The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, the Madison Bach Musicians explore the miracle of Mozart across his lifetime and across different genres

April 1, 2019
1 Comment

IF YOU LIKE A CERTAIN BLOG POST, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. FORWARD A LINK TO IT OR, SHARE or TAG IT (not just “Like” it) ON FACEBOOK. Performers can use the extra exposure to draw potential audience members to an event.

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Bach Musicians concludes its 15th season on this coming Saturday night, April 6, at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, April 7, at 3:30 p.m. with  The Mozart Miracle .

The program features performances of beloved music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791, below) with an all period-instrument chamber orchestra in the magnificent acoustic setting of the First Congregational United Church of Christ (below), 1609 University Avenue, near Camp Randall Stadium.

Period-instrument specialists hailing from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, Omaha, Seattle, Philadelphia and New York City will perform on natural or valveless horns, classical oboes, gut-strung violins, violas, cellos and a double bass played with 18th-century transitional bows.

Early music specialist and bassoon professor Marc Vallon (below to, in a photo by James Gill) of UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music will lead the orchestra (below bottom, in a performance last year at the First Unitarian Society of Madison).

Internationally acclaimed soprano Ariadne Lih (below), from Montreal, Canada, will join the ensemble for  Exsultate Jubilate — a ringing example of how Mozart could seamlessly fuse religious zeal with vocal pyrotechnics. (You can hear Renée Fleming sing “Exsultate Jubilate” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The program also features dance sequences, choreographed by Karen McShane Hellenbrand (below) of the UW-Madison, from Mozart’s ballet Les Petits Riens  (The Little Nothings).

Also included are pre-concert lectures: On Saturday, April 6, at 7:15 p.m.  there is a lecture by MBM artistic director Trevor Stephenson with an 8 p.m. concert . On Sunday, April 7, his lecture is at 2:45 p.m.  with the concert at 3:30 p.m.

Advance-sale discounted  tickets are $35 for general admission.

Tickets are available at  Orange Tree Imports and Willy Street Coop (East and West). You can also buy advance tickets online at www.madisonbachmusicians.org

Tickets at the door are:  $38 general for adults, $35 for seniors 65-plus, and student rush for $10, on sale 30 minutes before lecture.

MBM artistic director Stephenson (below) sent the following remarks to The Ear:

Here are two fantastic quotations about Mozart:

“Together with the puzzle he gives you the solution.” Ferrucio Busoni on Mozart

“It may be that when the angels go about their task of praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together as a family, they play Mozart…” Karl Barth

Both quotes underline, I believe, Mozart’s charismatic generosity of spirit, his sense of play and camaraderie. We’re all in this together! Mozart’s music is a perfect fusion of melodic inspiration — tunes so good they can stay in your head for joyous weeks at a time, or even a lifetime — and structural clarity.

His sense of proportion — when to display 18th-century balance and when to step outside the frame — is uncanny and always a delight. And for me, as a five-year-old-boy, dancing about the living room to the old LP vinyl — dancing lightly, though, so the record wouldn’t skip — it was Mozart’s boundless energy and joy, pouring out of the speakers, that really revved me up.

The Madison Bach Musicians program on this coming Saturday and Sunday will explore several sides of Mozart’s genius: master orchestrator and symphonist; aficionado of fugues; virtuoso keyboard player and mesmerizing improviser; ballet composer; and the greatest fashioner of material for the soprano voice.

MBM has assembled a Classical-period chamber orchestra, replete with gut strings and transitional bows, natural horns, and classical oboes. To this we’ll add: a fortepiano — the type of instrument Mozart toured with; an elegant dancer — for dance was an integral part of 18th-century living; and a magnificent soprano — Mozart was virtually besotted with the magic of the high female voice, and he wrote for it throughout his life with imagination and a sense of thrilling experiment that has never been equaled before or since.

Here is a bit about each selection:

Symphony No. 1 in E-flat majorComposed 1764 when Mozart was just eight years old (below), during an extended stay in London with his father Leopold and sister Nannerl. Strongly influenced by the symphonies of C. F. Abel and J. C. Bach (The London Bach, youngest son of Johann Sebastian).

Symphony No. 29 in A majorComposed 1774 when Mozart was 18 years old (below). It is often considered the pinnacle of his early symphonic writing.

Exsultate Jubilate  for soprano and orchestra – Written 1773 in Milan for the castrato, or male soprano, Venanzio Rauzzini, it is an elegant fusion of rapturous melodies and vocal display.

Adagio & Fugue  in C minor for strings – Composed in 1788, certainly the latest Mozart work on the program when the composer was 32. Mozart had by this time — largely through the Sunday soirees at Baron van Swieten’s—been studying Bach’s fugues closely for several years. This fugue is an arrangement of a work for two fortepianos, K. 426, which Mozart had composed five years earlier in 1783. Mozart added the opening Adagio for the strings version.

Fantasy in D minor for fortepiano – Mozart improvised frequently as part of both private and public performance. This Fantasy, with its dark distinctive opening which explores the fantastical low register of the fortepiano, may give us a good idea of what Mozart might have done one night just sitting down to “jam” for his friends.

Two French Songs for soprano and fortepiano — Birds follow the warm weather, so they never cease their courtship. And in the woods one day the protagonist foolishly rouses a sleeping Cupid — and pays a terrible price.

Ballet excerpts from  Les Petit Riens – literally The Little Nothings. Mozart composed most, but not all, of this ballet in Paris 1778 for Jean-Georges Noverre, ballet master of the Paris Opera. The work served as an interlude to an opera by Niccolo Piccinni that closed after just four performances.

For more information, go to: www.madisonbachmusicians.org


Posted in Classical music
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Classical music: The weekend is a good time to catch up on the current tour of Italy by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

July 9, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, which has done so much to educate thousands of area young people and ensure future audience members as well as players for classical music.

As part of the celebration, the senior performing group — the Youth Orchestra (below) under the baton of UW-Madison conducting  professor and WYSO music director James Smith — is on a tour of Italy from July 6 through July 16.

WYSO Youth Orchestra

Using social media, WYSO has posted a page devoted to the tour on its website. The itinerary includes traveling, sightseeing and performing.

http://www.wysomusic.org/italytour/

And here is a link, with commentary and photos, directly to the blog that is being written from the tour:

http://wysoitalytour.tumblr.com

And here is a li k to the WYSO page on Facebook where you can also see lots of photos and gets a lot of information.

https://www.facebook.com/WYSOrchestras/

You can catch up and then keep up day to day.

Enjoy!

And be proud!

WYSO Logo blue


Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s popular Christmas concert celebrates the holiday with guest soloists and community choirs this coming weekend.

December 1, 2015
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at the Madison Symphony Orchestra write:

National vocalists, Madison community chorus members and the audience – all will get a chance to shine when Conductor John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra (both are below) kick off the holiday season with the much-loved tradition of the Madison Symphony Christmas concerts this coming weekend.

DeMain Santa Bob Rashid

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

The concerts will celebrate the holidays with a range of music from Johann Sebastian Bach, Irving Berlin, George Frideric Handel, Felix Mendelssohn, John Rutter, Ralph Vaughan Williams (his “Magnificat,” which you can hear performed at the La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy in the YouTube video at the bottom) and Franz Schubert to holiday favorites and rocking Gospel selections – topped off with the audience adding its voice to carols at the end.

The concerts are in Overture Hall of the Overture Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Single Tickets are $16 to $85 each, available at www.madisonsymphony.org/singletickets and through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street or call the Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

Groups of 15 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information visit, www.madisonsymphony.org/groups

Student rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two $12 or $15 tickets. More information is at: www.madisonsymphony.org/studentrush. Students can receive 20% savings on seats in select areas of the hall on advance ticket purchases.

Seniors age 62 and up receive 20% savings on advance and day-of-concert ticket purchases in select areas of the hall.

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.

Highlights of the concert include:

Soloists mezzo-soprano Emily Fons (below top) and bass-baritone David Govertsen (below bottom), who are accomplished national operatic singers.

Emily Fons

david govertsen

Madison Symphony Chorus (below top), directed by Beverly Taylor (below bottom), with 165 members, who come from all walks of life to combine their artistic talent.

MSO Chorus CR Greg Anderson

Beverly Taylor MSO portrait COLOR USE

Madison Youth Choirs (below), directed by Michael Ross, which combines young voices for a memorable experience;

Madiosn Youth Choirs 2014

Mt. Zion Gospel Choir (below), directed by Tamera and Leotha Stanley, which uses jazz, blues and gospel harmonies to “raise the roof” in creating captivating music;

Mt. Zion Gospel Choir

And Audience members who join in the singing.

Concertgoers are encouraged to arrive at the Overture Hall lobby 45 minutes before the concert, so they can be moved by the Madison Symphony Chorus leading carols in the festively lit lobby.

The festivities are sure to brighten spirits for all ages, and many families attend in groups of two or three generations.

PLEASE NOTE: These concerts typically sell out, so purchasing tickets early is encouraged.

Major funding for the December concerts is provided by American Printing, Nedrebo’s Formalwear, John W. Thompson and Jane A. Bartell, BMO Private Bank, Maurice and Arlene Reese Family Foundation, Hooper Foundation/General Heating & Air Conditioning, and Two Anonymous Friends. Additional funding is provided by National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., Hans and Mary Lang Sollinger, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 


Classical music: The Madison Early Music Festival turns 15 with a perfect opening concert by the Toronto Consort that explored the Italian Renaissance and the musical legacy of Leonardo da Vinci.

July 15, 2014
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Early Music Festival started as an idea.

So, what better way to mark its 15th anniversary than by exploring perhaps history’s greatest Man of Ideas -– Leonardo da Vinci?

Leonardo da Vinci

And that is exactly what happened during the opening concert last Saturday  night by MEMF, which this year is exploring Italian music from 1300 to 1600.

memf banner 2014

The festival — complete with workshops, lectures and concerts -– is held each summer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

It started as a way to help fill the summertime void of classical music. But now summer is its own season when it comes to classical music in Madison, and much of that success is due to MEMF’s success.

Co-founders and co-artistic directors UW-Madison baritone Paul Rowe and his soprano wife Cheryl Bensman Rowe (below) had every reason to be proud and moved -– and they were, visibly and audibly.

Paul Rowe, Cheryl Bensman Rowe MEMF 2014

This summer, because Mills Hall is under construction, MEMF has had to turn to other venues, chiefly the nearby Luther Memorial Church at 1021 University Avenue and Music Hall on Bascom Hill.

The opening concert “The Da Vinci Codex” was held at Luther Memorial, and the church seemed close to full, meaning almost 400 listeners attended. This alternative venue actually seemed an improvement in that it offered a warm and acoustically superior environment with sets and a building that complemented the religious beliefs and art of that era’s music and culture.

MEMF 2014 Luther Memorial

MEMF 2014 Luther Memorial audience

The program was set up by a fine and well-attended lecture and slide show given by UW-Madison art professor Gail Geiger (below). She examined the heretofore underestimated role of music in Leonardo’s life and career as a painter, drawing master, poet, engineer, inventor and all-round genius.

MEMF 2014 Gail Geiger

MEMF Gail Geiger slide show Leonardo

What the audience then heard was a two-hour concert in which no false note was sounded, no false step was taken.

The performer was the Toronto Consort, making its Madison debut. It proved an outstanding and thoroughly professional group of eight persons (below) who are multi-talented in their ability to sing, to play instruments and to recite narration dramatically, expressively and convincingly. They were not afraid to entertain and as well as to inform. (You can hear a sample of similar music performed by the Toronto Consort in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Toronto Consort MEMF 2014

The Ear was especially impressed by the tightness of the scissors-and-paste presentation and the uncanny way the Toronto Consort spoke to and engaged with the audience, who laughed and applauded thunderously.

MEMF 2014 Luther Memorial audience Toronto Consort

The program’s effectiveness came from the terrifically seamless and smooth narrative thread, the story that centered on the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci. It was unifying and used primary sources (Leonardo’s notebooks and letters) and secondary sources like the proto-art historian Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives” and other historians or critics. (Below is David Fallis, the artistic director, tenor and narrator.)

MEMF 2014 Luther Memorial Toronto Consort David Fallis, artistic director, tenor, narrator

The performers moved easily from historical accounts of Leonardo in Florence, Milan and France to contextual music that illustrated Leonardo –- the ultimate Renaissance Man — from birth to death. And it proved thoroughly enjoyable and often deeply moving. You did not have to be a fan of early music to be taken in by the contagious melodies and harmonies, the catchy inflections and rhythms, the facts of an amazing life and career.

Just watching these complete professionals perform took us into their world because they are full-body performers who used hands, feet and facial expressions to convey the emotional meaning of the music and get the audience to connect with the music and with them. It felt like Renaissance jazz, so free and yet also so disciplined and practiced was the performance. It is what The Ear likes to call “the well-rehearsed surprise” and is a hallmark of all great performances that are virtuosic and make what is hard seem easy or effortless. (Below is Katherine Hall, viola da gamba player and soprano, singing.)

MEMF 2014 Toronto Consort Katherine Hill soprano and viola da gamba

There is much more left of the 15th Madison Early Music Festival to hear, including “Songs of Love” by the instrumentalists and vocal ensemble Ex Umbris in Music Hall tonight at 7:30 p.m. tonight; plus other concerts including the second annual Handel Aria Competition in Music Hall on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. (NOT 7 p.m., as the MEMF home website mistakenly said at first, and the always impressive All-Festival Concert, which focuses this year on the Trionfi of the poet Petrarch, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in Luther Memorial Church. FREE pre-concert lectures by experts in art, music and history take place at 6:30 p.m.

Here is a link to a schedule and descriptions of events, with times, places and participants:

http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/conferences/madison-early-music-festival/index.html?source=madisonearlymusic.org

Unlike many of Leonardo’s ideas, which were adventurous and even prophetic if uncompleted, MEMF has moved from idea to reality.

The Ear has no doubt, and every hope, that it is here to stay, and that it will continue to evolve and grow.


Classical music news: For today, Monday, Dec. 26, the web site medici.tv is offering a full day of free viewing.

December 26, 2011
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Christmas may be over, but there are still important holiday gifts and special deals involving classical music to be had. Here is one as described in a recent press release The Ear received;

The go-to site for experiencing world-class classical performances on the Webmedici.tv – will be offering all music lovers in the U.S. an unlimited free day of viewing on Monday, Dec. 26 of the myriad programs in the site’s pay-per-view library. (A sample is below.)

Much of the live programming on medici.tv is available free throughout the year, but on the day after Christmas, the pay-for-view archival programs will be free, too – as a gift to the site’s fans and new friends.

What’s available on medici.tv now includes more opera than ever before – including acclaimed productions from the UK and Paris with such top stars as Jonas Kaufmann (below), Natalie Dessay and Gerald Finley.

There are also live Webcasts of top-tier orchestral concerts, vocal performances, and chamber recitals, along with vintage documentaries and music films – including the much-lauded Christopher Nupen catalog.

More and more praise accrues to medici.tv with each passing month.

New Yorker magazine writer Alex Ross (below) said on his blog, “The Rest Is Noise,” that “the hits keep coming at medici.tv.” Offering “treasures aplenty” was how Gramophone editor-in-chief James Jolly put it, designating medici.tv as one of the Web’s leading classical experiences.

The medici.tv app for iPads, iPhones, and other digital devices – available for free at the Apple app store – was named one of the top five apps for classical music by WQXR, the classical music station of New York City.

In addition to its live webcasts, medici.tv also offers an extensive library of video-on-demand programs, available via subscription. These performances, documentaries and archival features spotlight leading musical institutions and world-class artists – from golden-age legends to today’s top stars.

The 30-plus Christopher Nupen films available at medici.tv include not only the priceless du Pré documents (complete with Elgar’s Cello Concerto and a number of all-star chamber performances) but also films of Evgeny Kissin, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Nathan Milstein. All 32 Beethoven piano sonatas recorded by Daniel Barenboim (below) in 1983-84 will be available by the year’s end.

About medici.tv: Since its official launch in May 2008, medici.tv has gained international recognition, bringing together a community of music and arts lovers from 182 countries – online viewers who have watched over 12 million videos to date. The site currently averages more than 80,000 individual visitors each month.

In addition to offering live concert hall events that music lovers can experience on their computers and entertainment systems, medici.tv now offers a free application (available at the Apple App Store) that makes it possible to experience world-class artistry on iPads and iPhones.

Building on the success of webcasts from the Verbier Festival (below) in 2007, medici.tv has offered high-definition webcasts from many other leading festivals, including Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Denis, Aspen, Glyndebourne, Salzburg, and Lucerne; from such Parisian venues as the Opéra National de Paris, Auditorium du Louvre, Cité de la Musique, and Salle Pleyel; and from Milan’s famed La Scala.

Many operas and concerts performed by the world’s top artists and orchestras have been webcast as live events and later as video-on-demand (VOD) – all available for free. The list of artists presented at medici.tv is a “who’s who” of today’s stars, including Claudio Abbado, Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Plácido Domingo, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti (below), Anna Netrebko, Maurizio Pollini, Thomas Quasthoff and Simon Rattle.

Among the featured orchestras are such renowned ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw (below), Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Filarmonica della Scala, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

In addition to webcasts of more than 80 live concerts each year, medici.tv has partnered with the world’s top artists and music institutions to offer subscriptions, giving music-lovers the opportunity to watch more than 700 Video On Demand programs – growing to 1,000 programs over the next two years.

They include concerts, operas, recitals, documentaries, master classes, artist portraits, and archival material. Featured artists include such legendary musicians as Leonard Bernstein, Maria Callas, Glenn Gould, Herbert von Karajan, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Arthur Rubinstein (below), Georg Solti and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, as well as such leading film directors as Bruno Monsaingeon, Paul Smaczny and Frank Scheffer.

You can watch medici.tv concerts on iPhone with the free medici.tv App.

You can also:

Follow medici.tv on Facebook!

Follow medici.tv on Twitter!

Follow medici.tv on YouTube!


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

    Join 1,186 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,023,696 hits
%d bloggers like this: