The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Renowned organist Hector Olivera will play classics and also improvise spontaneously in Overture Hall on Tuesday night

February 9, 2020
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By Jacob Stockinger

At 7:30 p.m. on this Tuesday night, Feb. 11, in Overture Hall, the renowned Argentinian organist and composer Hector Olivera (below) will make his local debut on the Overture Concert Organ Series sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Olivera will perform on the Klais Overture Concert Organ (below)

All tickets are $20.

The program includes works by: Johann Sebastian Bach; Cesar Franck; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Astor Piazzolla; Louis Vierne; Marco Enrico Bossi; and William Ralph Driffill.

For the specific works on the program, plus information about buying tickets, biographical background and reviews of his past performances, go to:

Says Greg Zelek (below), the MSO organist and Juilliard School graduate who also organizes the organ concert series:

“Known as one of the most exciting organists of the 20th century, international concert organist Hector Olivera will entertain and exhilarate the audience with an unforgettable performance.

“Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mr. Olivera has performed all over the world and has had audiences leaping to their feet with applause for years.

“His debut performance at Overture Hall will feature organ classics like Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster, as well as transcriptions like “Oblivion” by another Argentine native, Astor Piazzolla.

“He will close the concert with an improvisation on a submitted theme that is sure to enthrall and amaze everyone in attendance.”

Want proof or a preview?

You can hear Olivera improvise on a traditional Chinese folk song, first sung to him, during a concert in Shenzhin, China, in the YouTube video below:

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Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s series of four organ concerts begins this Friday night. Also, the Oakwood Chamber Players perform on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.”

October 10, 2013
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ALERT: This Sunday, Wisconsin Public Radio’s live statewide broadcast “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. will feature the Oakwood Chamber Players of Madison. Sorry, but no word on the program yet. And there is still no listing of upcoming SAL concerts and performers on the new WPR website.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 2

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO)’s 2013-2014 Overture Concert Organ Season will start this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. In Overture Hall. (Below is a photo of the custom-built Klais organ in Overture Hall of the Overture Center.)

The series includes four diverse performances from the MSO’s principal organist, several dynamic guest artists, and the impressive Madison Youth Choirs.  Each concert will be in Overture Hall, where the MSO’s concert organ resides.

Overture Concert Organ overview


The first concert this Friday at 7:30 p.m. features solo works performed by Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio), the MSO’s principal organist and curator.

Highlighting the concert will be Hutchison’s transcription of the Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin,” and his interpretation of Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm (the fugue is in a YouTube video at the bottom).  Considered one of the pinnacles of Romantic organ composition, the sonata’s furious fugue and thrilling conclusion make for an unforgettable sonic experience.

Works by Gabriel Pierné, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Marco Enrico Bossi will also be performed.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio


On Friday, Nov. 8, sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch (below top and bottom, respectively) will join Hutchison in a program for organ and violins. The program features J.S. Bach’s Double Concerto and Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in D Minor. The sisters are a powerful pairing: both are members of the MSO’s first violin section and have impressive performance resumes.  Each sister has also won prestigious competitions at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.

In addition to performing with the Bartsch sisters, Hutchison will present solo works for organ by composers Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger, Tomoso Vitali, and others.

Alice Bartsch

Eleanor Bartsch


On Friday, March 21, the third Overture Concert Organ Performance will feature internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell (below), making her Overture Hall debut.

Fishell is a seasoned recitalist, having performed in many of the world’s greatest concert venues in Tokyo, Cambridge, Berlin, Budapest, and Prague.  She has been featured at five national conventions and five regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and also holds a professorship and chair in Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

The program, entitled Bach and Beyond, will include the music of J.S Bach, Miloš Sokola, Ethyl Smyth, Lionel Rogg, and Louis Vierne.

Janette Fishell CR Forrest Croce


On SATURDAY, May 10, the final Concert Organ performance will feature dozens of guest artists as Samuel Hutchison takes the stage with the Madison Youth Choirs Saturday.

Michael Ross, artistic director for the Choirs, has received significant praise from MSO Conductor John DeMain: “I can never say enough about the good work that Michael Ross is doing with the Madison Youth Choirs; they are an essential and beloved part of our Christmas Concerts.”

Works by John Rutter, J.S. Bach, Lili Boulanger and Herbert Howells will be performed.

Madison Youth Choirs Ragazzi cr Karen Holland

General admission for the above Overture Concert Organ performances is $20. Season subscriptions to all four concerts are available for $63 through TODAY, Oct. 10, at Other organ events for the 2013-2014 season include Free Community Hymn Sings Saturday, Nov. 16 (11 a.m.) and March 8 (11 a.m.), as well as a Free Community Christmas Carol Sing Sunday, Dec. 1 (7 p.m.).

Organist Nathan Laube (below) will also join the Madison Symphony Orchestra April 4-6, 2014, to perform Jongen’s “Symphonie Concertante.” 

Nathan Laube at console

The organ series is made possible by major funding from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and from the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the backdrop of all MSO concerts in Overture Hall.

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra announces the new 2013-14 season of the Overture Concert Organ series, featuring sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch of Madison as well as local and imported talent in appealing and varied programs.

May 23, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The news about new seasons continues to come in.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has just announced the 2013-14 season of concerts with the Overture Concert Organ (below) that will feature the internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell, MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison, MSO sister violinists Alice Bartsch and Eleanor Bartsch, and the Madison Youth Choirs.

Overture Concert Organ overview

Now the acclaimed Twin Sister duo of pianists Michelle and Christina Naughton can be joined by their violinist counterparts from Madison.

Program highlights include Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm and double violin concertos by J. S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi.

Subscriptions are available for $63 to the four-concert series, which has quietly become one of the best-attended organ seasons around.

The subscription deadline is June 28. Subscribers save 25 percent off the cost of single tickets and get the best seats before they go on sale to the general public on August 17.

Subscriptions, full details and concert programs are now available at

Here is an overview of the season with artists and programs:

Samuel Hutchison (below) opens the season on Friday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Overture Center‘s Overture Hall with a program of works by J. S. Bach, Gabriel Pierné, Marco Enrico Bossi and a special transcription of the waltz from Peter Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The highlight of the program will be Hutchison’s interpretation of Julius Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm, which is considered one of the pinnacles of Romantic organ composition.

Hutchison has received rave reviews from the local press for his playing: The Capital Times said, “Simply ‘fantastique’! Hutchison delivered a seamless performance.” And John W. Barker, writing for Isthmus, said, “Hutchison took full measure of the work in the strongest performance of it I can recall hearing.”


MSO first violinists and sisters Alice Bartsch (below top) and Eleanor Bartsch (below bottom) join Hutchison on Friday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall with the Double Concerto by J. S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi’s Double Concerto in D Minor.

Both sisters have distinguished themselves as stellar violinists and have won competitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. Hutchison will round out the program with works by Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger and Giacomo Meyerbeer.

Alice Bartsch

Eleanor Bartsch

Organist Janette Fishell (below) has performed in many of the world’s great concert venues and has just completed a 21-concert cycle of the complete works of J. S. Bach, which she talks about in the YouTube video at the bottom. Her program on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. includes works by J. S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Miloš Sokola, Robert Schumann, Lionel Rogg and others.

Fishell serves as Professor of Music and Chair of the Organ Department at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She has been described as “a tour de force” in The Diapason, and her colleagues of the American Guild of Organists call her “fabulous…flawless!”

Janette Fishell CR Forrest Croce

The highly popular Madison Youth Choirs (Michael Ross, Artistic Director) bring the season to a close with Hutchison on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall with a refreshing program of music for soprano, alto, tenor and bass mixed voices with treble singers.

The program includes works by John Rutter, J. S. Bach, Lili Boulanger, Herbert Howells and others. MSO Music Director John DeMain has said, “I can never say enough about the good work that Michael Ross does with the Madison Youth Choirs; they are an essential and beloved part of our Christmas concerts.”

madison youth choirs

The Overture Concert Organ is owned by the MSO. It is programmed and curated by MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison. In addition to the subscription season, the instrument is featured in the MSO Christmas concerts and in the April, 2014 program, as well as the Free Farmers’ Market Concert series with three summer events and Free Community Hymn Sings, which take place four times per season.

Details can be found on the Web at

The Overture Concert Organ series is made possible by major funding from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. Additional sponsorships come from Friends of the Overture Concert Organ and John and Christine Gauder.

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