The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Heading into Spring Break, the University of Wisconsin School of Music offers FREE concerts of percussion, vocal music from operas, piano quartets and orchestral music this week.

March 10, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

The headlong rush toward the end of the semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is about to begin with the Spring Break, which runs from March 15-23. After that is over, about six weeks or so of concerts remain, and the UW-Madison School of Music concert calendar will get even more jammed with conflicts.

So here are the events for this week before the break.

TUESDAY

At 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill, an Opera Workshop will take place –probably the last one for University Opera to be done by its outgoing director Bill Farlow (below, in a photo by Kathy Esposito), who will retire at the end of the semester.

William Farlow by Kathy Esposito

The event usually features student singers in scenes from famous operas with piano accompaniment. Sorry, no word yet about the specific performers or works on the program. But the programs and performers usually get high marks from local opera fans.

MusicHall2

Also on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, guest marimba player Andy Harnsberger (below), will perform a FREE concert.

Andy Harnsberg with mallets

Harnberger will perform with members of the UW Western Percussion Ensemble (below), though The Ear has not received word of specific works on the program.

Western Percussion Ensemble

Andy Harnsberger (below) has performed as percussionist with numerous American orchestras, as well as the contemporary music ensemble “Currents”, and has toured extensively as percussionist and xylophone soloist with The Jack Daniel’s Silver Cornet Band. He has also made several guest appearances on NPR, both in interviews and in live performances, to bring public awareness to the marimba as a solo instrument.

andy harnsberger playing

Harnsberger is Assistant Professor of Music and Percussion Coordinator at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee and is active throughout the year as a freelance percussionist and recitalist. He is in demand as a clinician across the country and internationally, presenting clinics and master classes at many universities each year.

His compositions have been performed at PASIC and around the world and he is a recipient of the ASCAP PLUS award for his contributions to American Concert Music. Harnsberger earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he also received the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. Andy is a performing artist and clinician for Pearl Drums and Adams Musical Instruments, Innovative Percussion, Inc., Evans Drum Heads, Sabian Cymbals, Ltd., and Grover Pro Percussion.

Andy Harnsberger with instruments

Also on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. but in Morphy Recital Hall, cellist Mark Kosower and his pianist wife Jee-Won Oh (both below) will perform an evening of famous piano quartets: one in G minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (at the bottom you can hear a popular YouTube video the final movement of the Mozart quartet with an intriguing abstract animation or illustration); the other in C Minor by Johannes Brahms.

Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh

They will be joined by another wide-and-husband team: UW violin teacher and Madison violinist Eugene Purdue (below top) and Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm (below bottom).

Eugene Purdue 1 Thomas C. Stringfellow

Sally Chisholm

Principal Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra, Kosower will be at the UW School of Music March 10-12. He is on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and previously taught at the San Francisco Conservatory. He is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and has performed in Madison on many previous occasions.

Kosower will also offer a cello master class on Wednesday, March 12, in the afternoon. The time and place are yet To Be Announced.

Learn more about Kosower at:

http://www.colbertartists.com/ArtistBio.asp?ID=62

mark kosower with bridge

WEDNESDAY

There is an afternoon master class with resident guest cellist Mark Kosower (below). SEE ABOVE.

Mark Kosower with cello

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra (below), under director and conductor James Smith, will give a FREE concert.

The program includes the “Lucient” Variations by Milwaukee-born composer Michael Torke; “The Birds” by Ottorino Respighi; and
 the Serenade No. 2 by Johannes Brahms.

UW Chamber Orchestra entire

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Classical music: Is it payback time for Russian musicians at the Winter Olympics in Sochi? Conductor Valery Gergiev is the official maestro of Vladimir Putin’s big show that opens tonight with grand ceremony.

February 7, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you have been waiting for the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics (below is the official logo), tonight is the night it all begins for real –- at least officially because some preliminary rounds of sporting events like figure skating and snowboarding have already been held — even amid the terrorist threats, corruption, unfinished construction, dog roundups, authoritarianism and homophobia.

winter olympics 2014 logo

Many of us here in the U.S. will be tuning in at 8 p.m. EST to NBC-TV and streaming the games on-line. Here is a link to a schedule, to background stories and to other links.

http://www.nbcolympics.com

For a complete schedule of events, check out:

http://www.sochi2014.com

And tonight is the opening ceremonies, the March of Nations, where all the athletes will march into the main stadium.

Could it also be payback time for Russian superstar musicians?

The maestro of music for the Olympics is the ever busy, often unshaven and always critically acclaimed conductor Valery Gergiev (below), who guest conducts around the world and holds his own podium at the Mariinsky Theatre in St.Petersburg.

Gergievin NY

But ironically, the maestro is a very close friend and political supporter – as is superstar soprano Anna Netrebko (below), who may or may not show up at Sochi — of the heavy-handed and thuggish Russian President, and former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin. (Below is a photo of Vladimir Putin pinning a state decoration on Valery Gergiev.)

vladimir putin decorates valery gergiev

The combination of the two V-Men — Vladimir and Valery — creates certain ironies and some wariness or even dissatisfaction.

Here is a link to a fine story about Gergiev, Putin and the Olympics that aired in NPR. It also has links to some music.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/02/03/271168650/valery-gergiev-the-powerful-and-polarizing-maestro

And The New York Times has also published a story about Gergiev that focuses on his role as an ambassador and defender of Russian culture’s rebirth under Putin, whom Gergiev endorsed in the last presidential election (both are below), despite the foreign political fallout.

Valery Gergiev and Putin

So, will Anna Netrebko (seen below in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s opera “Eugene Onegin”), who also endorsed Putin, show up to sing?

Met Eugene Onegin Anna Netrebko face

Will some of the famous ballet dancers from the famed but beleaguered Bolshoi company in Moscow also perform?

Tune in and see.

But while we wait for the Winter Olympics to reveal themselves and for their many cultural contradictions to surface — and to help warm you up in this cold, cold Midwest winter -– here is some of the best music ever composed for the Olympics or sports events: A YouTube video of Milwaukee-born composer Michel Torke’s “Javelin” written for the 1996 Summer Olympics Games in Atlanta, Georgia:

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Classical music: The 2012 Summer Olympic Games officially open in London today – and here is guide to all you need to know about music and the Olympics.

July 27, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the official opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Sure, some of the events have already started. But the really big American and even global audiences will begin today and tonight with the broadcasting of the always spectacular opening ceremony and Parade of Nations.

Beyond the ever-present and irresistible trumpet fanfare, music has always played a major role in the modern Olympics Games right from their beginning at the end of the 19th century in Greece through Atlanta, Barcelona, Beijing and now London.

Composers such as Leo Arnaud,  Miwaukee-born Michael Torke (below), Philip Glass, John Williams and Leonard Bernstein have all written occasional music for the Olympic Games.

But the Olympics have also played a role in pushing non-classical and classical composers composers closer together, and in fostering “fusion” music that mixes genres, by incorporating composers as diverse as Ravi Shankar, Sir Edward Elgar and Freddie Mercury of the rock group Queen.

So, NPR’s terrific “Deceptive Cadence” blog has done it again by offering readers a thorough and engaging history of music and the Olympics — complete with many audio clips.

Here is a link to the in-depth story done by blog master Tom Huizenga that aired on Thursday’s edition of “All Things Considered.”

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/07/26/157235593/a-know-it-alls-guide-to-olympic-music

I hope you find this as enjoyable and informative as The Ear did.

And if you have additional information or questions, be sure leave something in the COMMENT section.

And finally here is my favorite piece of Olympics music: “Javelin” by Michael Torke.

What Olympics music most moves you?

Let the Games Begin.


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