The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is the Fourth of July. Independence Day is the right time to celebrate American classical composers and patriotic concert music. Here are three ways to do that

July 4, 2018
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the Fourth of July – Independence Day.

That makes it exactly the right time to think about American composers and American patriotic music – both of which have been receiving well-deserved airplay all week on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Here are three items that seem appropriate because they pertain to American composers and American classical music.

ITEM 1

Tonight at 7 p.m. on the King Street corner of the Capital Square in downtown Madison, guest conductor Huw Edwards (below) will lead the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in its Concert on the Square for the Fourth of July.

The “American Salute” program includes: “American Salute” by Morton Gould; the Overture to “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein; “Wisconsin Forward Forever” by march king John Philip Sousa; and, of course, “The 1812 Overture” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Blankets can go down on the ground starting at 3 p.m. For more general information about attending the concert including weather updates, rules and etiquette, and food caterers and vendors, go to:

https://wisconsinchamberorchestra.org/performances/concerts-on-the-square-2-2/

ITEM 2

Can you name 30 American classical composers? The Ear tried and it’s not easy.

But thanks to Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, California – which will also play and stream (click on the Listen tab) such music today — it isn’t hard.

Here is a link:

http://www.capradio.org/music/classical/2018/07/02/the-30-american-composers-were-featuring-on-the-fourth-of-july/

You can click on the link “Playlist for Independence Day” and see the photo of the composers and the titles of compositions that will be played.

You can also click on the composer’s name in the alphabetized list and see a biography in Wikipedia.

Can you think of American composers who didn’t make the list? Leave the name or names – Henry Cowell and Virgil Thomson (below)  come to mind — in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.

ITEM 3

Finally, given the controversial political issues of the day surrounding immigration, The Ear offers this take on perhaps the most virtuosic piano transcription of patriotic music ever played.

It was done by someone who immigrated permanently to the U.S. in 1939 and then became a naturalized citizen in 1944. He also raised millions through war bonds during World War II.

He was the Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz, here playing his own celebrated virtuoso arrangement – done in 1945 for a patriotic rally and war bonds concert in Central Park — of ”The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa.

Here is a link to his biography in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Horowitz

And here is the YouTube audio of his own performance of the Sousa piece, with the score, including all the special technical demands, especially lots of Horowitz’s famous octaves, to follow along with. It’s a performance that has become justifiably legendary:


Classical music: Con Vivo opens its 15th season this Saturday night with chamber music and a jazz trio from Germany

October 5, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received a the following announcement to post:

Con Vivo!…music with life (below), opens its 15th season with a chamber music concert entitled “All That Jazz” on this Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave., across from Camp Randall.

con-vivo-2016

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and students.

Con Vivo!’s fall concert, “All That Jazz” features pieces from our standard repertoire as well as jazz music performed by the Edgar Knecht Jazz Trio visiting from our Sister County in Kassel, Germany.

The trio’s appearance is in conjunction with their Dane County visit as a cultural exchange reciprocating con vivo!’s Germany tour in 2015.

Here is the program: “Man Nozipo” for string quartet and percussion by Dumisani Maraire; Selected movements from “Benny’s Gig” for clarinet and double bass by Morton Gould; Rhapsody in Blue arranged for solo organ, by George Gershwin; “Overture on Hebrew Themes” by Sergei Prokofiev; Divertimento in F Major, K. 138, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and various selections of original music for jazz trio by Edgar Knecht.

Audience members are invited to join the musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss the concert.

In remarking about the concert, artistic director Robert Taylor said: “With this Con Vivo! concert, we are hosting the Edgar Knecht Trio as well as doing some collaborative pieces with members from both of our groups. (You can hear a sample in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

“I think this a great way to begin our 15th season with exceptional music that combines the wonderful sounds of winds, strings and organ along with jazz. Our Madison audience will be able to hear our musicians up close and personal playing music of extreme delight and depth.”

For more information, visit: http://www.convivomusicwithlife.org/home.html

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.


Classical music: Here are four for the Fourth.

July 4, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday The Ear asked readers for suggestions about classical music that would be appropriate to post and play today, which is Independence Day or the Fourth of July.

American Flag

TETRRF-00024113-001

I got some good answers.

Some of the suggestions were great music but seemed inappropriate like “On the Transmigration of Souls” by the contemporary American composer John Adams. It won the Pulitzer Prize. But it deals with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and strikes The Ear as a bit grim for this holiday.

So, here are four others for The Fourth:

Ann Boyer suggested the Variations on “America” by Charles Ives, who was certainly an American and a Yankee original. The original scoring for organ was transcribed for orchestra by the well-known American composer William Schuman and it is performed below in a YouTube video by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the famous composer-arranger Morton Gould, who seems to specialize in Americana:

Tim Adrianson suggested Aaron Copland’s great Third Symphony. It is long but the most famous part of the symphony is “Fanfare for the Common Man,” played here by Metropolitan Opera artistic director James Levine and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. And that seems a perfectly fitting piece of music to celebrate the birth of American democracy:

Reader fflambeau suggested anything by Howard Hanson, but especially Syphony No. 2 “Romantic.” Here is the famous slow movement — performed by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra — that is also the appealing theme of the Interlochen Arts Academy and National Summer Music Camp:

Finally, The Ear recently heard something that seems especially welcome at a time when there is so much attention being paid to matters military.

It is also by Aaron Copland and is called “A Letter From Home.” It was dedicated to troops fighting World War II but it strikes me for its devotion to the home front and to peaceful domestic life, which is exactly what the Fourth of July should be about. Be sure to look at the black-and-white photographs that accompany the music:

And The Ear reminds you that you can hear a lot of American composers and American music today on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Have a Happy Fourth of July and Independence Day, everyone!

fireworks


Classical music: In this Saturday night’s concert, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin features music by Paul Schoenfield, Morton Gould and George Gershwin as well as the art of sampling music through “turntableism.” Plus, the UW Chamber Orchestra and Winds of Wisconsin perform this Sunday.

February 15, 2013
2 Comments

ALERT: In Sunday, there are two concerts worth noting and attending at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. On Sunday at 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra will perform a FREE concert under guest conductor and UW alumnus Kevin McMahon (below). McMahon is the music director of the Sheboygan and Wheaton (Illinois) Symphony Orchestras  and was a Collins Fellow while studying at the UW. His program includes Vaughan Williams Overture to “The Wasps”; UW soprano Mimmi Fulmer in Joseph Cantaloube’s popular “Songs of the Auvergne“; and Mozart’s dramatic Symphony No. 40 G minor. Then at 5 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Winds of Wisconsin of Wisconsin perform a FREE concert (the program includes: “Lux Arumque” by Eric Whitacre; “La Fiesta Mexicana” by H. Owen Reed; and “Fanfare for the Third Planet” by Richard Saucedo ) under director Scott Teeple.

Kevin McMahon

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the most inventive and interesting chamber music groups in the area is the recently formed Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (below). It uses fine performers at different venues and offers different thematic programs, always with some unusual angle or logic in mind, and always with top quality performances.

SEW Sound Ensmble of Wisocnsin 2012

This Saturday is a prime example.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in the new, crisply designed Atrium auditorium (below) of the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin will present “American Patchwork” as its next concert, honoring the art
 of musical sampling of American genres.

Tickets are $15 general admission and can be purchased in advance on SEW‘s website or by cash or
 check at the door.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

SEW will perform the classic and popular piano trio “Cafe
 Music” by American composer and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor teacher Paul Schoenfield, who was in Madison last spring when the Pro Arte String Quartet gave the world premiere of his “Three Rhapsodies for Piano Quintet” with pianist Christopher Taylor that the quartet had commissioned for its centennial celebration. In the often performed piano trio work (in a YouTube video at the bottom), the composer pays tribute to ragtime and Broadway, among other styles. Also on the program are 
Morton Gould‘s “Rag-Blues-Rag” for piano as well as several Gershwin songs.

Paul Schoenfield BW klezmerish

The stage will then be
turned over to SEW’s special guest turntablist, DJ Moppy (below, aka Christopher Thomopoulos), who will be joining them from Chicago to 
represent the craft of sampling, using Gershwin among other samples on his turntables.

Moppy for SEW Chris Thomopoulos

If you want to sample the sampler, DJ Moppy 
demonstrates turntablism in a short video which can be found on the “Events” page of SEW’s website: 
http://sewmusic.org/events/.

Musicians for the concert include Vince Fuh, Mary Theodore, Maggie Townsend, Rachel
 Eve Holmes, and Chris Thomopoulos (DJ Moppy).

In keeping with the concert’s theme, SEW will be accepting fabric at the performance for their community quilt, sponsored by Stitcher’s 
Crossing and fabricated by volunteers, to be presented and auctioned at the last concert to benefit 
SEW’s future programming. All are welcome to bring 5″ square to 1/4 yard, 100% cotton fabric they’d
 like to share.

This event is sponsored in part by WORT 89.9 FM.

According to SEW’s founder and director, violinist Mary Theodore (below), SEW’s mission is to share great chamber music with more people through theme-based programming,
 collaboration, and education while encouraging participation in an authentic performance experience.

Mary Theodore violin

Theodore wanted to remind readers of the following: “As many are aware, ticket proceeds do not begin to cover the cost of expenses necessary to present concerts and sustain an organization.  SEW is actively seeking contributions to fund this event.  If you’re interested in hearing more about this SEW and their upcoming project, please visit http://www.power2give.org/danearts/Project/Detail?projectId=1482where 50 cents to every contributed dollar is matched.”

SEW has received excellent reviews: “SEW will certainly bring a new dimension to Madison’s cultural scene,” said John W. Barker on The Well-Tempered Ear about the group’s inaugural concert last season. “The performances were all splendid … and the command of technique and the precision of ensemble
throughout was of the highest artistic standards.”

For more information, visit the group’s website: www.sewmusic.org

 


Classical music: “Grace Presents” announces and begins its spring series of FREE classical music concerts at noon this Saturday with Sound Ensemble Wisconsin.

January 24, 2013
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Madison is lucky indeed to have quite a few organizations and presenters that seek to present live classical music in non-traditional venues, and often do so for free. Groups like New MUSE (New Music Everywhere), Classical Revolution and Sound Health (an outreach group to hospitals run out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music) come immediately to mind.

Grace Episcopal Church (below is a photo of its exterior with the state Capitol in the background to the right) belongs in that group that seeks to bring great music to the people. It has its own special series, which has just announced the spring schedule that will start on this coming Saturday at noon.

grace episcopal church ext

All concerts for “Grace Presents” on SATURDAYS AT NOON — especially nice when the Dane County Farmers Market starts up in April — and are FREE and open to the public. All concerts are held at Grace Episcopal Church (below is the attractive and acoustically fine interior) the on Capitol Square, at 116 West Washington Avenue in Madison.

grace episcopal church inter

Here is the spring 2013 “Grace Presents” Recital Series:

Jan. 26, 2013: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin — Works to be performed include Charles Ives Violin/Piano Sonata No. 3, Morton Gould‘s Rag-Blues-Rag for solo piano, and 6 Gershwin songs for voice and piano. Mary Theodore, violin (below); Vincent Fuh, piano; Rachel Eve Holmes, soprano.

Mary Theodore violin

Feb. 2, 2013: Laura Burns, violin (below, second from left in in a photo by Greg Anderson of the Madison Symphony Orchestra‘s Rhapsodie String Quartet) and Jess Salek, piano, perform Johannes Brahms’ three violin sonatas (more details concerning programming will be sent at a later date)

Rhapsodie Quartet MSO Greg Anderson

 March 2, 2013: Rachel Eve Holmes, soprano, Kathy Otterson, mezzo-soprano, Jesse Hoffmeister, tenor and John Bohman, baritone perform an Art Song Recital and the Brahms “Liebeslieder” Waltzes with pianists Kirstin Ihde and Michael Roemer.

rachel holmes

April 13, 2013: Black Marigold, a new Madison-based, female woodwind quintet, performs various repertoire (TBA, to be announced)

Black Marigold 2

May 18, 2013: Yana Groves, Ukrainian pianist, performs Bach’s French Suite #3 in B minor BWV 814; Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A minor D. 845, and Debussy’s “Estampes.” (Below is a YouTube video of her rehearsing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488, for her senior recital.)


Classical music news: Con Vivo plays music by The Four G’s – NOT the more famous Three B’s – to end its 10th anniversary season this Saturday night

June 7, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Con Vivo! (below) – or “Music With Life” — will conclude its 10th anniversary season with a chamber music concert called “Gee, Isn’t That Grand!” The concert will be this Saturday night (June 9) at 7:30 p.m. in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave., across from Camp Randall.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students.  (Please note the date was changed from May 31.)

You probably know The Three B’s – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But when it comes to composers, can you name four G’s that don’t include Grieg?

Con Vivo’s concert will feature an eclectic selection with music by Gershwin, Gould, Glinka and Gigout.

The program includes eight jazzy Duets for Clarinet and Strings Bass written for Benny Goodman’s 70th birthday by Morton Gould (below), and “Three Preludes” for clarinet and piano by George Gershwin.

The early Romantic era is featured with the rarely performed Septet by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka.

And the “Grand Choeur Dialogue” in G major for solo organ by Eugène Gigout (below) will be played on the impressive organ at First Congregational Church.

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 our 10th season.

The ensemble’s artistic director Robert Taylor (below), in remarking about the concert said, “We have always strived to present chamber music in an enjoyable and enlightening manner.  This program shows how varied the chamber music canon can be.  With our 10th season, we continue the tradition of bringing to our audience works that are familiar and some that are perhaps new, as well as the occasional surprise piece!”

Con Vivo! (below) is a professional chamber music ensemble composed 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. 

For more information including background, here is a link:

http://convivomusicwithlife.org/


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