The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Acclaimed organist Ahreum Han Congdon returns to conclude the Overture Concert Organ season Tuesday night. Plus, the percussion ensemble Clocks in Motion performs a FREE and STREAMED LIVE concert Sunday afternoon at the Chazen Museum of Art and the UW-Madison’s Wingra Woodwind Quintet performs a FREE all-French program tomorrow night at 7

April 2, 2016
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ALERT 1: Tomorrow, starting at 12:30 p.m., this month’s Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen will feature the Madison-based percussion group Clocks in Motion. The FREE concert in Brittingham Gallery 3 will also be streamed live. Here is a link with information about the complete program and a link to the streaming web site:

ALERT 2: Tomorrow night, on Sunday at 7 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, the UW-Madison‘s Wingra Wind Quintet will perform a FREE concert of modern and contemporary French music. For more information, here is a link:

By Jacob Stockinger

Ahreum Han Congdon (below), a critically acclaimed organist, will mark the end of the current Overture Concert Organ season with a recital on this Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center, 201 State Street.


Han Congdon, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Yale University, thrilled the audience in her Madison debut performance during the 2014 Dane County Farmers’ Market concert.

Now she returns for a full solo recital on the colossal Klais concert organ in a program of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jacques Offenbach, Louis Vierne, Max Reger and others.

Here is the complete program, which concludes the current season of organ concerts sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra:

Charles-Marie Widor
Symphony V in F Minor, Op. 42, No. 1. 
I. Allegro Vivace

Johann Sebastian Bach. 
Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593
 I. Untitled II. Adagio
 III. Allegro

Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Valse Mignonne, Op. 142, No. 2

Louis Vierne. 
Clair de Lune, Op. 53, No. 5

Jacques Offenbach.
 Orpheus in the Underworld. 
Transcribed by Ahreum Han Congdon

Johannes Matthias Michel.
 Organ, Timbrel and Dance: Three Jazz Organ Preludes 
I. Swing Five (Erhalt uns, Herr) II. Bossa Nova (Wunderbarer König)
 III. Afro-Cuban (In dir ist Freude)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 
Andante in F Major, K. 616

Max Reger.
 Chorale Fantasy on J.S. Bach’s Sleepers Awake, A Voice is Calling,  Op. 52, No. 2 (You can hear it in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Han Congdon has appeared in recital on many of the world’s major organs in addition to solo performances at national and regional conventions for the American Guild of Organists.

General admission for the concert is $20 and tickets can be purchased at, the Overture Box Office or (608) 258-4141.

Student rush tickets are $10 day of show with a valid student ID (see

Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned from famous Klais Organ Works in Germany the Overture Concert Organ (below), which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts.

Overture Concert Organ overview

For more Overture Concert Organ information, visit

Classical music: Rising star Isabelle Demers opens the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Overture Concert Organ season this coming Tuesday.

October 2, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The acclaimed Canadian organist Isabelle Demers (below) will open the 11th Overture Concert Organ series for the Madison Symphony Orchestra with an unusual recital this coming Tuesday night, Oct. 6.

The concert, which includes her own transcriptions of orchestral works, is at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State Street.

Music Department – Isabelle Demers, Organ – Horace Maxile, Theory – Jones Concert Hall – 08/21/2012

In addition to performing works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergei Prokofiev, Henry Martin, Max Reger, George Thalben-Ball and Louis Vierne, Demers in her Madison debut will also perform sections of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous orchestral work Scheherazade, which she has transcribed for the organ.

For the specific works on the program, go to:

Demers (below), who was recently appointed Professor of Organ and head of the Organ Department at Baylor University, has established herself as one of North America’s most virtuosic organists, and is also renowned worldwide as a brilliant performer who consistently enraptures audiences.

She has released recordings including works by Max Reger and Rachel Laurin, which have been praised as “profound and searching” and “superbly produced.” (You can hear Isabelle Demers perform a dramatic work by Rachel Laurin in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Isabelle Demers 2

General admission for the concert is $20 and tickets can be purchased at, the Overture Box Office or (608) 258-4141.

Student rush tickets are $10 day of show with a valid student ID (see

This performance is sponsored by the Skofronick Family Charitable Trust. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) commissioned the Klais custom-built Overture Concert Organ (below), which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts.

Overture Concert Organ overview

To see the Overture Concert Organ series of concerts for 2015-16 or to subscribe at a 25 percent savings, visit: or call (608) 257-3734.

Classical music datebook: Despite Sunday’s Super Bowl 46, February opens with an emphasis on young performers and chamber music spotlighting three successive generations of German Romanticism.

February 1, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

There’s really no arguing about it: The second half of the concert season is well under way with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Opera both having turned in superb performances.

This weekend will be quite a bit quieter. Could it be because Sunday’s Super Bowl 46 will cause fall-offs in audience attendance and create scheduling conflicts?

You can have both football and music. There is still time to catch concerts on Sunday afternoon and make the kick off at 5:30 p.m. CST on NBC TV.

Anyway, despite football there is still much to listen to and many good choices to make. Here is the line-up:


The FREE Friday Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the historic Landmark Auditorium at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature Madison native and violinist Mary Theodore (below), cellist Michael Allen and violist Chris Dozoryst in the music of Bartok and Ravel. For information, call 608 233-9774 or visit


The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will hold a free open rehearsal this Saturday in Mills Hall, on the UW-Madison campus in the Humanities Building at 455 North Park Street, starting at 10 a.m. Music students, families, and teachers are invited to come and see what WYSO has to offer. Guests will be able to talk with WYSO staff and parents of current members, and will get a chance to tour WYSO’s four orchestras in rehearsal. After the tour, guests will have an opportunity to speak with current WYSO members in a Q&A session.

For more details, visit:

Since 1966, WYSO has been providing excellence in musical opportunities for more than 5,000 young people in southern Wisconsin. WYSO includes three full orchestras and a string orchestra, a chamber music program, a harp program, a percussion ensemble, and a brass choir program.

The orchestras rehearse on Saturday mornings during the academic year, perform three to four public concerts per season, and tour regionally, nationally and internationally. The Youth Orchestra will tour to Prague, Vienna and Budapest in July 2012; and has toured to Canada, Japan, Scotland, Spain, France, Colorado, Iowa and Washington, D.C., in the past.


“Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” welcomes the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater faculty ensemble on Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery Number III at the Chazen Museum of Art.

The program features three piano trios: Beethoven Piano Trio in E-flat, Op. 70, No. 2; Schubert’s “Notturno” in E-flat, D. 897; and Brahms’ Piano Trio No.1 in B major, Op. 8.

As usual, it will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio.

According to a press release, the faculty of the UW-Whitewater School of Music (below) is made up of  performers, composers and scholars dedicated to educational excellence whose work is known across the nation. The School of Music produces up to 130 musical programs per year including student recitals and ensembles as well as the Faculty/Guest Artist concert series.

The UW-Whitewater music faculty have received highest acclaim as educators, awarded six W.P. Roseman Awards, the highest University-wide teaching award for faculty, four University-wide awards for outstanding teaching by academic staff, and numerous College of Arts and Communication Excellence Awards.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can call ahead and reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited. All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For more information or to learn how to become a museum member, contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception follows the performance, with refreshments generously donated by Fresh Madison Market, Coffee Bytes and Steep & Brew. A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

Then at 2:30 p.m. in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave. across from Camp Randall, the local chamber music ensemble Con Vivo! (Music with Life, below) will open continue to mark its 10th anniversary season.

The concert will feature the music of three successive masters of German Romanticism: Johannes Brahms, Alexander Zemlinsky and Max Reger.  The program includes the String Quintet in F Major, Op.88 by Brahms, the Trio for piano, clarinet and cello Op. 3 by Zemlinsky and the “Fantasy on Ein Feste Burg” by Max Reger played on the magnificent organ at First Congregational Church.

Tickets can be purchased at the door:$12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students.

Audience members are invited to join Con Vivo! musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss this chamber music literature and to celebrate their 10th tenth season.

Artistic Director Robert Taylor, in remarking about the concert said, “We have always strived to present chamber music in an enjoyable and enlightening manner. This program shows the progression of the late German Romantic era with Brahms as the traditionalist and Zemlinsky (below top), a student of Brahms, showing new directions in harmony. Closing the concert is a piece by Max Reger (below bottom), one the last of the tonal German composers, who shows the way forward to what would become the atonal music of the Second Viennese School in the early 20th century. With our 10th season, we continue the tradition of bringing our audience works that are familiar and some that are perhaps new. ”

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.


At 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall. The University of Wisconsin School of Music will open the second half of the season Faculty Concert Series with a FREE and PUBLIC horn recital by Daniel Grabois (below, in a photo by James Gill), who has chosen a program to pay homage to the horn department at the UW School of Music.

Grabois (pronounced Gra-BOY) will be joined by pianist Kirstin Ihde and percussionist Todd Hammes.

The program includes Sonata No. 3, by Alec Wilder (below top); “Prelude to Sunrise” by Todd Hammes; and “The Spikenard” by Grabois; the world premiere of “Roda” by Manhattan School of Music student Leah Asher, whose artwork will be displayed during the piece’s performance; and the “Song Suite in Jazz Style” by retired UW hornist and composer Douglas Hill (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

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