By Jacob Stockinger
This coming Tuesday, Nov. 29, is Giving Tuesday.
But this year Giving Tuesday seems more important than ever.
It’s no secret that the conservative political forces now in ascendancy do not favor government subsidies of the arts. And one has no idea about what the taste in the arts is for the incoming administration.
Plus, economic competition among proliferating music groups has only tightened the screws even further on many organizations.
Of course, lots of music organizations – small, medium and big – need your help.
The Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Union Theater and increasingly the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music all seek out and solicit donations with more and more frequency.
And it is no secret that The Ear especially favors supporting music education organizations for young people such as the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (below, at the group’s 50th anniversary concert last winter). They not only train future musicians but also build future audiences for classical music.
But in whatever direction your philanthropy and generosity extend, here is some relevant news.
It is a story from The New York Times about how symphony orchestras are now less like businesses and more like charities.
Symphony orchestras aren’t alone, so the account seems especially timely with Giving Tuesday looming.
Here is a link:
If you have some thoughts, please leave them in the COMMENT section.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Well, it has happened again.
As of July 1, the official name of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music is now the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
That’s an ungainly mouthful to say and write.
But The Ear doesn’t blame the School of Music and its directors for having to take such steps.
To The Ear, the renaming means that the state legislators and the state government have once again been negligent in preserving and bettering this great institution that generations of ordinary Wisconsin citizens supported through taxes, and then benefitted from through “The Wisconsin Idea” that the university serves the public that supports it.
Underfunding goes along with the Republicans’ anti-education and anti-intellectual agenda of imposing steep budget cuts, undermining tenure, alienating faculty who then leave and implementing other measures that hurt this great state university.
So, The Ear objects to the move, much as he did with the selling of the Law School; with the renaming of the Elvehjem Museum of Art to the Chazen Museum of Art; and with the Wisconsin Union Theater, which was renamed Shannon Hall (below top).
Plus, there is the new music building and performance center (below bottom), which sees a groundbreaking in late October, named — not renamed — for the Hamel family.
Such naming and renaming by big private money blurs the distinction between a donation or a gift and a purchase. Call it branding, naming, PR, advertising, whatever – The Ear doesn’t like it. What is public should remain public.
Do the egos of the wealthy really know no bounds, especially during these days when the political talk is of wealth inequality and income distribution?
So The Ear says a deep and hearty thank you to the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids for its help.
But he sure wishes its corporate ego had been satisfied with a hall or a building being named after it, and with perhaps a big bronze bas-relief plaque containing a history about its fortune in the paper industry and an appreciation of its generous philanthropy.
But to rename an entire school that has more than a century of history behind it?
Sorry. That’s over the top.
It is overkill and seems downright tacky.
To The Ear it will always be the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, just as it has for the past century-plus.
If you want more background and details, here are three official UW links, with the most recent ones coming first
What do readers and the tax-paying public think and say?
Do you agree or disagree with The Ear?
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
In yesterday’s blog about afternoon concerts this weekend, The Ear mentioned the FREE concert by the Perlman Piano Trio this Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall.
The all-masterpiece program is an appealing one: The late Piano Trio in E-flat Major, K. 542, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44, by Robert Schumann; and the Piano Trio No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 101, by Johannes Brahms.
Members of the graduate student ensemble (below, from left, in a photo by Katherine Esposito) are: violinist Adam Dorn; pianist SeungWha Baek; and cellist Micah Cheng.
Additional members for the Schumann Piano Quintet are violinist Keisuke Yamamoto and violist Luke Carmichael Valmadrid.
But the concert by the Perlman Trio is also an occasion to recognize an important donor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
Her name is Kato (Katherine) Perlman. The Ear knows her as a congenial, amiable and modest person.
Perlman’s generosity has made possible this scholarship trio for distinguished graduate students. Its membership usually changes every school year.
Perlman (below), a retired chemist, has also contributed to other events and programs at the UW-Madison and to other music events around town.
Now, Perlman is not alone. There are many important donors and patrons and underwriters of musical events in Madison.
One of the most distinguished and largest recent gifts was the late Karen Bishop, whose gift of $500,000 made possible hiring a new director of University Opera outside the punitive budget cuts by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature.
Another is Irving Shain(below), the retired chemistry professor and Chancellor of the UW-Madison, who decades ago started the ongoing Beethoven Sonata Competition and who also underwrites the wind and piano duet competition.
Kato Perlman has an interesting, compelling and moving personal history, and the upcoming concert in Saturday is a good occasion to share it.
Here it is:
These are challenging times for classical music. Those of us who appreciate it should be especially grateful to Perlman and other sponsors and donors for allowing it to exist for our pleasure and enlightenment.
So The Ear says:
Thank you, Kato.
Thank you, Irv.
Thank you, Karen Bishop and family.
And thank you to all donors and sponsors – individuals, groups, corporations and businesses — including those whose philanthropy supports the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Madison Early Music Festival, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and so many of the wonderful music groups in the areas.
You were never needed more.
In their honor, here in a YouTube video is a song of dedication, “Widmung,” composed by Robert Schumann and sung by baritone Thomas Quasthoff: