The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Music professor John Schaffer is retiring from UW-Madison. A benefit jazz concert on Saturday, June 1, will celebrate his career as a teacher and former director of the Mead Witter School of Music

May 23, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

Professor John Schaffer (below), who served as the director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music for 15 years from 1997 to 2012, is retiring this summer.

A jazz concert at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, at Full Compass Systems, located at 9770 Silicon Prairie Parkway in Verona,  will celebrate his retirement. Details and ticket information are below.

Here is a summary of his major achievements, as compiled by a colleague:

During his tenure as director, John Schaffer:

• Raised more than $10 million for music scholarships, including the Paul Collins graduate fellowships and the Steenbock undergraduate scholarships, more than doubling all student support.

• Secured funding for three endowed professorships: Pro Arte Quartet first violinist David Perry; piano virtuoso and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition bronze medal winner Christopher Taylor; and acclaimed jazz pianist Johannes Wallmann.

• With then-chancellor John Wiley, he launched plans for the new performance facility – the Hamel Music Center — that will open this fall, and raised more than $20 million in private funds for its construction.

• Established the School of Music’s inaugural Board of Visitors, which actively connects the school with a broad community worldwide as it continues to serve in an advisory and support capacity.

• Built strong relations with community organizations including the Madison Symphony Orchestra by establishing the joint residency of the Hunt Quartet – creating further student funding opportunities – and the Independent String Teachers’ Association.

• Established the Perlman Piano Trio (below), an undergraduate scholarship opportunity funded by Kato Perlman.

• Recruited faculty professors/performers with national and international reputations.

• Collaborated with the UW Foundation and Alumni Associations to present UW student performers throughout the country and world.

• Expanded student musician performances across campus, and established the twice-annual Chancellor’s Concert Series.

• Oversaw the planning for the 100th anniversary of the Pro Arte Quartet, the school’s flagship ensemble-in-residence since 1938.

• Established the School of Music recording label, which during its active run released close to 50 albums of faculty artists.

• Created the Wisconsin Center for Music Technology, and was the founding editor of the journal Computers in Music Research.

• Revitalized the Jazz Studies program at UW-Madison that has expanded with additional faculty, new student jazz ensembles and the establishment of a major in jazz performance.

• Was actively involved in music administration on the national level by serving multiple terms on the board of directors of the National Association of Schools of Music, the national accrediting organization. He spent more than a decade training accreditation teams, and performing accreditation reviews of music schools and conservatories throughout the country.

• Served on numerous local boards including those of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Country Day School, the Isthmus Jazz Festival, and the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.

Schaffer’s own academic work in music theory focused initially on analysis of contemporary and non-tonal music, and in artificial intelligence applications in music theory. When he returned to the faculty from being director, he re-focused his teaching on the history, theory and performance of jazz and developed new courses in the discipline and regularly coached student jazz ensembles.

After a 40-year career in academia, Schaffer is retiring to pursue other interests. For the time being, he plans to remain in the Madison area. Initially trained as a classical guitarist, his performance emphasis long ago evolved to playing jazz bass, and he’ll still be heard gigging around town, playing frequently at venues and series such as Otto’s, Capital Brewery’s beer garden, Delaney’s Steak House, Coda Cafe and the North Street Cabaret.

“The biggest reward over all my years as an educator and administrator is the impact I’ve had on the thousands of students I’ve been privileged to teach and encounter,” says Schaffer. “It’s been immensely gratifying.”

Schaffer’s contributions to music in the greater Madison area will be recognized at a benefit concert, sponsored by the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, on Saturday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Full Compass Systems, 9770 Silicon Prairie Parkway in Verona. UW-Madison Chancellor Emeritus John Wiley will offer commentary and perspective. Light refreshments will be served.

Tickets for the benefit concert are $30 at the door, $25 in advance online. A limited number of student tickets are available at $15. VIP tickets are $150 and include reserved, best-in-house seating, a private pre-concert reception at 6 p.m. and other benefits.

For more information, go to: http://www.jazzinmadison.org/event/jazz-junction-benefit-concert-for-the-jazz-consortium-full-compass/

For tickets, go to:https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4236134


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Classical music: Celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend with chamber music by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) and by graduate students in the Hunt String Quartet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

May 9, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you are looking for something unusual or different to do to celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend, you could turn to three FREE chamber music events.

SATURDAY

This Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will present two different chamber music concerts, both FREE and open to the public.

More than a dozen various combinations of chamber music — duets, trios, quartets — will be performed by middle school and high school students. Sorry, no word on specific programs or works but you are sure to hear what jazz people call “standards.” The Ear would be surprised if we didn’t hear some music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Antonin Dvorak among others.

Most people probably think of WYSO members as primarily orchestral musicians, and indeed they are. Next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, WYSO will present various orchestral concerts during the Spring Concert Weekend.

For more information including the groups and the programs, here is a link:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/events/concerts-recitals/

WYSO DSC_8972

SUNDAY

Then on Sunday evening, it is the turn of the Hunt Quartet to perform a FREE concert, their second and final of the season, in honor of Mother’s Day.

Members of the quartet (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) are graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music: Paran Amirinazari (center right) and Elspeth Stalter-Clouse (center left), violins; Ju dee Ang (far left), viola; and Lindsey Crabb (far right), cello. They will be joined by guests violist Molly O’Brien and cellist Rachel Bottner.

hunt quartet 20-13-14 CR katrin talbot

The Ear heard the Hunt Quartet perform a concert (below) in Mills Hall in February of string quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn and Bela Bartok, and he was impressed.

Hunt Quartet in Mills 2-2014

Sunday’s FREE concert will be at 7 p.m. in the Madison Country Day School (below), located at 5606 River Road in Waunakee. It is a lovely setting for a spring concert, surrounded by scenic landscape and farm fields.

Madison Country Day School BIG USE 2

The program includes the String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51, by Johannes Brahms (bel0w) and the string sextet “Transfigured Night” (“Verklarte Nacht”), an early work by Arnold Schoenberg that is based on a poem by Richard Dehmel – an unusual but fitting choice for the holiday, as you can find out in the program notes further down.

Here are notes of the program provided by the Hunt Quartet:

Brahms, String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51: This quartet is considered to be a masterwork of string quartet repertoire. It was written in 1873 and was a long work in progress for the prolific composer. Out of his three string quartets the quartet in C minor is one of the more popularly performed works. Consisting of four movements, the outer movements are angst driven and energetic while the middle two movements show Brahms’ lyrical and singing style.

brahms3

“Verklarte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), Op. 4, by Arnold Schoenberg (below): This is a programmatic one-movement string sextet divided up into five distinct sections, each corresponding to one of the stanzas in the poem by Richard Dehmel. At the bottom, you can hear a wonderful YouTube performance of it by Pierre Boulez and members of the acclaimed Intercontemporary Ensemble of Paris.

The title translates to “Transfigured Night,” and the poem is about a man and woman walking through the woods by the light of the moon. They are in a relationship, but the woman has a secret— before meeting her current partner, she conceived a child by a stranger.

She confesses this and the man accepts the child she is carrying as his own, thereby “transfiguring” both the unborn child and the night itself.

Arnold Schoenberg 1936

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