The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is Super Bowl Sunday, so The Ear asks: Who are the winners and champions in the concert hall? Here are the most popular pieces, composers and soloists. Plus, on Tuesday night, violist Elias Goldstein returns to perform Paganini’s fiendish Caprices in a FREE recital

February 7, 2016
1 Comment

ALERT: The Ear has received the following note from University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music viola professor Sally Chisholm, who also plays with the Pro Arte Quartet: “Elias Goldstein, who has a doctorate from UW-Madison (2011) and was a Collins Fellow, is playing a concert of all 24 Caprices, originally composed for solo violin by Niccolo Paganini, on VIOLA this Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall. Admission is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

“On March 9, he will perform this program at Carnegie Hall in New York City, as the first violist ever to perform all 24 Caprices in one concert. This is such a feat that it is difficult to believe one of our own is accomplishing it. I was with him in Krakow, Poland when he performed 6 of them. He got standing ovations. He is professor of viola at Louisiana State University, won top prizes at the Primrose International Viola Competition and the Yuri Bashmet Viola Competition in Moscow in 2011.”

Elias Goldstein big

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the 50th Super Bowl of the NFL, and will be played by the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos in the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, near San Francisco.

It starts at 5:30 p.m. CST.

Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem. Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars will perform in the half-time show. The Super Bowl will be broadcast live on CBS-TV.

super bowl 50 logo

So, one might ask in a society that loves competition, what constitutes The Super Bowl of classical music?

It is a source of endless discussion and often disagreement.

What classical music is the most mainstream, if not best?

Who are the big winners and champions in the concert hall?

A survey, compiled by a student at the UW-Milwaukee, of the most popular or frequently performed composers, works and soloists was recently conducted by the League of American Orchestras. The rest are for the 2010-11 season.

The No. 1 work is a YouTube video at the bottom. It is the Symphony No. 1 in C Minor by Johannes Brahms and is performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under its late music director and conductor Sir George Solti.

And on March 11, 12 and 13 the Madison Symphony Orchestra hosts TWO of the Top 10 winners: Pianist Emanuel Ax performing the Piano Concerto No. 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven. (The Symphony No. 4 by Gustav Mahler completes the program.)

Emanuel Ax Philharmonia

Here is a link to the complete results along with the method used to gather data:

http://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2014/04/08/league-american-orchestras-performance-data

See what you think and leave a COMMENT.

Do they match up with your preferences and your choices of favorites?

In your opinion, what makes them so popular?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Guest blogger Sig Midelfort says the viola and violin shined in a recent Carnegie Hall recital, thanks to University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni Elias Goldstein and Roxana Pavel Goldstein

March 6, 2014
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a review by guest blogger Sigurd “Sig” Midelfort, a good friend of the blog and of classical music in the Madison area.

Sig is a retired CPA who has spent a number of years with non-profits.  He adds: “Right now, that means I’m doing and have done volunteer work — with the Democratic Party of Dane County, Madison Music Makers Inc, a local environmental group and an orchestra in the western suburbs of Chicago.  (I also was a history major as an undergrad, have a masters in economic development, was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania for three years, and so on.)  All the time I have been interested in the local classical music scene, playing in amateur groups for decades.”

Sig recently attended a recital at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and asked if he could file this review of performers who have local ties and local interest.

It proved too good to resist. Enjoy!

By Sigurd Midelfort

Two recent University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral graduates participated in a lustrous viola recital on February 19 at Carnegie Hall (below) in New York City.

carnegie-hall-address

Violist Elias Goldstein, now a professor at Louisiana State University who received his DMA from the UW-Madison in 2011 performed and received assistance on the violin from Roxana Pavel Goldstein, his wife (she received her DMA from the UW-Madison in 2012) and from Ieva Jokubaviciute, a Lithuanian pianist. (They are below, in a photo by Daniel Balan.)

Elias and Roxana Pavel Goldstein in Carnegie Hall CR Daniel Balan

Elias began the evening, playing an unaccompanied sonata for viola, Op. 25, No. 1, by Paul Hindemith.  Roxana (below) joined him in two duos for violin and viola: one, a three-movement duet in G Major, K. 423, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the other, a “Passacaglia” by George Frideric Handel as arranged by the 19th-century Norwegian composer and conductor Johan Halvorsen.

Roxana Pavel Goldstein

After intermission, Elias and Ieva performed three works for viola and piano: a divertimento in three movements by Franz Joseph Haydn, as arranged by the famous cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and the famous violist William Primrose (below); a sonata (No. 6 in A major) in two movements by Luigi Boccherini, as arranged by Primrose; and the famous Caprice No. 24 by the legendary Nicolo Paganini –- it has been used for theme and variations by Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Witold Lutoslawski — also as transcribed for viola by Primrose. (The caprice, taken at a quasi presto tempo, is hard enough for violin, its original instrument. For viola?  Well, one can imagine the difficulties it presented.)

William Primrose  BYU (Submission date: 05/19/2005)

I was not an unbiased observer. Elias is a distant relative, and I have been a passionate amateur cellist my entire life.  Nonetheless, Elias’ tone was stunning. His playing was mellow and warm, round and resonant, displaying an ease and mastery of technique that is unusual for even the most accomplished performers.

Elias holds recent top prizes in the following international viola competitions: the Primrose, the Yuri Bashmet, the Lionel Tertis, the Watson Forbes and the Andrews University String Competition. In 2011, he made his Russian debut with the Moscow Soloists and the New Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Alexander Sladkovsky.

While at the UW-Madison School of Music, Elias was a student of Sally Chisholm of the Pro Arte Quartet.

elias goldstein 2

Although the viola (below) generally has a lower public profile, in the hands of such an artist as Elias it stands as an equal of, or is even superior to, the violin or cello in terms of its quality of sound.

viola

Roxana, too, is a superb artist, playing with considerable warmth and sensitivity on the violin. Originally from Romania, she worked at the UW-Madison with David Perry, first violinist of the Pro Arte Quartet, doing research on Romanian tunes and folk music as expressed on the violin.

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Classical music: Famed Japanese violist Nobuko Imai joins the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet this Wednesday night in a MUST-HEAR and FREE concert of Mozart, Brahms and Britten. Plus, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra ends its winter “Masterworks” season Friday night with Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Canteloube. And pianist Jeremy Denk gives a public master class on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (NOT 7) in Morphy Hall.

April 9, 2013
3 Comments

AN ALERT and  A REMINDER: Pianist Jeremy Denk’s masterclass is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (NOT 7 p.m., as erroneously stated yesterday in a reader comment, in Morphy Hall. Also, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra closes out its current Masterworks season this Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center. The conductor is WCO music director Andrew Sewell, and the emphasis in on the Classical era composers — Haydn (Symphony No. 83, “The Hen”), Mozart (love songs from the opera “Don Giovanni” with Metropolitan Opera soprano Susanna Phillips, below) and Beethoven (Symphony No. 2) — that Sewell performs so brilliantly and so convincingly. Joseph Canteloube’s popular and more Romantic “Songs of the Auvergne” are also featured. For more information and tickets, here is a link: http://wcoconcerts.org/performances/masterworks/51/event-info/

susanna phillips

By Jacob Stockinger

The music schedule for April is crazy busy, and it just keeps getting crazier and busier.

Take the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer), which has a fine reputation when it plays by itself.

PAQ-8BIT03

But it also brings in some respected guests fairly often, especially guests cellist, violists and pianists. That is what makes the PAQ’s FREE concert this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall so special.

The guest this time will be the acclaimed Japanese violist Nobuko Imai (below), who once played with the esteemed Vermeer String Quartet and who rarely plays in America.

Nobuko Imai CR Marco Borggreve

The program includes: the masterful Viola Quintet in C major, K. 515, by Mozart (substituted for the Quintet, Op. 11, No. 5 by Luigi Boccherini); Benjamin Britten’s Solo Cello Suite No. 2 transcribed for solo viola; and the great String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111, by Johannes Brahms.

Violist Elias Goldstein (below) – who did his doctorate here at UW-Madison and now teaches at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge –will also perform with members of the Pro Arte Quartet.

elias goldstein 2

Here is some background about Noboku Imai, provided by the UW-Madison School of Music: s

“With her exceptional talent, musical integrity and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violists of our time. She has excelled as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue, and performs often with world-renowned artists.

“In 2003, Nobuko Imai, Mihaela Martin, Stephan Picard and Frans Helmerson formed the Michelangelo Quartet (below), which gained an international reputation has become one of the finest quartets in the world.

michelangelo quartet

“Imai currently teaches at the Geneva and Amsterdam Conservatories, Kronberg International Academy and Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo.”

Here are words of tribute from the regular Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm (below) about Imai and about the role of the viola, which often goes understated in the shadow on violins and cellos:

Sally Chisholm

“Nobuko Imai is coming to Madison from Curtis where she is giving a master class just before arriving here, and will also appear in the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota on April 14. We are very lucky to bring her to Madison, both because she is so renowned a musician and violist, but also because she makes very few appearances in the US. Nobuko teaches in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Germany and Japan. Busy lady. She will be in residence at the Marlboro Festival this summer.

“We are honored and thrilled to have Nobuko Imai, one of the world’s most famed violists, include Madison for a rare U.S. appearance. She is a star in the solo world of string playing, and a person of humility and vision. Though she is one of the most influential performers and teachers in Europe and Asia, she seldom performs in the United States.

Nobuko Imai

“On this coming trip she will be performing only at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, St. Paul, Minn., and in Madison. Her master classes are renowned for her ability to show a student how to transform from good to superb, all in a public setting.”

As for the role of the viola (below), Chisholm adds: “Brahms loved the sound of contralto, which is one reason he is so generous to the viola in his chamber music. With so many roles to fulfill, as an inner voice, a leader of harmonic motion, a primary texture, and a solo voice, the sound of the viola is often turned to as the soul of the quartet.

viola

Whether contralto or mezzo-soprano, the voice of the viola is used when a composer has something very important to say. For performers, the luxury of living inside the quartet sound, yet having many occasions to soar above, is so rewarding that it lasts a lifetime.”


Classical music: This coming Sunday night brings a MUST-HEAR chamber music concert of Schubert and Brahms that is FREE and open to the public. It features faculty members and Collins Fellow at the UW-Madison.

April 3, 2013
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall there will be an extraordinary concert of Romantic chamber music that features both UW-Madison faculty members and Collins Fellows.

Unfortunately, it is on the same day as a Madison Symphony Orchestra’s afternoon performance. Still, this concert is a MUST-HEAR and I hope you can make it.

The concert will feature UW faculty members violinist David Perry, pianist Christopher Taylor (below top) and cellist Uri Vardi (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

ChristopherTaylorNoCredit

Vardi

Additionally, the concert will feature Collins Fellows violinist Roxana Pavel (below), violist Elias Goldstein  and cellist Philip Bergman.

roxana pavel

The program couldn’t be more appealing. It offers two of the greatest masterpieces of Romantic chamber music: Franz Schubert’s sublime String Quintet in C major (D. 956, or Opus posthumous 163) for two violins, viola and cello; and Johannes Brahms’ dramatic Piano Quintet in F minor,  Opus 34. (The Scherzo movement of the Brahms is in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is some background about the Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowships, thanks to the UW School of Music and its new Concert Manager and Director of Public Relations Kathy Esposito:

The Collins fellowships have been established through the generosity of Paul J. Collins (below) in honor of his mother, Adele Stoppenbach Collins, a 1929 School of Music graduate. Students are nominated by faculty members.

The fellowships are awarded to outstanding graduate performance majors and are determined by a committee of performance faculty.

Paul J. Collins

Collins Awards guarantee two years of support at the master’s level and three years at the doctoral level, contingent upon full-time study and satisfactory progress in the degree program. These awards are sufficient to provide the financial support needed for a single international student to obtain a visa.

And here is more information about Elias Goldstein (below):

He won second prize at the Primrose International Viola Competition in 2011 and recently made his Russian debut with the Moscow Soloists and the New Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Alexander Slatkovsky. He took second prize at the Yuri Bashmet International Viola Competition, and was also a top prizewinner of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in 2010. He has also won top and special prizes at the Andrews University International String Competition, and the Watson Forbes International Viola Competition in 2009.

elias goldstein 2

He holds degrees from DePaul University (M.M.) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (D.M.A.) where he was a Collins Fellow. He has studied with Mark Zinger and with UW-Madison viola teacher and Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm. While at the UW, he won Wisconsin Public Radio’s Neale-Silva Young Artists Competition in 2009.

Sally Chisholm

As a soloist with orchestras, Goldstein has appeared with the Moscow Soloists under the direction of Yuri Bashmet, New Moscow Philharmonic, New Mexico Chamber Orchestra, Advent Chamber Orchestra, the Ukrainian Chamber Orchestra, and the DePaul Symphony Orchestra, where he won the annual concerto competition twice.

Goldstein is currently assistant professor of viola at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Here is a link to his website:

http://eliasgoldstein.com/home


Classical music news: Wisconsin Public Radio’s music director Cheryl Dring is leaving for an Austin, Texas radio station.

June 1, 2012
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has some sad news to share.

Cheryl Dring (below), the music director at Wisconsin Public Radio, is leaving in a few weeks for a new post as head of programming for an all-classical music radio station in Austin, Texas.

Texas’ gain is our loss.

You may know Dring best as the listener-friendly. pleasant-voiced and quick-witted host of Morning Classics on WPR’s local FM station WERN (88.7) that airs from 9-11 a.m.

But Dring is especially important to me and many others as the person who started Bach Around the Clock three years ago. It is an annual free community event in mid-March, held from noon to midnight, to mark the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach. 

It has been a lot of fun for both participants – students, professionals and amateurs — and listeners. Dring recruited musicians and served as a gracious and knowledgeable host of the event at the Pres House off State Street.

Of course, the move sounds like a great opportunity for Dring, so please join me in congratulating her. And join me too in hoping that the survival of Bach Around the Clock – BATC – will be passed on the someone else, perhaps the new music director for WPR, and will survive.

Here is the press release that went out:

89.5, KMFA-FM NAMES CHERYL DRING PROGRAM DIRECTOR

“May 25, 2012 (Austin, TX) -¬ After a nationwide search, Classical 89.5, KMFA-FM General Manager, Joan Kobayashi, announced today that Cheryl Dring has been named Program Director.

“As Program Director, Ms. Dring will oversee talent development and production quality, manage special programming/community engagement initiatives, and participate in the continued development of KMFA’s overall broadcasting service to the Austin (below, from Lady Bird Lake) ) and Central Texas community.  Ms. Dring will begin her position in August of 2012.

“I’m thrilled to be back at an all classical station,” said Ms. Dring about her appointment to the position. “Austin has such a vibrant arts community, and classical music is an important thread in that colorful tapestry.  I can’t wait to get started!”

Ms. Dring is currently the Director of Music Programming at Wisconsin Public Radio.  Previously held positions include Classical Music Director at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and Classical Music Manager at WWNO in New Orleans.

“Ms. Dring holds a Masters in Music, Vocal Performance from Louisiana State University as well as a Bachelor’s in Music, in Vocal Performance, from Centenary College.  She got her start in radio as an Announcer/Producer at KDAQ in Shreveport, Louisiana as well as WRKF in Baton Rouge.

“Said KMFA General Manager, Joan Kobayashi, “We look forward to a continued commitment to quality arts programming in service to our community under Cheryl’s leadership and direction.”

“About Classical 89.5, KMFA:  Classical 89.5 KMFA, Austin’s all-classical public radio station, was founded in 1967 by a group of citizens who saw the need for a radio station devoted to cultural programming in the Central Texas Area. Today the station remains committed to this heritage. Relying on the majority of its funding from direct listener and business contributions, KMFA serves approximately 100,000 listeners each week and features both local programming and nationally-distributed programming from Public Radio International, American Public Media and National Public Radio. For more information on KMFA, visit www.kmfa.org

 Please join me in wishing Cheryl Dring well – and in leaving her a message of congratulations and farewell in the Comments section of this post.


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