The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Middleton Community Orchestra announces an ambitious 2020-21 season with new guest soloists and conductors, but with no Middleton venue

March 30, 2020
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By Jacob Stockinger

Amid all the concert cancellations due to COVID-19 comes good news.

The mostly amateur and critically acclaimed Middleton Community Orchestra (MCO, below) — which has canceled and postponed concerts for the remainder of this season — has announced its five-concert line-up for the 2020-21 season.

It is undeniably ambitious on several counts.

But unfortunately it usual venue — the Middleton Performing Arts Center that is attached to Middleton High School — will be undergoing renovations.

That means that the MCO will be using other venues besides its home base (below) for its 11th season.

The new venues include the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall (below) in the new Hamel Music Center, 740 University Ave., at the UW-Madison, which will host three of the concerts.

Also included for the other two concerts are the brand new McFarland Performing Arts Center (below)  – where the MCO will give the center’s inaugural public concert on Oct. 7 — and Madison Memorial High School.

Concert dates and times are usually Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. They are Oct. 7, Dec. 16, Feb. 17, April 2 (Friday) and May 26. Admission will remain $15 with free admission for students. And, as usual, post-concert meet-and-greet receptions will be held at all performances.

The ambitious new season includes some familiar faces but also some new names.

On Oct. 7, pianist Thomas Kasdorf (below) will open the season by performing the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff; and then, on May 26, he will close the season with the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Beethoven as the first installment of a complete cycle of Beethoven piano concertos.

On Oct. 7, UW professor and Pro Arte Quartet first violinist David Perry (below top) will make his MCO debut in the Violin Concerto No. 4 by Mozart; and on Dec. 16, Madison Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below bottom) will return to play the Violin Concerto by Brahms.

On April 2, the Festival Choir of Madison (below), under its director Sergei Pavlov, will makes its MCO debut in the movie-score cantata “Alexander Nevsky” by Prokofiev.

And the teenage winners of the second Youth Concerto Competition, to be held next December, will perform with the orchestra on Feb. 17.

The conductor for three concerts will be Kyle Knox, the music director of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) and associate conductor of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO).

A frequent MCO guest conductor, Knox has also agreed to become the ensemble’s new principal conductor and artistic adviser. (In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear Kyle Knox conducting the MCO last December in Wagner’s Overture to the opera “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” (The Master Singers of Nuremberg) at the UW’s Hamel Music Center.)

Two guest conductors will be making their MCO debuts: UW-Whitewater professor Christopher Ramaekers (below top) on Oct. 7 and Edgewood College professor Sergei Pavlov (below bottom) on April 2.

Some repertoire still hasn’t been decided. For up-to-date information, as well as information about how to audition for the MCO, how to subscribe to its email newsletter and how to support it, go to the newly redesigned website at: https://middletoncommunityorchestra.org

“We will also try to schedule the concert with this year’s Youth Concerto Competition winners for this summer, even if it means going to an outdoor venue,” says MCO co-founder and co-artistic director Mindy Taranto. The winners are: violinists Ava Kenny and Dexter Mott, and cellist Andrew Siehr.

Adds Taranto: “We are really excited about the lineup of guest soloists and new conductors, and are especially grateful to Kyle Knox for his continued association with us. We’re going to have a fantastic year.”

 


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Classical music: FREE Handel aria concert by area high school singers is this Saturday afternoon at Capitol Lakes

January 23, 2019
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ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature flutist Marilyn Chohaney, of The Oakwood Chamber Players, with pianist Joseph Ross and clarinetist James Smith. The program is salon music by Arnold Bax, Florent Schmitt, Claude Debussy and Dmitri Shostakovich. Sorry, no titles have been given. The concerts run from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

By Jacob Stockinger

On this coming Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, 333 West Main Street – two blocks off the Capitol Square — there will be an hour-long program featuring five young singers performing Handel arias.

There will also be a guest performance of a Handel duet by the Handel Aria Competition’s new artistic director Sarah Brailey (below top) and founding artistic director Cheryl Bensman-Rowe (below bottom).

You can hear Brailey, who won the Handel Aria Competition in 2015  and is now doing graduate work at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music while pursuing her growing career, in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Karlos Moser, professor emeritus of the UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music’s opera program, will accompany on the piano.

The performance is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

“Our goal is to encourage high school singers in the Madison, Wisconsin area to explore works from Handel’s vocal repertoire,” says Brailey.

All participating high school singers will receive a $100 Handel Aria Competition scholarship towards voice lessons or membership in the Madison Youth Choirs.

The high school singers who will perform are: Allana Beilke from Madison West High School; Daphne Buan from Verona Area High School; Ava DeCroix from Middleton High School; Cecilia League from McFarland High School; and Virginia Morgan from Madison West High School.

The students are all very active in the local arts scene and have participated in Wisconsin Badger All-State Choir, the Madison Opera Youth Apprentice Program, the Madison Symphony Chorus, the 50th anniversary Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Treble Choir, and have won numerous awards in the National Association for Teachers of Singing Student Auditions and the State Solo and Ensemble Festival.

The program will include selections from operas and oratorios “Agrippina,” “Joshua,” “L’Allegro,” “Semele” and “Solomon.”


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Classical music: The Oakwood Chamber Players conclude their season by performing Australian and New Zealand music this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, the Arbor Ensemble performs a benefit concert of works by English composers.

May 15, 2014
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ALERT: Violist Marie Pauls, a blog reader and music teacher, writes: “I have a newer chamber group called Arbor Ensemble, and I wanted to share with you info about a benefit recital we are doing. It is called “Steeped in Tradition: A Celebration of English Composers” and it will take place this Saturday, May 17, at 2:30 p.m. at the McFarland United Church of Christ, 5710 Anthony Street in McFarland.” 

The Anglophile recital program will include works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Rebecca Clarke, Ian Clarke and Sir Arthur Bliss. Tea and scones will be served following the performance.

Reservations are strongly encouraged to guarantee your place. PLEASE NOTE: Reserved tickets not claimed 10 minutes prior to the recital will be released to the public. Visit the lick below and click the “tickets link” to make your reservation today. If you are interested in donating an item to the silent auction, please contact Arbor Ensemble! Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students. All ages are welcome.

http://arborensemble.com/events

Marie Pauls violist

By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about performing rarely heard repertory — even in the same English-speaking world!

Plus, add in some unknown women composers, and you have the makings of a memorable event.

This Saturday night and Sunday afternoon the Oakwood Chamber Players (below) will perform “Down Under,” its final concert in the season exploring music by composers from various regions around the world, featuring a program of music by Australian and New Zealand composers.

Oakwood Chamber Players 2012 2

Map of Australia and New Zealand

The Oakwood Chamber Players will present the program “Down Under” on Saturday, May 17 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, May 18, at 1 p.m., in the Oakwood Village Center for Arts and Education, 6205 Mineral Point Road, 6205 Mineral Point Road, on Madison’s far west side.

Tickets are available at the door. Admission is $20 for the general public, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

This is the fifth and final concert in the 2013-2014 Season Series titled “Origination: Exploring Musical Regions of the World.”

Australian compositions to be performed include a string quartet (at bottom in a YouTube video performed by the Australian String Quartet)  by Miriam Hyde (below top), written in the 20th century pastoral style, as well as “Concertina di Camera” for winds and piano by Peggy Glanville-Hicks (below bottom), who was a student of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Miriam Hyde and music mss

Peggy Glanville-Hicks at piano

Compositions by Percy Grainger (below) will be represented with a grouping of favorites including “Country Gardens “ for solo piano and three pieces in mixed chamber ensemble settings including “Handel on the Strand”, “Shepherd’s Hey” and “Walking Tune.”

Percy Grainger

Two centuries of New Zealand compositions will be represented by Keith Statham’s melodic “Lansdown Gardens” and “Flora” for flute, clarinet and piano, by Keith Statham (below top) as well “Morningstar II” for mixed winds and strings by 21st century composer Paul Stanhope (below bottom, in a photo by Jacky Ghossein).

Keith Statham drawing

Paul Stanhope CR Jacky Ghossein

The lively and familiar “Jamaican Rumba” buy Australian Arthur Benjamin (below) will round out the programming.

Paul Stanhope CR Jacky Ghossein

arthur benjamin

The Oakwood Chamber Players is a group of Madison-area professional musicians who have rehearsed and performed at Oakwood Village for 30 years. Many have affiliations with and perform with well-known groups such as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Opera and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

Visit www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com for more information.

The Oakwood Chamber Players are a professional music ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries and the Oakwood Foundation, in collaboration with Friends of the Arboretum, Inc.

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