By Jacob Stockinger
If there is a better embodiment of the saying “The show must go on,” I don’t know who it would be.
I am speaking of the Karp Family (seen below in an old photo), long considered Madison’s First Family of Music. (Members, from left, are Christopher Karp, Katrin Talbot, Howard Karp, Parry Karp and Frances Karp.)
For 37 years – and without repeating a piece — the Karps have given a Labor Day concert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where the event traditionally marks the opening of the new concert season.
This year, the FREE concert is at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall.
It is quite the achievement that a Labor Day concert will even take place this year.
Then this summer, the matriarch pianist Frances Karp had an accidental fall that put her out of commission. (She has recovered well, but had to to give up performing temporarily.)
Yet the rest of the family came together and changed the program to carry on the tradition. (The original program for this year is now scheduled to be performed next year with Frances Karp back at the piano.)
The performers this year are Isabel Karp (seen below top left with her sister Natasha Karp), narrator; Katrin Talbot, the wife of Parry Karp, viola; son Parry Karp, cello; and son Christopher Karp, piano.
The program includes: “Elegy and Vision for Solo Cello” (1993) by Laurence Sherr; Two Chassidic Dances for Viola and Cello (1941-2) by Zigmund Schul; “Thoughts Tending to Ambition” (2015) by Katrin Talbot and Isabel Karp — a setting of the final soliloquy of William Shakespeare’s “Richard II” for narrator, viola and cello; and the Second Suite for Solo Cello, Op. 80 (1967) by Benjamin Britten.
After intermission comes the Suite No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Cello (ca. 1720) by Johann Sebastian Bach. And the well-known Sonata in A Major for Piano and Cello, Op. 69 (1808) by Ludwig van Beethoven. (You can hear the Beethoven sonata performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
ALERT: The Ear’s friend Rich Samuels of WORT 89.9 FM writes: At 7:21 a.m. today, Thursday, Sept. 3, I’ll be broadcasting the Willy Street Chamber Players’ performance of the Beethoven String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor. It was recorded live on July 11 at Madison’s Immanuel Lutheran Church. Featured are Eleanor Bartsch and Paran Amirinazari (violins), Micah Behr (viola) and Mark Bridges (cello).
By Jacob Stockinger
This past Monday, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman (below, in a photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco) turned 70.
Perlman, who possesses a sharp sense of humor, likes to call himself a fiddler.
But he is so much more.
Perlman – who once made the cover of Time magazine and who used to fly in his private jet — has played a lot in Madison since the beginning of his concert career, at the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Madison Civic Center and the Overture Center.
The Ear thinks that his most memorable appearance in Madison was before his stratospheric concert fees made him either unaffordable or affordable only to the very well-heeled.
That was way back when WUT director Ralph Sandler booked the young Perlman to perform the complete solo violin sonatas and partitas by Johann Sebastian Bach. Perlman performed them over two back-to-back nights at the Wisconsin Union Theater.
The event proved to be one of the highlights of all the music that The Ear has ever heard in Madison. It was pretty incredible, watching Perlman sit there by himself on stage as he poured forth these fabulous works.
The Ear likes Perlman’s playing a lot, especially from the early days when he won his share of Grammy Awards.
A great example are his recordings of the sonatas for violin and piano by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that he did with Daniel Barenboim and the sonatas for violin and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms that he did with Vladimir Ashkenazy. His recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos with conductor Carlo Maria Giulini are also outstanding classics.
But to be honest, the later Perlman often disappointed me.
The Ear heard one performance in Madison where Perlman seemed bored by the music, as if he were phoning it in or going through the motions without much emotional engagement. (Below is Perlman in the 1960s.)
Then there was the time when he relied too much on his post-intermission shtick of pretending to choose and call out impromptu virtuosic encore-like pieces for the second half of his program while he also related to the audience the baseball scores from the World Series with his beloved home town team, the New York Yankees.
Then there was the time when many people went to hear him play the deeply emotional theme from “Schindler’s List” by John Willliams as an encore. He didn’t. (Listen to the YouTube video of it, with over 6 million hits, at the bottom.)
Nonetheless, Perlman remains a charismatic major talent who sure knows how to fill seats and please high-end audiences.
By some accounts, Perlman’s playing has declined in recent years. The Ear wonders if post-polio syndrome has anything to do with it, but can’t recall reading anything about that.
But whatever you think of his own playing, Perlman continues to devote himself to teaching young students with the program established by him and his wife Toby (below left) and to conduct as well as to perform solo recitals and concertos.
This past week NPR or National Public Radio featured a look back at the many facets of Perlman’s long career. It included some great photos as well as some terrific audio samples.
Here is a link:
What do you think of Itzhak Perlman and the various phases of his career?
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Talk about counter-cultural!
This year’s famed Burning Man festival started yesterday and runs through Sept. 7.
The unusual event, held in the north Nevada desert, features many noteworthy things including nudity, drugs and lot of talk about peace and love — kind of like an updated Woodstock festival but on a much grander and more ambitious scale. (See the YouTube video at the bottom.)
One remarkable thing is the sheer size of the event (below, in an aerial photo by Kenny Reff), a temporary city estimated to be more than 60,000 strong this year:
Another is the impressive and dramatic sculpture that is set aflame (below is last year’s) at the festival’s end:
But there is also classical music included at the iconic pop event.
In addition, there will be strings (below top in a photo by Jaki Levy) and a certain conductor named Dr. FireTuba (below bottom in a photo of Eric Yttri by Jaki Levy) as part of the 63-piece pickup symphony orchestra that also includes winds such as flute and clarinets. The group will perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Edvard Grieg and other composers on the playlist.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear’s friends at the Token Creek Festival write:
The Token Creek Festival is pleased to announce the return to Madison of the Lydian String Quartet from Boston on this Thursday night, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. The Lydians last appeared at Token Creek in 1999, for a pair of outstanding concerts with the soprano Benita Valente.
The Lydian’s recital features two string quartets by two contemporary composers whose work they have championed for many years — Lee Hyla and John Harbison — along with the Mendelssohn Quartet in E flat, Op. 12 (1829).
The Lydian Quartet (below) has performed a large number of new pieces. Their Token Creek program includes two that were composed within a four-year span, but which speak two very different American musical languages.
Both Hyla’s Quartet No. 3 (1989), commissioned by Chamber Music America, and Harbison’s Quartet No. 3 (1993), commissioned by Brandeis University, are single-movement works.
The work by Lee Hyla (below, in a photo by Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe) begins consonantly and reflectively, with a ravishingly beautiful homophonic passage that haunts much of the subsequent music. (You can hear the haunting Hyla work played by the Lydian Quartet in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
The work traverses a wide terrain and gradually branches out into a discourse that is hardly inferable from its opening strains, and that ultimately leads to a major climax and a quiet, inevitable conclusion.
The quartet by John Harbison (below) is hymnodic, rarely contrapuntal, and sustains its central musical declaration throughout, with the exception of two “out of the blue,” unexplained interludes.
The BBC Music Magazine called the piece “a fascinating, alluring, and moving musical argument,” and the Boston Globe considers it “one of Harbison’s finest works, an important addition to the repertory for the string quartet. . . The moods are volatile and wide‑ranging ‑ intimate, public, ferocious, suave, passionate, masked, fleeting and sustained.”
The string quartets by Felix Mendelssohn (below) are among his finest and most striking compositions. They reconcile classical models with romantic passion.
Mendelssohn’s admiration of Ludwig van Beethoven shines brightly in this work. It is lovely music throughout, ebullient and euphonious, and its third movement, the Canzonetta, is probably the single best-known chamber music movement in Mendelssohn’s output.
In addition to their own recital, the Lydians will also appear on the closing concerts of the Token Creek Festival (Saturday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m.). They will anchor a program of Baroque concerti (with some related smaller chamber pieces), including the irrepressible Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach as well as works by George Frideric Handel and Arcangelo Corelli.
Tickets are $30 ($10 for students) for all performances.
Tickets can be bought by using the order form at the Token Creek website www.tokencreekfestival.org, by phone at 608-241-2525, by email at email@example.com, or by U.S. mail at P.O. Box 5201, Madison WI, 53705.
Performances take place at the Festival Barn, on Highway 19 near the hamlet of Token Creek (10 minutes north of Madison) with ample parking available. The venue, indoors and air-conditioned, is invitingly small—early reservations are recommended.
More information about the Token Creek Festival and all events can be found at the website, http://www.tokencreekfestival.org or by calling 608-241-2525.
By Jacob Stockinger
Get out your datebooks.
The final schedules for the upcoming season by most major classical music groups in the area are now available.
Last but not least is the biggest of them all: The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, which offers some 300 events in a season, most of them FREE to the public.
Some things are new. For example, you will note that the UW Choral Union has gone to just ONE performance instead of two, as in the past for many years.
Concert manager and public relations director Kathy Esposito (below) writes:
The UW-Madison School of Music is jazzed about its upcoming season and we’d like the world to know. Please make plans to attend!
Here is a link to the online calendar, which is now complete except for specific pieces on programs and last-minute changes: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/
Our events of 2015-2016 range from performances by a vocal dynamo (soprano Brenda Rae, Sept. 27) to a in-demand LA jazz woodwind musician (Bob Sheppard in April) plus an enterprising young brass quintet (Axiom Brass, October) and a dollop of world music in March (duoJalal). In addition, we offer ever-popular opera productions, faculty concerts and student ensembles ranging from classical to jazz to percussion.
Full concert calendar link: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/
Other social media connections include:
Our Newsletter, A Tempo!
Hear our sound: https://soundcloud.com/uw-madisonsom
Here’s a partial list with highlights (Semester 1 is posted today; Semester 2 will be posted tomorrow):
August 30: “Performing the Jewish Archive”: Shining a Spotlight on Forgotten Jewish Performance Works. Various venues and times; click link for details.
The U.S. component of an international research project led by the University of Leeds, England, with UW-Madison leadership provided by Teryl Dobbs, chair of music education. Featuring a Sound Salon with Sherry Mayrent and Henry Sapoznik (below) of the Mayrent Institute; Chamber Music with the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society; and a Cabaret Performance with Mark Nadler. Events continue in May, 2016. All events are free.
September 7: 37th Annual Karp Family Concert. Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
Chamber music of the 19th and 20th centuries for piano and strings. Pianist and patriarch Howard Karp (below center) passed away last summer, but the family continues with a long-standing tradition. With Suzanne Beia, Violin; Katrin Talbot, Viola; Parry Karp, Violoncello; Frances Karp, Piano; Christopher Karp, Piano. Free.
September 26: Soprano Brenda Rae with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
On the program: Reinhold Gliere’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano. A benefit for University Opera.
Brenda Rae (below) is a 2004 graduate of the School of Music, and has been impressing audiences and critics all over Europe for many years. Her 2013 U.S. debut as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” won her praise from James R. Oestreich of The New York Times: “Ms. Rae soared beautifully in the early going, but it was in her pianissimo singing that she really shone.”
Master class: Friday, September 25, Music Hall, 5-7 PM.
October 7: Pro Arte Quartet (below top, in a photo by Rick Langer) with Violist Nobuko Imai (below bottom, in a photo by Marco Borggreve). Mills Hall, 7:30 PM.
Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the Munich and the Geneva international competitions.
Master class: October 6, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. Both events are free.
October 9-10-11: BRASS FEST II!
Last year’s Celebrate Brass festival was so much fun, we decided to program another. Three days of exhilarating music from leading brass players and ensembles, including the award-winning Axiom Brass Quintet (below, now in residence at the Tanglewood Music Festival) and trumpeter Adam Rapa. With the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and students from the UW-Madison School of Music.
October 9: Axiom Brass, Mills Hall, 8 PM. Tickets $15.
October 10: Festival Brass Choir with Axiom Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and trumpeter Adam Rapa. Tickets $15.
October 11: Trumpeter Adam Rapa and vocalist Elizabeth Vik. Classical and jazz. Free concert.
Buy tickets for both concerts for $25.
October 23-24-25-27: University Opera presents Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” Mozart and da Ponte’s masterpiece of comedy and intrigue, shows the two geniuses at the height of their powers. Directed by David Ronis (below, in a photo by Luke De Lalio); music conducted by James Smith.
Music Hall. Tickets $25/$20/$10.
November 5-6: Celebrating Alumni Composers. UW-Madison prize-winning alumni composers of new music Andrew Rindfleisch (below), Paula Matthusen, Jeffrey Stadelman, Bill Rhoads and Kevin Ernste return for a two-day event featuring their acoustic and electronic music.
November 5, Mills Hall, 7:30 PM: Performances by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, and smaller ensembles of faculty and students.
November 6, 7:30 PM: Performance with the UW Wind Ensemble, Scott Teeple, conductor.
Both concerts are free.
November 13: Debut Faculty Concert with Violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino (below in a photo by Caroline Bittencourt). Altino takes the stage as the newest member of the school’s string faculty. With pianist Martha Fischer.
Mills Hall, 8 PM.
Tickets $12. Students free
December 10: Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below, in a photo by Michael Anderson). With Stephanie Jutt, flute; Marc Vallon, bassoon; Kostas Tiliakos, oboe; and welcoming new members Wesley Warnhoff, clarinet; and Joanna Schulz, horn.
Morphy Hall, 7:30 PM. Free.
December 12: UW Choral Union & UW Symphony Orchestra with Beverly Taylor, conductor. Presenting “Gloria” of Francis Poulenc and “Symphony of Psalms” by Igor Stravinsky.
Mills Hall, 8 PM.
Tomorrow: Highlights of Semester 2
By Jacob Stockinger
Today is August 6, 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the United States dropping the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the hope of ending World War II. (That took a second atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki.)
Controversy still rages about whether it was the right decision to make.
The Ear has an opinion about that, but is keeping it to himself.
All he wants to do today is commemorate the historic event with music.
First, as background, here is a story from The Washington Post about what it was like to survive the bombing of Hiroshima:
I can’t think of a better piece of music to listen to this day than the sadly eloquent, heart-wrenching and poignant Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (below), which is at the bottom in a YouTube video and is performed by Leonard Bernstein conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The moving music does not take sides, but simply expresses profound sorrow.
Perhaps you have other choices for this day. Maybe a chorale from a passion or cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach? Maybe an aria by George Frideric Handel? Perhaps a Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Johannes Brahms, Giuseppe Verdi or Gabriel Faure? Maybe the Ninth Symphony “Ode to Joy” by Ludwig van Beethoven or the Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” by Gustav Mahler? Maybe the opera “Doctor Atomic” by John Adams?
Leave your thoughts and choice in the COMMENT section.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
The annual FREE concert of opera and Broadway favorites closes the company’s extraordinary 2014-15 season and provides an appetizing preview of the 2015-16 season that celebrates writers and their inspirations.
Typically, Opera in the Park attracts over 14,000 people every year.
This year, Opera in the Park stars soprano Eleni Calenos, contralto Meredith Arwady, tenor Harold Meers and local bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and features former Madison Opera Studio Artist Anna Laurenzo.
Here is a link to Kyle Ketelsen’s Q&A with The Ear:
Artistic Director John DeMain conducts the Madison Opera Chorus and Madison Symphony Orchestra. The evening will be hosted by Madison Opera’s General Director Kathryn Smith and by WKOW TV’s 27 News “Wake-Up Wisconsin” anchor Brandon Taylor.
“I love Opera in the Park,” says Smith, in a prepared statement. “It is by far the most important performance Madison Opera gives. The magic combination of thousands of people sitting under the summer night sky and our singers and orchestra performing beautiful music on stage creates something truly inspiring. It is a testament to Madison’s love of music – and love of being outdoors – that we have the highest per capita attendance of any such concert in the country.”
The program for Opera in the Park 2015 includes arias and ensembles from Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème,” which opens the 2015-16 season in November; Mark Adamo’s “Little Women,” which will be performed in February; and Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann,” which will be performed in April.
The concert will also offer arias and ensembles from such classic operas as Antonin Dvorak‘s “Rusalka,” Charles Gounod’s “Faust,” Arrigo Boito‘s “Mefistofele” and Georg Frideric Handel‘s “Semele.” Broadway hits from “The Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Wonderful Town” will round out the evening of music, which always includes one number conducted by the audience with light sticks.
Garner Park is located at 333 South Rosa Road, at the intersection of Mineral Point Road, west of Whitney Way. Parking is available in the CUNA Mutual Group and University Research Park lots. Attendees are encouraged to bring picnics, blankets and chairs. Alcohol is permitted, but not sold in the park.
On the day of the concert, Garner Park will open at 7 a.m. Audience members are not allowed to leave items in the park prior to this time. The rain date for Opera in the Park is Sunday, July 26, at 8 p.m.
Here are two links to help you find information about Opera in the Park.
For general information, go to:
And for more information about the cast, go to:
For information about the next season, go to:
On the eve of the outdoor event, Kathryn Smith (below, in a photo by James Gill) – who is the general director of the Madison Opera – agreed to revisit the past season and talk about the upcoming season with The Ear.
What kind of artistic and financial shape did the Madison Opera emerge from for the past season?
Our fiscal year doesn’t end until the end of August, but overall it has been a great year on all fronts. From the triumphant music of our first staged Fidelio (below, the prisoners’ chorus in a photo by James Gill) to the sold-out Sweeney Todd and the joyous The Barber of Seville, it was an immensely satisfying season.
Audience and critical response to each opera was strong, and often included some surprise that the individual enjoyed that particular show more than he or she had expected. It feels like we have proved in the past few seasons that we can produce consistently great opera across the spectrum. I am also encouraged by the new audiences we attract and the diversity of age range I see in our lobbies.
Can you rank each show in terms of popularity? Did you learn anything special from the season?
It’s difficult to rank this season’s shows, because we know they drew very different audiences. For example, the audience at Sweeney Todd was definitely younger than the audience at Fidelio — the non-subscription performance in particular seemed to have an average age of 30 — and a number of people brought their young children to The Barber of Seville for their first opera.
In absolute numbers, the order would be Barber (below, in a photo by James Gill), Sweeney Todd and Fidelio, but there was not a wide gap between them.
The main thing I’ve learned with each successive season is that we are doing the right thing by having such a mix of operas. Some of our patrons love Beethoven, some only like comedy, and some were only interested (or very much un-interested) in Sweeney Todd.
By doing such a range, we serve a much wider audience than if we focused on only one segment of our audience. Hopefully this adds to the growing understanding that opera is not a monolithic art form.
How and why did you choose the operas for next season? Why Puccini’s “La Boheme”? Why Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann”? Does “Little Women” represent something of a departure for Madison Opera? Is there an umbrella concept or unifying theme to the season?
Choosing a season’s operas is a question of balancing the classic, the rare and the new; picking a range of composers and languages; and in general coming up with the “mix” that defines us.
We have not performed La Bohème in eight years, so it was time to bring back the greatest love story in opera. While some long-time opera-goers may have seen it many times, we also have many in our audience who have only come to opera recently, so this will be their first Bohème.
Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann is a brilliant piece that is both scarily large and immensely exciting to produce, packed with beautiful music and special effects. It happens to be a personal favorite opera not only for me, but also for John DeMain and Kristine McIntyre, our stage director. We look forward to sharing this literally fantastic work on the Overture Hall stage, as we have not performed it in 20 years.
Little Women came out of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, to some extent. After the success of Dead Man Walking, many people — particularly those who were surprised by how much they enjoyed a 21st-century opera — asked me what we were doing next. I did not want another nine years to go by before we did another major American opera, but I also wanted a completely different story, so that it would not be a literal comparison.
Mark Adamo’s Little Women has been one of the most-performed American operas since its 1998 premiere; its basis in a story that has been beloved for generations makes it the perfect way to keep growing our American repertoire.
As is often the case, the season theme emerges after I’ve picked the operas. Next season turned out to be a season of writers: Rodolfo is a poet; so is Hoffmann. Jo March writes stories for magazines and is in fact the only writer we see succeeding in her craft during the opera.
That said, the unifying theme is the same one I strive for every season: Great operas that tell wonderful stories with enthralling music.
What role did the new Madison Opera Center play in the past season’s productions? Has it lived up to expectations?
Over the past two years, the Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center (below) has played a major role in defining who we are. On a basic level, it is where we rehearse, fit costumes and have our offices. It is also where the singers hang out, give press interviews, do their laundry, cook the occasional meal, work on music for their next gig and bump into our trustees in the common areas.
Having our own space has enabled us to add programs like the free Opera Novice series and hold more workshops with our high school apprentices.
On a financial level, revenue from the parking ramp in particular is an increasingly important part of our budget, as it is not dependent on donors or ticket sales. On a community level, having our rehearsal hall regularly used by groups such as CTM, Theatre Lila, and Capital City Theatre shows that we truly are part of the larger artistic fabric of Madison. The Center was designed to be a home on many levels, and we are well on the way to achieving that dream.
What else would you like to say or add about the past season, the next season and perhaps also the Opera in the Park?
I am always grateful for the enormous number of people who make Madison Opera possible. Opera has never been cost-effective, and our patrons, volunteers, artists, production teams, and staff are all committed to sharing this glorious art form with everyone from the 2,000 teenagers at our student matinees to the 15,000 people at Opera in the Park.
Our season ends with this summer’s Opera in the Park this Saturday, which is always the perfect way to finish the year. This summer is the concert’s 14th year – which means that 2016 will be the 15th year, a milestone that was perhaps unthinkable when we started in Garner Park in 2002.
We have the highest per capita attendance for such an event in the U.S., which is a strong testament to the greater Madison community’s love for what we do. I won’t reveal the repertoire for this summer’s concert yet, but we have four amazing soloists and plenty of light sticks (below), so I hope everyone has the date on their calendars.
By Jacob Stockinger
Recently, NPR or National Public Radio featured a story that The Ear found very interesting and engaging.
The subject was how certain composers took inspirations from bird songs and even tried to imitate specific bird songs — such as that of the Ceti’s warbler (below) — in certain compositions including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.
And when the connection wasn’t specific, the composers still tried to evoke the bird sonically.
The composers cited in the four-minute story were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Ralph Vaughan Williams (listen to the YouTube video at the bottom with Hillary Hahn and Sir Colin Davis conducting the London Symphony Orchestra) and Ottorino Respighi.
The Ear is sure there are many other examples of composers, works and specific bird species that are all linked. Antonin Dvorak comes to mind immediately.
If you know of any, please leave the names in the COMMENT section.
By Jacob Stockinger
Consider it the musical equivalent of being a “locavore.”
Last Friday evening -– at the early concert time of 6 p.m. – the new ensemble The Willy Street Chamber Players (below is its great logo) made its debut.
Its home venue is the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 1021 Spaight Street.
The Ear went to see how the eastsiders, who drew a large and enthusiastic inaugural crowd, would perform.
He is happy to report that it is well worth the trip and the admission fee is low ($12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students.)
The hour-long program last weekend was: an instrumental version of the sublime “Ave Verum Corpus” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the Passacaglia of Georg Frideric Handel as arranged for violin and viola by Johan Halvorsen; and the String Sextet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, by Johannes Brahms, with guest violinist Suzanne Beia of the Pro Arte Quartet.
It proved to be a memorable and impressive concert. True, one missed the heavenly singing in the Mozart (below). But the all-string version was nonetheless a brief but terrific curtain-raiser.
In the Handel-Halvorsen “Passacaglia,” it was engaging to follow the theme as it moved virtuosically back and forth between the violin (below right) and viola (below left).
The Brahms sextet (below) especially felt driven and well-rehearsed, carefully worked out and controlled to sound more transparent in its lines and structure, less muddy or thick in its texture.
Here is a link to the website with members of the group and news of the remaining concerts in July. (There will NOT be any concerts in August.)
And here is a link to the initial post by The Ear with the group’s background:
PLEASE NOTE: The concert this Friday – tomorrow — is at NOON and it’s designed to be a family event for children with parents. It will feature music by Antonin Dvorak, Eugene Ysaye and Ludwig van Beethoven. (Sorry, no word on specific pieces to be performed.)
The concert the following Fridays return to the 6 p.m. time.
Parking can seem hard to find, but the church (below, exterior and interior) has generous parking lot space. It also has terrific acoustics.
And there is a reception after the concert with some light snacks to carry to you into the rest of the evening.
The new group — made up of graduates of the UW-Madison School of Music who also play professionally in the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and other ensembles — offers yet more proof of the vitality and ingenuity of the classical music scene in Madison.
You would be wise not to miss its concerts.