ALERT: University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music 2011 alumnus and violist Elias Goldstein is on his way to Carnegie Hall in New York City to perform all the virtuosic 24 Caprices originally for solo violin by Niccolo Paganini. But first he will perform them here in a FREE concert that also includes other works with pianist Thomas Kasdorf, another UW-Madison alumnus, on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall. (Sorry, no word on the rest of the program.) Goldstein will also give a FREE and PUBLIC master class on Wednesday at 2:25 p.m. in Morphy Hall.
For more information, go to:
By Jacob Stockinger
How does a contemporary American composer channel classic composers from more than 200 years ago?
You can find out by going to hear the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ, below). The critically acclaimed string quartet will perform this Friday night at 8 pm, in Shannon Hall at the Wisconsin Union Theater.
Tickets are $27.50 to $42.50.
For more information, including reviews and video samplings, visit:
The program features two quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn, including the popular and famed “Emperor” Quartet and the earlier “Joke” Quartet as well as the Midwest premiere of John Adams; String Quartet No. 2.
NPR, or National Public Radio, recently featured an interview with Adams discussing Beethoven:
But Christopher Costanza, the cellist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, recently gave an enlightening Q&A from the quartet’s point of view to The Ear:
Can you briefly bring the public up to date since your last appearance in Madison, when you performed “The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind” by Osvaldo Golijov? Major residencies and tours? Major commissions? Major performing and recording projects?
The St. Lawrence String Quartet has been busy with a wide range of projects in the years since our last appearance in Madison.
We’ve had a personnel change – our newest quartet member is Owen Dalby, our second violinist, who joined us in the spring of last year.
We happily continue as Artists-in Residence at Stanford University, where we are involved in a great number of activities, including teaching, performing, and collaborations with a wide range of schools and departments on campus.
And our international touring schedule remains very active, with concerts throughout North America and Europe; our most recent European tour, in late summer of 2015, included concerts in Scotland, Germany, Romania, Hungary and Switzerland, and we will tour Europe twice in 2016.
We’ve performed several pieces commissioned for us, including works by such composers as Osvaldo Golijov, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Samuel Adams, Jonathan Berger, James Matheson and George Tsontakis.
Of particular significance, John Adams has composed three works for us, two string quartets and a quartet concerto, “Absolute Jest,” which was written for the SLSQ, the San Francisco Symphony and the SF Symphony’s music director Michael Tilson Thomas.
We’ve performed “Absolute Jest” on several national and international tours with the San Francisco Symphony, as well as with the London Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, and the New World Symphony. Our recording of the work with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas was released this past summer.
We’ve recently embarked on a recording project of the Opus 20 quartets of Haydn, and other recording projects are in development.
Why did you choose to perform two Haydn string quartets to open and close the program, instead of a work by Beethoven, given the Beethoven influences in the String Quartet No. 2 by John Adams?
We often perform programs that begin and end with a Haydn quartet, with a contemporary work (or works) in between. This showcases the great variety and brilliance of Haydn’s gigantic contribution to the quartet repertoire.
It also provides an interesting contrast between the earliest works for quartet and current compositional offerings, stressing the fact that Haydn (below) essentially invented the string quartet and paving the way for other composers to explore creativity in their compositions for quartet.
In truth, we do often program Beethoven (below) with the Second String Quartet by Adams. For this program, I think the Adams/Haydn juxtaposition will be a meaningful comment on the evolution of quartet writing, from the early years to works of the present.
As an exercise in compare and contrast programming, what would you like the public to know about the “Joke” and “Emperor” Quartets by Haydn? About Haydn’s music in general?
Haydn’s “Joke” Quartet, from his Op. 33 set, is, as you might guess, filled with humor and wit. The quartet is actually quite straightforward structurally, filled with robust and positive energy and simple, appealing melodies. It’s a compact work, inviting and charming.
The “Emperor” Quartet, from the Op. 76 set, comes from a later period of Haydn’s compositions, and it is a work of considerable length and weight. This quartet shows a natural link to Beethoven in its duration, dynamic contrast, emotional range, and overall musical substance. (You can hear Haydn’s “Emperor” Quartet performed, analyzed and discussed by the St. Lawrence Quartet in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
Of significant note, the “Emperor” is named thusly for the second movement, a theme and variations based on the tune Haydn (below) originally wrote for the Emperor Francis of Austria as a sort of national anthem.
What should readers know about the String Quartet No. 2 by John Adams (below)? How is it similar to or different from his other works that the public knows such as “Nixon in China,” “The Death of Klinghoffer,” “Doctor Atomic” “Harmonielehre” and “On the Transmigration of Souls”? Will this performance be the Midwest premiere? Will you record the quartet?
John Adams’s Second String Quartet is very strongly based on two motivic ideas from Beethoven’s Op. 110 piano sonata, as well as a variation from Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations.
The Beethoven elements are clearly presented in clever and skilled ways, and I think many of them will be evident to the astute listener. Most importantly, John is brilliant in his transformation of the Beethoven quotes, and the piece is very clearly an Adams piece, characterized by driving rhythms, great energy, and a true sense of musical intent and balance.
To get a sense of the piece prior to hearing it, I suggest listening to “Absolute Jest” (our recent recording) – another of John’s pieces inspired by Beethoven and filled with late Beethoven quotes – and the Op. 110 Piano Sonata by Beethoven.
We’ve performed the Second Quartet on several occasions since we premiered it at Stanford University about a year ago, but I do think our Madison performance will be a Midwest premiere. We are currently considering the possibility of recording the work, but specific plans have not yet been made.
What else would you like to say?
We’re thrilled to be returning to Madison after a gap of several years. It’s very exciting to be bringing a program of music by two of our favorite composers, Joseph Haydn and John Adams, and we think contrasting the two will be interesting and enlightening to all.
By Jacob Stockinger
Starting this Saturday, May 9, and continuing on Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family Spring Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the UW George Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, Madison.
Tickets are available at the door: $10 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.
On Saturday, May 9 at 1:30 p.m., WYSO will kick off the concerts with performances by its Percussion Ensemble (below top), Brass Choir, and Harp Ensemble (below bottom).
The following week, on Saturday, May 16, the Philharmonia Orchestra will start the day at 11 a.m. They will play four different works that morning beginning with Symphony No. 9, op. 95, E minor “From the New World,” movement 4, by Antonin Dvorak.
They will transition to Zoltan Kodaly’s Háry János: Intermezzo followed by two pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Overture to “The Magic Flute” and the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459. The piano concerto will feature concerto competition winner, Moqiu Cheng. Moqiu (below) is a seventh-grader at Hamilton Middle School and is also a violinist with WYSO.
At the 1:30 p.m. concert, the Concert Orchestra will take the stage with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Simpson Dance of the Tumblers from ‘The Snow Maiden’. Hatikvah, a traditional tune arranged by Del Borgo is next followed by Richard Meyer’s, Tales of Vandosar. They will end their set with Robert Sheldon’s Triumph of the Argonauts.
Following the Concert Orchestra, WYSO’s string orchestra, Sinfonietta will end the day’s performances with several pieces including The Abduction from the Seraglio: Overture by Mozart, Richard Meyer’s, Carpe Diem!, and the Allegro from Sinfonia No. 6 in G minor by Johann Christian Bach.
On Sunday, May 17, at 4 p.m., the Youth Orchestra (below top) will take stage at OVERTURE HALL — NOT Mills — along with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below bottom) in a side-by-side concert. The program will feature five different works showcasing the abilities of both orchestras.
They will start with the Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich’s. Following that Soloist Adam Yeazel (below top), a senior at Middleton High School, will perform the Concertino da Camera for Alto Saxophone by Jacques Ibert.
That will be followed by the cadenza and fourth movement of Violin Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich featuring sophomore Maynie Bradley (below bottom) as the soloist.
After a brief intermission the program will continue with Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations – including Theme I, VII, VIII, IX, XI, Finale and end with Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky in an orchestration by Maurice Ravel.
This is the third “Side by Side” collaboration between the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and WYSO.
According to WCO Maestro Andrew Sewell, “Side by Side” concerts give students “tremendous inspiration and the confidence to play difficult repertoire next to seasoned musicians. We are thrilled to bring this notable musical performance to Overture Hall.”
The public is invited to this free concert. Reservations must be made by calling the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra office at (608) 257-0638. Please note that places are being reserved for this concert, but there will be no tickets. Seating is General Admission. For more information please visit www.wcoconcerts.org.
These concerts are generously supported by the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family, along with funds from Dane County, the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of the The Capital Times, W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. This project is also supported in part by additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s post is just a reminder that the annual Diane Endres Ballweg Winterfest Concert Series of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will take place this Sunday afternoon and on Saturday afternoon, March 28.
The concerts will feature Sinfonietta, Harp Ensemble (below, to play this Sunday at 4 p.m.), Concert Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Youth Orchestra.
The music for the programs is below. Please note that the pieces are subject to change at the conductor’s discretion.
All concerts will take place in Mills Concert Hall, located in the UW-Madison Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 3-18.
For information, call 608-263-3320 or visit www.wyso.music.wisc.edu
SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2015
Sinfonietta: 1:30 p.m.
Richard Stephan – “Fanfare and Frippery”
Arr. Benjamin Britten – “The Sally Gardens”
William Hofeldt – “Twilight Ceremonial”
Clare Grundman – “Hebrides Suite”
Carold Nunez – “M to The Third Power” (Minor Meter Mix)
Antonin Dvorak – Themes from the “New World” Symphony
Richard Stephans – Variations on a well-known “Sea Chantey”
Concert Orchestra – 1:30 p.m.
Rimsky-Korsakov – Dance of the Tumblers from “The Snow Maiden,” ed. Carl Simpson
William Hofeldt – “Song of the Prairie”
John Barry – “Dances with Wolves,” arr. Steven I. Rosenhaus
James Barnes – “Yorkshire Ballad”
Harry Gregson-Williams and Steve Barton – ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Arr. Stephen Bulla
Philharmonia Orchestra – 4 p.m.
Schubert – “Military March,” arr. Leopold Damrosch
Mozart – Overture from “The Magic Flute”
Marquez – Danzon No. 2
Debussy – “Clair de Lune,” orch. Arthur Luck
Bizet – Excerpts from “Carmen” Suite No. 1
SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2015
Youth Orchestra – 1:30 p.m., with winners of the WYSO Concerto Competition
Walter Piston – Suite from the “Incredible Flutist”
Schubert – “Unfinished” Symphony (No. 8) Movements 1 and 2
Arutiunian – Trumpet Concerto
Noah Mennenga, Soloist
Beethoven – Third Piano Concert, Movement 3
Theodore Liu, Soloist
By Jacob Stockinger
This coming weekend will bring the opening of the 89th season of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below), which was founded in 1925 and how has 91 players.
By design, there will be no special guest soloist and no standard masterpiece –- say, a symphony or concerto by Haydn or Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms.
The works, chosen to highlight to Overture Concert Organ, will feature German composer Richard Strauss’ late Romantic tone poem “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” best known for its opening which served as the fanfare for Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Also featured are Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, which was last performed by the MSO about 30 years ago); and French composer Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3 “Organ.”
Wisconsin Public Radio host Anders Yocom (below) will provide a free 30-minutes prelude discussion that starts one hour before the performance.
Season tickets are still on sale with a 50 percent discount for new subscribers. And single tickets are now on sale, while rush tickets will also be available.
Tickets price run $16-$84.
Here is a link to the MSO site about the opening concert, with links to other information and ticket reservations:
You can also call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit www.overturecenter.com
Here is a link to program notes by MSO trombonist J. Michael Allsen (below), who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater:
The performances, under the baton of longtime music director and conductor John DeMain, will take place in Overture Hall on Friday night at 7:30 p.m; Saturday night at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
The Juilliard School-trained John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad), who came to Madison from heading the Houston Grand Opera and is starting his 21st season in Madison, recently granted an interview about the opening concert to The Ear:
What makes this season and especially this first concert special to you?
This 2014-15 season is especially important because it marks the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 10th anniversary in Overture Hall. Being able to perform in this specially designed hall has been a game changer for the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
I can never adequately thank Jerry Frautschi for his incredible gift of the Overture Center for the Arts, and his spouse, Pleasant Rowland, for her additional endowment support and the gift of the Overture Concert Organ.
I have purposefully chosen a program for our first concert, on Sept. 19, 20 and 21, that is designed to explore the sonic power, as well as the subtlety, of Overture Hall (below).
What would you like to say about the pieces on the program?
I purposefully do not have a guest artist on this first concert program because I like to focus attention on our wonderful orchestra and its principal players.
In Richard Strauss’ magnificent tone poem, Also sprach Zarathustra (used as the iconic music of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey), special focus will go to the violin solos by our Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below), who never fails to move us with her gorgeous playing. (You can hear the irresistible opening fanfare by Richard Strauss at bottom in a popular YouTube video that has almost 3 million hits.)
Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments will shine a spotlight on soloists, many of whom have also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music: Stephanie Jutt, flute; Marc Fink, oboe; Joseph Morris, clarinet; Cynthia Cameron-Fix, bassoon; Linda Kimball, horn; John Aley, trumpet; and Joyce Messer, trombone.
And last but certainly not least on the program is Camille Saint-Saëns’ magnificent Symphony No. 3, the “Organ Symphony”. Personally, I will never forget the first time we played it at Overture Center’s opening weekend, and we had to encore that incredible last movement! The Overture Concert Organ and its curator and organist, Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio), have earned a special place in the musical life of our community.
Have you decided on any short-term or long-term plans for your next decade in Madison with the Madison Symphony Orchestra?
Long-term, I hope to revisit the symphonies by Gustav Mahler (below) and continue to expand the overall repertoire of the orchestra and continue to present the best of our living American composers to our audiences.
Working together with the wonderful MSO staff and particularly our violinist and Education Director Michelle Kaebisch (below), I’m hoping we can grow our very unique and broad-based outreach programs to the community.
I’d also love to see us expand the Beyond the Score initiative. That January 2014 multi-media concert of Antonin Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony (below) with actors and videos, and the Symphony met with great success.
Bottom line: I always want, and can envision, the Madison Symphony Orchestra becoming an even more vital presence for ALL the citizens of Madison and the surrounding region as we contribute to our city and the arts.
What out-of-town guest stints will you do this season? Other major plans?
In October 2014, I’m opening the Long Beach (California) Symphony Orchestra season, and then conducting a concert of American composers with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Feb 2015. In the 2015-16 season, I’ll return to the Kennedy Center.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) has just announced its next season for 2014-15.
It strikes The Ear as both deeply interesting and tightly cohesive, a good blend of sure-fire hits and unknown or rarely heard repertoire. It also features some fine local talent and some unusual repertoire, though, unlike the past several seasons, no new or contemporary music is included. After all, this is a business with seats to fill, not some theoretical exercise in programming.
“You can’t have everything, especially when you are playing only eight concerts,” lamented MSO maestro John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) when he discussed the new season with me.
But, DeMain added, the MSO is exploring doing another Chicago Symphony Orchestra “Beyond the Score” format concert — like this season’s presentation of Antonin Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, which sold out — probably in January and probably with more than one performance, if they can find a sponsor to front the $50,000 cost. Then he will decide on what work out of more than 20 possibilities would be right.
Concerts take place in Overture Hall in the Overture Center on Friday nights at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday nights at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.
The deadline for subscriptions renewals and keeping your current seat is May 8.
Here is the official press release that unveils the new season. The Ear also talked at length one-on-one with MSO music director and conductor John DeMain. Since the announcement is long enough for one post, DeMain’s insightful comments will appear a bit later in another post.
MADISON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCES 2014-15 SEASON
Maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will deliver a diverse and exciting season of composers and guest artists for 2014-2015.
Beginning with a September program that focuses on the highly-talented musicians in the orchestra, DeMain will lead the audience through an exhilarating variety of themes and cultures throughout the season. Russia, Scandinavia, and Golden-Age Hollywood are just a few of the sound worlds the MSO will explore, while monumental works central to the orchestra, such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, will anchor the year.
A world-class roster of guest artists has been invited to Madison for the season’s performances, including violinist Sarah Chang, pianist Olga Kern, violinist Daniel Hope, pianist Ingrid Fliter and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music pianist Christopher Taylor.
SEPTEMBER 19, 20 and 21, 2014
“Orchestral Splendor,” John DeMain, Conductor
RICHARD STRAUSS, “Also sprach Zarathustra”
FRANK MARTIN, Concerto for Seven Winds
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS, Symphony No. 3 (“Organ” Symphony)
German composer Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra was once among his least performed works, but it is now firmly established as standard orchestral repertoire. The trumpet theme and thunderous timpani entrance (heard in Stanley Kubrick’s epic film “2001: A Space Odyssey”) are unmistakable.
Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds was written in 1949. It features seven solo instruments, exploring differences in sonority and expression. The virtuosic and conversational writing in these piece results in a playful, sportive character.
French composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, known also as the “Organ” Symphony, draws on elements of both the conventional symphony and the tone poem. Formally unusual in its own time, yet popular from its conception, the work features virtuosic piano and organ passages and a masterful display of the vast colors possible in the symphony orchestra.
OCTOBER 17, 18 and 19, 2014
“The Russian Spirit” with John DeMain, conductor, and Olga Kern (below), piano
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY, Suite from “Swan Lake”
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF, Concerto No. 1 for Piano
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH, Symphony No. 6
The Suite from “Swan Lake” tells the magical tale of a young prince enchanted by a swan maiden under the moonlight. Peter Tchaikovsky’s charming work utilizes haunting melodies, captivating waltzes, Russian and Hungarian folk themes, and a Spanish dance.
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano displays a youthful freshness and an assertive, extroverted personality. Indeed, the composer began this work when he was 17! For audience members who delight in keyboard fireworks, this piece will thrill.
Symphony No. 6 by Dmitri Shostakovich, written as war clouds were gathering in Russia, was quite a contrast to Symphony No. 5. Lopsided movement lengths, a lack of obvious theme, and characters of anxiety and desolation reflect the intriguing political situation of the time, as well as Shostakovich’s own remarkably wide emotional compass.
NOVEMBER 7, 8 and 9, 2014
“Scandinavian Wonders” with John DeMain, conductor, and Sarah Chang (below), violin
EDVARD GRIEG, Lyric Suite
JEAN SIBELIUS, Concerto for Violin
CARL NIELSEN, Symphony No. 4 (“The Inextinguishable”)
Over the course of his long career, Edvard Grieg composed 66 Lyric pieces for piano, strongly rooted in the songs, dances, mythology, and spirit of Norway. He selected four of these fragrant and diverse miniatures for an orchestral suite, premiered in 1906.
“…For…10 years it was my dearest wish to become a great virtuoso.” wrote Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in his diary. Unfortunately the composer never reached great proficiency on the instrument, and his Concerto for Violin, awash in Nordic textures, expresses a melancholic farewell to that childhood dream.
As a philosophical guideline to his often raging Symphony No. 4, Danish composer Carl Nielsen said, “Music is life, and, like life, inextinguishable”. Four interlinked movements of frequently agitated energy lead to a climax of ultimate triumph and grand 19th century symphonic tradition.
DECEMBER 5, 6 and 7, 2014
A Madison Symphony Christmas
With John DeMain, conductor; Alyson Cambridge (below), soprano; Harold Meers, tenor; the Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, director; the Madison Youth Choirs, Michael Ross, artistic director; and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir, Leotha Stanley, director.
John DeMain and the Madison Symphony don their Santa hats for this signature Christmas celebration. This concert is filled with traditions, from caroling in the lobby with the Madison Symphony Chorus to vocal performances by hundreds of members of Madison’s musical community. Christmas classics are interwoven with enchanting new holiday music. The culminating sing-along is Madison’s unofficial start of the holiday season!
FEBRUARY 13, 14 and 15, 2015
“Fliter Plays Chopin” with John DeMain, conductor, and Ingrid Fliter (below), piano
BENJAMIN BRITTEN, Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge
FREDERIC CHOPIN, Concerto No. 2 for Piano
ROBERT SCHUMANN, Symphony No. 4
Frank Bridge, one of Benjamin Britten’s earliest composition teachers, was certainly responsible for the surpassing clarity, individuality, and discipline in Britten’s most cherished works. Britten’s “Variations” on Bridge’s theme range from passionate to playful, capturing the heartfelt musical admiration of a pupil for his teacher.
From the moment he arrived in Paris at age 21, Frederic Chopin drew the admiration of both the public and esteemed critics, alike. Concerto No. 2 was in fact his first concerto, displaying the composer’s prolific improvisatory and imaginative style.
In composing Symphony No. 4, Robert Schumann departed significantly from the standard Classical form he previously employed, connecting all four movements with recurring musical ideas–a novel proposition at the time.
MARCH 6, 7 and 8, 2015
“Composers in Exile: Creating the Hollywood Sound” with John DeMain, conductor, and Daniel Hope (below), violin
FRANZ WAXMAN, Sinfonietta for Strings and Timpani Ride of the Cossacks from “Taras Bulba”
MIKLÓS RÓZSA, Theme, Variations and Finale; Parade of the Charioteers from “Ben Hur”; Love Theme from “Ben Hur”; Love Theme from “Spellbound”
ERICH KORNGOLD, Concerto for Violin and the Suite from “Captain Blood”
This unique concert features the works of great classical composers before they fled Nazi persecution and also showcases their later brilliant contributions to Hollywood film scores.
Franz Waxman (below) is responsible for a long list of memorable Hollywood scores, including “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Rebecca.” His Sinfonietta, written for only strings and timpani, is comprised of three wildly different movements. Waxman also composed the soundtrack for the 1962 epic, “Taras Bulba.” “Ride of the Cossacks” is the exhilarating theme to which Taras and his army gallop to Dubno.
According to Miklos Rózsa (below), his “Theme” was conceived in the manner of a Hungarian folk song, then treated in variations of contrasting feeling, and summarized in a wild and swift finale. The 1934 work earned him his first international success. By the late 1940’s Rózsa was an Oscar-winning, film score composer, and joined the staff of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. His thrilling score for the 1959 film “Ben Hur” is one of his lasting achievements, earning him his third and final Oscar.
The Concerto for Violin, written by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (bel0w top) in 1945, perfectly blends the two musical lives of the composer, unapologetic in both its rigorous craftsmanship and its Hollywood charm. “Captain Blood” was a milestone for Korngold, as it was his first fully symphonic movie score. Produced in only three weeks, the music evidences his most professional and imaginative effort.
APRIL 10, 11 and 12, 2015
“Piano Genius” with John DeMain, conductor, and Christopher Taylor (below), piano
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, Concerto No. 4 for Clavier
FRANZ LISZT, Concerto No. 1 for Piano
ANTON BRUCKNER, Symphony No. 7
Concerto No. 4 by Johann Sebastian Bach is part of a set of six concertos, dated to 1738. The piece was originally written for harpsichord and is ripe with movement and ornamentation. Bach’s concertos laid a crucial formal and harmonic groundwork for centuries of composition to follow.
Franz Liszt’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano is more than a century-long leap forward in time. Liszt’s Romantic genius is unabashedly on display, with thick orchestration, cadenzas that range from delicate to thundering, and lush harmonies.
Anton Bruckner was a country man, transplanted into bustling cosmopolitan Vienna, and he and his music were unlikely successes with audiences and critics. His music was said to “compel the element of the divine into our human world”.
MAY 8, 9 and 10, 2015
“Ode to Joy” with John DeMain, conductor; concertmaster Naha Greenholtz (below top), violin; Melody Moore, soprano; Gwendolyn Brown, contralto; Eric Barry, tenor; Morris Robinson (below bottom), bass; and the Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, director.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN, “Serenade” (after Plato’s “Symposium”)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”)
Leonard Bernstein’s “Serenade” for violin and orchestra, resulted from a rereading of Plato’s charming dialogue, “The Symposium.” The music dances through a series of inter-related “speakers” at a banquet (Phaedrus, Aristophanes, Erixymachus, Agathon, and Socrates), praising love.
Ludwig van Beethoven’s last and monumental Symphony No. 9 stands apart from his other symphonies by virtue of its humanistic message, enormous scale and organic unity of design. The mammoth fourth movement, operating like a symphony in miniature, is like nothing else in symphonic music. Four soloists, full chorus, the entire orchestra, and the famous “Ode to Joy” theme will conclude the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s season. (You can hear a populist flash mob version of the “Ode to Joy” at the bottom in a popular YouTube video that had almost 4-1/2 million hits.)
Single tickets for individual concerts have increased slightly and are $16 to $84 each, and go on sale Aug. 16. They are 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.
New subscribers can receive savings up to 50%. For more information and to subscribe, visit www.madisonsymphony.org/newsub or call (608) 257-3734.
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
Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.
You can also check out the official MSO website announcement of the new season by visiting:
The Madison Symphony Orchestra engages audiences of all ages and backgrounds in live classical music through a full season of concerts with established and emerging soloists of international renown, an organ series that includes free concerts, and widely respected education and community engagement programs. Find more information at www.madisonsymphony.org.
ALERT: This Friday’s Free Noon Musicale, held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium at the historic the First Unitarian Society of Madison‘s Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature flutist Dawn Lawler and pianist Kirstin Ihde in music of Camille Saint-Saens, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev and Johann Sebastian Bach.
By Jacob Stockinger
Ever since he arrived in Madison from Houston 20 years ago, maestro John DeMain has never ceased to innovate and try new things to boost the fortunes of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Opera, where he is the music director and the artistic director, respectively.
His many efforts have included new audition procedures for players; opening up rehearsals to the public; helping to procure and build the Overture Center; expanding educational programs and community outreach programs; and tirelessly promoting his efforts through Wisconsin Public Radio and WORT-FM, Wisconsin Public Television and commercial TV network affiliates.
He also tried a special New Year’s concert that didn’t work out, and going to triple performances, which did work out.
So it seemed only natural that The Ear should asked DeMain about his latest effort in both music education and concert performance: Doing the “Beyond the Score” version of Antonin Dvorak’s popular “New World” Symphony this Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall. (Tickets are $15-$60 and are selling fast towards a sell-out; they can be bought through the Overture Center box office or by calling at (608) 258-4141.)
Here is a link with more details about the production and concert:
And here is an email Q&A with John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) about the background and future of the Beyond the Score series, which was pioneered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
How and when did the idea for this kind of concert or special event come to you?
Actually some of our patrons witnessed “Beyond the Score” in Chicago several years ago and brought it to our attention. We immediately investigated the program and found it fascinating and wonderful. We felt it was something that Madison should have.
The “Beyond the Score” concert on Sunday afternoon is almost sold out. What do you attribute its popularity to? When did it start, and how has it been received by the public and the musicians at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra?
I think the public loves the “New World” Symphony by Dvorak (below) and is anxious to get deeper into this great symphony and it’s connection to America. “Beyond the Score” is in its ninth season in Chicago and has been wildly successful with their audience. This year they’re adding three more symphonies to their canon of works for this program.
Why did you decide to program this event, and can you give us some background to it? Do you think it will help build new audiences? Deepen the appreciation of current audiences? How so?
I hope this will attract new listeners and deepen the experience of our current audience. This is not a musicological or theoretical analysis of the symphony, although many examples are cited to illustration certain aspects of the music. Rather it is a multi-media presentation that is highly entertaining as well as informative look into the creative process.
What makes this symphony American, Czech and Beethovenian all in one? This is what “Beyond the Score” examines as it conjures up the wonderful historical context in which this work was written. (Below is a photo of the manuscript score of the “New World” Symphony.)
If this format is popular and well received here, might the MSO (below) do another one next season, or maybe even more performances? What other works are available in that format and have you considered?
We hope that if the performance is well received here and that other underwriters step forward, we can possibly see more of these in the future. Currently, there are 22 works in the “Beyond the Score” canon.
Are there parts about the Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony program that particularly attract you, or parts that you want to draw the public’s attention to?
I know that after the intermission, when we perform the symphony in its entirety, the audience will listen to it in a whole new way. (Below is a YouTube video, with more than 1.5 million hits of the soulful slow movement, which borrows from Negro spirituals, of the “New World Symphony as performed by conductor Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. It is The Ear’s favorite movement of this wonderful symphony.)
Editor’s note: Here are the official program notes by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor and Madison Symphony Orchestra trombonist J. Michael Allsen for the “New World” Symphony:
ALERT: The Madison Symphony Orchestra is again running hits holiday special. That includes an all-Beethoven concert and an inside look at Antonin Dvorak‘s “New World” Symphony as well as the Mozart Requiem and a concert highlighting the George Gershwin legacy. Tickets to all MSO upcoming subscription concerts are just $20 or $45. You’ll get A, B and B/C section seats (valued at up to $82.50 each) for just $45. And C and D section seats (valued at up to $43.50 each) are just $20. For more information visit:
By Jacob Stockinger
I have nothing big, important or particularly useful for you to read today.
Instead of suggesting gifts you can give, here is one you gift get to receive: NPR’s wonderful blog Deceptive Cadence, has posted a FREE one-hour concert by the acclaimed and best-selling early music group Stile Antico (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve), which sings beautiful music a cappella – that is, without accompaniment.
And the fine acoustics of St. Paul’s Church, located in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., where the concert was recorded live, only enhance the sound.
It is quite lovely, even breath-taking and haunting, as it offers some unusual repertoire by William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Sheppard and Tomas Luis de Victoria for the holiday season. So stream it and listen to it — don’t just read the transcript — if you can.
Here is a link: