The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Middleton Community Orchestra will perform music by Barber, Mendelssohn and Mussorgsky this Wednesday night.

February 23, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following invitation from his good friends over at the Middleton Community Orchestra:

Dear friends,

We invite you to step out of the cold to enjoy the winter concert of the Middleton Community Orchestra (below top) under the baton of guest conductor Kyle Knox (below), who is a graduate student in conducting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

Middleton Community Orchestra Margaret Barker

Kyle Knox 2

The program includes the short but hauntingly beautiful Canzonetta for Oboe and Strings by the 20th-century neo-Romantic American composer Samuel Barber (below top), with oboe soloist Andy Olson (below bottom), who was educated at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and who now works at Epic Systems digital health care records near Madison.

barber 1

Andy Olson oboe

Also included on the program are the popular, playful and tuneful “Incidental Music to a Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn (below top); and the darkly dramatic “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky (below bottom), a work famous for the familiar and regal “The Great Gate of Kiev” finale, which you can hear at the bottom in a YouTube video as performed by Sir George Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

mendelssohn_300

Modeste Mussorgsky color

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. this coming Wednesday evening, Feb. 25, at the comfortable Middleton Performing Arts Center (below) that is attached to Middleton High School.

Middleton PAC2

Middleton PAC1

Tickets are $10, and are available at Willy St. Coop West and at the door on the night of the show. Students are admitted free of charge.

The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. and doors open at 7 p.m.

There will be a meet-and-greet reception for the musicians and the audience following the performance.

Middleton Community Orchestra reception

For more information, please call 608-212-8690. You can also visit www.middletoncommunityorchestra.org for information about upcoming concerts and how to join or support the ensemble.

Sincerely,

Mindy Taranto and Larry Bevic, Co-founders, Middleton Community Orchestra

Editor’s note: If you are not familiar with the Middleton Community Orchestra, you might want to read the post from this past December in which The Ear named the four-year-old Middleton group and other amateur musicians the Musician of the Year for 2014

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/classical-music-here-is-a-follow-up-story-from-the-middleton-times-tribune-newspaper-about-the-ears-musician-of-the-year-for-2014-the-middleton-community-orchest/


Classical music: A new statewide collective has been formed to perform and promote Baroque music in Wisconsin, with initial concerts in Madison and Milwaukee. Plus, the Lawrence Chamber Players from Appleton will perform music by Brahms, Elliott Carter and Juan Orrega-Salas this Sunday afternoon on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” Museum of Art.

February 21, 2014
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ALERT: The accomplished and always popular Lawrence Chamber Players, from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, will perform on this weekend’s edition of “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” on Wisconsin Public Radio (88.7 FM in the Madison area). The FREE concert is in Brittingham Gallery III of the art museum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and airs live from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The program includes the Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60, by Johannes Brahms; Duos for Violin and Viola by Elliott Carter, and the  Sonata for Viola and Piano by Juan Orrego-Salas. As always, the host will be WPR’s Lori Skelton.

SAL3

By Jacob Stockinger

Attention, all early music fans!

If you haven’t heard news yet, a new statewide collective has been formed to perform and promote Baroque music in Wisconsin, with initial concerts and groups in Madison and Milwaukee.

Major organizers, with their hometowns, include: Brett Lipshutz, Monica Steger and Christine Hauptly Annin, who all live in Milwaukee; and Eric Miller and Theresa Koenig, who live in Madison. 

Brett Lipschutz and Monica Steger — you can hear them with cellist Anton Ten Wolde and harpsichordist Max Yount — performing flute music by Baroque master Georg Philipp Telemann in a YouTube video at the bottom — recently cooperated to answer an email Q&A by The Ear to give readers more information:

Monica Steger

Brett Lipschutz 2014

When and why did the collective come into being?

The idea began when Monica moved to Milwaukee. Being two of a very small disparate group of musicians playing on period instruments, they wanted to create more activity locally.

Having to travel all of the time to play with good musicians didn’t seem logical, considering the size of Milwaukee. The idea then went from local to statewide in the hopes of connecting a broad base of period musicians, regardless of affiliation.

Our first informal public gathering was July 3, 2013. Brett Lipshutz, Monica Steger, Eric Miller (below), Theresa Koenig, and Christine Hauptly-Annin came together to do open public rehearsals just to bring some awareness to historically informed performance practice.

Eric Miller viol

We know that there are many musicians playing Baroque music on period instruments in Wisconsin, but some feel isolated. The collective offers an opportunity for such musicians to find like-minded colleagues with whom to collaborate, as well as a way to encourage improvement in performance through peer review or studying with guests we would like to bring here. (Below are the Madison Bach Musicians, who will perform a FREE program of J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli and Scarlatti this Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Avenue, on the Capitol Square downtown.)

Kangwon KIm with Madison Bach Musicians

What does such a statewide collective say about the state of early music and how established it is among the general public by now?

Because this is such a new endeavor, the Collective is just starting to be discussed among musicians interested in developing such a community. It might take a bit of time and exposure for the general public to catch on. The emphasis now is the music and the people who play it. The hope is that this emphasis will create excitement about projects that lead to audience education and development.

How many members or chapters belong to it now and where are they located? How does the collective benefit its musician members?

This collective has just gotten started, and we have about 10 musicians in the Madison and Milwaukee areas who have participated in reading sessions and informal public performances, or concerts. But there are more and more who are expressing interest.

What is the plan of concerts and events that the collective has in mind? Do you have other projects such as recordings or special plans in mind?

At this point, members of the Collective have been creating concerts and playing for events under the name of the Wisconsin Baroque Musicians Collective. We’ve also had a music reading session and plan to do them on a regular basis. This includes discussions about relevant peripheral elements such as aesthetics of music, etc. (Below is a concert from the annual Madison early music Festival that takes place every July.)

MEMF1

Are there special aspects of Baroque music – composers, works, instruments (below) – that you expect to champion and educate the public about?

We want our audiences to learn to be curious about the music and its cultural context. Much of the music we play is enjoyable upon the first hearing, but we want to encourage listeners to take a “deep dive” into learning about styles and philosophies informing the music as well as the underlying systems that make the music’s narrative apparent.

MEMF 14 2013 Piffaro instruments

How do musicians, presenters or the general public contact you and learn about you?

Musicians interested in playing Baroque music on period instruments are encouraged and welcome to contact us at wisbmc@gmail.com.

We also have a basic informational webpage up at www.harmonyhallforall.com/collective.

Because we are just beginning, our performances are mostly informal and sporadic. However, presenters can contact us for a list of potential projects that group members have expressed interest in realizing in the next couple of years.

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Classical music Q&A: Scott MacPherson, founder and conductor of the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble and a UW-Madison alumnus, talks about the two performances of Mahler, Bach, Brahms and other composers coming up this weekend on Friday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 4.

July 29, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Call it The Rite of Summer.

Every August for the past 11 years, University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus Scott MacPherson travels from his job and home in Ohio, where he teaches at Kent State University, to come to Madison to direct and conduct intensive rehearsals and two concerts by the virtuosic Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (below in a photo by Jim Pippitt).

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble group concert dress

This summer’s concerts, mostly a cappella although some pieces have organ accompaniment, are coming up this weekend on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Especially noteworthy is how the group emphasizes talent with local and regional ties -– the singers, the conductor, even the instrumentals and the composers. Many are alumni of the University of Wisconsin-School of Music.

For more information, visit the home website of the IVE:

http://www.isthmusvocalensemble.org

Scott MacPherson (below, in a photo by Beate Gersch; unless otherwise noted, photos of the choir are by Portrait Independence Photography) recently gave an email interview to The Ear:

Scott MacPherson older BW

What do you want to tell the public about the isthmus Vocal Ensemble in general? How has it evolved and changed over its history and since its founding?

The Isthmus Vocal Ensemble was founded in 2002 as a chamber choir of about 35 voices. It was originally intended to perform one concert in Madison each August, but our audience following has grown such that we now give two performances each year, both on the first weekend August.

The concerts this summer will take place at Luther Memorial Church (below top) at 1021 University Ave. on Friday night, August 2, at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday afternoon, August 4, at 3 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church (below bottom) on Segoe Road and Mineral Point Road.

luther memorial church madison

Covenant Presbyterian Church chancel

The choir grew over its first decade to about 55-60 singers and is made up singers from all walks of life, from career musicians and home makers, to professionals in various disciplines and everything in between; all with the same goal—to perform choral music at the highest level.

A community choir of great flexibility with singers from Madison and surrounding areas, the choir specializes in music of all epochs and genres, from Renaissance madrigals and motets, to cutting edge works by living composers.  We gather in Madison for a couple weeks of intense rehearsals and two concerts.

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble rehearsing with Scott MacPherson

What is the program this summer and what do you want to say about individual works and composers? I understand there is a special Mahler arrangement that is intriguing.

I have nicknamed this year’s program after the famous phrase by the late Ed Sullivan: “The Really Big Show!”  The focus of the program is on works for double choir.

At the center of the program is a transcription of one of the “Rueckert-Lieder” by Gustav Mahler (below) — “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” — written for 16 separate voice parts by Clytus Gottwald in 1982.  Originally for solo voice and orchestra, Gottwald’s transcription amazingly captures the ambience and color palette of Mahler’s piece.  The work splits each of the usual choral voices into four parts.  For this reason, I have enlarged the choir to 70 voices this summer.

Isthmus vocal Ensemble men

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble women

Preceding the Mahler are three sets of pieces for double choir:  Sweelinck’s epic setting of Psalm 150, “Or soit loué l’Eternel”; Johann Sebastoan Bach’s (attributed) motet, “Ich lasse dich nicht”; and Johannes Brahms’s Op. 109 motets, “Fest- und Gedenksprüche.”

The second half of the program features organist Kathrine Handford (below), from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, in two English choral works for organ and chorus.  In honor of the centennial of Benjamin Britten’s centennial birthday, we will perform his “Hymn to St. Peter” for organ, choir, and soprano solo.  We will also sing Grayston Ives’ “Canticle of Brother Sun,”a setting of the poem by St. Francis of Assisi.

Kathrine Handford

Closing the concert will be a setting of “O Vos omnes” by UW-Madison alumna and member of the Minneapolis-based Rose Ensemble, Linda Kachelmeier (below top) and a contemporary piece by Haitian composer Sydney Guillaume (below bottom).  “Twa tanbou,” sung in the original Haitian Creole language, tells the story of three drums in a discussion of which one makes the best sound.

Linda Kachelmeier

Sydney Guillaume

What kind of shape in the IVE in right now and what are its future plans? Concerts? Recordings? Other events?

IVE is proud to have made two CD recordings in its history.  “The Choral Music of Andrew Rindfleisch” was recorded in 2004 and released in 2006 and features approximately half of the choral output of this amazing composer (below), a UW-Madison alumnus who now serves as Professor of Composition at Cleveland State University.

Andrew Rindfleisch portrait

In 2011, IVE released a live recording of their 2010 summer concert: “An Isthmus Christmas.”

Our highest achievement came in February 2012 when we sang a coveted performance at the North Central American Choral Directors Conference, held in Madison.  Hundreds of choral conductors and singers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas attended our concert, which really put IVE “on the map” outside of Madison.

Here is a sample of our singing, a YouTube video of the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble performing Josef Rheinberger’s “Evening Song” at Luther Memorial Church on Aug. 3, 2012:


Classical music: Let us now praise retired chemists and classical music patrons Irving Shain and Kato Perlman whose generosity has funded the Perlman Piano Trio concert this Saturday afternoon and the Beethoven Sonata Competition this Sunday afternoon.

April 19, 2013
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ALERT: English Baroque composer Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas” will be performed in a partially staged version this Sunday afternoon, April 21 at 2:30 p.m., at Edgewood College in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive. Edgewood College faculty member Kathleen Otterson (below) will play the sorceress. She will be joined by a cast of Madison-area performers including leads Jennifer D’Agostino (Dido) and Michael Roemer (Aeneas). Edgewood College professor Albert Pinsonneault will conduct the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra. Admission is $7, with tickets available at the door. Proceeds benefit music scholarships at Edgewood College.

Kathleen Otterson 2

By Jacob Stockinger

Before we get to the events I want to talk about, let us get to the people who made them possible.

Specifically, I want to give well-deserved shout-outs to two retired research chemists who love classical music.

And who put their money where their mouths are – or, more specifically, where their ears and hearts are.

I am talking about Dr. Kato Perlman (below), an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kato_Perlman

And I am talking about Dr. Irving Shain (below), a retired chemist at the UW and a former Chancellor at the UW-Madison who was also a talented amateur flutist.

Irving Shain

Each person has funded wonderful programs at the UW School of Music, and both events annual events will take place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, putting these two figures and friends-colleagues side by side – which is so appropriate and natural.

HERE ARE THE EVENTS:

On Saturday, April 20, 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Perlman Piano Trio will perform a FREE and PUBLIC concert.

Members this year (below in a photo by Kathy Esposito for the UW School of Music) are pianist Jeongmin Lee (first row), violinist Alice Bartsch (second row on the right), and cellist Taylor Skiff (second row on the left). They will perform an all-masterpiece program: the Piano Trio in G Major (“Gypsy Rondo”) by Franz Josef Haydn and the Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn.

Then group will be joined by violinist Madlen Breckbill (top row right) and violist Daniel Jacobs (top row left) in a performance of Johannes Brahms’ dramatic and lyrical Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34.  (Below is a photo of all five members.)

(The Perlman Piano Trio Fund provides annual awards for a violinist, cellist and pianist and stipulates that they will present “an annual concert of the great masterpieces of the piano trio (or on occasion, quartet or quintet) literature.”  The selection of students is made under the guidance of faculty from the piano and string areas.  Their concert is the culmination of a year in which they are coached, as an ensemble, by faculty members.)

Perlman Trio plus 2013

Then on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. — also in Morphy Hall — is a FREE and PUBLIC recital by the winners of the annual Beethoven Sonata Competition (it also allows Beethoven’s Variations and Bagatelles).

The event is now in its 28th year, and each year’s winners seem to get more impressive.

This year’s winners (below in a photo by Kathy Esposito for the UW School of Music) are: Sara Giusti (left), who will play Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3; Hazim Suhado (middle), who will play Sonata in F Major, Op. 54; and Evan Englestad (right), who will play Sonata in F-Sharp Major, Op. 78 (at bottom played by Daniel Barenboim in a YouTube video).

Beethoven sonata winners CR Kathy Esposito  2013 Sarah Guisti, Hazim Suhadi, Evan

It is a great event for Beethoven fans and especially – parents and families, Take Note! — for young aspiring piano students who might be looking for inspiration which they are sure to find at the winners; recital. A reception for and with the Beethoven Sonata Competition winners follows the concert.

Want more information? Here are capsule bios of the winners, which impresses one with the high quality of the students at the UW School of Music:

An Indonesian pianist, Hazim Suhadi was born in Bandung, Indonesia. He began piano lessons at the age of seven at Yayasan Musik Jakarta (YMJ) with Yola Mathilde, and later advancing his studies with the late Soetarno Soetikno. He received his B.A in French and Francophone Studies and B.M in piano performance where he studied with Catherine Kautsky at Lawrence University. He also previously studied with Luba Poliak, Dmitri Novgorodsky, and Vadim Serebryany. His other interests include chamber music and collaborating, where he has received coaching with Wendy Warner, Gilbert Kalish and Dale Duesing. He has also served as the opera accompanist and was involved in several productions, including Bernstein’s “Candide,” Chabrier’s “L’étoile” and opera scenes. His recent accomplishments include his winning performance at the LSO Concerto Competition in 2010 with Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. He also received the Theodore L. Rehl Prize, which recognizes excellence in the performance of chamber music. He is currently finishing his Master’s at UW-Madison with Christopher Taylor.

Evan Engelstad grew up in Eugene, Oregon and graduated in 2010 from Willamette University in Salem with a double major in Music and Physics. Currently a second-year Master’s student in Piano Performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Evan enjoys teaching piano lessons and accompanying soloists and ensembles. A student of Professor Todd Welbourne, Evan plans to continue his studies at UW-Madison next year in pursuit of a DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. In addition to his studies, Evan works as the musician at Christ The Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison. Outside of music, Evan’s interests include nutrition, cooking, and watching college football.

Sara Giusti was born in Italy in 1983. She studied piano for eight years under the guidance of Benedetto Lupo at the Conservatorio “Nino Rota” of Monopoli. She also studied with Lazar Berman, Andrea Lucchesini, Nelso Delle Vinge-Fabbri, Riccardo Risaliti, Paolo Bordoni and Pierluigi Camicia. Sara attended Robert Levin’s course at Gargano International Festival, focusing on Beethoven’s piano works. A prize-winner of several Italian national competitions, Sara was awarded first prize, 100/100, at the 2003 Igor Stravinsky National Music Competition in Bari. She has also been particularly active in chamber music, playing concerts in duo, trio and quintet ensembles, including performances at the Conservatorio of Lugano in Switzerland. In 2013, she was a winner of the Irving Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition at UW-Madison. Sara is currently a first year Master’s student in Piano Performance at the UW-Madison where she studies with Professor Christopher Taylor.


Classical music: Van Cliburn Competition winners remember the award’s namesake after his death last week at 78; plus, here are some more obituaries and features about the “Leonard Bernstein of the Piano” and also his gay life. Also, the Lawrence (University) Chamber Players perform on “Sunday Live From the Chazen.”

March 9, 2013
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ALERT: On Wisconsin Public Radio‘s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen,” which airs live statewide tomorrow, on Sunday, March 10, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Lawrence Chamber Players (below) from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, will perform. The faculty string ensemble will consist of violins, viola, cello, bass, piano and classical guitar.  The Lawrence Chamber Players will perform music by Miroslav Tadic and Astor Piazzolla as well as the famed Brahms Piano Quintet.

Lawence Chamber Players

By Jacob Stockinger

Last week, in a popular posting, The Ear offered obituaries for the American superstar classical pianist Van Cliburn, who died of bone cancer at 78.

Here is a link to that initial post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/classical-music-pianist-van-cliburn-an-icon-of-american-classical-music-died-today-at-78/

Since then many more obituaries, features and analyses have appeared.

One of the best comes, not unexpectedly, from “Deceptive Cadence,” the terrific classical music blog on National Public Radio.

NPR asked pianists who have won the gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Competition -– where several months ago Cliburn (below, performing in 1993) made his last public appearance — to remember the namesake, who emerges once again as a modest, gracious and warm personality as well as world-class pianist.

rememberingcliburn

The medalists such as Olga Kern (below top), Jon Nakamatsu (below middle), Andre–Michel Schub and Joyce Yang (below bottom) have their own big names and reputations now, and they mention specific performances and specific piano pieces, some of the memories and accounts are quite moving and emotionally stirring.

Olga Kern

Jon Nakamatsu

Joyce Yang

The blog posting also feature some of Cliburn’s best recordings as well as one of the medalists’ own playing:

See for yourself and maybe leave a memory of your own here or on the NPR blog or, thanks to copying and pasting on both:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/03/01/173241759/thank-you-for-that-gift-memories-of-van-cliburn-from-medalists

And here are more obituaries and commentaries:

From the blog “Music Beat” at The Voice of America:

http://blogs.voanews.com/music/2013/03/01/remembering-van-cliburn/

From the Dallas-Morning news with information about where to send memorial gifts and donations:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?n=van-cliburn&pid=163401322&fhid=6322#fbLoggedOut

From the New York Times, that places Cliburn within his outstanding generation of American contemporaries, sort of the Leonard Bernstein of the Piano in terms of changing the debate from Europe and Russia to America:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/arts/music/van-cliburn-pianist-dies-at-78.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

For a view from abroad, here is the obit from The Guardian in Great Britain:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/03/van-cliburn

van cliburn old

An analysis about how Cliburn’s live-in friend was treated and how the issue of Cliburn’s being gay and the subject of a palimony suit was ignored or finessed:

http://www.kennethinthe212.com/2013/02/nyt-obit-notes-pianist-van-cliburns.html

How the LGTB magazine The Advocate treated The Gay Van Cliburn:

http://www.advocate.com/society/obituaries/2013/02/28/watch-remembering-gay-pianist-van-cliburn

How the LGBT Washington Blade reported on the gay side of Van Cliburn:

https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/03/07/classical-closet/?utm_source=https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/03/07/classical-closet/&utm_medium=Website&utm_campaign=RelatedLinksInside

There are many more. Just go to Google and plus in Van Cliburn obituaries or “Van Cliburn and homosexuality.”

And here is a wonderful video and audio remembrance put together by PBS’ The Newshour and arts reporter Jeffrey Brown:


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