The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: Concerto contest winners perform at the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras winter concerts this Saturday

March 16, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

WYSO will hold its second concert series of the year with the Diane Ballweg Winterfest Concerts on this Saturday, March 18.

Nearly 500 young musicians will display their great talents to the community during the concerts, which are dedicated to music teachers. (See below for times and programs. And listen to WYSO members talk about WYSO in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The concert series will feature all five orchestras including the debut performance of WYSO’s newest string orchestra, Opus One.

Under the direction of Geri Hamilton, Opus One consists of string players ages 8 to 12. This ensemble focuses more on technique than on performance, incorporating instruction on fundamentals of scales, shifting and bowing, in addition to formative ensemble skills experience.

The Youth Orchestra concert will also feature two of the winners from the Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition: Violinist, Mary Deck and Percussionist, Adam Goren.

Mary Deck (below), age 16, is a junior at Madison West High School, and has been a part of WYSO since 2011. She will be performing the first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 31, by Henri Vieuxtemps.

Adam Goren (below), age 18, is a senior at Middleton High School and has been a part of WYSO since 2013. He will be performing the third movement of Concertino for Marimba by Paul Creston.

The Diane Ballweg Winterfest Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW-Madison George Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street.

WYSO concerts are generally about an hour and a half in length, providing a great orchestral concert opportunity for families.

Tickets are available at the door, $10 for adults and $5 for youth 18 and under.

For more information about WYSO, go to: https://www.wysomusic.org

This project is supported by Dane Arts with additional funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., a charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. Generous funding was also provided from the American Girl’s Fund for Children. This project is also funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

SCHEDULE AND PROGRAMS

Opus One and Sinfonietta – 11:30 a.m.

Sinfonietta (below)

Longfield (b.1947), Black Diamond

Smetana (1824-1884), Themes from The Moldau, arr. Frost

Mosier, Kirt N., American Reel

Traditional Irish, The Salley Gardens

Richard Stephan (b. 1929), Variations On A Well-Know Sea Chantey,

Grundman  (1934-1996), Kentucky 1800

Leyden (1917-2014), Serenade for String Orchestra: Prelude, Fugue, Nocturne, Cakewalk

Dvorak (1841-1904), Themes From The New World Symphony arr. Gruselle

Opus One

Richard Meyer (b.1957), Night Shift

Follow the Drinking Gourd – African-American Folk Song arr. Carrie Lane Gruselle

Ewazen (b.1951), Four Royal Dances: The Lord

Brian Balmages (b.1975), A Beethoven Lullaby

For the Star of County Down –

Richard Meyer (b.1957) Dragonhunter

Concert Orchestra and Harp Ensemble (below top)  – 1:30 p.m.

Concert Orchestra (below bottom)

Gounod (1818-1893), Funeral March of a Marionette ed. Rosenhaus

Holst (1874-1934) Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from The Planets arr. Leidig

M.L. Daniels (b. 1931) Contending

Tres Danzas de Mexico setting by Rhoads (b. 1918): El Pitayero (from Jalisco); El Café (Province unknown); El Curripiti (from Veracruz)

Montgomery (1771-1854), Angels, From the Realms of Glory, setting Robert W. Smith

Philharmonia Orchestra (below) – 4 p.m.

Wagner (1813-1883), Procession to the Cathedral, from the Opera “Lohengrin” arr. Kennedy

Grieg (1843-1907), Peer Gynt: Suite No. 1, Op. 46: Morning; Ase’s Death; Anitra’s Dance; In the Hall of the Mountain King

Weber (1786-1826), Tourandot, J.75: Overture and March

Hindemith (1895-1963), Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber: Fourth movement – March

Youth Orchestra (below) – 7 p.m.

Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) Concerto for Violin No 4 D minor, Op.31, first movement. Mary Deck, violin soloist

Creston (1906-1985) Concertino for Marimba, third movement. Adam Goren, marimba soloist

Prokofiev (1891-1953) Symphony No 7, op.131, C-sharp minor: Moderato, Allegretto, Andante espressivo, Vivace

Glinka (1804-1857) “Russlan and Ludmilla” Overture


Classical music: Madison Youth Choir’s sixth annual Boychoir Festival is this Saturday. Plus, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet performs this Sunday at the Chazen Museum of Art

January 29, 2016
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ALERT: This month’s Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen, to start at 12:30 p.m. this Sunday, features the Wisconsin Brass Quintet from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music

The program includes music by  Johann Sebastian Bach, Giovanni Gabrieli, Ira Taxin, Ingolf Dahl and UW-Madison alumnus Andrew Rindfleisch.

Since Wisconsin Public Radio no longer carries the concerts live, you must either attend it FREE in the Brittingham Gallery No. 3 in the Chazen Museum of Art or stream it live on your computer. Here is a link to the museum’s web site to reserve seats and to listen live:

http://www.chazen.wisc.edu/about/news/in-the-news/sunday-afternoon-live-at-the-chazen-feb.-7-with-the-wisconsin-brass-quintet

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following note from the Madison Youth Choirs:

“The Madison Youth Choirs, in partnership with Madison Metropolitan School District, will present the sixth annual FREE Madison Boychoir Festival this Saturday, Jan. 30, in the Stevens Gym at Madison West High School, 30 Ash St., starting at 12:30 p.m. 

(Below is a photo of middle school singers, conducted by Margaret Jenks, from last year’s festival. You can also hear excerpts in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Boychoir Festival 2015 Elem School Choir

“The festival is a day-long celebration of choral music for boys in grades 2-12, culminating in a free concert for the community.”

“We’re expecting a record number of well over 400 young men, ages 7-18, from across southern Wisconsin at this year’s festival, and recently also broke a new record for enrollment in MYC’s three yearlong performing boychoirs – a great sign for the culture of boys’ singing in our community!”

The program usually includes classical music, folk music and crossover or pop music. This year’s is no different. Here is the line-up:

COMBINED CHOIRS

Plato’s Take (sing in Greek) by Randal Swiggum

YOUTH CHOIR

Margaret Jenks, conductor; Andrew Johnson, piano/percussion

Banaha — Congolese folk song

MIDDLE LEVEL CHOIR

Randal Swiggum, conductor; Steve Radtke, piano; Zachary Yost, piccolo; Andrew Johnson, snare drum

“Riflemen of Bennington  Revolutionary War song, arr. Swiggum

 HIGH SCHOOL MEN’S CHOIR

Albert Pinsonneault, Michael Ross, conductors; Jess Salek, piano

Byker Hill, Traditional, arr. Sandler

THE MADISON BOYCHOIR

Randal Swiggum, Margaret Jenks, Michael Ross, conductors

Intonent Hodie, Anonymous (ca. 12th century)

COMBINED CHOIRS

Unity, by Glorraine Moore/Freddie Washington, arr. Cason

“Over 400 young singers, joined by the men of the Madison Choral Project (MCP), will present repertoire from a variety of cultural traditions and historical eras, exploring beyond notes and rhythms to discover the context, meaning and heart of the music. (Below is a photo of elementary school singers from the 2014 festival, conducted by Randal Swiggum.)

Boychoir Festival 2014 Middle School Choir

“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 Endres Mfg. Company Foundation.”

About Madison Youth Choirs (MYC)

“Recognized as an innovator in youth choral music education, Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) welcomes singers of all ability levels, annually serving more than 1,000 young people, ages 7-18, through a wide variety of choral programs in our community.

“Cultivating a comprehensive music education philosophy that inspires self -confidence, personal responsibility and a spirit of inquiry leading students to become “expert noticers,” MYC creates accessible, meaningful opportunities for youth to thrive in the arts and beyond.”

For further information, visit www.madisonyouthchoirs.org or call (608) 238-7464


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 www.madisonyouthchoirs.org)

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

COMBINED CHOIRS
 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.

ABOUT THE MADISON YOUTH CHOIRS (MYC)

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 www.info@madisonyouthchoirs.org or call (608) 238-7464.


Classical music: Mary Mackenzie, a former Madisonian now singing in New York City is seeking help to finance the first recording of composer John Harbison’s “Songs After Hours.”

January 6, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Mary Mackenzie (below), a very accomplished singer, a friend of the blog and a former Madison resident, writes:

mary mackenzie

Dear Mr. Stockinger,

It has been quite a while since you saw me perform — I suspect it may have been “Brundibar” with Madison Opera in 2000! — but I always enjoy keeping up with your blog about all things musical in Madison.

I was last in Madison in August, and gave a recital at the Token Creek Music Festival (below, and art bottom in a YouTube video). Returning home to Madison to share my life-long love of song with family and friends is always a treat for me.

TokenCreekbarn interior

I was fortunate to have an extensive musical education in Madison. I was involved in the music programs at West High School, WYSO (Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra) and the Madison Opera, and I was able to see my mother play almost every week, either with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra or the Oakwood Chamber Players.

I went on to receive a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and later moved to New York City, where I received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

I made my Carnegie Hall debut in the Stern Auditorium in November with the American Symphony Orchestra, singing “Warble for Lilac Time” by Elliott Carter (bel0w).

Elliott Carter

My eight years in New York City have been rich with a busy and varied singing career. I have made a name for myself as an interpreter of contemporary music – particularly art song and chamber music – and have worked with many prestigious living composers. (Below is Mary Mackenzie performing Harrison Birtwistle’s “Three Settings of Celan” with the Juilliard School’s Axiom Ensemble in a photo by The New York Times). It is one piece in particular, and the relationship I forged with the composer  John Harbison that has resonated with me.

Mary Mackenzie ii in Harrison Birtwistle's %22Thee Settings of Celan%22 with the Juilliard School's Axiom Ensemble NYT

I am writing to tell you a bit about the jazz songs, Songs After Hours, by John Harbison (below) and a unique new artistic endeavor of mine, which includes creating the first-ever recording of these works. It is my hope that you will see the value in this project, and consider supporting its production.

JohnHarbisonatpiano

Five years ago, I performed John’s Songs After Hours at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. Though scored only for piano and voice at the time, John mentioned his wish to see the music developed further for a jazz combo.

Fast forward to 2012, when I had an opportunity to work with some of the most exceptional jazz musicians in New York City. Through their artistry and creativity, I knew that I’d found the group to realize John’s vision. We created original arrangements of the songs for voice and combo and are going into the studio soon to make the debut recording in 2014. The album will ultimately be released by Albany Records.

There are many financial obligations involved in making a record, and while I am applying for grant funding and running a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter, I am looking for outside donors as well.  In particular, I would like to find donors to sponsor each of the five musicians involved in the project. (Below is a photo of Mary Mackenzie performing Hector Parra’s “Hypermusic — Ascension” at the Guggenheim Museum.)

Mary Mackenzie in Hector Parra %22Hypermusic -- Ascension%22 at the Guggenheim Museum

As for the Kickstarter, the deadline is January 17, so not that far away. The link for the page is:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1472615144/the-john-harbison-project-songs-after-hours-debut.

The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise $10,000, which would go towards studio costs, engineering, mixing, and mastering.  Of course, if we exceed our goal, then that’s more money towards the overall budget. I am hoping that I can find some donors that are separate from the Kickstarter to help sponsor the musicians.

I will be applying for a grant through the Aaron Copland Fund for the remainder of the funds.

I have some of the best jazz musicians accompanying me on this project, and I believe they deserve to be compensated with at least $1,500 for their work on this record. Ideally, I’d like to give them more if funding allows. This totals at least $7,500 for five musicians.

I am hoping Madisonians will consider supporting this record.  Of course, any amount anyone can give would be a great help, perhaps even a sponsorship of one of the musicians. You and others can contact me at mmackenzie981@gmail.com or at www.mary-mackenzie.com or call me at (608) 215-9261.

Sincerely,

Mary Mackenzie


Classical music: The best audiences in town and hundreds of talented young musicians will be in the spotlight at Sunday’s concerts by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

May 17, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

What classical music group plays to the best audiences in town?

You might pick a large, well known group like the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera or the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Or you might even pick the UW School of Music faculty members, guest artists and students – all of which receive many standing ovations in a given season.

But you would be wrong.

Hands down —  hands together, really — The Ear’s prize for the BEST AUDIENCES goes to the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

If you want to feel how energized a classic music crowd can – and should — get, I heartily suggest you take in the very affordable spring concerts by WYSO this coming Sunday afternoon and night.

Every time I have attended WYSO, concerts I have not only been deeply impressed with the high level of playing and musicianship (you will be too, if you listen to the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 excerpt at the bottom); I have also been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from friends, family and other fans that greets these young people who range from middle school to high school.

Informality rules – a lesson, perhaps for other classical music groups looking to grow attendance. You see the audience members, who pack the hall, show up in T-shirts, bluejeans and shorts. You hear the loud cheers, hoots and hollers as the young musicians come on stage, perform and then leave the stage. The audience members photograph and videotape the musicians as they perform. Audiences just don’t come energetic, more serious and more appreciative than you find at WYSO.

It is all so exciting. You would never get the idea that classical music audiences are typically old, stodgy and staid when you attend these concerts. WYSO concerts are filled with young people, with children (below), and even a sound-proof room is provided for parents of small children who get restless and cry out or act up.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, more than 300 talented young musicians will wrap us this season of hard work at home and weekly ensemble practicing with the annual Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family Spring Concerts.

At 1:30 p.m., WYSO’s string orchestra, Sinfonietta, will open the concert series with a performance of “Sakura” for Solo Cello and String Orchestra by M.L. Daniels, featuring soloist Hannah Wolkstein, a WYSO alumna and sectional coach.

The Concert Orchestra will follow with Bach’s “Chorale and Fugue” and Bizet’s “Intermezzo” from “L’Arlésienne.

At 4 p.m., WYSO’s Percussion Ensemble will perform selections including “Londonderry Air,” dedicated to the ensemble’s graduating seniors. The Percussion Ensemble (below) will feature two world premieres, “Rhapsody,” by Matt Halloran, arranged by WYSO alumna Amy Novick, and “Tacoma,” by WYSO percussionist Corinne Steffens. “Tacoma” is dedicated to Madison West High School music educator Steve Morgan, who is retiring this year.

Then comes the Philharmonia Orchestra (below in a photo by Cheng-Wei Wu).

The Philharmonia will showcase the talents of Concerto Competition winner Isabella Wu (below), who will perform the first movement of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, accompanied by her fellow orchestra members. Philharmonia will also bring a few audience favorites to life, including “Danse Bacchanale” from Saint-Saëns’s “Samson and Delilah,” and the first movement of Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.”

The Youth Orchestra, WYSO’s premier performing group, which travels to Europe this summer, will take the stage following the Harp Ensemble (below) at 7 p.m. and will also highlight this year’s Concerto Competition winners.

With the Youth Orchestra (below), clarinetists Hattie Bestul and Max Butler (below top)  will perform the first movement of Krommer’s Concerto for Two Clarinets. David Cao (below middle) will perform the third movement of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor. Anthony Cudzinovic (below bottom) will perform the first movement of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor. All four soloists will be accompanied by the Youth Orchestra, which will also perform Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” Overture.

The Bolz Family Spring Concerts, act of which typically last about 90 minutes, will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW-Madison’s Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, in Madison. Tickets are available at the door, and cost $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.

And let’s not forget to praise the sponsors of such important educational events especially at a time when the state and schools are cutting back on music and the arts:

These concerts are supported by the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, and the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times. This project is also funded in part by additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, including impressive historical background about WYSO as well as details about how to  donate or become a sponsor and how to audition to play in WYSO, write to WYSO, Room 1625 Humanities Bldg., 455 N. Park St, Madison, WI 53706; call (608) 263-3320; or visit: wyso.music.wisc.edu


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