The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Avery Fisher Hall will be renamed. Is there no end to the shameless egos of Big Money and the desperation of those who pursue it? What’s next? The Walmart States of America? Plus, this afternoon is your last chance to see the Madison Opera’s production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” which gets rave reviews.

November 23, 2014
4 Comments

ALERT: Today at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center is your last chance to see the Madison Opera‘s production of Ludwig van Beethoven‘s only opera “Fidelio.” The production has drawn high praise from local critics. (Below, in a photo by James Gill, are the lead singers tenor Clay Hilley as the imprisoned Florestan and soprano Alexandra LoBianco as his wife Leonore.) For tickets, call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141.

Here is a review by John W. Barker for Isthmus:

http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=44067&sid=39e0add1db8c192442a2b8defe5ff286 

And here is a review by Greg Hettmansberger for Madison Magazine’s blog “Classically Speaking”:

http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Blogs/Classically-Speaking/November-2014/Fidelio-Rings-True/

Fidelio Production Stills

By Jacob Stockinger

It reads like something right out of a novel by Charles Dickens or Honore de Balzac or Emile Zola.

Did you hear about Avery Fisher Hall (below)? They want to rename it!!!!

Avery Fisher Hall

It needs major work and expensive upgrading.

The stakes only get higher and more expensive, of course. But Big Money is no doubt up to the challenge.

Some you may remember the comments I recently posted about the renaming of the Wisconsin Union Theater as Shannon Hall (below) because of generous donations. A plaque would have sufficed, like at Camp Randall Stadium

It shouldn’t be too hard for Big Money to follow the more modest and more respectable examples of local philanthropists Jerry Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland, who funded the Overture Center for the Arts without plastering their names all over it.

Shannon Hall UW-Madison

But no! The rich need to splash their names all over the buildings so that we honor wealth more than public service or history.

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/classical-music-the-ear-offers-cheers-and-jeers-for-the-wisconsin-union-theaters-renovated-shannon-hall/

Well, now I see that a renovation of famed Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City is seeking some deep pockets by offering naming rights.

Or should I say “re-naming rights.”

Officials will even pay the Fisher family millions of dollars to allow the renaming of the legendary hall where so many great careers have started and been put on display for the public.

That’s tacky, and even outdoes the University of Wisconsin-Madison when it asked the Elvehjem (pronounced LVM) family if it could rename the Elvehjem Museum of Art to the Chazen Museum of Art.

The Ear didn’t like that, either. But at least the UW-Madison didn’t pay for the family’s permission, didn’t buy back the honor and then turn around and give it to someone else.

Maybe that is the reality of financing projects in today’s income disparity and wealth gap plus lower taxes on the rich that Trickle-Downers want to lower even more.

But it is nonetheless shameful.

What’s next? Avery Fisher Hall becomes David H. Koch Hall?

When do we become the Wal-Mart States of America?

Here is the story that appeared in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/arts/music/lincoln-center-to-rename-avery-fisher-hall.html?_r=0

Tell us what you think of it.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music education: The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music unveils plans for its impressive new music center with performance hall and rehearsal space.

September 29, 2014
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Gradually the old sign will turn into a new building.

UW new music hall sign

In case you missed it – and it was easy to do with all the live events going on this weekend – the University of Wisconsin School of Music announced the long-awaited plans for its new music center with a concert hall and rehearsal space. The Ear is very pleased that acoustics are given a top priority.

Compromises have been made due to funding delays and shortfalls. But even with the scaled-down design, the $22-million building still sounds as if it will be an impressive building, and an impressive addition to the UW-Madison School of Music program.

Here is an architect’s rendering, a drawing of what the building at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue, next to the new wing of the Chazen Museum of Art, will look like.

UW School of Music drawing

It should help maintain or even foster the already high standards of the UW-Madison School of Music, which is nonetheless facing major challenges in student recruitment and staffing. But one wonders: What will music students think about the glass-walled room that will allow passers-by to peer in while they are practicing?

For the full story, including what happens when more money is collected, here is a link to the official announcement.

http://www.news.wisc.edu/23154

And here is a link to a story in The Wisconsin State Journal

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/uw-unveils-ambitious-music-school-plans/article_36286cea-7fc2-5e5e-b56c-883881f8adc3.html

Be sure to tell The Ear — and everyone else, including UW-Madison officials and the cheapskate State of Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Scott Walker –- what you think.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music news: Should concert halls be noisier and livelier or quieter and more attentive to attract bigger and younger audiences to classical music? The argument grows.

June 16, 2012
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

One urgent question continues to loom at the center of the classical music world: How do performers and presenters attract more audiences and young audiences to live music?

One answer is to emphasize new music.

Another and opposing answer is to emphasize tried-and-true old masterpieces.

One answer is to use more non-traditional venues such as coffee houses (below), bars, churches, open-air markets, the street, parks and workplaces — much like the local groups Classical Revolution (bel0w) and New Muse (New Music Everywhere) do.

But there are still people who are unabashed in their love of the concert hall as the appropriate place to hear classical music.

However, even those partisans can’t agree on what makes for a great concert hall experience.

Recently, one observer wrote that concert halls need to be noisier and more raucous, more filled with cheers and yells, with life and excitement – much like I have written about what I find when I go to concerts by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (photo below):

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/classical-music-the-best-audiences-in-town-and-hundreds-of-talented-young-musicians-will-be-in-the-spotlight-at-sundays-concerts-by-the-wisconsin-youth-symphony-orchestras/

Here is a link to the nationally distributed and controversial  story  — which drew a lot of comments – by Richard Dare on The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dare/classical-music-concerts_b_1525896.html

But recently a story in the New York Times took issue with that approach and argued, though several sources, that a focused and attentive silence is the more appropriate response inside the concert hall.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/arts/music/cheers-and-claps-at-classical-performances.html

The Ear tends to think that no matter what side you take, it all depends on the circumstances and the music. It is similar to how some music, say a concerto, lends itself to applause between movements – and many soloist especially would like to see more of that – while applause could ruin the mood of other works, say a Mahler symphony or a Requiem.

Which side do you take – noisier or quieter concert halls?

The Ear wants to hear.


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