The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The superb final concert of the Madison Early Music Festival took the audience through an Elizabethan day with inventive fun

July 20, 2016
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

You have to hand it to early music advocate, scholar, conductor and performer Grant Herreid (below), who once again was a major player in the 17th annual Madison Early Music Festival, which wrapped up this past Saturday night.

MEMF 2016 all-festival Grant Herreid

What could have been a scissors-and-paste job to wrap up the celebration of music in Shakespeare and Elizabethan England was turned by the creative Herreid into an event that was thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly inventive.

What the final All-Festival Concert did was to bring together what seemed a very large number of students, faculty and guest performers.

MEMF 2016 all-festival all forces

Then what the combined forces did was offer a sampler of a typical Elizabethan day. That day included the usual routines from waking up, exercising and going to bed, but also included prayers, romance and entertainment.

It used snippets from plays by William Shakespeare (below) and snippets by many composers of the period including Thomas Tomkins, Anthony Holborne, Thomas Morley, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Weelkes, John Bennet, John Coperario, Thomas Ravenscroft, John Dowland and Thomas Tallis as well an anonymous composers and reconstructions.

shakespeare BW

The formula must have appealed because it drew a large and enthusiastic audience.

Since it was such an ensemble effort, it is difficult to single out individuals for praise or criticism.

Instead, The Ear simply wants to mention a few of his favorite things with photos to illustrate them.

Here is what The Ear liked:

He liked that the entire 90-minute program of sacred and secular music was done without an intermission. Once you were in the zone, you didn’t have to leave it and then have to get back into it. Plus, the unity of the day was preserved.

He liked the diverse and always highly accomplished singing.

He liked seeing the unusual period string and wind instruments that are beautiful as well as useful.

MEMF 2016 all-festival strings left

He liked how the entire hall, not just the main stage, was used, including the balconies from which a fanfare opened the concert:

MEMF 2016 all-festival balcony

He liked the many “actors” who stepped to the edge of the Mills Hall stage and did an exceptional job reading the excerpts of Shakespeare that were kept short and to the point:

MEMF 2016 all-festival Shakespeare reader

He liked the period and very energetic dancing with handkerchiefs and leg bells:

MEMF 2016 all-festival dancing

There was more. But you get the idea.

Once again, if you can’t make it to other concerts in the Madison Early Music Festival’s annual week-long schedule, try to make it to the impressive All-Festival Concert at the end.

In 17 years, it has never disappointed.

That is a record to be envied and praised.


Classical music: Here is the schedule of the Chazen Museum of Art’s chamber music concerts — live and streamed — for 2016. They start this Sunday afternoon with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Plus, Mark Adamo will talk about his opera at the performance TONIGHT of “Little Women” by the Madison Opera

February 5, 2016
1 Comment

ALERT: Kathryn Smith, the general director of the Madison Opera, which is presenting Mark Adamo‘s opera “Little Women” tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, writes: “One thing you might let your readers know is that Mark Adamo is doing the pre-show talk TONIGHT in tandem with me  — meaning I’m going to ask him questions, so he can talk about his opera instead of me doing so as usual. That is at 7 p.m. in the Wisconsin Studio of the Overture Center, and is free to ticket holders.”

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following message that you may want to print out or write into your datebook:

The Chazen Museum of Art is pleased to announce the continuation of Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen for 2016.

On the FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH, the Chazen presents chamber music performances in Brittingham Gallery III of the old Conrad A. Elvehjem Building.

SALProArteMay2010

In addition to the gallery performance, the monthly concerts are streamed live on the Internet, making them readily accessible anywhere in the world.

This year marks the 38th season for Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen. Until 2015, the series took place weekly and was broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio.

When WPR stepped away, the Chazen took over the series.

Lori Skelton, the producer of Sunday Afternoon Live at WPR for many years, has again volunteered to program the concert series and act as its host. Without her musical expertise, as well as her generosity of spirit, the Chazen would not be able to continue this popular program.

During the intermissions, live stream listeners will hear an interview or conversation featuring the museum’s director, Russell Panczenko. Topics include current exhibitions and the permanent collection.

Concerts begin at 12:30 p.m.

All concerts are free and open to the public. However, seating is limited. Chazen Museum of Art members may call 608-263-2246 to reserve seating the week before the concert.

To listen to the concert live on the Internet, simply go to www.Chazen.wisc.edu on the day of the concert and click on Sunday Afternoon Live at the Chazen.

2016 Schedule

This Sunday, February 7:  Wisconsin Brass Quintet 

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

March 6:  Pro Arte String Quartet

April 3:  Clocks in Motion percussion ensemble

Clocks in Motion group collage 

May 1:  Pro Arte Quartet

June 5:  Madison Bach Musicians

Kangwon KIm with Madison Bach Musicians

July 3 TBD

August 7 TBD

September 4:  Black Marigold Wind Quintet

Black Marigold new 2016

October 2:  Pro Arte String Quartet

November 6:  Parry Karp, cello

Parry Karp

December 4:  Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer)

Pro Arte 3 Rick Langer copy


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