suzanne Sorkin, and David Gompper.

UW Chamber Winds

Wed 6, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Scott Teeple, conductor

Jeff Hirshfield, percussionist Guest Artist

Concert with Johannes Wallmann Quartet: Wed 6, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

Concert with UW Madison’s Blue Note Ensemble, Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Composers’ Septet: Thurs 7, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

Masterclasses on percussion: Wed/Thurs 6/7

Among the most versatile and in-demand sidemen in jazz, New York City-based Jeff Hirshfield has appeared on over 300 albums. His performance and recording credits include Woody Herman, Jim Hall, Kenny Wheeler, John Abercrombie, Dr. John, Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, John Zorn, Bob Brookmeyer, and many others. The Toronto Star called Hirshfield “a drummer with endless capacity for innovation.”

Combined Concert: UW Concert Choir & UW Chorale

Fri 8, Mills Hall, 8 pm

Beverly Taylor, director

Beverly Taylor Katrin Talbot 

Parry Karp, cello Faculty Concert

Sat 9, Mills Hall, 8 pm

With Howard & Frances Karp, piano

Music of Schumann, Tournemire, Brahms, Kirchner, and Beethoven.

Guitar Ensemble

Wed 13, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Javier Calderon, director

Javier Calderon Talbot

UW Black Music Ensemble

Thurs 14, Morphy Hall, 8:30 pm

Richard Davis, director

An eclectic group of musicians exploring repertoire of black composers.

Marc Vallon, bassoon Faculty Concert

Fri 15, Morphy Hall, 8 pm

Marc Vallon 2011 James Gill (baroque & modern)[2]

UW Madrigal Singers

Sat 16, Mills Hall, 8 pm

Bruce Gladstone, director

Chris Washburne, trombonist & UW-Madison School of Music alumnus, with UW Jazz Orchestra Guest Artist

Concert: Sat 16, 8 pm, Music Hall

Masterclasses on music entrepreneurship, improvisation, and artistry: Fri/Sat 15/16

Presenting Latin jazz mixed with funk, hip-hop, gospel, and house.

Now a leading New York freelancer, Chris Washburne (below) received his bachelor’s degree in music from UW in 1986, studying with Richard Davis, Les Thimmig,  and Bill Richardson. He is now Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance program at Columbia University. His book Sounding Salsa was published in 2008 by Temple University Press.

Chris Washburne

UW Women’s Chorus & University Chorus

Sun 17, Mills Hall, 4 pm

Beverly Taylor, director

duoARtia Guest Artists

Mon 18, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

duoARtia is the piano duo of Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi (below top) and Holly Roadfeldt (below bottom)

Works of Bela Bartok, Witold Lutoslawski, UW-Madison composer Joseph Koykkar, James Leatherbarrow, Ed Martin, Kirk O’Riordan, Rob Paterson, Jamie Wilding, and Yehuda Yannay.

Astolfi is currently a member of the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Roadfeldt is currently teaching at Lafayette College, has a private studio in New York City and serves as piano faculty with distinction at The Music School of Delaware.

Jeri-Mae Astolfi of duoARtia

holly Roadfedlt of duo ARtia

UW Concert Band

Mon 18, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Scott Teeple, director

2$ Broom: The UW-Madison Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

Tues 19, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm
Daniel Grabois & Mark Hetzler, directors

Student performers, composers, improvisers, and engineers will present new music in both acoustic and electronic settings.

Wingra Woodwind Quartet UW Ensemble in Residence

Thurs 21, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

Stephanie Jutt, flute; Kostas Tiliakos, oboe (replacing Marc Fink on far right); Linda Bartley, clarinet; Marc Vallon, bassoon; Linda Kimball, horn


Pro Arte Quartet UW Ensemble in Residence

David Perry and Suzanne Beia, violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; Parry Karp, cello

With guest artist Samuel Rhodes, violist, Juilliard Quartet

Fri 22, Mills Hall, 8 pm

Presenting the Bruckner Viola Quintet and the world premiere of the Benoit Mernier Quartet.

Pro Arte Quartet new 2 Rick Langer

UW Choral Union & UW Symphony Orchestra  $$

Sat 23, 8 pm / Sun 24, 2 pm, Mills Hall

Beverly Taylor, conductor

Ralph Vaughan Williams, Dona Nobis Pacem

Felix Mendelssohn, Die erste Walpurgisnacht

Call (608) 265-ARTS (2787) for ticket info.

Choral Union Kyr James Doing

Winds of Wisconsin

Sun 24, Mills Hall, 6 pm

Scott Teeple, director

A premier high school wind ensemble on the UW-Madison campus.

UW Trombone Choir

Mon 25, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Mark Hetzler, director

Opera Workshop

Tues 26, Music Hall, 7:30 pm

William Farlow & Mimmi Fulmer, directors

UW Western Percussion Ensemble

Tues 26, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Anthony Di Sanza & Tom Ross, directors


UW Early Music Ensemble

Tues 3, Morphy Hall, 8:30 pm

UW Jazz Orchestra & The Sun Prairie High School Big Band

Wed 4, Music Hall, 7:30 pm

Johannes Wallmann & Steve Sveum, directors

Blue Note Ensemble, Jazz Composers’ Septet, & Contemporary Jazz Ensemble

Thurs 5, Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm

Johannes Wallmann & Les Thimmig, directors

UW Wind Ensemble

Fri 6, Mills Hall, 8 pm

Featuring Joel Puckett, composer in residence.

Scott Teeple, director

UW World Percussion Ensemble

Sat 7, Morphy Hall, 12 pm

Todd Hammes & Tom Ross, directors

UW All-University String Orchestra

Sat 7, Mills Hall, 4 pm

Janet Jensen, director

UW Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble

Sat 7, Mills Hall, 8 pm

John Stevens, director

UW University Bands

Sun 8, Mills Hall, 2 pm

Matthew Mireles, conductor

UW “Prism” Concert

Sun 8, Luther Memorial Church, 2 & 4 pm

Concert Choir, Chorale, Women’s Chorus, Madrigal Singers, & University Chorus

Beverly Taylor and Bruce Gladstone, conductors

luther memorial church madison

UW Chamber Orchestra

Sun 8, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

James Smith, conductor

UW Chamber Orchestra low res 

UW Master Singers

Mon 9, Mills Hall, 7:30 pm

Classical music: The Madison Chamber Choir will perform an eclectic concert of works by J.S. Bach, Amy Beach and the Beach Boys on Friday, May 31.

May 29, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

A blog fan and local singer writes:

I’m writing on behalf of the Madison Chamber Choir (below, in a photo by Jim Pippett) to let you know of our upcoming spring concert in the hope that you might spread the word to Madison-area music lovers through your fabulous blog.

madison chamber choir CR Jim Pippitt

We’re calling the concert “Bach & Beach.” It will be held on Friday, May 31, at 8 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 3236 South Segoe Road. Admission is a suggested donation of $10.

Directed by Anthony Cao (below top, in a photo by Jim Pippitt) , the concert will be an eclectic offering that will include music of J.S. Bach (“Jesu, Meine Freude and “Sleepers Wake”), as well as some work of Amy Beach (below and at the bottom in a YouTube video are three songs) and, yes, The Beach Boys.

madison chamber choir dir anthony cao CR Jim Pippitt

Amy Beach BW 1

I’m attaching an e-version of a publicity postcard that includes some relevant details.

Adds The Ear: I didn’t get specific titles of works by Beach and The Beach Boys. But if the concert is half has half the fun and color of the poster (below), it should be a memorable event.

Madison Chamber Choir poster May 2013

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra announces the new 2013-14 season of the Overture Concert Organ series, featuring sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch of Madison as well as local and imported talent in appealing and varied programs.

May 23, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The news about new seasons continues to come in.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has just announced the 2013-14 season of concerts with the Overture Concert Organ (below) that will feature the internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell, MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison, MSO sister violinists Alice Bartsch and Eleanor Bartsch, and the Madison Youth Choirs.

Overture Concert Organ overview

Now the acclaimed Twin Sister duo of pianists Michelle and Christina Naughton can be joined by their violinist counterparts from Madison.

Program highlights include Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm and double violin concertos by J. S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi.

Subscriptions are available for $63 to the four-concert series, which has quietly become one of the best-attended organ seasons around.

The subscription deadline is June 28. Subscribers save 25 percent off the cost of single tickets and get the best seats before they go on sale to the general public on August 17.

Subscriptions, full details and concert programs are now available at

Here is an overview of the season with artists and programs:

Samuel Hutchison (below) opens the season on Friday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Overture Center‘s Overture Hall with a program of works by J. S. Bach, Gabriel Pierné, Marco Enrico Bossi and a special transcription of the waltz from Peter Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The highlight of the program will be Hutchison’s interpretation of Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm, which is considered one of the pinnacles of Romantic organ composition.

Hutchison has received rave reviews from the local press for his playing: The Capital Times said, “Simply ‘fantastique’! Hutchison delivered a seamless performance.” And John W. Barker, writing for Isthmus, said, “Hutchison took full measure of the work in the strongest performance of it I can recall hearing.”


MSO first violinists and sisters Alice Bartsch (below top) and Eleanor Bartsch (below bottom) join Hutchison on Friday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall with the Double Concerto by J. S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in D Minor.

Both sisters have distinguished themselves as stellar violinists and have won competitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. Hutchison will round out the program with works by Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger and Giacomo Meyerbeer.

Alice Bartsch

Eleanor Bartsch

Organist Janette Fishell (below) has performed in many of the world’s great concert venues and has just completed a 21-concert cycle of the complete works of J. S. Bach, which she talks about in the YouTube video at the bottom. Her program on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. includes works by J. S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Miloš Sokola, Robert Schumann, Lionel Rogg and others.

Fishell serves as Professor of Music and Chair of the Organ Department at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She has been described as “a tour de force” in The Diapason, and her colleagues of the American Guild of Organists call her “fabulous…flawless!”

Janette Fishell CR Forrest Croce

The highly popular Madison Youth Choirs (Michael Ross, Artistic Director) bring the season to a close with Hutchison on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall with a refreshing program of music for soprano, alto, tenor and bass mixed voices with treble singers.

The program includes works by John Rutter, J. S. Bach, Lili Boulanger, Herbert Howells and others. MSO Music Director John DeMain has said, “I can never say enough about the good work that Michael Ross does with the Madison Youth Choirs; they are an essential and beloved part of our Christmas concerts.”

madison youth choirs

The Overture Concert Organ is owned by the MSO. It is programmed and curated by MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison. In addition to the subscription season, the instrument is featured in the MSO Christmas concerts and in the April, 2014 program, as well as the Free Farmers’ Market Concert series with three summer events and Free Community Hymn Sings, which take place four times per season.

Details can be found on the Web at

The Overture Concert Organ series is made possible by major funding from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. Additional sponsorships come from Friends of the Overture Concert Organ and John and Christine Gauder.

Classical music Q&A: Do cellist Parry Karp and pianist Eli Kalman have favorite cello sonatas by Beethoven? What should audiences listen for this Friday night and Sunday afternoon? How did the two performers meet and develop their collaboration? Part 2 of 2. Plus, violist Mikko Utevsky gives a FREE recital of J.S. Bach and Shostakovich on Saturday night.

April 17, 2013

ALERT: Mikko Utevsky — a prize-winning UW student violist as well as sometimes Madison Symphony Orchestra player and the founder-conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) — will give a viola recital at Capitol Lakes Retirement Home, 333 West Main Street, off the Capitol Square, at 7 P.M. this SATURDAY (NOT Thursday) night, April 20, and would love for a big audience to attend the FREE concert. The ambitious program includes playing J.S. Bach‘s Cello Suite No. 5, transcribed for viola; Dmitri Shostakovich’s late Viola Sonata; and a Kaddish by Tzvi Avni. Utevsky (below) will be accompanied by pianist John Jeffrey Gibbens. A reception will follow the concert.

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings one of the major and memorable events of the current season: Performances in two parts of the complete original works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

The performances will take place this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and this Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (NOT 3:30 p.m. as mistakenly first listed) in the concert hall at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side, near West Towne Mall.

The performers are longtime collaborators: University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of cello and Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp and UW-Oshkosh professor of piano Eli Kalman, who received his doctoral degree from the UW-Madison School of Music.

Tickets are $25 for each individual concert or $40 for the package of two. For more information call (608) 271-2626, go to Farley’s website. Here is a link:

Here are the programs for the two concerts:

Friday at 7:30 p.m.: Sonata In C Major, Op. 102 No. 1 (1815); Sonata in F Major, Op. 5 No. 1 (1796); Seven Variations on a theme “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, WoO 46 (1801); Sonata In D Major, Op. 102 No. 2 (1815)

Sunday at 4:30 p.m.: Twelve Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Oratorio “Judas Maccabeus,” WoO 45 (1796); Sonata In G Minor, Op. 5 No. 2 (1796); Twelve Variations on a theme “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, Op. 66 (1798); Sonata in A Major, Op. 69 (1807-8)

Both Parry Karp (below left) and pianist Eli Kalman (below right) agreed to answer a wide-ranging email Q&A. This is the second of two parts. The first part was posted yesterday and covered the evolution and development of Beethoven writing for the cello and piano throughout his career.

Parry Karp and Eli Kalman

Do you both have favorite works among Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano? Which ones and why?

Parry Karp: It sounds like a cliché, but whatever work I am playing at the moment is my favorite. A week and a half ago Eli and I played three of the works for the Music in Performance class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We played an early sonata, a sets of variations and a late sonata. We were both struck by how completely different each work was and how magnificent they all were. The range is extraordinary. As my father (retired UW pianist Howard Karp) is fond of saying about Beethoven (below is a print of the young Beethoven): “He was great from the beginning, he just kept changing.” Probably the first Cello Sonata is the least performed, but when you are performing it, it is an overwhelming experience.

Eli Kalman: The one you are playing has always to sound like your favorite -– that is so true. But personally, I have a very strong connection to the fourth sonata, Op. 102, No. 1 (at bottom, in a YouTube video), and I am happy to overlook the words for the reasoning.  I could advocate for any sonata as for the first favorite in a rational manner, but I choose to go with my strongest emotional reaction regarding the fourth sonata.

young beethoven etching in 1804

What would you like audiences to listen for or hear in your performances of these works? Are there neglected works you would especially like people to pay attention to?

Parry Karp: In general, I don’t like to tell audiences what to listen for in performances. I think these works can be enjoyed and understood in many different ways and on many different levels. In fact every time I play, listen or study them I find new things.

However the works do demand intense concentration from the listener as well as the performer! This music doesn’t work as background music.

In addition to the sonatas, we are performing the three sets of variations that Beethoven wrote for piano and cello. The variation form is one that also held interest for Beethoven from early in his compositional career right through to the huge “33 Variations on a Theme of Diabelli” at the end. He was a master at writing variations and these three sets show that well. (Below is a manuscript sketch of Beethoven’s most popular Cello Sonata, Op. 69.)

Eli Kalman: It is fascinating to follow the composer’s mind at work along with the musically beautiful of many sorts. Instrumental musical treatment is usually of abstract nature but can turn also operatic at times. The singing and the interplay are worth listening to and the passion and the dedication with which the potential of the duo unfolds.

The collaboration is complex, exciting and never really predictable.  It is like a mountain of piano sound and one happy hiker — the cello climbing towards the highest peak.

Beethoven Ms. Cello Sonata Op. 69

You have played together a lot. Can you recall first getting together and tell us what makes your partnership – or any partnership — so successful?

Parry Karp: I first met Eli Kalman through a door! I walked by a studio and heard a pianist practicing Schumann’s Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor, a work rarely heard. I knocked on the door to find out who this excellent pianist was, and it was Eli.

It turned out he was in Madison auditioning for the graduate program in Collaborative Piano. He arrived in Madison the following fall in the graduate program and had an immediate impact on our string program.

He was very generously making it possibly for all of our advanced string students to perform the great piano-string duo repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Respighi, Bartok, Rachmaninoff, etc.

After a year Eli asked if we could do some playing together. I was only too happy to oblige. We have been performing together since that time, some 11 years. We have explored both much of the well-known repertoire as well as many works that we consider unjustly neglected works. It is always a great treat to have Eli as a duo partner.

Eli Kalman: Parry was the most inspiring musical figure of my last musical decade starting from his own recitals in which he was never letting go easily of any note and all the way to the his insatiable appetite for music. I never met somebody hanging on with so much passion to every measure — quite a model to follow!

How did we start? As a student, I told him once about my dream of including Rachmaninoff’s cello sonata and Ravel piano trio in my repertoire and he commented warmly: “You had a dream, let’s make this happen” – and this is how it started. Ten years later, we have shared so many wonderful and often challenging stage experiences in which we stay together serving music the best we can and continue to marvel about its powers.

Is there anything else you would like to say or add?

Parry Karp: We are very excited to be performing these seminal works at Farley’s House of Pianos, a beautiful intimate space, and a perfect environment for hearing these pieces. Eli and I rehearsed there yesterday and it was a wonderful treat.

There was a plethora of great pianos to chose from, “an embarrassment of riches” as it were. We picked an 1877 “Centennial” Steinway Concert Grand (below), lovingly and magnificently rebuilt by Farley’s. It seemed perfect for these two upcoming recitals.

Eli Kalman: One is fortunate if the repertoire, the partner and the concert series are special. In this case, Farley’s unique restoration of this piano is a significant addition to other aspects. Performing Beethoven’s complete cycle of piano and cello works is one of the most exciting moments of my musical life. We are looking forward to it very much!

Steinway Centennial

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