The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Concerts by UW cellist Parry Karp and the chamber music group Con Vivo take place this Saturday night

October 11, 2018
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ALERT: The Rhapsodie Quartet, featuring members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, will perform a FREE public concert (suggested donation is $5) at the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community,  333 West Main Street, two blocks off the Capitol Square, this Friday night, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.

The program is the String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, by Franz Joseph Haydn and the “Razumovsky” String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, by Ludwig van Beethoven. For more information and background, go to: https://madisonsymphony.org/event/rhapsodie-quartet-recital/

By Jacob Stockinger

It is a busy week for classical music in Madison, and all the listings have still not been included here.

On Saturday night, Oct. 13, two more noteworthy events will take place.

PARRY KARP

A Faculty Concert Series recital by UW-Madison cello professor Parry Karp (below), who is also the longtime cellist of the Pro Arte Quartet, will take place on Saturday night in Mills Hall at 8 p.m.

Karp will be joined by two pianists: his mother Frances Karp, a longtime Madison piano teacher; and Thomas Kasdorf (below), who is pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.

The program is an interesting and unusual one.

It features “Hamabdil” (1919), or Hebrew Rhapsody, by Granville Bantock (below), who, Karp says “was a wonderful British composer, a favorite of Elgar.” (You can hear “Hamabdil” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

“Phantasma for Solo Cello” (2006) is by Jesse Benjamin Jones (below), who is on the faculty of the Oberlin College Conservatory.

The Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1 (1801-02), by Ludwig van Beethoven, continues the exploration of Beethoven’s violin sonatas transcribed for the cello by Karp himself.

The Cello Concerto (1956) by William Walton (below), says Karp, who performed it this summer with the English Symphony Orchestra, “is one of the great cello concertos of the 20th century. This version features a piano reduction of the orchestral score.

CON VIVO

Con Vivo (below), the critically acclaimed Madison-based chamber music group, will also give a concert to open its 17th season on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, at 1609 University Avenue, near Camp Randall Stadium.

Free parking is two blocks away, at the nearby UW Foundation, 1848 University Avenue.

The eclectic program, called “Members Choice,”will include the  “Kegelstatt” Trio for piano, clarinet and viola by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and the Suite for Organ, Violin and Cello by Josef Rheinberger (below).

The night will be rounded out by solo works from the group’s talented and veteran performers many of whom also play with other major groups including the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Tickets are available at the door, and cost $18 for general admission; $15 for seniors and students.

For information, go to www.convivomusicwithlife.org


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Classical music: The acclaimed Isthmus Vocal Ensemble performs its annual summer concerts this Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

July 28, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at the critically acclaimed Isthmus Vocal Ensemble write:

When conductor Scott MacPherson convened some of Madison’s top singers in 2002, he had no way of knowing that the newly formed Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (below) would begin one of Madison’s most anticipated summer musical traditions.

Known as “Madison’s most temporary choir,” the ensemble – a semi-professional choir of approximately 60 singers – brings new life to over 500 years of choral music within a brief two-week rehearsal period.

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble group concert dress

This intense spirit of camaraderie produces a singular remarkable experience, year after year. (You can hear the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble sing the “Abendlied” (Evening Song) by Josef Rheinberger in 2012 in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

This summer, Madison-area audiences have two opportunities to hear the 2015 program.

The traditional Friday night concert takes place on at 7:30 p.m. on this Friday, July 31, at Christ Presbyterian Church (below), located at 944 East Gorham Street in downtown Madison.

Christ Presbyterian Church

The program will be repeated at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 2, at Lutheran Church of the Living Christ (below), located at 110 North Gammon Road, on Madison’s far west side.

Lutheran Church of the Living Christ

General admission tickets are available online at isthmusvocalensemble.org or at the door. Admission is $15 for adults; $10 for students and seniors. 

The program, “Unconventional Images” is a tapestry of unexpected beauty, including works spanning from the 1500s up to brand new compositions, featuring a world premiere from composer Corey Rubin (below) entitled “The Snow Man.”

Corey Rubin

Director Scott MacPherson writes: “For these concerts, prepare your ears and mind to be led down an unconventional path, where you will ponder such images as the nativity, snow in the summer, sensual beauty, the desert, glory, mortality and divine renewal.”

Other featured works include “Three Nativity Carols” by the late Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus (below top); “Beati quorum via” and “Coelos ascendit hodie” by Charles Villiers Stanford; “Du bist aller Dinge schön” and “Fahet uns die Füchse” by Melchoir Franck; “Schaffe in mir Gott” by Johannes Brahms; the Gloria by Dominick Argento; and several newly composed pieces, including “Desert Rose” by Frank Wiley, as well as “I Sing to Use the Waiting” and “An Irish Blessing” by University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus, Andrew Rindfleisch (below bottom).

stephen paulus

Andrew Rindfleisch portrait

The Isthmus Vocal Ensemble is led by Scott MacPherson (below), director of choral activities at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Its members include professional singers, choral directors, professors, lawyers, students and passionate advocates for the arts. The choir has performed by invitation at the North Central Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, commissioned several world premieres and released two professional CDs.

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble rehearsing with Scott MacPherson


UW-Madison sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch join Madison Symphony Orchestra organist Samuel Hutchison for a concert on Friday night. Plus, on Saturday night, UW cellist Parry Karp gives FREE recital that includes Schumann and Brahms.

November 7, 2013
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ALERT:  UW-Madison cellist Parry Karp (below), who heads the UW School of Music’s chamber music program and who perform with the Pro Arte Quartet, will give a FREE and PUBLIC recital on Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills  Hall. He will perform with his father and mother, Howard and Frances Karp, as piano accompanists. The program includes: “Poem for Cello and Piano” by Charles Tournemire; “Eight Pieces” by Theordor Kirchner; “Pieces in the folk Style for Cello and Piano” by Robert Schumann; and the late Sonata for Clarinet (or viola) and Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2, by Johannes Brahms as transcribed by Parry Karp.

Parry Karp

By Jacob Stockinger

Word has reached The Ear:

Sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch (below respectively, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will join the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s organist, Samuel Hutchison, in a recital of music for organ and violin on this Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall at the Overture Center.

Alice  and Eleanor Bartsch (c) Katrin Talbot

The generous program includes Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; the Double Concerto in D Minor by Antonio Vivaldi; the Finale from Sonata No. 6 by Felix Mendelssohn; the Suite for Violin and Organ by Josef Rheinberger; the Prelude and Fugue in B Major by Marcel Dupre; the Coronation March from “Le Prophete” by Giacomo Meyerbeer; and the “Preludium and Allegro in the Style of Pugnani” by Fritz Kreisler (heard at the bottom in a very popular YouTube by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman.)

Adds Teri Venker, the marketing director, in a press release for the Madison Symphony Orchestra:

“Sisters Alice and Eleanor Bartsch are a dynamic pairing: both are members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section with impressive performance credits.

“Each sister has also won prestigious competitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) School of Music, where they are students.

“Currently, Eleanor is a first-year master’s student at UW and a Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellow, and Alice is a senior at UW working toward a bachelor of music degree in performance.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio) is a seasoned recitalist and will round out the powerful trio.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio

“When asked about playing on Overture Stage, Eleanor Bartsch (below) said, it “still takes our breath away! There’s actually a ‘sweet spot’ on stage: If you stand exactly right, the sound seems to ‘jump’ out of the violin and soar all the way to the balcony. I wish I could practice in Overture Hall every day!”

Eleanor Bartsch

“Alice Bartsch said, “The Bach Double Violin Concerto is a piece we have been performing since we were little girls. The concert has a little bit of everything from the romanticism of Kreisler and Rheinberger to the powerful “Chaconne” by Tomaso Vitali. For baroque music lovers, we will play the lively Double Concerto by Vivaldi.”

Alice Bartsch

Both Alice and Eleanor agree that they have a “sister vibe” about timing and musical phrasing that makes playing together easy, fun, and rewarding.

For more information about the Bartsch sisters and their major funders including retired Citibank executive Paul Collins, retired UW chemistry professor Kato Perlman and retired UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, read the fine posting by Public Relations Director and Concert Manager Kathy Esposito on the UW School of Music’s new blog “Fanfare” :

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/bartsch-sisters/

In addition to accompanying the Bartsch sisters, Hutchison will also perform solo works for organ by Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger, and Tomaso Vitali.

Hutchison said, “It is a great privilege to be joined by Alice and Eleanor Bartsch in this program for organ and violins.  Each brings a great joy and freshness to this music, which will be infectious for the audience.  We look forward to sharing some audience favorites as well as some new pieces with our listeners in Overture Hall.”

Overture Concert Organ overview

General admission for the concert is $20, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.madisonsymphony.org/bartsch, the Overture Center Box Office or (608) 258-4141. Student rush tickets are $10 the day of the show with a valid student ID. (See http://www.madisonsymphony.org/studentrush).

The performance is sponsored by Kato L. Perlman, and by Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore, with additional funding from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the dramatic backdrop of all MSO concerts.

For more Overture Concert Organ information, visit http://www.madisonsymphony.org/organseason


Classical music Q&A: Edgewood College conductor Albert Pinssonneault discusses The Madison Choral Project, a new professional vocal group, makes its debut this Saturday night with a program celebrating Spring.

May 16, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Choral Project (below) – a new vocal group on the Isthmus -– will give its inaugural concert this Saturday night, May 18, at 7 p.m. in the Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue, in Madison.

Madison Choral Project color

The debut concert, entitled “Celestial Spring,” will celebrate the season- with sets on the return of color, nature and love. For details about specific works and composers, see below.

Tickets are free. Those who are able are encouraged to leave a suggested donation of $15 each.

For more information including how to audition for the vocal group, contact The Madison Choral Project, 901 High Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53715 or visit www.themcp.org, Albert Pinssonneault, the founder and director of the choir, who teaches choral conducting at Edgewood College in Madison, recently gave an email Q&A to The Ear:

Albert Pissonneault 2

Can you briefly describe how and why the Madison Choral Project came about?

Many pieces came together to make the Madison Choral Project happen, like spokes on a wheel.

First were the incredible voices in Madison, interested in ensemble singing.

Additionally, there was the huge support for choral music in town, dating from the era of Robert Fountain (below, in 1979) at the UW-Madison to today with many extremely fine choruses and UW ensembles performing.

I had a passion to bring together a core of the finest singers for a single “project,” and with a lot of help I was able to raise and secure funding, find venues, audition singers, and a new entity was born: The Madison Choral Project.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Why is another choral group needed or wanted in Madison? Briefly, how do you expect it to be different from other local groups?

The Madison Choral Project is unique in Madison, in that it is a fully professional chamber choir of 16 voices.  We hope to offer a highly refined and expressive chamber choral sound, singing both new unique repertoire, and treasured favorites.

As this very talented group comes together to present one project at a time, we feel we can tailor our concerts to the needs and tastes of our musical community.  We are so excited to contribute our small part to the outstanding musical landscape of Dane County.

Can you briefly introduce us to your career in choral singing and directing, to your professional and personal commitment to it?

I’ve always loved making music with others, and I love people, and I love text, and expression.  I grew up in Minnesota and wanted to move away to a conservatory for college, yet some inexplicable gut feeling drew me to attend St. Olaf College (in Northfield, Minnesota), where I found a choral music experience that was the nexus of all the things I loved.

In the years following St. Olaf I lived in St. Paul and completed a Master’s degree in choral conducting at the University of Minnesota, where under the excellent tutelage of Kathy Saltzman Romey I had the opportunity to work closely with the German conductor Helmuth Rilling (below top) and the American vocal conductor Dale Warland (below bottom).

helmut rilling

Dale Warland

Applying broadly to doctoral programs, I was extremely fortunate to receive a kind offer from the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, where I was able to work with several wonderful professional conductors, including Earl Rivers, Richard Westenburg, Richard Sparks and Donald Nally.  I completed my doctorate in choral conducting and music theory from CCM in 2009, and got a dream job: Full-time employment at a wonderful liberal arts college in Madison — Edgewood College (below, he is conducting the Chamber Singers at Edgewood College).

Edgewood Chamber Singers

Can you comment on the upcoming premiere program and specific works on it?

The idea behind “A Celestial Spring” came not only from the title work by F. Melius Christiansen (below), but also from the season of spring and its promise of rebirth and newness, fitting for the inaugural concert of a new ensemble.

F. Melius Christiansen

Our first set of German Romantic composers seeks to capture the comforting return of lush green in nature, echoed in wondrous rich harmonies.

The very first work, “Abendlied” (Evening Song) by Joseph Rheinberger (below bottom) invites the audience to “Bide with us,” an entreaty both to for the duration of the concert and for our life as a new ensemble.

Josef Rheinberger bw

The second set, “The Celestial Season,” focuses on the season of spring itself, beginning with rays of sunshine (“I Am the Great Sun” by Jussi Chydenius) and ending in sunset (“The Sun Has Gone Down” by Leland Sateren).  In between are two movements of F. Melius Christiansen’s “Celestial Spring” (at bottom in a YouTube video), a work composed completely without text.  Christiansen (below) sought to capture the sounds of the season with an orchestra of voices, and later gave the finished score to his colleague Oscar Overby to “fill in” with text.

The third set of music, “The Call of Summer,” explores transitions into a wondrous hereafter, in settings by the great English composers Charles Hubert Parry (below top) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (below bottom). This set addresses the end of spring, and alludes as well to the idea of death as a gateway into an everlasting summer.

hubert parry

Ralph Vaughan Williamsjpg

Our fourth set traces the evolution of romantic love through texts depicting five tableau scenes.  In “O Mistress Mine” by Matthew Harris (below top), the protagonist is struck with attraction from a distance.  “The Devon Maid” by Dominick Argento (below bottom) represents first contact and flirtation, in this case by an aggressive suitor. “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” by Nils Lindberg represents the honeymoon of intense passion, while “It Was a Lover and His Lass” (Parry) recounts many merry days of coupled frolicking.  “Rest” (Vaughan Williams) is a tender goodbye, to that loved one now deceased.

Matthew Harris Color

dominick argento 1

Is there more you would like to add or say?

Thank you so much, Jake, for the opportunity to share our efforts on The Well-Tempered Ear!


Classical music: The UW Men’s Choir performs a FREE concert of Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, Durufle plus UW-Madison graduate Ty Kroll this Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

May 8, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Although it is a student organization, not an actual University of Wisconsin chorus, the UW Men’s Choir (below) will give a FREE concert with a very appealing program this coming Friday night, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the UW campus.

uw men's choir close up

The Men’s Choir will perform under its leader,  Madison musician and UW-Madison graduate Ben Luedcke (below) who also directs the Lake Edge United Church of Christ in Madison, The Crossing and the Choral Arts Society Chorale as well as the Madison Summer Choir.

Ben Luedcke

The program includes Francis Poulenc’s “Four Short Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi”; Josef Rheinberger’s “Johannisnacht”; Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Vagabond”; Marcel Durufle’s “Ubi Caritas”; Ty Kroll’s “A Red, Red Rose” and the traditional song “In This Heart.”

For more information about the group, including how to join it, visit:  http://www.uwmenschoir.org/

Choir member, UW-Madison graduate and composer Ty Kroll (below, in a photo by Marchia Yapp) writes about the program:

ty kroll Marchia Yapp

“The Poulenc (in a YouTube video at bottom) is nuts, actually beautiful, but certainly nuts in some of the voice leading and harmonic changes.

“The piece by Rheinberger (below) has apparently never been recorded, which seems a huge surprise. It’s a fine piece in a Brahmsian style. Possibly there is just no commercially available recording of it? If it’s really as hard to come by as it seems, I think our concert may be a rare opportunity to hear it.

Josef Rheinberger bw

“The Vaughan Williams has a piano arrangement, and is not the a cappella version.

“The Duruflé is a new arrangement by Liam Moore, who sings in the group.

“The Kroll is a new composition by me. The text is from the Robert Burns transcription of a traditional folk song “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” (which is often credited to Burns himself these days), as well as verse or so borrowed from “The Turtle Dove,” a different folk tune which shares a lot of the same lyrics and possibly some history in the tune as well. The melody is new, but heavily pentatonic and has the “sound” of an English or Irish folk melody. For a bit I think our conductor actually mistook it for an arrangement of mine of a traditional tune, so I know I did my job of trying to make it sound traditional well enough.

“The arrangement is features viola solo and Mikko Utevsky (below) will play the featured viola part. (I’m selling the piece at musicnotes, but you can see the first page for free here: http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0107108&  So far it has sold about 10 copies, so it’s possible this will not be the world premiere, but as far as I know we are premiering the piece.)

Here is a link to Kroll’s own website: http://www.tykroll.com

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

Finally, “In This Heart” is another premiere of a new arrangement of a traditional folk song by the conductor, Ben Luedcke.


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