The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Concerts on the Square start this Wednesday and feature a lot of classical music. Plus, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra announces its impressive 2016-17 indoors Masterworks season

June 27, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming Wednesday night at 7 p.m., on the downtown Capitol Square, marks the opening of what has been billed as “The Biggest Picnic of Summer” — the six annual outdoor summer Concerts on the Square (below) by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and guest soloists.

ConcertsonSquaregroupshot

They are big because each concert, under the baton of WCO artistic director Andrew Sewell, last year averaged a weekly crowd of more than 42,000 people, up from 35,000 the previous year, according to the Capitol Police. (The highest was 50,000; the lowest 28,000.)

Concerts on the Square crowd

You should also know that this year the Concerts on The Square will include a generous — maybe, The Ear suspects, even an unprecedented — amount of classical music on June 29, July 6, July 17, July 27 and Aug. 3.

On the programs you will find music by Felix Mendelssohn, Joaquin Turina, Aaron Copland and Ottorino Resphighi (this Wednesday); by Leo Delibes, Peter Tchaikovsky (including the annual and traditional Fourth of July or Independence Day performance of his “1812 Overture”) and Jules Massenet (with famed local Metropolitan Opera singer, mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss on July 6); by Paul Dukas, Jean Sibelius, Niels Gade and Antonin Dvorak (on July 13); Ludwig van Beethoven (July 27);  Arthur Honegger and Peter Tchaikovsky (Aug. 3).

Here is a link  with more information including links to tickets, rules about behavior and seating, and food options:

http://www.wcoconcerts.org/performance-listing/category/concerts-on-the-square

Even as it prepares for this summer’s six Concerts on the Square, which start Wednesday night, June 26, and run through August 3, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has announced its 2016-27 indoor Masterworks season of five classical concerts. It is an impressive lineup that features a local violist who has made it big, Vicki Powell, and the very young violin sensation Julian Rhee, who won the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Final Forte with a jaw-dropping reading of the Violin Concerto by Johannes Brahms, as well as a guitarist and duo-pianists.

Here is a link to more information:

http://www.wcoconcerts.org/performance-listing/category/masterworks

 


Classical music: How do the flu and classical music mix? What can be done now that the flu season is peaking here and in the concert hall. How should musicians and presenters deal with a sick and coughing audience?

January 15, 2014
6 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As I remarked in blog posts of the past three days, the winter intermission is coming to an end with a recital at Arbco housing by the Madison-based Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss, with a concert this coming Friday by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and with performances of Medieval and Renaissance English music by Eliza’s Toyes on Saturday and Sunday .

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/classical-music-madison-and-metropolitan-opera-mezzo-kitt-reuter-foss-will-perform-a-song-journey-next-saturday-to-benefit-the-piano-restoration-at-arboretum-cohousing/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/classical-music-the-wisconsin-chamber-orchestra-kicks-off-the-second-half-of-this-concert-season-with-a-performance-this-friday-night-of-orchestral-music-by-mozart-and-bruckner-and-a-guitar-concerto/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/classical-music-the-early-music-group-elizas-toyes-celebrates-winter-with-medieval-and-renaissance-british-vocal-music/

So it is undeniable: The second half of the concert season is picking up.

So, unfortunately, is the flu season, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Here is a link to a report on NBC-TV about how many states gave started to report serious cases of flu, including deaths, in the majority of states. And there is no sign of a let up. In fact, predictions are for it to get worse — including right here in Wisconsin.

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/24417052/flu-season-may-be-heading-toward-peak#.UtLEoXmKMds

So when you add in a major spike in flu cases to public events held in public spaces — like, say, concerts – you have a volatile and even dangerous risky mix.

BDDS Playhouse audience

Even in healthy times, The Ear finds it bad enough to sit next or near a chronic cougher — whether from allergies, sinus problems or illness — who simply will not leave the hall to hack but prefers instead to fight it out in the hall and ruin much of the music for others.

Coughers at concerts

But right now those same people are not just annoying. They pose public health risks.

One obvious solution is for people who feel ill to stay home. PLEASE. But that may be hard to do when you pay out big money for tickets and don’t want to lose out on the investment or the beauty of the music.

Some presenters offer free cough drops, which some audience members love to unwrap during the slow movement. But a lot of listeners apparently don’t avail themselves of them — or of taking cough medicine before the concert and during intermission.

Perhaps the YouTube video at the bottom about how to use how you breathe to stop coughing can help.

It might also be good if more performing arts organizations offered rebates or switches on tickets for people who need to cancel to protect their own health and the health of others – including, let us not forget, the musicians or performers themselves.

I wonder how realistic that solution is and how many presenters do offer or would offer such a deal for th eska elf public health. If they don’t, they should.

Recently, The New York Times ran a combined story-column, part humorous and self-deprecating and part serious, by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim about how musicians deal with coughing. Her examples included famous conductors (such as Michael Tilson Thomas, below top, when he conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and instrumentalists (including pianist Andras Schiff, below bottom in a photo by Robert Torres, when he performed a monster concert of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s “Goldberg” Variations and Ludwig van Beethoven‘s “Diabelli” Variations back-to-back in Boston and then went on to play an encore) dealt with coughers in the audience.

Michael Tilson Thomas Hiroyuki Ito for NY TImes

Andras Schiff. Credit Robert Torres

I remember a concert years ago at the Wisconsin Union Theater during which pianist Alfred Brendel suddenly stopped playing and chastised the audience for spoiling his music with coughing and noise. He then started over again and – miracle of miracles – the audience was indeed quieter.

If many coughers can keep quiet when asked, why can’t they do so on their own? Silence is part of good concert etiquette.

Anyway here is the amusing yet totally serious Times story about how the performers themselves deal with coughing audiences:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/arts/music/maestro-at-work-hold-that-cough.html

Is there more than can be done?

One world-famous musician thinks so.

And so does The Ear.

Tune in tomorrow.

 

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Classical music: Madison resident and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss will perform a song journey next Saturday to benefit the piano restoration at Arboretum Cohousing.

January 12, 2014
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger 

A while ago, The Ear put out a call for guest bloggers.

Madison resident Janet Murphy has since responded with several blog posts. The latest one is about a concert by mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss (below) that is coming up this coming Saturday night, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m.

kitt reuter foss copy

The concert is last of two concerts — a very successful appearance by Madison keyboard player Trevor Stephenson of the Madison Bach Musicians was the first — this season will benefit the restoration of the historic Mason and Hamlin grand piano at Arboretum Cohousing (below bottom) at 1137 Erin Street. Tickets are $25. Adds Murphy: You’d be wise to reserve ahead at: www.ArboretumCohousing.org or ArbcoPiabo@gmail.com or call 608-204-7131.

Arbco Grand Piano

Here is some information about Janet: “I received my bachelor’s and masters in musicology from the University of Michigan. After toiling in the music industry for 20 years, I got a bachelor’s in nursing from UW, and have worked as an RN (Registered Nurse) ever since.

“Music is now my hobby. I sing in the UW Choral Union, play with an informal recorder group, and I am currently taking banjo lessons. Needless to say I am a big fan of The Well-Tempered Ear.”

Here is the guest post, with many of her own photos, by Janet Murphy (below):

Janet Murphy

By Janet Murphy

Mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison — ostensibly as an early childhood education major — with her real objective being admission to the UW Swing Choir.  Fortunately for all of us, music professor Lois Fisher heard something in Kitt’s voice and told her she could do it. 

The “it” was opera.

The “it” was the Metropolitan Opera.

(For more about her and her history, see the extended and very cordial interview done by John Roach with Kitt for The Big Ten Network, in a YouTube video at the bottom of the page.)

That bit of history helps explain why Kitt — I love that she is affectionately known about town as “Kitt” — has theatrical chops and stage presence as remarkable as her voice, and why she moves between so many musical genres with ease.  She even did back up vocals on Do You for rapper Bow Wow.

So, if Kitt were free to put together a concert … anything she likes … what would it look like?

You have the chance to find out this coming Saturday at Arboretum Cohousing (below) when she’ll perform an up-close-and-personal concert with accompanist Jennifer Hedstrom (a member of the Madison-based group Clocks in Motion).  What a rare treat!

Arboretum Cohousing Arbco

Here’s what Kitt herself has to say about the program:

“I am planning to take a little trip “musically” through my journey from Oconomowoc High School to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera and others throughout the world. I will include some Broadway and jazz selections which have always kept me busy, too.”

Kitt’s journey includes Mozart, Puccini and Saint-Saens, but also Lerner and Lowe, Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wicked. Carmen. My Fair Lady. Faust. Plus, a bit of art song and jazz for good measure. 

It will be a fascinating musical night to hear this all stitched together. 

As always, creative sweets and savories will be provided by the hosts (below).

Arbco Refreshments

More from Kitt (below): “Hi there: Here is the program — I will say a few words about the pieces and why I chose them.”

Kitt Reuter-Foss BW small photo
He touched me                                                                  Levin/Schafer

Se tu m’ ami, se sospiri      (attributed to Pergolesi)                   Parisotti

Pieta, Signore!                                                                           Stradella

Faites lui, mes aveux (Faust)                                                      Gounod

L’ amour est un oiseau rebelle: Habanera (Carmen)                        Bizet

Voi che sapete (Le Nozze di Figaro)                                            Mozart

Mon coeur s’ ouvre a ta voix (Samson et Dalila)                   Saint-Saens

O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)                                         Puccini

The Letter Scene (Werther)                                                      Massenet

INTERMISSION (a little break of 10 minutes)

Where is love?  As long as he needs me (Oliver)                      L. Bart

I could have danced all night!   Show me! (My Fair Lady)        Lerner/Loewe

Anyone can whistle!  No one is alone (Anyone can Whistle and Into the Woods)                                                                 Stephen Sondheim

I’m not that girl   For good (Wicked)                                 S. Schwartz

Memory (Cats)                                                   Andrew Lloyd Webber


Classical music: Help restore a historic coop piano. This Saturday is the first of two concerts to benefit the Mason and Hamlin grand at Arboretum Cohousing (Arbco). Trevor Stephenson will perform on harpsichord and piano. Plus, tonight is composer Nils Bultmann’s CD party at the Overture Center.

November 8, 2013
4 Comments

ALERT: Blog friend and guest blogger Mikko Utevsky writes: “There  will be a fun and unusual concert tonight at 6 p.m. in the Overture Center‘s Promenade Hall. (Tickets are $10-$15.) Madison-born Nils Bultmann is a very good violist with a unique and quirky compositional style that I find immensely enjoyable to perform, and he is giving a CD pre-release performance. The program will be a viola extravaganza with several players from the UW-Madison joining him onstage, including Sally Chisholm and myself, for a series of 10 duets he composed. There will also be dance by Jin-Wen Yu. More information is below. That night is also the UW Concert Choir and Chorale concert at 8 p.m and the Bartsch sisters with the Overture Organ at 7:30 p.m., so it’s a full docket. But Nils, Sally and I would all appreciate if you can toss a mention of this in.”
http://overturecenter.com/production/nils-bultmann

Nils Bultmann - Headshot

By Jacob Stockinger

A while ago, The Ear put out the call for guest bloggers.

Janet Murphy responded with the following blog post about a concert that is coming this Saturday night and that will benefit the restoration of the historic grand piano at Arboretum Cohousing.

Here is some information from Janet: “I received my bachelors and masters in musicology from the University of Michigan. After toiling in the music industry for 20 years, I got a bachelors in nursing from UW, and have worked as an RN (Registered Nurse) ever since. 

“Music is now my hobby. I sing in the UW Choral Union, play with an informal recorder group, and I am currently taking banjo lessons. Needless to say I am a big fan of The Well-Tempered Ear. I hope you will consider coming to the concerts. They will be great fun.”

Here is the guest post, with many of her own photos, by Janet Murphy (below):

Janet Murphy

By Janet Murphy

Arboretum Cohousing is delighted to present two benefit concerts to raise funds for the restoration of their Common House grand piano (below).

Arbco Grand Piano

The first concert will be this Saturday, November 9, by the celebrated keyboardist and historian Trevor Stephenson of Madison. The second will be Saturday January 18 by Metropolitan Opera star and Madison resident mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter Foss. Both concerts are at 7 p.m. and will take place at 1137 Erin St., next to St. Marys Hospital and near the UW-Madison Arboretum.

These will certainly be very nice concerts, but there are many very nice concerts in the Madison area … an embarrassment of riches, really.  So, why make a point of attending these two concerts?

FIVE REASONS TO ATTEND A CONCERT AT ARBORETUM COHOUSING

1) Arboretum Cohousing (aka Arbco) is an intentional living community located in the heart of Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood.  With 40 units and 85 members, it is the largest of Madison’s three cohousing communities.  Living in cohousing is very special, and it’s worth a visit to see what it’s all about. If you have never been to a cohousing, this is your chance.

Arboretum Cohousing Arbco

2) Featured at each concert will be the exceptional Mason Hamlin Model AA 1930 Grand Piano that resides at Arbco. Built during the golden age of grand pianos, this fine instrument was recently restored by one of Madison’s preeminent piano technicians, Jim Forrest (below, with owner Lucy Moore).

Jim Forrest & Lucy Moore, owner

Steinway and Mason & Hamlin were in fierce competition in pre-depression era America to see who could build the superior piano. Many felt Mason & Hamlin won.

Mason and Hamlin harp and strings

3) Sweets, savories and beverages will be provided by Arbco.  If you have attended any of their craft fairs, blood drives, sing-a-longs, dances, you know Arbco knows how to lay out a spread and have fun in their spacious Common House.  What is a Common House?  Come see.

4) Trevor Stephenson, the founder and director of the Madison Bach Musicians, is so entertaining, and so broadly talented.  He is bringing along his 8-foot, circa 1720-style, double manual harpsichord.  Expect a journey through three centuries of keyboard music, and expect that he will make you laugh. Stephenson writes: “I’ll perform music by Bach, Couperin, Handel and Scarlatti on my double manual harpsichord. For the second half I’ll play works by Chopin, Brahms and Joplin on Arbco’s beautiful, newly restored vintage Mason Hamlin grand piano. Proceeds from the concert will raise funds for the recently completed restoration of this instrument–a Mason Hamlin Model AA from 1930.

Trevor Stephenson Explains

5) Mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter Foss is the only person from Wisconsin to ever win the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  We are lucky to have her living in Madison, but we don’t have enough opportunities to see her locally.  January 18 is your chance.  Like Trevor, she has a broad repertoire, and will be showing off both her classical and popular chops.

kitt reuter foss

Tickets are $25 for each concert  Tickets can be reserved online, in person or by mail at Arboretum Cohousing (members are below, forming a tree): www.ArboretumCohousing.org or ArbcoPiano@gmail.com,  or by calling (608) 260-0284.

Arbco members as a tree


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