The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: Madison Youth Choirs Presents the Fifth FREE Annual Madison Boychoir Festival this coming Saturday afternoon at West High School.

February 5, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Our friends at the Madison Youth Choirs write:

The Madison Youth Choirs, in close collaboration with the Madison Metropolitan School District and with special support from Edgewood College, will present the fifth annual FREE Madison Boychoir Festival on this coming Saturday afternoon, Feb. 7, at Madison West High School. (Below is the festival poster logo. For details, visit

BoyChoir Festival logo 2015 2

The festival is a daylong celebration of choral music for boys in grades 2-12, culminating in a free concert for the community. Hundreds of young singers, joined by the men of the Madison Choral Project (MCP), will present repertoire from a variety of cultural traditions and historical eras, delving beyond notes and rhythms to discover the context, meaning and heart of the music.

Admission is FREE to the Madison Boychoir Festival Concert on this coming Saturday, February 7, at 12:30 p.m. in the Stevens Gym at Madison West High School, 30 Ash Street, Madison, WI 53726

Boychoir Festival 2014

Madison Youth Choirs conductors, as well as Madison Choral Project Director Albert Pinsonneault (below) and MCP guest artists, will work with singers on vocal technique, teach music for the festival’s afternoon concert (no advance preparation for the festival is necessary for the participants), encourage singers to meet new people, and most importantly, generate enthusiasm about choral music.

Albert Pinsonneault 2

Rehearsals will take place in classrooms at Madison West and will be open for observation by music educators, voice teachers, parents, and chaperones in attendance.

Here are the program and performers:

COMBINED CHOIRS Plato’s Take (sung in Greek) 
YOUTH CHOIR (Margaret Jenks, conductor; Andrew Johnson, piano/percussion)

Randal Swiggum

Take Time in Life Traditional Liberian folk song

MIDDLE LEVEL CHOIR (Randal Swiggum, conductor; Steve Radtke, piano)
Feste’s Song (from Twelfth Night) Traditional, arr. Swiggum

Words by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

HIGH SCHOOL MEN’S CHOIR (Albert Pinsonneault, Michael Ross, conductors; Jess Salek, piano) Spaséniye sodjélalye sí (Salvation is Created) Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944)

(sung in Russian)

THE MADISON BOYCHOIR (Randal Swiggum, Margaret Jenks, Michael Ross, conductors)
 Ayo visto lo mappa mundi, Anonymous, ca. 1450, Naples

Cindy Cameron-Fix, recorder; Elspeth Stalter, Paran Amirinazari, violins; Marie Pauls, viola; Lindsay Crabb, cello

 One Man’s Hands as sung by Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

This project is supported in part by the Madison Arts Commission, by the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Dane Arts with additional funding from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation.


Recognized as an innovator in youth choral music education, Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) welcomes singers of all ability levels, annually serving more than 500 young people, ages 7-18, in 11 single-gender choirs.

Our singers explore the history, context and heart of the music, becoming “expert noticers,” using music as a lens to discover the world. Through a variety of high-quality community outreach programs and performance opportunities, MYC strives to make the benefits of arts participation accessible to all.

For further information: Contact Madison Youth Choirs at or call (608) 238-7464.

Classical music education: Here is the latest news about the current concert season for the Madison Youth Choirs. It begins with a FREE preview at Hilldale Mall this Saturday.

November 14, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends over at the Madison Youth Choirs sent the following Fall 2014 edition of the email newsletter called “The Voice.”

I am including it in full because it is to the point and includes many details about concert dates for the new season, but adds other relevant and impressive information.

MYC is a terrific and well-established music education organization for young people in the Madison area.

mso youth choirs


This past summer, 71 members of MYC’s boychoirs traveled to Scotland to take part in the invitation-only Aberdeen International Youth Festival (below), where they collaborated with hundreds of other young artists from all over the world, finding friendship and camaraderie that transcended cultural boundaries.

The boys delivered stunning performances in medieval cathedrals, public squares, local businesses, and Aberdeen‘s gorgeous Music Hall, making a great impression on the international arts community.

In addition to wildly supportive local crowds and fellow performers, the boys drew high praise from the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, George Adam, who serves as the Queen’s representative in the city, and declared MYC’s performance with the National Youth Choir of Scotland “magnificent.”

Throughout the entire trip, these young men demonstrated their thoughtfulness, patience, excellent work ethic, and outstanding musicianship. We could not be more proud of the way these boys and our wonderful parent chaperones represented the MYC family on the world stage.

Here is a link to a video (captured by MYC parent David Woods) of the boys singing Exultate Justi in Domino at Aberdeen’s St. Machar’s Cathedral:

Aberdeen International Youth Festival Opeing Ceremony


At a time when so many of us are fully immersed in a digital world surrounded by electronic gadgets, our singers are preparing to take on some musical time travel, exploring the creative accomplishments of an unplugged era.

Our first semester theme is “Musica Ficta: Imagining the Past.” We will dive into the intricate ornamentation of the Baroque period, the spare beauty of monastic chanting, and the colorful madrigals of the Renaissance, while illuminating the history and cultural context that brought these musical works into being.

Join us on this journey through the centuries as we present the MYC Winter Concert Series, generously endowed by Diane Ballweg, on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, in Madison.

Madison Youth Choirs Ragazzi by Dan Sinclair


We are thrilled to announce that the Madison Community Foundation has awarded a $30,000 capacity-building and community-building grant to Madison Youth Choirs, which will focus on our continued efforts to break down barriers to arts participation.

This significant gift will provide additional support for several MYC outreach programs, including the Adopt-a-School choirs at Lincoln, Chavez and Nuestro Mundo elementary schools, musical enrichment at the Lussier Community Education Center, a new intergenerational choir program at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community and the development of an Outreach and Education Coordinator position.


In the past four years, MYC’s Adopt-a-School choral outreach program (a collaboration with Madison Metropolitan School District) has grown from serving 30 students at Lincoln Elementary School to serving over 250 students at Lincoln, Chavez and Nuestro Mundo schools, with potential for even greater expansion in the years to come.

This month, the program reached a new milestone as the Lincoln choir members made their television debut on the NBC-15 news. The choir performed at the press conference for Any Given Child, an initiative designed by the Kennedy Center to provide equitable in-school arts education opportunities for all K-8 students. The young singers performed before numerous local arts leaders, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, Overture Center President Ted DeDee and the Kennedy Center’s Darrell Ayres. See the video here:


MYC Free Preview Concert at Hilldale Mall

Hilldale Mall Atrium, Saturday, November 15; Performances throughout the day, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; FREE

Madison Youth Choirs Con Gioia Karen Holland

Jitro Concert (below, a world-renowned girls’ choir from  the Czech Republic) featuring Cantabile; St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 7337 Hubbard Ave., Middleton; Friday, November 21, 7:30 p.m.; FREE (Donations gladly accepted at the door)

jitro 2

45th anniversary presentation of University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri‘s Christmas Lectures, featuring members of Con Gioia and Capriccio; Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St., Madison; Sunday, November 30, 2 p.m. Tickets are free but must be requested here. THIS PROGRAM WILL BE RECORDED FOR PBS AND BROADCAST NATIONALLY.

A Madison Symphony Christmas, featuring the Purcell, Britten, Holst, Ragazzi and Cantabile choirs. Overture Hall, Overture Center for the Arts. Friday, December 5, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 6, 2014, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, December 7, at 2:30 p.m.

Click here for ticketing information

MYC Winter Concerts. First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, Madison. Sunday, December 14, 2014. 1:30 p.m. – High School Ensembles. 4 p.m. – Boychoirs. 7 p.m. – Girlchoirs. Tickets at the door, $10 general admission, free for children under 7. (You can hear a video from last year’s Winter Concert in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Madison Youth Choirs Scotland Tour CR Jon Harlow

Madison Boychoir Festival. Madison West High School. Saturday, February 7, 2015. Half-day workshop and FREE concert for the community.

Madison Choral Project Concert featuring the Cantabile and Ragazzi choirs. First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue. Saturday, February 28, 7:30 p.m. Click here for ticketing information

MYC Spring Concerts. Capitol Theater of the Overture Center. Saturday, May 2, 2015. 7 p.m. – Boychoirs. Sunday, May 3, 2015: 3 p.m. – Girlchoirs; 7:30 p.m. – High School Ensembles. Ticketing information coming soon

KNOW A YOUNG SINGER WHO MIGHT LIKE TO JOIN THE CHOIRS? Singers ages 11-18 are invited to audition on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 to join an ensemble in January.


Click here for more information

Classical music education: Madison Symphony Orchestra receives a major grant from Carnegie Hall to foster music education in the public schools.

September 9, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra has always taken community outreach and music education seriously. To see that, all you have to do is attend one of their student concerts in Overture Hall at the Overture Center (below) that are invariably packed with enthusiastic young listeners (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson).

MSO Fall Youth kid greg anderson

Perhaps those efforts also help to explain how the MSO, which is celebrating its 20th season under music director and conductor John DeMain recently received one of 58 Link Up grants given nationally by Carnegie Hall (below) in New York City to foster music education in the public schools.


Here is the official announcement with details:

“While education budgets are constantly cut, here is a NEW program from the Madison Symphony Orchestra that invests in education and should be welcome news to parents, teachers and the greater community!


“School children across Madison will get a unique musical opportunity this year.

“The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is the recipient of a prestigious invitation from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute to present Link Up, a music education program that will reach over 900 fourth-grade and fifth-grade students in Madison. 

“Link Up unites the classroom with the concert hall, giving young students the opportunity to explore music through a year-long curriculum of classroom activities, exploring rhythm, melody and orchestration using the musical instrument, the soprano recorder (below and at the bottom in a YouTube video of a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach).

soprano recorder

“A culminating concert takes the students into Overture’s CAPITOL THEATER (below) to perform on their recorders WITH the MSO.

Capitol Theater

“Link Up will begin in September 2013 and finish with its interactive concert Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 10 a.m.

“The program is possible through a generous lead grant from the Madison Community Foundation in the amount of $40,000 over two years. Other donors for the pilot season of this program include the Alliant Energy Foundation, The Evjue Foundation Inc., the Madison Symphony Orchestra League, Associated Bank, US Bank, and the Capital Times Kids Fund.

“The MSO’s 2013-2014 Link Up partner elementary schools will include: Allis, Chavez, Gompers, Huegel, Lowell, Marquette, Muir, Nuestro Mundo, Sandburg, Shorewood, Thoreau, and Van Hise, all within the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). 

music education 1

“The plan is to expand the program to schools outside of Madison in its second year.

“Link Up is a nationwide initiative; the MSO is one among 58 orchestras in the US and abroad chosen to present it.

“For more information, visit or contact Michelle Kaebisch (below, in a photo y Katrin Talbot), the MSO’s Director of Education and Community Engagement, at (608) 257-3734 x225 or (Kaebisch, a violinist who p;lays with the MSO, is also the new conductor in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) to take over from Thomas Buchhauser, who retired at the end of last season.

Michelle Kaebisch WYSO cr Katrin Talbot

“Be sure to mark your calendar now for the May 15, 2014, 10 a.m. Link Up event when fourth-graders and fifth-graders perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.’

And The Ear says: Be sure to leave a message of congratulations or thanks, or some other comments, if you so wish, in the COMMENT section of this blog.

Classical Music: Award-winning conductor and music educator Tom Buchhauser of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras will retire at the end of this season.

September 21, 2012
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ALERT: University of  Wisconsin-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will perform a FREE concert on the Faculty Concert Series this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. He will be joined by pianist Vincent Fuh, bassist Nick Moran and percussionist Todd Hammes for an evening of progressive rock, jazz and electro-acoustic modern classical music. The program will feature works by Nels Cline, Mark Engebretson, Madison composer John Stevens, Henry Cowell and the Dub Trio.

By Jacob Stockinger

For the past 30 years, cellist-conductor Thomas Buchhauser has served as an exemplary music educator for thousands of students who have played in the ranks of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

But at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Buchhauser will retire and bring to a close his career as WYSO’s associate music director.

In addition to his 30 seasons conducting WYSO’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Buchhauser taught at Madison Memorial High School and Jefferson Middle School from 1966-1999; played cello for Madison Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years; served on the faculty of the National String Workshop for 10 years; and directed ensembles for the University of Wisconsin School of Music Pre-College Institute, the Madison Community Orchestra and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Steenbock Young Artist Concerto Concerts. 

Buchhauser (below, conducting the WYSO Philharmonia Orchestra in a photo by Cheng-Wei-Wu) has received numerous awards for his excellence in teaching, including the Wisconsin Music Educators Conference Distinguished Service Award (1983), the National School Orchestra Association Director of the Year Award (1993), the American String Teachers Association Outstanding Service Award (1993), the Rabin Youth Arts Award (2001), and has scholarships named in his honor by the WSMA Honors Project, WYSO, and Madison Memorial High School.  In 1999, Madison Metropolitan School District named the Memorial High School auditorium the “Thomas E. Buchhauser Auditorium.”

According to a statement from WYSO, Buchhauser’s masterful conducting along with his kindness and wit have endeared him to multiple generations of students who have taken his lessons to heart. WYSO founder Marvin Rabin (below, a reception when he won a lifetime achievement award last year from the Wisconsin School Music Association) confirmed this legacy, stating, “Tom’s presence has made a positive and striking difference in the lives of so many music students and teachers. We are very fortunate and grateful that Thomas Buchhauser has contributed so profoundly to our community.”

Upon announcing his decision to retire, Buchhauser told WYSO: “I have had many teachers and experiences that have shaped my life as a musician, teacher and conductor but none so profound as Marvin Rabin’s coming to Madison in 1966 to start WYSO and David Nelson asking me to be Associate Music Director of WYSO in 1983. It has been an honor to be part of such a great organization and I will be forever grateful to WYSO for all that it has given to me.”

Here is a sample of Tom Buchhauser at work — you can find others on YouTube— conducting a 2011 performance by WYSO’s Philharmonia Orchestra of “Greensleeves”:

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