The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Symphony Orchestra will unveil its first “Beyond the Score®” multi-media performance of Antonin Dvorak’s popular Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) this coming Sunday afternoon.

January 20, 2014
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger 

Today is the birthday celebration of the murdered Nobel Peace Prize-winning civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (below) with celebrations around the nation, including a live broadcast from the state Capitol on Wisconsin Public Radio at noon CST. (The MLK tribute will also air tonight from 8 to 9 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television.)

martin luther king 2

So one could hardly think of a better time to perform classical music that pioneered the use of Negro spirituals and indigenous American Indian music.

And that is exactly what the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) will do this coming Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall in a first-time and one-time only concert that looks, according to marketing director Teri Venker, headed for a sellout.

MSO playing

Here is the MSO press release:

“Bohemian Antonín Dvořák’s uniquely American composition, Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” will be the focus of Beyond the Score®, a multimedia concert experience Sun., Jan. 26, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall in Madison, WisconsinThis is a Madison first and a one-time only performance.

“Beyond the Score® will feature videos and photos, actors and narrator, and musical examples, as well as a full performance of the symphony by Conductor John DeMain and the musicians of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The experience will fully immerse the audience in the “New World Symphony’s” context in history, how it relates to Dvořák’s other works, and the events in the composer’s life that influenced its creation.

“MSO music director and conductor John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) said: “This is an entertaining way to learn more about one of the world’s masterpieces through video, music, and actors. Hopefully, you’ll hear the symphony in a whole new way. This is an opportunity you won’t want to miss!” (At the bottom is a popular YouTube video , that has over 1.3 millions hits, and that features superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic leading the exciting final movement of the :”New World” symphony in a special concert for Pope Benedict XVI.)

John DeMain full face by Prasad

“Other professional talent will also play key roles.

“Anders Yocom, of Wisconsin Public Radio, will narrate.

anders yocom studio  head shot cr Jim Gill

“Actor David Daniel (below top), a core member of American Players Theatre, will perform the role of Antonin Dvorak (below bottom).

david daniels color

dvorak

Actor James Ridge (below), also a core member of American Players Theatre, will enact multiple roles.

James Ridge

“Mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Colbert (below), who is director of the women’s chorus at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison and is president of the Madison Symphony Chorus, will sing excerpts of spirituals that influenced Dvorak.

Jacqueline Colbert

“Dan Lyons (below), principal pianist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, will be the accompanist.

Dan Lyons

“Dvorak, already an internationally renowned composer, came to America in 1892 at the invitation of wealthy East Coast philanthropist Jeannette Thurber. He headed the American Conservatory of music in New York City and his main goal was to discover “American Music” and employ it in his own compositions. He also vacationed in the Czech community Spillville, Iowa, which holds an annual Dvorak festival each summer.

“Dvorak was particularly taken with the music of both African-Americans and Native Americans, and in 1893 began work on Symphony No. 9.  To this day there is a lively debate as to whether the piece more prominently reflects these “new world” cultures or rather Dvořák’s native Bohemia. 

“According to notes from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, “For Americans, this is the first great symphony about America. For African-Americans, this is the first great orchestral work to use themes inspired by their songs and spirituals. For Native Americans, it is the first, and so far the only, great work inspired by Native American music.” Beyond the Score® is a complete exploration of these varied and intriguing influences.

“Tickets are $15-$60 each, and are available at www.madisonsymphony.org/beyond ; through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin or by calling the Overture Center Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

“Beyond the Score® is produced by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Gerard McBurney, creative director, and Martha Gilmer, executive producer. Major funding for this concert is provided by an anonymous friend of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.”

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Classical music: Choosing a new Pope? There’s a play list for that! But is the Vatican listening? Plus, the UW Bands perform a FREE concert on Sunday afternoon.

March 8, 2013
1 Comment

REMINDER: This Sunday, March 10, at 2  p.m. in Mills Hall on the UW-Madison campus, the University Bands will perform a FREE concert under conductors Justin Stolarik (below) and Matthew Mireles.

Justin Stolarik

By Jacob Stockinger

An old friend and co-worker of The Ear saw the posting I did last week about Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (see him in the photo below, at a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim at La Scala opera house in Milan). Benedict has a passion for playing the piano and listening to classical music, especially for the works of Mozart and Beethoven (composers right in keeping with his conservative theology, no?).

Here is a link:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/classical-music-as-the-newly-retired-pope-benedict-xvi-faces-his-new-life-he-looks-forward-to-playing-the-piano-and-to-hearing-classical-music-especially-mozart-and-beethoven/l

pope

Well, now as the papal conclave in the Vatican starts slowly toward getting underway (NEWS FLASH: The Vatican has announced the conclave will begin Tuesday) to elect a new pope, it appears that a playlist has been put together – by an American theologian at Notre Dame University at the request of the website Spotify — of classical music to help the cardinals (below, in an Associated Press photo) choose a new pope.

Vatican conclave with cardinals and Swiss Guard AP photo

Most of it is, of course, choral music, usually with sacred themes — but not all of it.

Some of it is familiar to me; much of it is not.

Some of its is well known and popular; some of it is not.

But the list is catholic rather than Catholic and sure has a lot of excellent and memorable music.

Whether listening to this excellent music would lead to an excellent new pope is another question.

Here is a link:

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/02/28/choosing-a-new-pope-theres-a-spotify-playlist-for-that/

Can any one of you think of other pieces of classical music that might be added? I thought of three pieces by Franz Liszt (below), who was quite the handsome and rakish youth and young man but who became a Franciscan monk later in life. (Below, a photo of Liszt in 1870 by Pierre Petit.)

Liszt photo portrait by Pierre Petit 1870

 The works are “Benediction of God in Solitude” from his “Poetic and Religious Harmonies” series, and his two “legends” about Saint Francis of Assisi: “St. Francis Preaching to the Birds” and “Saint Francis Walking on the Waves” (below, in a great YouTube video by Lise de la Salle with some incredible shots of the keyboard and her fingers walking on the rolling WAVES of notes.)

The Ear wants to hear.

And just maybe the Vatican’s conclave of 142 cardinals, to say nothing of the new pope, also wants to hear.

 


Classical music: As the newly retired Pope Benedict XVI faces his new life, he looks forward to playing the piano and to hearing classical music, especially Mozart and Beethoven. Plus, UW clarinetist Les Thimmig performs music by Schubert, Verdi and others for FREE on Sunday afternoon.

March 2, 2013
1 Comment

ALERT: An apology is in order. Somehow, in Thursday’s round-up of FREE chamber music events at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this weekend, I left out the performance on the Faculty Concert Series on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Mills Hall by The Thimming-Johnson Duo. UW clarinetist Les Thimmig (seen below with a saxophone) and UW pianist Jessica Johnson will perform the Sonatine in G minor, D. 406, by Franz Schubert; “Rhapsodie Dobrogeana” by Paul Jelescu; and two arias from Giuseppe Verdi‘s “Il Trovatore,” among other works. The duo will be joined by UW percussionist Anthony DiSanza on marimba.

Les Thimmig color

By Jacob Stockinger

He plays the piano well.

He adores Mozart above all (see the YouTube video at bottom), followed closely by Beethoven.

He attends a lot of live performances and is a discerning listener.

He has a brother, who was a professional church choir conductor and a composer.

And now he is a retired ex-Pope or “pope emeritus,” as the Vatican has baptized Pope Benedict XVI, seen below at a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with conductor Daniel Barenboim at La Scala in Milan.)

pope

The outstanding classical music blog, “Deceptive Cadence,” which you can fin don the website of National Public Radio, has a terrific and very detailed story about the retired pope and classical music.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/02/27/172718489/benedict-and-beethoven-the-outgoing-popes-musical-life


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