The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison New Music Ensemble makes its debut this Friday night. A FREE harpsichord recital is Friday at noon

April 10, 2019
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ALERT: This Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features harpsichordist Faythe Vollrath (below). She has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal for her “subtly varied tempo and rhythm that sounds like breathing.” Her programs do not focus solely on early music, but also incorporate new music written for historic instruments. The concert runs from 12:15 to 1 p.m. (In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear and see her playing the 1993 “Toccata” by Emma Lou Diemer.)

By Jacob Stockinger

On this coming Friday night, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, the Madison New Music Ensemble will give its debut concert.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Only cash and personal checks will be accepted at the door.

The program features music by the group’s artistic director and Madison-based composer Joseph Koykkar — the director of music in the Dance Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison —  Robert Muczynski, Ed Martin, Lennon/McCartney and others.

Special guests are The Vine Street Trio, a faculty trio from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, playing works by contemporary composers and saxophonist Peterson Ross.

Members of the Madison New Music Ensemble (below, from left) are: Danielle Breisach; Joseph Koykkar; Monica Jiang; Joseph Ross; Amy Harr; Elena Ross; and Bethany Schultz

For more information about the performers and the group, go to the Madison New Music Ensemble page on Facebook at:

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Classical music: Trevor Stephenson explains why Baroque music sounds so good at holiday time. His Madison Bach Musicians will perform their annual Baroque Holiday Concert of Bach, Corelli and Telemann this coming Saturday night. Plus, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet performs a FTREE concert Thursday night at 7:0 p.m. and at noon on Friday you can hear a FREE performance of two sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven.

December 9, 2015
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ALERT: On Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the UW -Madison’s Wingra Wind Quintet will perform a FREE concert of 20th-century music by Henry Cowell, Irving Fine, Robert Muczynski, Alan Hovhaness and Elliott Carter. For more information, here is a link:

This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the meeting house of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features violinist Wendy Adams and pianist Ann Aschbacher in two sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven: Op. 30, No. 1, and Op. 96.

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming Saturday night, the Madison Bach Musicians and guest soloists will perform their annual Baroque Holiday concert. (Below is a photo by Kent Sweitzer of the 2014 concert in the same venue.)

MBM Baroque Holiday Concert 2014 CR Kent Sweitzer

The concert is at 8 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave., near Camp Randall.

Tickets are $23-$28 and can be purchased at the door, with discounts in advance at certain outlets or online.

For more information, visit the MBM website at:

Trevor Stephenson, who is a master explainer and who will give a pre-concert lecture at 7:15 p.m., recently spoke via email to The Ear:

Prairie Rhapsody 2011 Trevor Stephenson

This is the fifth annual Baroque Holiday Concert by the Madison Bach Musicians. Generally speaking, what is your goal when you program for it?

The idea of the Baroque Holiday Concert is to present an interesting and varied program of Baroque and Renaissance music, some of which pertains to the holiday season and to winter itself.

More importantly we try to program outstanding pieces that Madison audiences may not have had a chance to hear very often in live performance, particularly, played on period instruments and with historically informed performance practices.

MBM Baroque Holiday Concert 2012

Why is Baroque music so popular at the holidays? What is it about the music itself that makes it feel so appropriate to the occasion?

Baroque music, whether it is written specifically for the holidays or not, does indeed sound terrific this time of year. I think the baroque style really strikes the right balance between energy and form — a perfect marriage of theater and church.

The Bach cantatas, two of which we’ll be playing on this upcoming concert, are perhaps the strongest examples of this fusion. The bearing of these pieces is always devotional, while the compositional technique—the process of invention in them—is always searching, exploratory, even avant-garde.

Look at the opening of Cantata 61, Nun komm der Heiden Heiland (Now Come Savior of the Heavens) where Bach (below) begins by firing up a martial-sounding dotted-rhythm French overture and then layers in the voices, one at a time, in long moaning tonally-veering chant lines. And yet, this all seems to operate within a framework that can accommodate it.


Briefly and in non-specialist terms, what would you like the public to know about each of the works?

In addition to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 61, the more grand-scale Advent Cantata discussed above, we’ll also be presenting the more intimate Cantata 151, Süßer trost, mein Jesus kömmt (Sweet Comfort, My Jesus Comes) composed for the third day of Christmas), which opens with an elegant and extended aria for soprano and obbligato baroque flute. We’re thrilled that this will be performed by outstanding soprano Chelsea Morris and baroque flutist extraordinaire Linda Pereksta.

We’ll also perform the rightly beloved “Christmas” Concerto in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8, by Arcangelo Corelli. The melodic material, the sequential dance-movement structure and the unsurpassed beauty of the string writing in this concerto grosso are perfect in the extreme. MBM concertmaster Kangwon Kim will lead this from the first violin.

By the way, if you’re familiar with Peter Weir’s 2003 movie Master and Commander you’ll notice that the Corelli “Christmas” Concerto pops up a couple of times in the movie score. (You can hear the “Christmas” Concerto, conducted by Trevor Pinnock, in the Youtube video at the bottom.)

Also on the program is Telemann’s E minor quartet from Tafelmusik. Tafelmusik, literally “table music” refers to the domestic and unassuming everyday quality of the writing. Chelsea Morris (below) will also perform three movements from George Frideric Handel’s Gloria.

Chelsea Morris soprano

Other musicians featured on the program are alto Margaret Fox, tenor William Ottow, bass Luke MacMillan, violinists Brandi Berry, Nathan Giglierano, and Olivia Cottrell, violists Marika Fischer Hoyt and Micah Behr, cellists Martha Vallon and Andrew Briggs, and (yours truly) harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson.

I’ll also give a pre-concert lecture at 7:15 p.m. about the music, the composers and the period instruments.

Is there something else you would like to say about the works or the performers?

I’d also like to mention that the concert will be given in the wonderful sanctuary of Madison’s First Congregational United Church of Christ. The acoustics there are absolutely terrific. Wisconsin Public Radio will be recording the concert and will broadcast it later in the holiday season, date to be announced.

Classical music: The last FREE Dane County Farmer’s Market organ concert of this summer – sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Overture Center — will take place this coming Saturday morning, Aug. 17, at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall. Plus, Black Marigold Quintet will be featured on WORT-FM Thursday morning.

August 14, 2013
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ALERT: Radio programmer and host as well as blog friend Rich Samuels writes: “In anticipation of the upcoming concerts by Black Marigold Woodwind Quintet (below) at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, I’ll be airing, at 7:28 a.m. this Thursday morning, during my 5- 8 a.m. program “Anything Goes” on WORT-FM 89.9, their April 13 performance at Grace Episcopal Church (recorded by Bruce Kasprzyk) of Robert Muczynski‘s Quintet for Winds. The concerts will include arrangements of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” which is 100 years old this year.” Details of the concerts were included in a blog post here yesterday. 

Black Marigold

By Jacob Stockinger

A FREE performance on the Overture Concert Organ (below) will be co-presented by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Overture Center for the Arts during the Dane County Farmers’ Market on this upcoming Saturday, Aug. 17, at 11 a.m. at Overture Hall, 201 State Street.

Overture Concert Organ overview

No tickets or reservations are needed for the 45-minute concert featuring Sam Hutchison and 14-year-old newcomer Adrian Binkley.

The two will play Johann Sebastian Bach’s Third Movement from the Sonata in E-Flat Major BWV 525 (heard in a YouTube video at the bottom), Sir Edward Elgar’s “Imperial March,” Sir Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord,” Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” and the Prayer to Our Lady and Toccata movements from Leon Boëllmann’s “Gothic Suite.” A complete list of Overture Concert Organ performances is at .

Audiences will hear the debut of a young rising star from Waunakee, Wisconsin. Fourteen-year-old organist Adrian Binkley (below top) is a student of MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison (below bottom, in a photo by Joe DeMaio). Binkley is already an experienced recital artist and plans to study organ performance at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan this fall. Both Binkley and Samuel Hutchison will perform at this concert.

Adrian Binkley

Samuel Hutchison (c) Joe DeMaio

The Free Farmers’ Market Concerts are generously sponsored by the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and are presented in partnership with 77 Square. Support for all Overture Concert Organ programs is provided by the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund with additional support from Friends of the Overture Concert Organ.

With a gift from the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the stunning backdrop of all MSO concerts. As curator for the instrument, Samuel Hutchison is responsible for organ programming and education events. In addition to the Free Farmers’ Market Concerts, the instrument is featured in the MSO Christmas and April 2014 concerts along with three Free Community Hymn Sings and a Christmas Carol Sing.

Subscribers to the 2013-14 Overture Concert Organ season receive a 25% discount. To subscribe visit

Classical music: April is jam packed with classical music — and this weekend is no exception for chamber music, brass music, baroque vocal and instrumental music, plus piano trios and string trios.

April 10, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

In “The Wasteland,” poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”

Well, for classical  music-lovers, the cruelty lies in the abundance of riches. It is hard to keep up with it all this month, or even this week.

I have already posted some big events. But there are other concerts to attend – almost all FREE — especially at the UW-Madison School of Music.

Here is a round-up of ones I haven’t yet covered:


The weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicale Friday from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, features Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat, K. 563, with Eugene Purdue, violin (below); Rami Solomonow, viola; and Tom Rosenberg, cello.

Eugene Purdue 1 Thomas C. Stringfellow


Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. in Grace Episcopal Church (below), “Grace Presents” will offer a FREE concert featuring the Madison-based wind quintet “Black Marigold.”

The program will feature excerpts from the program for the three Spring concert dates: Anton Reicha’s Quintet in E-flat, Op. 88, No. 2; Robert Muczynski’s Quintet for Winds; György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles; and Bill Douglas’ “Suite Cantabile.”

MBM Grace altar

For the Madison dates (April 13 at Grace Episcopal and Friday, April 19, the FREE Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive) the group will be selecting from this program. For the Platteville concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the UW-Platteville, the program will be performed in its entirety. The Overture EngAGES programs are still To Be Determined but the dates are May 15 at Madison Senior Center at 1:30 p.m.; May 16 at Attic Angels West at 10 a.m.; and May 17 at Oakwood Village West, 7 p.m. 

Members of Black Marigold are Elizabeth Marshall, flute; Laura Medsiky, oboe; Bethany Schultz, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn; and Cynthia Cameron Fix, bassoon.

Find more information at

Black Marigold 2

On Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir (below), under Beverly Taylor and her assistant Brian Gurley, will present its Spring Concert. Admission is FREE. 

The concert will include a motet group of works by Philips, Mouton, Bruckner and Vulpius,  a group of Debussy works, Britten works, Poulenc works and a mixture of Americana including works by Barber, Copland, and folksong arrangements.

The top-tier choir of 45 members sings a variety of primarily a cappella choral literature from all eras. Singers in Concert Choir have significant vocal and choral experience, as well as high sight reading ability, and many are voice majors. In late May, the group will embark on a performance tour of France.

Concert Choir

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will close out its current season this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park, 300 East Gorham St., in downtown Madison.

The program features music of the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically Baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music.

Tickets are at the door only: $15 for the public, $10 for students.

Gates of Heaven

The musicians in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) are: Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Chelsie Propst – soprano; Monica Steger – harpsichord; Anton TenWolde – cello, viola da gamba.

The program includes selections from “Pieces de Viole,  Book 2” by Main Marais; “Dulcis amor” by Isabella Leonarda; Sinata in E minor for cello and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Bononcini; “Susanne” by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre;

Madison: “Canzon prima a 2 bassi” by Giralamo Frescobaldi; and “L’Astratto” by Barbara Strozzi.

For more information, call (608) 238-5126 or visit

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite


This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” – broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio from 12:30 to 2 p.m. from Brittingham Gallery 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art — features the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as artists in residence at the UW-Madison.

The program includes Gesualdo’s Suite of Madrigals, arranged by Mark Hetzler; John Harbison’s “Magnum Mysterium”; Macmillan’s “Adam’s Rib”; and Daniel Grabois’ “Grabois: Gravilord.”

Wisconsin Brass Quintet Cr Katrin Talbot

Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music.

The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.

In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble.

Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.

With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited.

All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For reservations or membership information contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception will follow the performance with coffee, tea, and treats donated by local businesses. Donors this semester include Fresh Madison Market, Steep & Brew and the University Club.

A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.


On Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Trio Antigo will present a FREE concert of music by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.

This trio (below) is comprised of cellist Stefan Kartman of UW-Milwaukee; Felicia Moye, UW-Madison Professor of Violin; and pianist Jeannie Yu.

(Note: Kartman and Moye also will present a master class on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Humanities Building, Room 1341.)

The program will include Piano Trio, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich and Priano Trio in C minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn. (A sample of the beautiful Mendelssohn trio performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emanuel Ax can be heard in the YouTube video below.)

Trio Antigo

This concert is part of a reciprocal residency between UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, funded in part by a Bolz grant for Faculty Research. The trio will be in residence at UW-M April 19-21, and will present a concert at the Peck School of the Arts on April 21.

The trio also received a Dane Arts grant to present outreach concerts in Dane County, which will be taking place on April 27 and 28. In fact, the April 28 concert will be a fundraiser to benefit local nonprofit Music Con Brio, Inc., which provides high-quality, low-cost music lessons to underprivileged children on Madison’s East Side.

Felicia Moye (below) is currently Professor of Violin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of Trio Antigo. She has also served as Professor of Violin at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada, the University of Oklahoma, the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and the pre-college division of The Juilliard School as Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee’s assistant.

Felicia Moye color

Stefan Kartman (below) has served on the faculties of Drake University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Rutgers University, and is currently Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Here is a link to his site:

Stefan Kartman cello

Pianist Jeannie Yu was awarded first prize in the Frinna Awerbuch Piano Competition in New York, the Flint Symphony International Concerto Competition, the Portland Symphony International Concerto Competition, and the Kingsville Piano Competition in Texas. She also earned the prestigious Gina Bachauer Memorial Scholarship Award, a full scholarship for the master’s degree program at The Juilliard School of Music where she also received the bachelor’s degree. Subsequently she was awarded an accompanist fellowship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.

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