ALERT: Two one-hour performances of the FREE Choral Prism Concert, featuring all of UW-Madison choral choirs, will take place on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Luther Memorial Church (below), 1021 University Ave. Performing short pieces of seasonal music — winter, Christmas, Hanukkah — under conductor and director Beverly Taylor are the UW Chorale, UW Concert Choir, UW Madrigal Singers, UW Masters Singers and Women’s Chorus Opera and Voice. There is an optional sing-along for the audience. Sorry, The Ear has received no word on specific composers and works.
By Jacob Stockinger
Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who for 20 years hosted an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.
By John W. Barker
After almost 25 years, as the first and longest-surviving group bringing early music to Madison on a regular basis, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) is still going strong.
And two days after Thanksgiving, on the tail end of a University of Wisconsin-Madison football game, it came up with a remarkably rich and generous program, performed at a familiar venue, the historic Gates of Heaven synagogue (below) in James Madison Park.
Part of the richness was the idea of a partial theme: commemorating the 300th anniversary year of the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (below, 1714-1788).
Of eight program slots, three were devoted to C.P.E.’s music. The opening item was a Trio Sonata in D minor, for two flutes and basso continuo, played by flutists Brett Lipshitz and Monica Steger, with cellist Anton TenWolde cellist (below) and harpsichordist Max Yount. (You can hear the Trio Sonata in D minor at the bottom in a YouTube video.)
Written during C.P.E.’s service to the flute-obsessed Frederick the Great of Prussia, it is a conservative piece that still looks back to the late Baroque styles of the composer’s famous father, Johann Sebastian Bach. On the other hand, three short practice Sonatinas from the very end of C.P.E.’s life (played by Yount) can be related to the piano sonatas that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was writing exactly at the same time.
Most fascinating of all, however, was a Sonata for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord obligato, dating from 1759. An intricate and demanding work, it has its own musical substance, the opening of which Eric Miller (below, in photo by Katrin Talbot) brought off brilliantly, with Yount. But clearly as a duet for two equal instruments (abandoning the old keyboard continuo function), it gave hints of Ludwig van Beethoven’s cello sonatas, to come a half-century and more later.
As against the works of the birthday boy, instrumental pieces by three other composers were offered, composers roughly parallel in lifespan to C.P.E., but whose individual differences made nice contrasts to the latter’s style.
Rather conventionally post-Baroque was a sonata for cello and bass by the Dutch composer Pieter Hellendaal (1721-1799). But pre-Classical virtuosity was the hallmark of a Sonata for traverse flute and continuo by Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783), played with wonderful flair by Lipshutz, with Steger shifting to the harpsichord as partner.
Particularly interesting, though, was a chamber work by a dimly remembered French composer of the day, Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705-1770). The scoring of this sonata pitted a seemingly unbalanced trio of two flutes and gamba against the basso continuo: the manipulations of color and texture were full of wit and cleverness, especially in the last of its four movements.
There were also two vocal works, for some added contrast. Soprano Consuelo Sañudo (below) sang a cantata, on a text about tempestuous love by slightly earlier Baroque French master Michel Piglet de Montéclair. She displayed in this her usual combination of precision and stylistic flair.
And then, for the program’s closer, she sang a Spanish “villancico” by Juan Hidalgo de Polanco, whose life span (1614-1685) was almost exactly identical with C.P.E. Bach’s, by one century earlier. This was, in fact, composed for four vocal parts with basso continuo, but for this the other three vocal parts were rendered instrumentally, thus bringing the full group of six performers together in a grand finale.
This was, in all, an unusually long program, but one filled with surprises, discoveries and delights. It proved another reminder of the WBE’s endless gifts to Madison’s musical life.
ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Musicale, to be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature “Triple Play” — trumpeter David Miller, cellist Amy Harr and pianist Jane Peckham in music of Eric Ewazon, William Schmidt, and Johannes Brahms. The concert is in the historic Landmark Auditorium.
By Jacob Stockinger
The early music and period instrument group Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a concert of vocal and instrumental chamber music of largely the 16th and 17th centuries.
PLEASE NOTE: The concert will be performed at 3 p.m. on this Sunday, October 19, at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church — That is a change of venue from the usual Gates of Heaven Synagogue in James Madison Park. The church is located at 1833 Regent Street, on Madison’s near west side across from Randall Elementary School.
Performers are UW-Madison professor soprano Mimmi Fulmer; mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo; recorder and dulcian players Theresa Koenig; traverse, recorder and harpsichord player Monica Steger; viola da gamba and cornetto players Eric Miller; baroque cello player Anton TenWolde; and organist and harpsichord player Max Yount.
Works by Scarani, Heinrich Schuetz, d’India, J.S. Bach, Bertoli, and Simpson will be featured.
Tickets at the door only: $20 for the general public, $10 for students.
Here is the complete program: Prelude for Solo Viola da gamba by Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (ca. 1640–1700); “Ancor che col partire” from “French Motets, Madrigals and Songs” by Giovanniu Bassano (ca. 1561-1617) viola da gamba solo; “Music for Two Voices” (1615) by Sigusmondo d’India (ca. 1582-1629); Sonata for Dulcian and Basso continuo by Giovanni Antonio Bertoli (1598-1645); Sonata XII for Traverse and basso continuo by Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758); INTERMISSION; Sonata decima quarta a tre, duoi canti e basso by Giuseppe Scarani (1628–1641); Two Divisions for the Practice of Learners by Christopher Simpson (1606–1669); “Komm, du süsse Todesstunde” (Come, Sweet Hour of Death, the tenor aria from which can be heard at bottom in a YouTube video), from Cantata 161 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750); “Tugend ist der beste Freund,” SWV 442, by Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672).
By Jacob Stockinger
This is a crazy busy weekend for classical music fans in Madison.
On Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra closing out its season with pianist Stewart Goodyear playing his own Piano Concerto and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Choral” Fantasy (plus the “Eroica” Symphony) on Friday night.
On Friday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall is also the University of Iowa Center for New Music in a FREE concert.
Also on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall is the University Opera’s first of three performances of Hector Berlioz’ opera “Beatrice and Benedict.” It is the farewell production of director William Farlow, who is retiring this spring.
Then on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall is the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music’s Perlman Piano Trio, in a FREE concert of Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert and Antonin Dvorak. At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall is the UW-Madison Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s “St. John Passion” under conductor and director Beverly Taylor.
And on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. is the First Unitarian Society of Madison performing Gabriel Faure’s lovely and calming Requiem. Admission is FREE and open to the public. And the on Sunday evening at 7 p.m., the UW Chorale Concert, under Bruce Gladstone, will perform a FREE concert in Mills Hall.
But two concerts on Saturday by smaller local groups presenting old music and new music should also not be overlooked.
On Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Luther Memorial Church (below) at 1021 University Avenue, there is a FREE concert featuring new music by two local groups.
“New Music Concert and Conversation” is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and features new works for the percussion group Clocks in Motion (below top) and the woodwind quintet Black Marigold (below bottom) by student composers across the country. Two of the four winning composers will be in attendance to speak about their work and answer questions from the audience.
Immediately following the performance, Clocks in Motion and Black Marigold members will speak about the challenges and rewards of performing new music.
The New Music Concert is part of the 18th annual conference of the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (MGMC), which will take place at UW-Madison on April 11 and 12. MGMC is a joint venture organized by graduate students from Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and UW-Madison. MGMC encourages the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate and advanced undergraduate students.
Details about the conference, including a full schedule and list of abstracts, can be found at the MGMC website. The conference includes papers by students from MGMC sister schools and institutions across the U.S. and Canada. Tamara Levitz, UCLA, will give a keynote lecture, “Riot at the Rite: Racial Exclusion and the Foundations of Musical Modernism.” Registration is FREE. Please send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend. (No registration is necessary for the New Music Concert).
The program includes:
Works for Clocks in Motion:
Kristina Warren, University of Virginia . . . Adelaide
Benjamin O’Brien, University of Florida . . . cadenceStudie
Works for Black Marigold (below):
Kenn McSperitt, University of Oklahoma . . . Eight
Matthew R. Durrant, University of Utah . . . Quintet No. 2
Then on Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below), located at 300 East Gorham Street, in James Madison Park in downtown Madison, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a concert of vocal and instrumental early music on period instruments.
The program includes:
1. Wilhelm Friedemann Bach – Duet No. 2 for two flutes in E-flat major, F. 55
2. Jean Baptiste Barrière – Cello Sonata No. 3, Book 2
3. Georg Philipp Telemann – Suite 1 from “Six Paris Quartets”
4. Johann Friedrich Fasch – Sonata for bassoon and continuo in C major
5. Benoit Guillement – Sonata No. 1 for two traversi
6. Johann Sebastian Bach – “Die Schätzbarkeit der weiten Erde” from cantata BWV 204 (heard at the bottom in a YouTube video featuring violinist Itzhak Perlman and soprano Kathleen Battle.)
7. Carl Friedrich Abel – Sonata a viola da gamba solo et basso, WKO 160.
8. Johann Christian Bach – Quartetto for traverso, violin, viola, and bass.
9. Joseph Bodin de Boismortier – Concerto a cing parties, from Op.37.
Tickets are available only at the door. Admission is $15, $10 for students. Feel free to bring your own chair or pillow. For more information, call (608) 238-5126 or visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org.
Members of the Wisconsin Barqoue Ensemble are: Theresa Koenig – baroque bassoon; Brett Lipshutz – traverse; Mary Perkinson – baroque violin; Consuelo Sañudo – mezzo-soprano; Monica Steger – traverse; Eric Miller – viola da gamba, baroque cello; Anton TenWolde – baroque cello; and Max Yount – harpsichord.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, the early music group based in Madison, will perform a concert of instrumental and vocal chamber music on Sunday, February 9, at 3 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below), 300 East Gorham Street, in James Madison Park in downtown Madison.
Performers in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble include: University of Wisconsin-Madison Mimmi Fulmer, soprano; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo-soprano; Theresa Koenig, recorder and baroque bassoon; Brett Lipshutz, traverse and recorder; Mary Perkinson, baroque violin; Monica Steger, traverse and recorder; Eric Miller, viola da gamba and baroque cello; Anton TenWolde, baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord.
Tickets at the door only are $15 ($10 for students). Feel free to bring your own chair or pillow. For more information 608-238-5126 or visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org
The program consists of:
1. Louis-Antoine Dornel – Sonate en Quattuor
3. Johann Mattheson – Sonata for three recorders, Opus 1, No. 5
4. Georg Philipp Telemann – Sonata 1 from “Six Quatuors” (Paris Quartets) TWV42:A1
5. Sigismondo d’India – “Dove potro”
6. Michel Corette – Sonata in E minor, Opus 25, No. 4: “Les Amusements D’Appollon Chez Le Roi Admete”
7. Antonio Vivaldi – “Pianti, sospiri”, RV 676
8. Joseph Bodin de Boismortier – “Balets de Village en Trio,” Opus 52, No. 1
By Jacob Stockinger
The Madison-based early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below) will be performing British sacred choral music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras in two performances – one FREE and one with admission — this coming weekend.
Here is a press release from the group:
“Titled “A British Winter,” the performances will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Chocolaterian Café, 2004 Atwood Ave.; and again on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. at the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below), 302 East Gorham Street in James Madison Park.
Admission is free on Saturday at the Chocolaterian; tickets are $15 ($10 for students) on Sunday, sold at the door.
In this program, Eliza’s Toyes revisits its founding mission of a cappella early music. The musicians who will perform are sopranos Deb Heilert and Chelsie Propst; Sandy Erickson, alto; Peter Gruett, alto/tenor; Jerry Hui (below), tenor/bass; and Mark Werner, baritone.
A vocal sextet will perform music with Latin and English text composed by William Byrd, Robert Fayrfax, Peter Phillips, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Tomkins, and Christopher Tye. A few anonymous pieces likely of British origin are also included.
The choice of composers spans at least 200 years, and highlights the development of polyphonic British music. Tallis (below) in his early age took works of Fayrfax as a model for his own Latin sacred music; Byrd studied with and worked for Tallis; and both Tomkins and Philips were students of Byrd’s.
Here is the complete program of “A British Winter”:
Anon.: Regina caeli (chant)
Anon.: Regina caeli à 3
William Byrd (1540-1623): Memento salutis auctor
Byrd: O magnum mysterium (sung in a YouTube video at the bottom)
Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Magnificat “O bone Jesu”
Peter Philips (1560-1628): O beatum et sacrosanctum Diem (1612)
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): O sacrum convivium (1575)
Christopher Tye (1505-1573): A sound of angels
Tallis: O nata lux (1575)
Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656): Music Divine (1622)
Anon.: Tidings True
Anon.: There is no rose
Byrd: Sing Joyfully (1641)
Among the selection of music is a rarely heard piece, Magnificat “O bone Jesu” by Fayrfax. Likely composed around 1500-1502, it is a setting of Magnificat text whose musical material is based on Fayrfax’s own motet (survived only in fragments). The piece is a fine example of English choral music of its time: polyphonic settings are only written for the even verses, while the odd verses remain as plainchant; and much of the piece features a trio texture, with intricate rhythmic interactions among voices.
Eliza’s Toyes is a Madison-based early music ensemble specialized in performing vocal and wind music from before 1700. Its creative concert programs often feature geographical or narrative themes, partnering with both music and non-music academic fields. Now in its fifth season, Eliza’s Toyes has been performing at least twice a year, in various venues including UW-Madison Memorial Library, the Chazen Museum of Art, and the Gates of Heaven. It has also been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” concert series.
ALERT: On this Tuesday, December 3, at 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, the UW-Madison Early Music Ensemble, under the direction of performer sand Telemann scholar Professor Jeanne Swack (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), will be present a FREE concert of 18th-century chamber music, including works by Benedetto Marcello, Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Scherer. Here is a link to the UW School of of Music events calendar. Click on the concert listing and read the fascinating and informative notes about the program.
By Jacob Stockinger
Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.
By John W. Barker
Despite the distractions of the Thanksgiving weekend, and tricky weather, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble drew a quite respectable audience of about 60 to its latest concert at the Gates of Heaven historic synagogue in James Madison Park on Saturday night.
That venue may seem austere but the acoustics are splendid, and the scale of its hall matches the spacial qualities of a Baroque salon where cultivated friends would gather to make music together. That is true “chamber” music. (Judge for yourself by listening to the group performing a work by C.P.E. Bach at the Gates of Heaven in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
And that is exactly the spirit that the WBE seeks to recreate, with a pool of excellent specialist performers. Cellist Anton TenWolde (below) has worked to emphasize collegiality, describing his group as a “collective,” with himself as a traffic cop rather than as dictator. For each program, performers propose pieces that they would like to explore, and the menu is worked out by agreement.
The team this time consisted of six instrumentalists and one singer, all of them established WBE veterans. A recurrent Hispanic element was contributed by mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo, who sang three endearing solo numbers of the 17th century, partly from Spain, but one, a Christmas piece, from Mexico.
French music was a strong component, with Brett Lipshutz tossing off with flair a sonata for traverso flute by Louis-Antoine Dornel. Also on traverso, Monica Steger joined him for a trio sonata by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre. And gamba player Eric Miller bravely brought to vigorous life a really high-power set of pieces by Antoine Forqueray.
But there was a strong German component as well. Harpsichordist Max Yount played a multi-fugal keyboard Capriccio by Georg Böhm–the only solo piece (that is, without any bass players) in the program. More-or-less German composers were represented in performances by Theresa Koenig. First, in the best-known of the sonatas for recorder and basso continuo (in A minor) by George Frideric Handel (below top), and then, in a switch of instruments, a probing sonata by Georg Philipp Telemann (below bottom) for bassoon and continuo.
Such versatility was by no means unique in this program. The amazingly accomplished Steger not only appeared on recorder or traverso but also in the harpsichord continuo role in the two sonatas played by Koenig. In other rotations, gambist Miller and cellist TenWolde took turns as the string player in the ever-present continuo functions.
It has become needless to say that these performers are all skilled musicians. We are also used to the warm collegiality they display, in sharing music with each other, and with the audience. The program formats, the performing location, have become comfortably familiar to those who are the group’s loyal followers.
But it is ever so easy to take all that for granted. What needs to be pointed out is the durability of the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble. Building on some earlier groupings and activities, it was founded by TenWolde in 1990, and has been performing ever since. That is to say, it will soon be celebrating its 25th anniversary!
In many ways, the full blossoming of early music activities burst forth with the creation of the annual Madison Early Music Festival in 2000. But for a decade before that, the WBE was busily preparing the ground, and has continued to add depth and nuance to that part of our musical scene
Such an achievement deserves not only acclaim, but also audience support. The group has become legally incorporated and will seek tax-exempt status. That status that will become official on January 1, 2014, a year before the WBE marks its 25th anniversary. So it is most definitely here to stay, as an important factor in Madison’s musical life.
ALERT: Middleton Tourism and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra invite you to a holiday celebration with the world famous Canadian Brass (below) at Middleton’s Performing Arts Center attached to Middleton High School. Two performances are on this Saturday, November 30, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The concert will also celebrate “Happy 50th Anniversary” to the city of Middleton with an exciting program of seasonal favorites including “Gesu Bambino,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Time is Here” and “Polonaise” from “Christmas Eve.” For more information, visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
This Saturday night at 8 p.m., the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) will perform a concert of baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music performed on period instruments.
The concert will take place at the Historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park in downtown Madison at 300 East Gorham Street.
The performers include: Consuelo Sañudo – mezzo soprano; Theresa Koenig – recorder, baroque bassoon; Brett Lipshutz – traverse; Monica Steger – traverso, recorder; Eric Miller – viola da gamba, baroque cello; Anton TenWolde – baroque cello (below); and Max Yount – harpsichord
Tickets are available at the door only: General admission is $15 ($10 for students). Feel free to bring your own chair or pillow (the wooden pews can feel very hard and uncomfortable).
Here is the unusual program. The first composer is so obscure, the members of the ensemble say that they don’t even have initials for him.
1. Company – “Pagando estoy”
2. Louis-Antoine Dornel (1685-1765) – Sonata No. 4 in D Major from Sonatas for Solo Violin and Suite for Flute
3. Jean Baptiste Barrière – Cello Sonata No. 3, Book 2
5. Clemente Imaña – “Filis yo tengo”
6. Georg Böhm – Capriccio in D major
7. Antoine Forqueray – Pièces de viole, Suite No. 1
8. Jaques-Martin Hotteterre – Sonates en trio, Book 1, Op. 3, No. 1
9. Georg Philipp Telemann – Sonata in F minor for bassoon and basso continuo
10. Sebastián Durón – “Al dormir el sol”
For more information, visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org.
A REMINDER: Going up against both the start of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s organ series and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Homecoming Weekend won’t be easy. But the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed. The WCO opens its new season tonight at 8 p.m in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater.
On the program, under the baton of the WCO’s longtime music director Andrew Sewell and with guest piano soloist and synesthesiac Bryan Wallick (below and in the link to my Q&A) in his Madison debut, are Benjamin Britten’s “Apollo” and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Egyptian” Piano Concerto No. 5 plus Ludwig van Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony –- the best of all possible classical Fight Songs for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Homecoming weekend (as you can hear in the popular YouTube video with over 17 million hits at the bottom). Talk about winners!
By Jacob Stockinger
It is Homecoming Weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison!!!
That mean Badger football and beer, and social gatherings and beer, and dinners out and beer.
But it also means some fine classical music.
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below top) opens its new season tomorrow night, Saturday, October 12, at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below bottom) at 300 East Gorham Street, in James Madison Park in downtown Madison on the shore of Lake Mendota.
Tickets at the door are $15 ($10 for students). Feel free to bring your own chair or pillow to soften hard wooden pews.
For more information 608 238-5126 or visit www.wisconsinbaropque.org
Performers includes: UW School of Music alumnus Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor; UW professor Mimmi Fulmer, soprano; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo-soprano; Theresa Koenig, recorder; Monica Steger, traverso, recorder; Brett Lipshutz, traverse; Eric Miller, viola da gamba; Anton TenWolde, baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord and organ
The program includes: Trio Sonata from “Tafelmusik,” TWV 42 DS, by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767); Two madrigals, “La giovinetta pianta” and “Vattene pur crudel” (both form Book 3) by Claudio Monteverdi (below, 1567–1643); the Sonata No. 2, Op. 2, by Benoît Guillemant (1746-1757); Three Madrigals from Claudio Monteverdi, “Occhi un tempo” (book 3), “Poi che del mio dolore (book 1), and “Lumi miei cari” (book 3); the Airs et Brunettes by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre (1674-1763); Sonata No. 3 for Recorder and Basso Continuo by Arcangelo Corelli; and “La Calisto,” Act 2, Scenes 1 and 2 by Francesco Cavalli (1602 –1676).
ALERT: In the latest issue of Wisconsin Gazette, Madison arts writer Mike Muckian, with some help from The Ear, has written a contrast-and-compare story about two of Mozart’s finest operas: “Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” The first is being staged this weekend in Madison by the Madison Opera, and the second in May in Milwaukee by the Florentine Opera. Kathryn Smith, the general director of the Madison Opera, discusses her production of “Don Giovanni” — which she calls her favorite opera. (Below is a rehearsal photo by James Gill from a rehearsal of Madison Opera’s “Don Giovanni.”) Performances are this weekend in Overture Hall on Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Here are links, first to the story and then to the Madison Opera’s website with information about the opera, the production and tickets:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s posting is by guest blogger Jerry Hui (below).
Few young musicians in Madison, or anywhere for that matter, are as talented or as diverse in their interests as Jerry Hui. He directs and sings in an early music vocal group Eliza’s Toyes and also sings with the Madison Bach Musicians. He is a founding member and director of New MUSE (New Music Everywhere), a University of Wisconsin-Madison student group that performs and promotes new music and stages flash mobs. And he is a composer who wrote and produced an Internet opera, “Wired For Love,” as his doctoral thesis at the UW School of Music. He also incorporates the more modern aesthetic of using art to promote social progress.
For more information about Jerry Hui, visit: http://jerryhui.com
Jerry recently offered to write a preview of the concert by Eliza’s Toyes this weekend – an offer too good to refuse. Here is it, complete with links to YouTube videos so you can sample much of the repertoire:
By Jerry Hui
This weekend, the Madison-based early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below) will be presenting a new and ambitious early music concert that will showcase secular music by various composers from Venice of the early 17th century, all tied together in dance and semi-improvisatory comedy theater, in a program titled “Casino Royale: A Venetian Music-Comedy.”
Two performances will take place on the same weekend: On this Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in downtown Madison at James Madison Park, 302 East Gorham Street; tickets at the door are $15 for the public, $10 for students); and the on Sunday, April 28, at 4 p.m. at the Chocolaterian Café, 2004 Atwood Ave.; free admission, with donations accepted accepted).
Venice (below, in a map from the 17th century) was a thriving city-state. Its unique geographical location in the Mediterranean guaranteed its success from maritime trade, and the wealth that was bestowed upon countless merchants.
As the capital city of the Republic of Venice — a state so prosperous that it was known as La Serenissima (“the most serene”) — Venice was well-known for its treasures and splendors. Naturally, this city of riches would attract people from all walks of life: merchants, bankers, aristocrats, artists, craftsmen, thieves and gamblers.
Gambling is an ancient activity as old as human history. Some civilizations, like the Romans, permitted social gambling during holidays and festivities, and otherwise forbade it. But who was to forbid what many desired? More than a friendly diversion, it could be a shortcut to luxury, a chance to change, an opportunity to enter the highest of society. (Below is a painting by Caravaggio portraying a dishonest card game.)
Venice, being the city of all things sumptuous, was among the first in Europe to be swept by the popularity of playing cards and lottery. Dice games were played on the squares, in street corners, in stores, and in private homes. Noblemen, even when gambling was explicitly banned, ran games in their private spaces, known as the “ridotti” (from ridurre, meaning to reduce, close or make private).
In 1638, after decades of inability to rein in the betting, the Venetian Great Council finally chose a creative solution. Not only would they legalize gambling, they would also open the Ridotto: the first legal, state-sanctioned public gambling house ever in Europe.
Our program draws its inspiration from the opening of Ridotto. All musical pieces were written by composers working in Venice in the first few decades of the 17th century, including: Ippolito Baccusi, Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Antonio Rigatti, Salamone Rossi and Marco Uccellini.
We are performing two pieces from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals, subtitled the “Madrigals of War and Love,” published in 1638: “Non partir ritrosetta” (http://youtu.be/C31WBUOax3M) is a passionate trio, imploring a lover to stay. “Dolcissimo uscignolo” (http://youtu.be/njOBmL1DBCM), on the other hand, is an introspective lament of unrequited love.
Giovanni Gabrieli (below), the composer and famous organist of San Marco, needs no introduction. However, our selection comes not from his more frequently performed sacred music. Instead, we chose his lesser-known secular madrigals. “Quand’io ego giovinetta” is a funny story about an old man’s misadventure in love. “O che felice giorno” (http://youtu.be/khXVHY7k3No?t=7m20s) depicts a celebratory wedding party, written with splendid double-choir counterpoint that is more common in his sacred music.
Many pieces in our program are by Salamone Rossi, a Jewish-Italian composer and violinist. (Below is a score by Rossi from Venice, the same city where Shakespeare set “The Merchant of Venice” with it theme of how Jews were treated in Renaissance Italy.) Whereas music history classes often bring up his unusual polyphonic setting of Song of Solomon in Hebrew, we will showcase many of his short madrigals written for 2-3 voices (such as “Volò ne tuoi begli’occhi” http://youtu.be/0MkUOVuWWvw). His instrumental pieces are playful and fiery; we’ll be playing many of his dances and sonatas, such as this “Gagliarda detta la Turca” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrkWHxpvibw&feature=share&list=PL9CECBC6113A4F7F9), or “Sonata settima sopra ‘Aria di un Baletto” (http://youtu.be/3jpNlwJTb7M).
In addition, we are venturing into the uncharted area of comic theater: all the music is tied together in a skit, semi-improvised in the Italian street-performance tradition of commedia dell’arte (below).
In this style, drama is driven by stock characters in masks: Pantalone the miser; Il Dottore the know-it-all; Harlequin the deviant servant; the young lovers and so on. Our scene takes place in one of the ridotti of Venice. Come to our concerts, and join them in their wild and funny adventures through music, comedy, and dance!
Eliza’s Toyes (below) is a small ensemble of singers and instrumentalists focusing on sharing the joy of early music in unusual and creative programs.
Started as an ad-hoc group during Madison Early Music Festival (http://madisonearlymusic.org), Toyes has recently performed at Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” series, and is now in its fifth season as a regular performance ensemble.
The musicians include: Deb Heilert (soprano); Chelsie Propst (soprano; as “Isabella” in this production); Sandy Erickson (alto, recorder); Peter Gruett (alto/tenor; as “Il Dottore”); Jerry Hui (director, tenor/bass, recorder; as “Ottavio”); Mark Werner (bass; as “Pantalone”); Melanie Kathan (recorder; as “Harlequin”); Doug Towne (lute/theorbo); and Eric Miller (viol).
For more information, visit: http://toyes.info
By Jacob Stockinger
In “The Wasteland,” poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”
Well, for classical music-lovers, the cruelty lies in the abundance of riches. It is hard to keep up with it all this month, or even this week.
I have already posted some big events. But there are other concerts to attend – almost all FREE — especially at the UW-Madison School of Music.
Here is a round-up of ones I haven’t yet covered:
The weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicale Friday from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, features Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat, K. 563, with Eugene Purdue, violin (below); Rami Solomonow, viola; and Tom Rosenberg, cello.
Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. in Grace Episcopal Church (below), “Grace Presents” will offer a FREE concert featuring the Madison-based wind quintet “Black Marigold.”
The program will feature excerpts from the program for the three Spring concert dates: Anton Reicha’s Quintet in E-flat, Op. 88, No. 2; Robert Muczynski’s Quintet for Winds; György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles; and Bill Douglas’ “Suite Cantabile.”
For the Madison dates (April 13 at Grace Episcopal and Friday, April 19, the FREE Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive) the group will be selecting from this program. For the Platteville concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the UW-Platteville, the program will be performed in its entirety. The Overture EngAGES programs are still To Be Determined but the dates are May 15 at Madison Senior Center at 1:30 p.m.; May 16 at Attic Angels West at 10 a.m.; and May 17 at Oakwood Village West, 7 p.m.
Members of Black Marigold are Elizabeth Marshall, flute; Laura Medsiky, oboe; Bethany Schultz, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn; and Cynthia Cameron Fix, bassoon.
Find more information at www.blackmarigold.com
On Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir (below), under Beverly Taylor and her assistant Brian Gurley, will present its Spring Concert. Admission is FREE.
The concert will include a motet group of works by Philips, Mouton, Bruckner and Vulpius, a group of Debussy works, Britten works, Poulenc works and a mixture of Americana including works by Barber, Copland, and folksong arrangements.
The top-tier choir of 45 members sings a variety of primarily a cappella choral literature from all eras. Singers in Concert Choir have significant vocal and choral experience, as well as high sight reading ability, and many are voice majors. In late May, the group will embark on a performance tour of France.
The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will close out its current season this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park, 300 East Gorham St., in downtown Madison.
The program features music of the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically Baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music.
Tickets are at the door only: $15 for the public, $10 for students.
The musicians in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) are: Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Chelsie Propst – soprano; Monica Steger – harpsichord; Anton TenWolde – cello, viola da gamba.
The program includes selections from “Pieces de Viole, Book 2” by Main Marais; “Dulcis amor” by Isabella Leonarda; Sinata in E minor for cello and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Bononcini; “Susanne” by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre;
Madison: “Canzon prima a 2 bassi” by Giralamo Frescobaldi; and “L’Astratto” by Barbara Strozzi.
For more information, call (608) 238-5126 or visit
This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” – broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio from 12:30 to 2 p.m. from Brittingham Gallery 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art — features the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as artists in residence at the UW-Madison.
The program includes Gesualdo’s Suite of Madrigals, arranged by Mark Hetzler; John Harbison’s “Magnum Mysterium”; Macmillan’s “Adam’s Rib”; and Daniel Grabois’ “Grabois: Gravilord.”
Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music.
The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.
Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.
With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.
Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited.
All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For reservations or membership information contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.
A reception will follow the performance with coffee, tea, and treats donated by local businesses. Donors this semester include Fresh Madison Market, Steep & Brew and the University Club.
A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.
On Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Trio Antigo will present a FREE concert of music by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.
This trio (below) is comprised of cellist Stefan Kartman of UW-Milwaukee; Felicia Moye, UW-Madison Professor of Violin; and pianist Jeannie Yu.
(Note: Kartman and Moye also will present a master class on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Humanities Building, Room 1341.)
The program will include Piano Trio, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich and Priano Trio in C minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn. (A sample of the beautiful Mendelssohn trio performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emanuel Ax can be heard in the YouTube video below.)
This concert is part of a reciprocal residency between UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, funded in part by a Bolz grant for Faculty Research. The trio will be in residence at UW-M April 19-21, and will present a concert at the Peck School of the Arts on April 21.
The trio also received a Dane Arts grant to present outreach concerts in Dane County, which will be taking place on April 27 and 28. In fact, the April 28 concert will be a fundraiser to benefit local nonprofit Music Con Brio, Inc., which provides high-quality, low-cost music lessons to underprivileged children on Madison’s East Side.
Felicia Moye (below) is currently Professor of Violin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of Trio Antigo. She has also served as Professor of Violin at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada, the University of Oklahoma, the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and the pre-college division of The Juilliard School as Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee’s assistant.
Stefan Kartman (below) has served on the faculties of Drake University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Rutgers University, and is currently Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Here is a link to his site:
Pianist Jeannie Yu was awarded first prize in the Frinna Awerbuch Piano Competition in New York, the Flint Symphony International Concerto Competition, the Portland Symphony International Concerto Competition, and the Kingsville Piano Competition in Texas. She also earned the prestigious Gina Bachauer Memorial Scholarship Award, a full scholarship for the master’s degree program at The Juilliard School of Music where she also received the bachelor’s degree. Subsequently she was awarded an accompanist fellowship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.