The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) perform their annual Winterfest concerts this Saturday afternoon — with guest clarinetist Amitai Vardi — and on Saturday, March 2

February 15, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO, below is the Youth Orchestra) will present the Diane Ballweg Winterfest Concerts this Saturday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, March 2, in Mills Concert Hall in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street in Madison, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.

WYSO orchestras will perform pieces by Carl Maria von Weber, Antonin Dvorak, Georges Bizet, Sergei Prokofiev, Richard Wagner, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Manuel DeFalla, Johann Strauss, Modest Mussorgsky  and others.  For a complete program listing, go to:

“These are wonderful works and the orchestras are progressing beautifully in rehearsal,” said WYSO music director Kyle Knox (below). “It looks to be a memorable concert series.”

Guest clarinetist Amitai Vardi (below) will perform Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 26,  with the Youth Orchestra during their Feb. 16 concert. (You can hear Weber’s Concertino in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Amitai Vardi — his father Uri Vardi teaches cello at the UW-Madison — is a WYSO alumnus who grew up in Madison. He performs regularly with the Cleveland Orchestra and is currently a professor at Kent State University in Ohio.

“WYSO was the first orchestra I ever played in,” Vardi said. “The experience developed my listening skills, knowledge about ensemble playing, love for orchestral music, and taught me how to be a well-rounded musician.”

Concert tickets are available 45 minutes prior to each concert, and are $10 for adults and $5 for youth 18 and under.

Visit to learn more about the various orchestras and about the WYSO program.

WYSO students travel from communities throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois each weekend throughout the concert season to rehearse on the UW-Madison campus.

Each orchestra performs three concerts per season, with additional performance opportunities available to students, including ensembles and chamber groups.

Diane Ballweg Winterfest Concerts

Saturday, Feb. 16 in Mills Hall
4 p.m. Youth Orchestra
With guest artist Amitai Vardi, clarinet

Saturday, March 2, 2019, Mills Hall
11:30 a.m. Opus One and Sinfonietta
1:30 p.m. Concert Orchestra
4 p.m. Philharmonia Orchestra and Harp Ensemble

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Classical music: A FREE concert of Polish piano music is on this Sunday afternoon at the UW-Madison

October 20, 2018
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IF YOU LIKE A CERTAIN BLOG POST, PLEASE FORWARD A LINK TO IT OR SHARE 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 Ear has received the following announcement to post:

On this Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21, at 4 p.m., University of Oklahoma Professor Igor Lipinski (below) will perform a solo piano recital with commentary at Mills Concert Hall of UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music. Mills Hall is located at 455 North Park Street in the George Mosse Humanities Building.

At this FREE CONCERT, Lipinski will perform music by 19th through 21st century Polish composers: Fryderyk (Frederic) Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, Ignaz Jan Paderewski, Grazyna Bacewicz and Pawel Mykietyn. (Editor’s note: Sorry, no titles of specific works are listed.)

Since classical music from Poland has been rarely performed in concert halls in Madison, this recital will be a unique occasion to experience Poland’s musical heritage and diversity.

This concert also commemorates the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence at the conclusion of World War I, after 123 years of its partition and disappearance from the map of Europe.

Please join our local Polish community in celebrating this joyous occasion through appreciation of beautiful and captivating music from some of the Poland’s most important composers.

This event is organized by the Polish Student Association of UW-Madison and Mad-Polka Productions, with cooperation and financial support provided by Lapinski Fund (UW-Madison German, Nordic and Slavic Departments) and the Polish Heritage Club of Madison as well as the Sounds & Notes Foundation from Chicago.


Prof. Igor Lipinski is native to Poland and currently teaching at the University of Oklahoma. At the age of 12, he won a Grand Prize at the Paderewski Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Poland.

He is a musician, piano teacher, performer and also a magician, sometimes surprisingly combining all of his interests during his performances.

He received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from Northwestern University and since then performed over 100 concerts, both solo and with orchestras, all over the U.S.

This will be his debut in Madison.

For more information, go to:


Fryderyk (Frederic) Chopin (1810-1849, below): He was born in Poland, but also composed and performed in Germany, Vienna and France. Probably the most prominent Polish composer as well as pianist and performer. Much of Chopin’s inspiration came from Polish village music from the Mazovia region. Chopin composed 57 mazurkas – the mazurka being one of his most beloved type of compositions. He also composed numerous polonaises, concertos, nocturnes and sonatas. (You can hear famous Polish pianist Arthur Rubinstein perform Chopin’s famously nationalistic “Heroic” Polonaise in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937, below): Part of “Young Poland” group of composers at the beginning of 20th century, Szymanowski composed operas, ballets, sonatas, concertos, cycle of songs, string quartets. Many of his compositions were also inspired by Polish folk music, including the famous ballet “Harnasie” based on the culture of Polish highlanders which he experienced while living in Zakopane.

Ignaz Jan Paderewski (1860-1941, below) was a remarkable figure in Poland’s turn-of-the-century history. He was a pianist, composer, statesman, politician, philanthropist, actor, businessman, patron of the arts and architecture, wine grower and humanitarian. As a pianist, he was praised for his interpretations of music of Chopin, Liszt, Bach and Beethoven. He successfully toured western Europe before eventually setting off for the USA. Starting with his first 1891 tour he crossed U.S. about 30 times in his 50-year career.

He was a very popular, charismatic and somewhat extravagant figure, which eventually resulted in “Paddymania” phenomenon. He was largely influenced by Chopin in his composition of sonatas, concertos, polonaises, Polish dances, symphonies, mazurkas, krakowiaks, minuets and even one opera. He also relentlessly supported and lobbied for Poland ‘s independence as World War I unraveled.  He influenced U.S. politicians and played a crucial diplomatic role in Poland regaining its independence in 1911.

Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969, below): Violinist, pianist, teacher, writer and composer, she was one of the few female classical music composers at the time in Poland and in the world. Thanks to a generous grant from Ignaz Jan Paderewski, she was able to study music in Paris. She composed numerous concertos, string quartets, sonatas, symphonies.

Pawel Mykietyn (1971-, below in a photo by Oliva Soto): Composer, clarinetist, member of Nonstrom Ensemble. In 1995, he won a first prize in the young composers category during the UNESCO composers competition in Paris. Mykietyn’s composing style is at times aggressive and postmodern, incorporating sharp rhythms to create a vivid and provocative sound. He has composed concertos, sonatas, symphonies, preludes and string quartets.

Thanks to all the sponsors and community support, this concert is FREE and open to the public.

Posted in Classical music
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Classical music: The 17th annual Percussion Extravaganza by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will be held this Saturday afternoon. It features many guest artists including Chinese dancers and steel pan player Liam Teague

March 23, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following announcement to post:

Drum roll, please!

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Percussion Ensemble will host its 17th annual Percussion Extravaganza on this Saturday, March 24, at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall of the UW-Madison Humanities Building.

The concert is scheduled to last 90 minutes.

General admission is $10; $5 for 18 and under.  Tickets are available at the door and at the website:

The WYSO Percussion Ensemble, which consists of 14 student musicians from local communities, will host this signature percussion benefit to help others.

For the second consecutive year, Ronald McDonald House Charities will partner with WYSO in the collection of tangible items needed for the Ronald McDonald House in Madison.

Nearly 60 performers, including Liam Teague (below), one of the world’s greatest steel pan virtuosos, will present eclectic, global music dedicated to “Healing the Nations.” (Sorry, no word on specific composers or pieces on the program. But you can see and hear a sample of last year’s concert in the YouTube video below.)

Other Percussion Extravaganza artists include Drum Power; UW Chinese Dance Department; flamenco dancer Tania Tandias (below top); Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association; UW-Madison World Percussion Ensemble; and the WYSO Brass Choir (below bottom).

For more information, visit or contact the WYSO office at (608) 263-3320.

Parking is available at State Street Campus, Helen C. White, and Grainger Hall parking facilities.

Classical music datebook: The busiest week EVER in Madison features the world premiere of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5; requiems by Verdi and John Rutter; violinist Itzhak Perlman; and much, much more.

April 18, 2012

UPDATE: Here is the review, posted Tuesday morning, by Greg Hettmansberger for Madison Magazine and his blog “Classically Speaking” of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra‘s concert last Friday with the chamber orchestra version of Beethoven’s Ninth:

You can read others’ reviews plus my own review at:

By Jacob Stockinger

This is the busiest week EVER in Madison for classical music I can remember, and I have been living here a long time. So it may well be the busiest week ever in Madison — period.

There are so many good or great choices, that one hardly knows where to begin or end.

And that’s not even counting Earth Day weekend activities or the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival, which will run from April 18-22 and will screen more than 150 movies in nine cinemas. And I don’t know whether the film festival will draw more audiences to concerts downtown, or whether it will cut into music audiences. (I suspect the latter.)

I may be wrong, but I challenge anyone to think of a busier week, or a week with more difficult choices.

Take a look and tell me.

You should know that I am only listing the events for Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer), which wraps up its centennial season. For a fuller description and other information, visit these other links and this earlier post from last week:

And here are some other links to the Pro Arte Quartet and John Harbison events:


Today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 1351 of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St., American composer John Harbison (below) will discuss his recent music and new String Quartet No. 5 in a public composition master class as part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Centennial. Free.


From 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in Mills Hall, Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. there is an open rehearsal by the Pro Arte Quartet (below, rehearsing) with composer John Harbison for the world premiere of his Quartet No. 5 for the quartet’s centennial concert on Saturday night, April 21, at 8 p.m. in the Mills Hall of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park St. Free.

At 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman will perform a recital of Brahms (Sonata Movement, Violin Sonata N.2 and Three Hungarian Dances plus Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2). Tickets are $40.50-$89.50. For more information visit:


Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium (below) of the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive features violinist Leanne League and pianist Dan Broner in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 1. For information, call 608 233-9774 or visit

From 4 to 5:30 p.m. UW School of Music Colloquium in Room 2650 in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. Public lecture-discussion by UK musicologist Tully Potter (below) on early 20th-century European string quartets. Free.

At 8 p.m. in Overture Hall, the UW Choral Union and UW Symphony Orchestra (both below in Mills Hall), conducted by Beverly Taylor perform Verdi’s  “Requiem” with soloists Shannon Prickett, soprano; Marion Dry, mezzo-soprano; Aldo Perrelli, tenor; and Tony Dillon, bass.

Tickets are  $10, $15, $20 and $25 through Overture Center Box Office, (608) 258-4141 or

The UW Choral Union comprises 175 voices and Symphony Orchestra has about 85 members.  Antiphonal trumpets will be positioned in box seats above and in front of the stage. The Requiem will be sung without intermission and lasts approximately 90 minutes.  This concert marks the first time Choral Union has performed the Verdi work since May 1999 at the Stock Pavilion.

For more information, visit:

At 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, the Madison Chamber Choir will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert of 20th and 21st century works.  Under the sure direction of Anthony Cao, the choir will perform the Frank Martin Mass for Double Choir.  They will also give the world premiere of a piece commissioned especially for the occasion:  “O Setting Sun” by San Francisco composer David Conte (below).  For information, visit:


From 3 to 5 p.m. in the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave. UK musicologist Tully Potter will lecture on “Four Famous Belgians: The Quatuor Pro Arte (below, in 1940).” It will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Free. (Pre-concert cocktails and a dinner 5-6:45 with composer John Harbison and UK musicologist Tully Potter in the Chazen Museum of Art, are optional ($35) by calling (608) 265-ARTS or going to

At 3:30 p.m. Morphy Hall this year’s Beethoven Piano Competition Winners will perform a FREE concert with a reception.

Aelin Woo, a senior, will peform the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 “Tempest”; Jonathan Thornton, a first-year doctoral student, will perform Sonata in E Major, Op. 109; and Sung Ho Yang, a second-year doctoral student, will perform the Sonata in B-Flat Major, “Hammerklavier,” Op. 106.  All three are currently studying with professor Christopher Taylor.

The annual competition is sponsored by Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain. 

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall:  Women’s Chorus (below) and University Chorus, directed by Sarah Riskind and Russell Adrian.  Free admission.

At 8 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall of the Mosse Humanities Building, 750 University Ave. will be the last of the four concerts by the Pro Arte Quartet with the WORLD PREMIERES of commissioned works: The Pro Arte Quartet will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 54, No. 2 (1788); the world premiere of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5 in 10 short movements (2011); and Cesar Franck’s String Quartet in D Major (1889). (Pre-concert events with introductions to composer John Harbison and British critic Tully Potter and with questions from the audience will be held free from 7-7:30 p.m. There will be a free post-concert dessert reception at the nearby University Club, 803 State St., immediately following the concert.) Free.

At 7 p.m. in the Oakwood Village Auditorium West, 6209 Mineral Point Road, the Oakwood Chamber Players (below, in a photo by Bill Arthur) will close out is season when it performs a special Earth Day concert with a Beethoven trio as well as Dvorak’s “Cypresses,” Franz Schrekers “Der Wind” and Carter Pann’s “Summer Songs.”


Individual ticket prices are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door. For any questions about the concerts please visit or call (608) 230-4316.

The Oakwood Chamber Players is a professional musical ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Village and the Oakwood Foundation in collaboration with Friends of the Arboretum, Inc. All perform actively in the Madison area with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and an eclectic mix of other professional ensembles. The Oakwood Chamber Players have been performing at Oakwood Village since 1984.

At 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue, 300 East Gorham Street in James Madison Park, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble presents a concert of vocal and instrumental music.

The program includes J.S. Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue,” Contrapunctus 1-11; plus music by Monteverdi, Abel and Montéclair.

Tickets at the door $15 ($10 students).

Performers includes Edith Hines and Eleanor Bartsch, baroque violin; Marika Fischer Hoyt, baroque viola; Eric Miller, viola da gamba; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo soprano; Anton TenWolde; baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord.

For more comfort, feel free to bring your own chair or pillow. For more information 238-5126 or visit, or visit


From 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III of the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave. “Sunday Live From the Chazen” will feature part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Saturday night concert, including the second performance of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5. The event will be broadcast live over Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM). Call 263-2246. Free.


At 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel at Edgewood college, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson (below) will sing a program called “Life is a Cabaret.”

Admission is $7 to benefit music scholarships

Among the many works listed are those of Benjamin Britten, Stephen Sondheim, Marc Blitzstein, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Christine Lavin, and Cole Porter.  The $7 admission benefits music scholarships at Edgewood College.

At 3 p.m. the new Atrium Auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) of the First Unitarian Society presents, 900 University Bay Drive, an All-Music Sunday will feature “Requiem” by the English composer, John Rutter (b. 1945) with the Society Choir with guest singers and instrumentalists. The program will also include Rutter’s “Suite Antique” for flute, strings and harpsichord.

A Free Will Offering will be accepted.

The Society Choir will be joined by solo soprano Heather Thorpe; Tyrone Greive is the Concertmaster, and Dan Broner, Music Director of First Unitarian Society, will conduct.  Flutist Marilyn Chohaney will be featured soloist in the “Suite Antique.”

For more information call (608) 233-9774.

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Trombone Choir, directed by Mark Hetzler (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) and the UW Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, directed by Matthew Mireles, will perform.  Free admission.

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University of Iowa Center for New Music, directed by David Gompper (below), will perform s FREE concert.

The program includes “Hiking on the Cascade Creek Trail” (2012) for solo percussion by Zach Zubow, a Ph.D. composition student at the University of Iowa; “Croquis” for string trio (1976-80) by Jeremy Dale Roberts, recently retired as head of composition at the Royal College of Music, London; “Musica segreta” for piano quartet (1996) by David Gompper; the premiere of “Mirage of the Mountains” (2012) for chamber ensemble by Zach Zubow; and “Chamber Symphony No. 1” (1992) by John Adams, one of the best known and most often performed of America’s composers.

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