The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Oakwood Chamber Players announces its 30th anniversary season –- and gives up performing at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

August 12, 2014
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming season the Oakwood Chamber Players (below) turns 30.

30years-logo

The group, which features talented players and seasoned professionals — who also play with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music —  in repertoire that is often neglected or unknown or new, will mark the occasion by reprising works from past concerts. Think of it as a season of Golden Oldies.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 3

The real news to The Ear is that the group will no longer play one of its two weekend performances at the Visitor Center (below) in the Arboretum.

Here is how one spokesperson explained it: “While we really appreciated the environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, as well as the exposure to a different audience, the decision to hold both concerts at Oakwood was a financial one — as these things too often unfortunately are.

“There are space and piano rental fees at the Arboretum that we don’t incur at Oakwood that were making the concerts cost-prohibitive to hold there, and our audience size was not adequately offsetting these expenses.”

UW Arboretum Visitor Center

Here is an introduction plus a list of the 30th anniversary season programs:

Reprise!

Looking Back Over 30 Years

Looking back over 30 years of music making, the Oakwood Chamber Players remember great performances of unique and much-loved works of art.  We also honor the fun and richness we’ve shared with our musician friends; some who have been with us for a single concert or a few years and others who have shared the stage with us for three decades.

And of course our trip down memory lane would not be complete without thoughts of all the terrific audiences who have honored us with their support and applause.

And so we come to this season, one of looking back, still with anticipation of what is to come!  We hope you will join us on the journey!”

Concerts are Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.  All 2014-15 concerts will be held at the Oakwood Center for Arts and Education, 6209 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705

Ticket prices are: Senior Single — $15/concert; Senior Series – $65/season; Adult Single – $20/concert; Adult Series – $85/season; Student Single – $5/concert.

For more information, visit: http://www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com

September 13 and 14, 2014 — REWORK!

Johannes Brahms (below top): Sonatas for Clarinet/Piano and Viola/Piano

Ferdinand Ries (below bottom): Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello

(Brahms Sonatas … one which the composer reworked from clarinet to viola)

brahms3

Ferdinand Ries

November 28 and 30, 2014 — REMIX!  

“Christmas Lights” Memories: Various selections from our long history of Christmas Lights performances (originally performed November, 1994)

NOTE: The dates and times for the November concerts are: Friday, November 28, 2014 at 1 p.m.; and Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 2

January 17 and 18, 2015 — RECAPITULATE!  

Bedrich Smetana  (below top): Trio for violin, cello and piano, Op. 15 in g minor (originally performed May, 2004)

Leos Janacek (below bottom): “Mladi” (Youth) for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and bass clarinet (originally performed July, 1989/May 2004)

Adolf Schreiner: “Immer Kleiner” for clarinet and piano (originally performed May, 2006)

bedrich smetana

Leos Janacek

March 14/15, 2015 — REPLAY!  

Claude Debussy (below top): Sonata for flute, viola and harp (originally performed November, 1990)

Ottorino Respighi (below bottom): “Ancient Airs and Dances” (originally performed January, 2005, and heard in a YouTube video at the bottom)

Claude Debussy 1

Ottorino Respighi

May 23/24, 2015 — REISSUE!

Aaron Copland (below top): “Appalachian Spring” for 13 instruments; (originally performed November, 1989)

Carl Nielsen (below bottom): “Serenato in Vano” for clarinet, horn, bassoon cello and bass (originally performed June, 1993/May, 2009)

aaron copland

Carl Nielsen at piano

 


Classical music: This coming Sunday is busy with lots of live concerts from Con Vivo, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin and Edgewood College as well as Wisconsin Public Radio and the Pro Arte Quartet. Plus, on Saturday afternoon the Percussion Ensemble of Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) performs its annual EXTRAVAGANZA concert.

February 27, 2014
1 Comment

ALERT: On Saturday at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (WYSO) Percussion Ensemble will perform the 13th annual Percussion ‘EXTRAVAGANZA’  in the UW Humanities Building. Directed by Vicki Peterson Jenks, the WYSO Percussion Ensemble is comprised of 12 talented young percussionists and one bassist from Madison, Middleton, Verona, Viroqua, Mount Horeb, DeForest, and Barneveld. (See the impressive individual profiles in the YouTube video at the bottom.) 

WYSO will donate part of proceeds to support the American Red Cross Badger Chapter.

The concert features special guest artist Steve Houghton. A Kenosha, Wis., native, Houghton is an internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author and educator who is currently a professor at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of MusicAlso joining the WYSO Percussion Ensemble in guest appearances will be two WYSO alumni, composer and pianist Jon D. Nelson and bassist Sam Olson – both Sun Prairie natives – the UW World Percussion Ensemble, UW-Madison Professor of Saxophone Les Thimming, and WYSO student flugelhorn player Noah Mennenga.

Tickets for the 2014 WYSO Percussion EXTRAVGANZA! are $10 for adults, $5 for youth (18 and under) and can be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the start of the concert. For more information, contact the WYSO office at (608) 263-3320. Parking is available at State Street Campus Ramp, Helen C. White Hall, and Grainger Hall parking facilities. You can also visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

WYSO Percussion Ensemble 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What a close friend and colleague calls “train wrecks” — that is, competing or conflicting events and concerts  — just keep on happening.

It is true that choices become more difficult, and more mutually exclusive, as the classical music scene continues to expand in the Madison area.

Take this Sunday, which is normally a pretty quiet day — but NOT this week.

Of course, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Pro Arte Quartet (below) will give the second premiere performance of Belgian composer Benoit Mernier’s String Quartet No. 3 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.” It will air live from the FREE concert in Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

But check out these other events:

SALProArteMay2010

CON VIVO

At 2:30 p.m., the ensemble Con Vivo (“Music with Life) continues its 12th season of chamber music with a concert entitled “Germanic Gems” at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, across from Camp Randall.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students.

The program includes the First Suite for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach; a duet for violin and viola by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and the “Fairy Tales” Trio for clarinet, viola and piano by Robert Schumann. The program will also feature the outstanding church organ with duets for violin and organ by Joseph Rheinberger, a solo work for organ by 17th-century composer Johann Reincken, and “Ein Alterblatt” (An Old Page), a romantic piece for violin, viola, cello and organ by Ferdinand Manns.

To round out the afternoon’s offering, Con Vivo will perform a quintet for clarinet, two violas, cello and piano by a mystery composer who will be reveled at the concert!

Audience members are invited to join musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss this chamber music literature and to hear about their Carnegie Hall debut this past December.

Con Vivo is a professional chamber music ensemble comprised of Madison area musicians assembled from the ranks of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and various other performing groups familiar to Madison audiences. 

Con Vivo core musicians

EDGEWOOD CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

Also at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra will perform in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, on Madison’s near west side.      

Admission is $5 for the public; free with Edgewood College ID.

The orchestra will perform under the direction of music conductor Blake Walter (below). The program of masterworks includes the Symphony No. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven; the Orchestral Suite No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach; and the Overture to “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

blake walter john maniaci

Included in the program is a special performance of the Piano Concerto in D Major by Franz Joseph Haydn. It will be performed by the recent Madison Memorial High School alumna Johanna Novich-Leonard (below), winner of the Edgewood College Student Concerto Competition.

Johanna Novich Leonard

SOUND ENSEMBLE WISCONSIN

At 6 p.m., Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) will be collaborating with Chef Dan Bonanno and poet Katrin Talbot (below in a photo with violinist Mary Theodore on the far right holding a violin bow) for a “delicious” event at A Pig in a Fur Coat restaurant, located at 940 Williamson Street, Madison, WI, 53703. Phone is (608) 316-3300.

SEW poet, chef and violin

Tickets are currently on sale at www.sewmusic.org and are $105 per person or $100 by check (with guests’ names) to:  Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, 716 Edgewood Avenue, Madison, WI 53711. Performing musicians (below) are SEW members and incude violinists Mary Theodore and Mary Perkinson, violist Chris Dozoryst, and cellist Maggie Townsend.

More information and tickets are available at www.sewmusic.org.

SEW dinner group photo

Here is an excellent story written by Gayle Worland of The Wisconsin State Journal:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/music/a-menu-of-music/article_7668c3ef-b514-546a-9be5-e25aab9a0a70.html

And here is the SEW press release:

“What does food sound like?  What does music taste like?

“Participants enjoy a lovely evening out as they explore their senses as the pathway to their souls through the performing arts of food and music, accompanied by poetry.  “SEWing Taste and Sound, Bite by Byte” is a collaboration between Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, Chef Dan Bonanno of Madison’s celebrated Pig in a Fur Coat, and SEW’s 2013-14 Artist-in-Residence, who is Madison poet and violist Katrin Talbot.

“The event centers around the aesthetic similarities of food and music, both of which Mary Theodore, SEW’s director and violinist, considers performing arts.  SEW has based the evening on a movement from a Beethoven String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 5, Andante Cantabile, that is a theme and variations.

“Each variation, or byte of music, will inspire Chef Bonnano and be paired with one course, or bite, of food — and performed and served as such to create a seven-course meal, including a beverage pairing for each course.

“For example, the third variation, which might remind one of a bubbling brook with a contrast of smooth, running water and sunlight glistening through the trees as well as a touch of sweetness, has inspired Chef Bonanno to create a smooth, creamy risotto with fresh blueberries and sweetbreads.

A Pig in a Fur Coat logo

“Katrin Talbot will also read poems composed for each variation.

“At the end of the meal, SEW musicians will perform the quartet movement from beginning to end with the aim of offering participants a new experience of the music, a new journey of taste and sound.

“As a large part of SEW’s mission is to bring more people to classical music, SEW makes an effort to demonstrate that music can be found in many things that we experience every day.

“SEW achieves this by collaborating with other artists, institutions, etc. through innovative programming and authentic events.  Also, as SEW’s founding principle is that music is a vital part of humanity and should serve everyone, the ensemble strives to both offer engaging and unique programming to regular participants (their term for “audience”), as well as to offer music to those who might not have access to it otherwise.

“As part of the March 2 program, SEW will be performing during dinner hour at a food pantry and offering two free tickets to the Sunday event.  As a side note, SEW also played at a correctional facility as a precursor to their last event.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Classical music: The memorial service for internationally acclaimed music educator and WYSO founder Marvin Rabin is this Sunday, Dec. 29, at 3 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society in Madison.

December 26, 2013
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

In case you hadn’t already heard, the memorial service for Marvin Rabin (below) – the founder and longtime music director and conductor of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras – is set for this coming Sunday at 3 p.m. in the historic landmark First Unitarian Society that was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

WYSO will be well represented at Rabin’s memorial service.  There will be a WYSO String Orchestra performing Samuel Barber’s moving “Adagio for Strings” as well as a WYSO Chamber Ensemble and a WYSO Alumni Chamber Ensemble.

marvin rabin BW

Here is the official death notice:

MADISON – Music educator, Marvin Rabin, age 97, died at University of Wisconsin Hospitals on Dec. 5, 2013.

A celebration of Marvin’s life is planned for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, at the UNITARIAN MEETING HOUSE’S new ATRIUM auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams), 900 University Bay Drive, Madison.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, UW Humanities Building, Room 1625, 455 N. Park St., Madison, WI 53706; Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, Wisconsin Center for Music Education, 1005 Quinn Drive, Waunakee, WI 53597; and Madison Music Makers, 705 Edgewood Ave, Madison, WI 53711

wyso violas

You can read more about Marvin Rabin and his many achievements at:

http://host.madison.com/news/local/obituaries/rabin-marvin/article_67360c16-0252-5019-85dd-68b57e400188.html#ixzz2o1pTrTAG

You can donate to and learn more about WYSO by going here:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

And here is an appreciation that The Ear did and many readers seemed to like and commented positively on:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/classical-music-let-us-now-praise-marvin-rabin-who-founded-the-wisconsin-youth-symphony-orchestra-wyso-who-excelled-as-a-music-educator-and-performer-who-was-the-leonard-bernstein-of-ma/

Rabin portrait USE

At bottom is a YouTube video done as a tribute to Marvin Rabin when he won the third Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin School Music Association. It is well worth listening to, especially in these times when the arts seems to get shortchanged in favor of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math:


Classical music Q&A: The FREE Friday Noon Musicales start again this week at the First Unitarian Society of Madison. FUS music director Dan Broner discusses how the programs come together. Plus, the UW Chamber Orchestra performs a FREE concert of Schumann, Haydn and Wagner on Tuesday night.

September 30, 2013
2 Comments

REMINDER: The UW Chamber Orchestra (below) performs a FREE concert tomorrow, on Tuesday night, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m in Mills Hall. The program, under conductor James Smith, features Robert Schumann’s “Overture, Scherzo and Finale,” Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 and Richard Wagner‘s “Siegfried Idyll.” 

UW Chamber Orchestra low res

By Jacob Stockinger

Madison has so much fine free music to offer listeners, especially at the University of Wisconsin School of Music through the Faculty Concert Series and various student groups.

But one of the most enjoyable events is also one of the most low-profile.

I am speaking about the weekly Friday Noon Musicales (below) that take place in the Landmark Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society’s historic Meeting House, near University Hospital, at 900 University Bay Drive off, just University Avenue on the city’s near west side. 

FUS1jake

It is not surprising that the Friday Musicales exist because the Unitarians in Madison — which has the highest concentration of Unitarians in the U.S. —  always place a major emphasis on music, as did its famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. (An excerpt from an All-Mozart Sunday is in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

You can bring lunch, drink coffee or tea, or, as I do, eat before and take along a small dessert.

But so often the midday music concert is itself the dessert, the real treat. Imagine the fun of hearing live music for a daytime break. It is like a parenthesis, a time-out or an oasis in the day. Often I have walked into the concert with less enthusiasm and energy than I left with. The music recharges me and provides a spark to get through the rest of the day.

The setting and presentation are informal. But I have found the audiences very appreciative and generally quiet and well-behaved, though sometimes the knitters and readers, especially if they are in the front rows, strike me as rude and disrespectful to the performers.

I have heard singers and solo pianists, string trios and string quartets, all kinds of soloists and ensembles and music.

The Musicale series starts again this week, this Friday Oct. 4. So The Ear asked the First Unitarian Society’s music director Dan Broner to provide some background.

The many-talented Broner (below) not only plans the concerts and performers, he also plays the pianist himself as an accompanist in many of the concerts.

Here is Dan Broner’s email Q&A with The Ear:

Dan Broner BIG mug

How long have the Free Friday Noon musicales been held? Are they expensive to put on and how are they funded?

They have been held since 1987. They are an outreach program to the community and funded by the First Unitarian Society’s operating budget. The costs are that portion of my salary for administering and performing in the series, plus piano tuning and minimal utility expenses.

The musicians donate their services, and the 45-minute concerts (they run 12:15 to 1 p.m.) are free and open to the public.

How successful have they been? What is the typical attendance and how it is trended in recent years? Do certain kinds of concerts (instrument, voice, program, performer) attract a bigger or smaller audience?

The Musicales attract listeners of all ages, but are particularly attractive to seniors, and workers who can attend during their lunch break.

They regularly attract between 50 and 75, numbers, which have been consistent for the past 11 years of my tenure.

Attendance would most likely be higher if it we had more parking. But we share the lot with the Meeting House Nursery School, which limits availability.

Generally instrumental performances attract a larger audience, and more well-known artists will generate a larger crowd as well.

What do you hear from the public as a reaction to the concerts?

Almost every week I will receive favorable comments from attendees who enjoy the Musicales. Some have stated that they are their favorite musical events.

The Musicales are scheduled between October and May and many folks have said that they are eager for the season to begin.

How do you line up artists and programs? Do they come to you or you come to them?

Many artists contact me. They are attracted by the historic Frank Lloyd Wright landmark venue (below): the architecture, acoustics and the fully restored 1889 Steinway Model A grand piano.

Often they are students and teachers from the University of Wisconsin School of Music and other area universities who would like a trial run of recitals they are preparing.

Every summer I send out an email to every artist who has performed in the series and many elect to perform again.

FUS exterior BIG COLOR USE

Are there special programs you would like to point out for the current season?

There are many intriguing musicales this season, but a few do stand out for me personally. I’m eager to hear the young Madison pianist Garrick Olsen (below top), who is playing on Dec. 6. I always enjoy hearing the fine violinist, Kangwon Kim (below middle), and I look forward to collaborating with her on the Johannes Brahms’ Sonata in G for Violin and PIano on Friday, Jan. 10.

The fine Chicago area virtuoso pianist Mark Valenti will be performing at the Musicales for the first time on Jan. 31. Madison native pianist Kathy Ananda-Owens, from the St. Olaf College music faculty, plays on Feb. 7 and the Black Marigold Woodwind Quintet (below bottom), which is always fun, performs on March 14.

Garrick Olsen 2

Kangwon Kim

Black Marigold

Is there anything else you would like or add or say?

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this unique series. We welcome new listeners and musicians interested in performing.

Please join us for the first Musicale on this Friday, October 4, at 12:15 p.m. Violist Shannon Farley (below), with guitarist Christopher Allen and pianist Greg Punswick, will be performing music of J.S. Bach, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Cesar Franck.

Shannon Farley viola FUS


Classical music: Let us praise musicians who played outdoors this summer and remember the challenges they faced.

September 8, 2013
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Apparently the composer Johannes Brahms was very fond of going to outdoors concerts in his native Vienna.

No surprise. There is something liberating and social, something relaxed and informal, for both players and listeners about hearing music outdoors. (Below is the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performing under its music director and conductor Andrew Sewell at the state Capitol.)

Concerts on Square WCO orchetsra

As summer comes to a close and fall approaches, it is good to recall that we in Madison are lucky to have so many outdoors musical events and so many of high quality.

During this past summer, for example, outdoor concerts were given by: the Madison Symphony Orchestra in its Concert in the Park; the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in its justly popular Concerts on the Square; the Madison Opera for its “Opera in the Park” (below); and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras in its Concert in the Park. And there are many others who could be named.

Opera in Park 2012 crowd 2 James Gill

Then too, I think of so much other kinds of music, usually non-classical and very often roots music such as folk and bluegrass, that gets performed at various outdoors venues from the Wisconsin Memorial Union’s Lakefront Terrace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, La Fete de Marquette, the inaugural Make Music Madison Festival and the Orton Park Festival to little groups of musicians that play informally at the Dane County Farmers’ Market and various other farmers’ markets in the area.

Farmers Market music

Yet there are serious challenges to performing outdoors that non-musicians may not know about that are easy for the public to overlook. (Check out the YouTube video at the bottom and its advice from London about playing outdoors.)

Corinna da Fonsecca-Wollheim of the New York Times recently wrote about some of those challenges as an outdoors concert at the bandshell in Central Park by the acclaimed Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center was gearing up to perform its first-ever outdoor concert, of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Antonin Dvorak, for the Naumburg Orchestra Concerts.

It is a very well done story with sources including the concert veteran and former Emerson String Quartet cellist David Finckel (below) and others. And her reporting gets quite specific about the challenges from keeping instrument in tune and playing the music to taking care of instruments and securing music in the stand.

Here is a link to a story that should remind us of what we can be grateful for this past summer and what we can look forward to next summer:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/arts/music/chamber-music-society-gears-up-for-naumburg-bandshell.html

Do you play music outdoors?

What stories or anecdotes and experiences can you share with others about the challenges of playing music outdoors?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music Q&A: Composer and violinist Andrew Waggoner talks about the importance of improvisation and his upcoming concerts at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival on Sunday, and then next Tuesday and Wednesday.

August 21, 2013
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

You might think of it as a form of musical archaeology: Recovering, reclaiming and exhibiting the time-honored tradition of improvisation that for centuries was essential to composers and performers alike.

Improvisations on a Theme” is a watchword that shapes the programs of the 2013 Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the concert presented by guest ensemble from New York, Open End (below), three of whose members will be in residence for a week at this summer’s festival.

Open End Ensemble BW

Essential to the Open End mission is the reclaiming of improvisation as the central skill of all musicians. Audiences at Open End concerts come to think of spontaneous creation as being part of a natural, ongoing dialogue between performers creating in the moment and a written body of work that continues to expand, to transform.

At home in venues from galleries and living rooms to concert halls, Open End seeks nothing less than to engage audiences in an experience that is wonderful, intimate, challenging and beautiful.

On this coming Sunday, August 25, at 4 p.m. Open End members Andrew Waggoner (violin), Caroline Stinson, (cello), and Molly Morkoski (piano) will present a program of recent works and improvisations in a program including music of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell (below), Anna Weesner, Andrew Waggoner, and Bach, concluding with the premiere of a new work by Waggoner.

henry cowell

Waggoner has been characterized by The New Yorker magazine as “the gifted practitioner of a complex but dramatic and vividly colored style” His new piano quintet, inspired by the acclaimed Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, was written this summer for the 2013 Token Creek Festival and is dedicated to Co-Artistic Directors John and Rose Mary Harbison.

Then at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 27, and Wednesday, August 28, the Open End members will also participate in one of the Festival’s program of Shakespeare in scenes and songs. The program opens with the premiere of John Harbison’s “Invention on a Theme of Shakespeare” for solo cello and small ensemble, followed by scenes from Shakespeare plays accompanied by new incidental music, and songs and arias on texts from the same plays set by to music by composers from the Renaissance to the present day.

Songs will be offered by composers including Morley, Arne, and Henry Purcell; Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Hugo Wolf; and Francis Poulenc, Frank Bridge, Michael Tippett and John Harbison.

Shakespeare color

All performances take place at the Festival Barn (below), on Highway 19 near the hamlet of Token Creek, with ample parking available. The venue, indoors and air-conditioned, is invitingly small, and early reservations are recommended. 

TokenCreekbarn interior

Concert tickets ($30, and $10 for students) may be reserved by phone at 608-241-2525, by email at info@tokencreekfestival.org, or by U.S. mail at P.O. Box 55142, Madison WI, 53705.

More information about the Token Creek Festival can be found at the website, www.tokencreekfestival.org

Violinist-composer Andrew Waggoner (below) recently granted an email interview to The Ear:

Andrew Waggoner

Could you briefly introduce yourself and your work to people who don’t know you or haven’t heard about you?

I think the best way for people to approach me and my music is to know going into it is that the two paramount values for me in any musical exchange are strangeness and beauty.

I say “strangeness” because the most arresting, durable encounters we have with creative work are marked by a level of confusion, or of the numinous, of something that immediately strikes us as “other,” but that, hopefully, the work itself gives us the tools to sort out over the course of the experience.

“Beauty” is perhaps a little more self-evident, but it can manifest in myriad ways, of course, including beauty of form, of shape or dramatic arc. Much of the music I love most (J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Duke Ellington (below), Miles Davis, Harbison (really!), Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez) moves me at the level of the big shape as much as at that of surface sensuality.

That said, sensuality is hugely important to me, and when I feel I’ve found a unity of shape and surface beauty that makes a listener want to stay with a piece long enough to figure out where its strangeness is coming from and what it means, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. This doesn’t happen all the time, of course.

Duke Ellington at piano

What are the guiding principles – improvisation — and the performance goals behind the Open End Ensemble? How do they reflect your opinion of the state of contemporary classical music today?

The thing we most wanted with Open End was to have a group that played like a group — always the same players — and that could move easily between written-out music and free improvisation and not miss a beat.

We wanted the audience to hear the improvisations as pieces, and to hear the pieces as having the same level of listening and spontaneous response as the improvs. We make an issue of improv, in part, in order to get the audience to the point where they no longer hear it as unusual.

With regard to the state of things today, I’d just say that the only criterion we bring to programming a piece is whether or not we like it. If we believe in it, we play it. We have the luxury of not taking things on for any purpose other than what we want a program to sound like, how we want it to move, to flow.

If there are specific contemporary currents that seem not to flow through our programs, it’s most likely because we’re not interested in them.

What would you like the general public to know about your performances and specific programs (Ives, Cowell, Weesner, Waggoner’ world premiere and Bach; also Harbison’s Shakespeare music) and works at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival?

We like programs that mix contemporary works with 20th-century classics, along with different instrumental combinations that provide relief and perspective on each other.

In this way we’re no different from anyone else, it must be said, except that, again, there are no “isms” guiding our programming, so we can be very free about the kinds of combinations we find.

So the works by Charles Ives and Henry Cowell make a natural pair (culturally and temperamentally, and in their dogged sense of exploration), and they provide a nice come-down from the energy of the work by Anna Weesner (below), which is volcanic.

anna weesner

The improvs will work in some way yet to be discovered to bridge these different expressive worlds, with John and Rosie’s Bach offering both a stylistic distance and expressive weight specific to it — though listeners will recognize Cowell’s affectionate nod to Bach in his little pieces, so to some degree we go in widening gyres here.

The premiere of my own work, “Floating Bridge,” is a very personal homage to John and Rosie, to John and my (and Carrie’s) shared love of the award-wining Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, to the festival’s rural setting, and to Ellen Singer, a dear friend at our own rural festival, Weekend of Chamber Music, whom we lost this past spring. All these threads were evoked for me and somehow float together in Munro’s story, also called “Floating Bridge.”

The Shakespeare program will mash-up an astonishingly diverse group of Shakespeare songs with dramatic monologues, acted by Madison native Allison Shaffer (below), with Carrie and me improvising, joined by John at the piano. We’ve done this kind of thing a lot, and we love it. We have no idea how the musical environment for the texts will take shape. We’ll find that in the moment.

Allison Schaffer

How would you characterize the style and interest of your own compositions and particularly the work that you will premiere here in Madison?

My own work, as I mentioned earlier, hopefully offers the listener something strange and compelling that is made comprehensible through a surface that is beautiful, and often sensual.

One person’s beauty is another’s caterwauling, of course, so not everyone will hear this music in the same way I do. But I am working to make the music as powerful and communicative as possible, not by trying to anticipate everyone’s varied tastes and levels of musical experience, but simply by responding to my own work as a listener.

The old modernist dichotomy of composer vs. listener bores me, in part because it always was mostly, and has now become entirely, meaningless, and because it overlooks the obvious fact that composers are listeners too.

So that’s where I start with any piece: what do I want to hear, where do I want to go with this, how do I want this to make me feel? I can only really respond to those questions as a listener, as someone who will hear the piece in performance and judge it in those terms, not as the product of a wonderfully complex compositional process.

In terms of style, the composers referenced above have all had a profound effect on me. To that list, I’d add Copland and Messiaen; if one morphs all of those different characters (Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Copland, Messiaen, Miles Davis, Carter, Boulez, Harbison (below)) one might actually come up with something like Waggoner!

JohnHarbisonatpiano

What else would you like to say about yourself and the ensemble, about your programs and work, and about the festival?

We’re crazy excited to come out to Token Creek. For us it’s both an extension of our relationships to John and Rosie Harbison (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot)and to John’s music, and an expression of how we most love to work as a group: in intimate, imaginative settings, close to the audience, able to work with the energy they give us, to shape an experience that is site-specific. For us it’s really the ideal, and we get to do only a few times a year under very special circumstances. So this is a rare privilege.

John and Rose Mary Harbison Katrin Talbot


Classical music: The Kat Trio starts its new season on this Saturday in Fitchburg with music by Milhaud, Brahms, Dvorak, Kreisler, Shostakovich and others.

August 20, 2013
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ekaterinburg Classical Trio -– also known as more colloquially as The Kat Trio -– will start its new season of concerts on this coming Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Memorial United Church of Christ (below) at 5705 Lacy Road in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

Memorial United Church of Christ Fitchburg

Admission is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for students.

The program includes Darius Milhaud’s “Suite,” Op. 157b; Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 27, No. 2; Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5; Antonin Dvorak’s “Humoresque”; the Polka from Ballet Suite No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich; Fritz Kreisler‘s “Miniature Viennese Waltz”;  Scott Joplin’s rag “The Entertainer”; and other works.

According to the trio, the church’s sanctuary has wonderfully warm acoustics and a beautiful grand piano.  Artists will do an audience Q&A prior to their performances. There’s plenty of convenient free parking

Members of the very listener-friendly Kat Trio (below, in the the order named from the left) are the wife-and-husband team of violinist Victoria Gorbich, clarinetist Vladislav Gorbich with guest pianist Heidi Wiskur.

In addition to the August 24 and November 2 concerts that are confirmed, the trio will be scheduling concerts in February and April.  Depending upon response to the first four concerts, they may move from four to six concerts per year.

the kat trio 2013 with heidi

BACKGROUND

The ensemble from Ekaterinburg, Russia, formed in May of 1998 in Ekaterinburg by three friends: Victoria Gorbich (violin), Vladislav Gorbich (clarinet) and Vasil Galiulin (piano). They had just graduated from the Ural State Music Conservatory. (Pianists have changed over the years.)

Today The Kat Trio is Victoria, Vladislav and pianist Heidi Wiskur. Victoria and Vlad are doctoral graduates of Arizona State University. Heidi is a graduate of Indiana University.

Their concerts showcase unique Russian arrangements and transpositions of timeless melodies and feature classical works, well-known inspirational songs, and even American pop standards, including Scott Joplin’s rags (At bottom is a YouTube video of a 2006 performance in Madison, Wisconsin, with the Kat Trio performing a tuneful movement from a trio by Aram Khachaturian.)

According to a press release, “ ‘Joyful’ is the word that audiences often use to describe the Ekaterinburg Classical Trio’s presentation of classical, inspirational, and pop standards. The Kat Trio loves performing live. The Kat Trio has done multiple U.S. tours, starting in 2000. It has played more than 600 concerts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, Dallas, Little Rock, Shreveport, Branson, Denver, Lincoln, Des Moines, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and hundreds of small communities. When not found in concert venues, college or high school auditoriums, or in classrooms doing Master Classes, the Trio is performing for Sunday services or presenting concerts in churches.”

The Ekaterinburg Trio’s website, www.thekattrio.net, features a Music page where fans can hear music files from all 10 CD’s. The Video link features dozens of Kat Trio videos on YouTube.

The Kat Trio recordings are:

“20th Century Masters(2000) (Classical)
 “The Kat Trio in America”  (2000) (American standards)
 “On Eagles’ Wings” (2001) (Inspirational)
 “Serenade for Three” (2002) (Classical)
 “The Kat Trio – Live” (2003) (All genres)
 “A Kat Trio Christmas” (2004) (Traditional Christmas favorites)
 “The Space Between” (2004) (Classical & American pop standards)
 “Romantic Expressions” (2006) (Classical)
 “Kat Trio Classics” (2009) (Classical)
 “What Wondrous Love is This” (2011) (Inspirational)

 


Classical music: Black Marigold, the Madison-based woodwind quintet, will perform three FREE PUBLIC concerts in the second half of August, starting this Friday.

August 13, 2013
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Word has come of three very appealing FREE and PUBLIC performances by a notable local chamber music group. Here is the press release:

“Black Marigold (below) welcomes the dog days of August with a free concert series of chamber works hot enough to fry an egg on the stage. (You can hear Black Marigold in a lively performance of the “William Tell” Overture by Rossini in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

“Join the members of this local woodwind quintet as they perform arrangements some of their favorite orchestral works, including a 100th anniversary celebration of the notorious premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Any riotous reactions to this challenging quintet adaptation will hopefully come in the form of applause.

“All performances are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Black Marigold 2

“Members of Black Marigold are: Elizabeth Marshall, flute; Laura Medisky, oboe; Bethany Schultz, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn; and Cynthia Cameron Fix, bassoon.

For more information about the group, here is a link to a website and also the group’s email address:

www.blackmarigold.com

blackmarigoldwinds@gmail.com

Here is the line-up of upcoming appearances with programs and links to details:   

Friday, August 16, 6 p.m ., Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Lecture Hall (below), first floor, 227 State St., Madison, Wisconsin

MMOCA lecture hall

Saturday, August 17, 7 p.m. , Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, Grand Hall (below), 333 W Main St., Madison, Wisconsin  

Program:  Overture to “Candide” – by Leonard Bernstein, trans. Don Stewart; “Le Tombeau de Couperin” – by Maurice Ravel, arr. Mason Jones; “The Rite of Spring” – by Igor Stravinsky, arr. Jonathan Russell; “Rhapsody in Blue” – by George Gershwin, arr. Ernst-Thilo Kalke

Capitol Lakes Hall

Orton Park Festival, Main Stage (below top), Sunday, August 25, noon, Orton Park, 1200 Spaight St., Madison, Wisconsin, with a special guest, the local well known recording engineer, amateur musician and all-round enthusiastic and amiable good sport Buzz Kemper (below bottom) as narrator. 

The Orton Park program inc;ludes:  Overture to “Candide” – by Leonard Bernstein, trans. Don Stewart; “Peter and the Wolf” – by Sergei Prokofiev, arr. Earl C. North; “The Rite of Spring” – by Igor Stravinsky, arr. Jonathan Russell; “Rhapsody in Blue” – by George Gershwin, arr. Ernst-Thilo Kalke

Buckwheat Zydeco performing at the Orton Park Festival, 2006

buzz kemper


Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble performs music by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Telemann, C.P.E. Bach and Johann Gottfried Muthel this Sunday afternoon at the historic landmark Gates of Heaven Synagogue.

February 8, 2013
Leave a Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The early music group Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will present a concert of baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music on period instruments this Sunday afternoon, February 10, at 3 p.m. at the Gates of Heaven (below), located at 300 East Gorham Street. in James Madison Park in downtown Madison, Wisconsin

Gates of Heaven

Tickets at the door are: $15, $10 for students.

The musicians (below) are: Theresa Koenig – recorder; Brett Lipshutz – traverse; Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Consuelo Sanudo – mezzo soprano; Anton TenWolde – cello; and Max Yount – harpsichord.


Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

The program “Sturm und Drang: Music of the Late German Baroque” features music by C.P.E. Bach, Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Telemann and Johann Gottfried Muthel (at bottom in a YouTube video).

Here are the specific works: C.P.E. Bach – Sonata in D Major for viola da gamba and basso continuo

  • Telemann – Fantasia in B minor (flute solo) 
  • Vivaldi – Sonata in E-flat for cello and basso continuo, RV 39; 
  • Telemann – Cantata “Es ist ein schlechter Ruhm” from “Harmonischer Gottesdienst”; 
  • Monteverdi – “Se i languidi miei sguardi”; 
  • Muthel – Sonata in D major for flute and basso continuo; and 
  • Telemann – Trio Sonata No. 7 for recorder, viola da gamba, and basso continuo, from “Essercii musici.”

Future 2013 WBE concerts in Madison will be held on April 13, October 12 and November 30, all at 8 p.m.

For more information about this concert, including program notes and player biographies, visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org or call (608) 238 5126.


Classical Music: Here is Part 3 of The Ear’s holiday gift-giving guide, featuring NPR’s “Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012.” Plus, how will you celebrate Beethoven’s birthday today?

December 16, 2012
7 Comments

ALERT: Be sure to listen to some Beethoven (below) today. Because Dec. 16 is Ludwig van‘s   242nd birthday  (born Dec. 16, 1770 in Bonn – died March 26, 1827 in Vienna).  

Beethoven big

By Jacob Stockinger

As in past years, and two weekends ago, The Ear will again be offering some holiday gift-giving ideas for classical music fans.

Of course, every year I recommend package gifts – gifts that combine a recording or video with a book or, best of all, a ticket to a live concert.

Two weekends ago, I offered the Classical Nominations for the 2013 Grammys. Here are links to the two postings:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-1-of-2-plus-the-uw-russian-folk-orchestra-and-madison-handbells-pe/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-2-of-2/

Grammy

One of my most trusted sources for sound judgment, when it comes to outstanding classical music, is NPR’s outstanding blog “Deceptive Cadence” and its exceptionally well-informed writers Tom Huizenga (below) and Anastasia Tsioulcas.

huizenga_tom_2011

That blog publishes its list of the best classical recording halfway through the year, and then again an expanded version at year’s end. As usual, it provides a fine of established artists and well-known artists; vocalists and instrumentalists; established repertoire and contemporary music; big labels and small labels; large groups, small ensembles and individual performers..

Below is a link to the NPR list for this past year. Be sure to read comments and other suggestion for Best of 2012 by  readers and followers of the NPR blog.

You will notice that the pianist Jeremy Denk made the NPR  post for his Nonesuch debut recording (below) of some fiendishly difficult etudes by Gyorgy Ligeti combined with Beethoven’s epic last piano sonata, Op. 111 in C Minor.

Denk will perform in Madison on April 22 at 8 p.m. in Mills Halls, at the University of Wisconsin School of Music while the historic Wisconsin Union Theater is closed for renovations. A ticket to that concert, which is tentatively scheduled to have program of half-Brahms and half-Liszt, would be a welcome gift.

jeremy denk ligeti-beethoven CD

But you can find other connections — cellist Alisa Weilerstein (below) has performed several times in Madison — to make with local live concerts by orchestras, chamber music ensembles, soloists and opera companies.

AlisaWeilerstein

Here is NPR’s “Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012,” which comes complete with CD covers and audio samples:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/bestmusic2012/2012/12/04/166505256/top-10-classical-albums-of-2012

Have fun figuring out ways to bring about synergy and make your classical music gift even more rewarding and expansive!

In the COMMENTS part, tell me what you think of NPR’s suggestions.

And leave your own gift-giving suggestions!

The Ear wants to hear.


Next Page »

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,190 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,045,308 hits
%d bloggers like this: