By Jacob Stockinger
Last Saturday night, in Mills Hall, The Ear saw and heard the All-Festival Concert by the Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF).
But this year’s event proved one of the best ever, right at the top of the list.
The topic this year was “Slavic Discoveries: Early Music from Eastern Europe.”
To be honest, the music itself was not one of my all-time favorites of MEMF, although it had many beautiful moments.
What proved most impressive to my ears and eyes was the incredible variety that the various performers managed to instill into a concert that otherwise could have been pretty monotonous.
But this concert was anything but monotonous. The performances were well-rehearsed and quite polished.
There was, as usual, a lot of vocal music by some of the biggest orchestral and choral forces I recall seeing.
And the forces used the entire hall, even putting brass at the top of the back balcony at one point.
Plus, early music expert and retired UW-Madison professor Medieval history John W. Barker served as the narrator in an engaging piece about the slain Polish trumpeter whose battle call is still played today in Krakow in his honor.
The singers sang in large groups and small groups — solo, duets (below) and quartets — and all permutations performed superbly. The voices were strong and clear, and the diction always seemed excellent.
Conducting duties – split between guest main conductor Kristina Boerger (below top) and assistant conductor Jerry Hui (below bottom) – were exemplary.
It can be easy to lose a sense of balance and control with such large forces. But the range of dynamics from soft to loud, from slow to fast, never felt awkward or wrong. Not here. The blending and flow were superb.
So The Ear offers a hearty Thank You! to all the participants of this year’s Madison Early Music Festival who made this final concert so satisfying.
And to listeners, I say: If you can only make one concert during the Madison Early Music Festival each summer, the All-Festival Concert is a good bet — and a great place to start if early music is new to you.
Judging from this latest installment, you won’t be disappointed.
And you just might catch The Bug!
By Jacob Stockinger
The 16th annual Madison Early Music Festival opened on Saturday night.
The coming week of daily workshops, lectures and concerts could hardly have enjoyed a more promising opening than the stunning a cappella singing turned in by the justly acclaimed Rose Ensemble (below) of St. Paul, Minnesota. (You can hear the Rose Ensemble in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
The group consists of 12 singers and one string player – she plays a Medieval violin-like instrument called “la vielle” — with some singers doing double duty and playing a drum or recorder.
Somewhere around two-thirds of a house (below) turned out in Mills Hall to hear a thoroughly masterful display of early Eastern European music from the 11th century through the 16th century, which is the topic of this year’s festival.
Start with the basics.
As far as The Ear could tell, there was not a single weak link in the chain. Each singer sang strongly and with conviction.
And the balance that allowed different lines to emerge was nothing short of miraculous.
They sang as a large group of 12.
They sang smaller motets with groups of six women or six men (below).
They sang duets and they sang solos.
And all of the permutations proved successful.
They were terrific in all the liturgical music that makes up the bulk of the early Slavic repertory.
But The Ear’s favorite pieces were some of the folksongs from Ukraine and elsewhere. The performers moved around the stage and used their voices in what American poet Walt Whitman aptly described as a “barbaric yawp” that came close to artful shouting.
The singing was nothing short of thrilling as the performers cut loose with chopping arms, moving feet and howling mouths. Yet it all remained controlled and convincing. It reminded The Ear of plain chant and shape-note singing.
The Rose Ensemble organized a masterful display of varied programming and performances that, to be honest, helped offset a lot of the similarities of so much of the music.
One other thing: If you wonder about attending the lectures, just go. They start one hour before the concerts, at 6:30 p.m. in 2650 Mosse Humanities Building.
For this concert, John W. Barker, a veteran music critic and retired professor of Medieval history at the UW-Madison, provided a terrific historical context that help the audience appreciate the achievement of early Slavonic music. His lecture was filled with wit and facts as he pointed to the map to show how Slavic culture was born and how extensive it became.
What we learned in one hour!
For more detail about events, venues and prices, go to the comprehensive website:
By Jacob Stockinger
It is a famous story about writer’s block –- or, in this case, composer’s block.
The young Russian Romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (below, 1873-1943) was so devastated by bad reviews of his first symphony in 1897 that he fell into a deep depression and couldn’t compose music for three years.
But then he sought the help of a hypnotherapist Nikolai Dahl who kept repeating, “You will write a great piano concerto.”
And eventually he did.
Now that legendary incident has been depicted in a new play called “Preludes.”
It makes The Ear hope that one of the local theater companies will produce it, much as they did with the play about music education called “Master Class,” written by famed playwright Terrence McNally about the temperamental opera diva Maria Callas and some students.
“Preludes” is a chamber drama in which actors play multiple parts, many of the other famous artistic figures of the day such as the singer Fyodor Chaliapin (below right, played by Joseph Keckler in a photo by Tina Fineberg for The New York Times) and the writer-playwright Anton Chekhov.
It also involves two Rachmaninoffs (below in a photo by Tina Fineberg for The New York Times): one, called Rach, is the composer, portrayed by Gabriel Ebert, left; the other, called Rachmaninoff, is the pianist played by Or Matias.
Those of us who are not creative artists find it endlessly fascinating to try to get inside the head of important artistic figures.
Moreover, the drama gets a rave review that whets one’s appetite to see this play about a composer who was once dismissed as hopelessly sentimental but whose gorgeously melodic and stirringly harmonic music has had remarkable staying power and appeal – and continues to do so.
See what you think and whether the play stimulates your own curiosity.
Here is a link to the review:
By Jacob Stockinger
The 16th annual Madison Early Music Festival opens this coming Saturday night and runs through the All-Festival concert the next Saturday night. The topic is “Slavic Discoveries: Early Music from Eastern Europe.”
Here is a link to the home website where you can information and event, times and prices: http://artsinstitute.wisc.edu/memf/
Cheryl Bensman Rowe (below), who co-directs the festival with her husband, UW-Madison baritone Paul Rowe, agreed to talk about the festival and its lineup of workshops, lectures and concerts. Her interview is running in two parts.
Here is a link to Part 1, which ran yesterday:
Today is Part 2.
How does early Slavic or Eastern European music differ from its counterparts in, say, Western Europe such as Italy, France, Spain and England. What is the historical origin and role of the music from that era in that part of the world?
The early Slavs came from Indo-European lands, spreading from various parts of Asia into Eastern Europe around 2000 B.C. Under the pressure of nomadic hordes, the Slavic tribes crossed the Carpathian Mountains and pushed their way down to the Balkans. Others moved westward toward the upper Danube, and still others eastward toward the River Dniper and Black Sea.
This migration continued from the fourth through the eighth century, giving birth to the Slavic nations that we know today. East of the River (below) explores the dance music and traditional melodies from these indigenous cultures, and you will hear the haunting and virtuosic melodies from these Slavic traditions that influenced the music of many Eastern European compositions.
Bob Wiemken (below), from Piffaro explains: “It would seem at first consideration that an immersion in music of Slavic lands and peoples to the East during the medieval through baroque periods would yield some sounds, styles and repertoire strikingly different from that produced by composers from western lands, and in some cases and during certain times that assumption yields expected results.
“However, when comparing what might be considered composed art music, the fodder of courts and cathedrals, a surprising similarity between the two, between East and West, emerges, at least insofar as the lands bordering on what is normally considered “western Europe” are concerned.
“On closer examination the reasons for this similarity seem clear. Political and cultural interchange between East and West burgeoned during the late 15th through early 17th centuries. Eastern rulers, especially in Poland and Hungary, sought to build their courts and chapels after western fashion. They thus attracted some of the best western composers to create and/or head their musical establishments for a time. Easterners studied and worked in western environs, most notably the Slovenian Jakob Handl in Vienna and the Hungarian Bálint Bakfark in Paris and Padua, and many western composers occupied lofty musical positions or spent a portion of their professional careers at eastern courts.
“As a result, western sacred polyphony, the international musical language of the day, traveled east and settled in Slavic courts and cathedrals, and eastern dances, such as the Polnischer Tanz, the Passamezzo ongaro and the Ungarescha journeyed east, creating a tale of cross-cultural influence and engagement in the musical interaction between western and eastern composers.”
And Jordan Sramek, director of the Rose Ensemble, writes:
“During the 17th century there is an often-forgotten relationship between Poland and Italy and there is a striking influence the Italianate style had on Polish composers of the time. Also, Italian composers were invited to the Imperial Russian court to be in residence in St. Petersburg.”
What music and composers of the era have been most neglected and least neglected by historians and performers?
Many composers and their works have only been neglected because the music was unavailable to us in Western countries. The music in some of the Eastern European collections has been out of print, or inaccessible in libraries. It’s the same with recordings—Amazon does not have everything!
Ancora String Quartet violist and Wisconsin Public Radio host Marika Fischer Hoyt (below center) should be interviewed about her experience in Hungary. Tom Zajac was in Poland several years ago, and talked to Polish musicians, went to libraries, and tried to soak up as much information as he could while he was there.
As time goes by, it will become easier to travel to some of these countries, and more materials will become available, there will be more ensembles presenting this music. Music historians from the East have been doing research, but a lot of their books and articles need to be translated into English.
Jordan Sramek (below), the director of the Rose Ensemble, describes the situation so well, “Among scholars and performers of early vocal music, there is, perhaps, an unreasonable lack of attention paid to music from what is contemporarily referred to as “Eastern Europe.” While some musicians spend their careers digging in the “Western” libraries of Florence and Paris, the shelves of the manuscript libraries and monasteries of Krakow, Moscow and Prague often remain dusty, either due to lack of interest or perceived inaccessibility.”
The Rose Ensemble concert features only a glimpse of the great wealth of early vocal repertoire from Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Bohemia, in an attempt to shine some light on some truly brilliant gems.
Can you tell us about the All-Festival concert program on Saturday, July 18th?
At the All-Festival Concert (below is a photo of last year’s, held in Luther Memorial Church instead of Mills Hall) at the end of the festival on Saturday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall, there will be a wonderful program of Slavic music. The first half will feature Polish composers:
“Missa Lombardesca” by Bartołomiej Pękiel: https://youtu.be/lT8ZBRqQWZ8
The second half of the program will feature excerpts from a wonderful Hungarian collection that Marika Fischer Hoyt found for MEMF when she was in Hungary this past summer. She was visiting family, but also spent a lot of time in the library researching music that is only available in Hungarian libraries. Libraries are still so valuable, and it’s wonderful to know that we can’t find everything on the Internet!
Take Harmonia Caelestis, a cycle of 55 sacred cantatas attributed to the Hungarian composer Paul I, First Prince Esterházy of Galántha (1635–1713) and published in 1711. They are in the Baroque style, and each of the cantatas consists of one movement, composed for solo voices, choir, and orchestra. https://youtu.be/txE-Levn_vM
The program will end with Ukrainian composers Ephiphanius Slavinetsky (below, depicted revising service books), a sacred choral concerto by Dmitri Bortnianski.
Next on the program, you will hear a stunningly beautiful a cappella choral work, “Now the Powers of Heaven,” by Giuseppe Sarti. https://youtu.be/4VI6chNJe50
In 1784, Sarti was invited by Catherine the Great to succeed Paisiello as director of the Imperial Chapel in St. Petersburg. We will end the program with a work by Nikolai Diletski.
Many of these works have not been recorded, so we hope the Madison community will join us to hear these unknown works. Also, it’s not too late to sign up to sing or play in the workshop! http://artsinstitute.wisc.edu/memf/classes.htm
Are there other sessions, guest lectures and certain performers that you especially recommend for the general public?
I think everything is highly recommended, and I’m looking forward our first day on Saturday, July 11, with the opening concert of the Rose Ensemble. John W. Barker, who is well known to The Ear, will be presenting the opening 6:30 p.m. pre-concert lecture, “Discovering the ‘Other Europe’”, which will give a wonderful overview for the week. There will be other lectures throughout the week, and the Balkan Dance event with live music, on Wednesday, July 15, will be really fun.
I’ve included the link, which has more information about these and all the other events. Try to see them all! http://artsinstitute.wisc.edu/memf/events.htm
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We’re looking forward to an entire week immersed in the wonderful Slavic sounds.
And in 2016 we will be celebrating Shakespeare!
By Jacob Stockinger
The 16th annual Madison Early Music Festival opens this coming Saturday night and runs through the All-Festival Concert the following Saturday night. The topic is “Slavic Discoveries: Early Music from Eastern Europe.”
Here is a link to the home website, where you can find complete information about events, concerts, venues and prices:
Cheryl Bensman Rowe, who co-directs the festival with her husband, UW-Madison baritone Paul Rowe, agreed to talk about the festival and its lineup of workshops, lectures and concerts. Her interview will run in two parts. Today is Part 1.
How successful is this year’s festival compared to others in terms of enrollment, budgets, performers, etc.? How well established is MEMF now nationally or even internationally?
This year we are right on track with enrollment, budget and performers as we have been for the past several years. MEMF was “on the map” literally, as you will see from this article from the summer edition of the magazine Early Music America, a national publication that is read by all early music enthusiasts and professionals. We were honored to be included in this map of not-to-be-missed festivals.
Here is a sampling of Early Music Samplings this summer:
Our faculty and ensembles come from all over the world:
What is new and what is the same in terms of format, students, faculty members and performers?
Our biggest news is that we are now a part of The Arts Institute on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Our program director, Chelcy Bowles, retired from the Division of Continuing Studies at the UW, and she felt that MEMF would be a perfect fit for this relatively new initiative on campus.
Our new program director, Sarah Marty, has been a part of MEMF since she was a student, and has also been a participant in the MEMF workshops, and on our board. She knows a lot of the “behind the scenes “ information, which was really helpful when she took over for Chelcy.
The workshop format remains the same, but this year we have several new faculty members from some of the ensembles:
Daphna Mor, from East of the River (below), teaching recorder and Balkan music.
Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett and Kelly Landerkin from Ensemble Peregrina, teaching Polish medieval chant.
Michael Kuharski, http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Michael-Kuharski/9630833, a fantastic teacher of Balkan dance, will be leading the wonderful dance event with live music played by the local Balkan music ensemble Veseliyka.
The dance event will be on Wednesday, July 15, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.
Why was the topic of the Early Eastern European music chosen for the festival? What composers and works will be highlighted?
There has been a lot of new musical discoveries over the past ten years of repertoire from Eastern Europe. John W. Barker brought up the idea of Polish Music, and Tom Zajac, a faculty member and performer who has been to MEMF for at least 12 years, has done a lot of research in this area, and was interested in sharing it with MEMF. We are always looking for new and interesting topics to present, and the time seemed right to bring this music to Madison.
Please look at the concerts link for more information about each individual concert:
Tomorrow: Part 2 — What makes early Slavic music different? What composers are being rediscovered? And what will the All-Festival concert feature?
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear received the following press release – with a lot of important information and excellent background – that he wants to share. He notes that Moscow is 8 hours ahead of Madison in time difference.
The new relationship between the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and medici.tv will produce 19 days of nonstop free live webcasts from Russia, June 15 to July 3, 2015. These webcasts will present the performances of 120 candidates from around the globe, available to a worldwide audience live from Moscow (piano and violin) and St. Petersburg (cello and voice). Below is a portrait of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The dedicated online platform for these competition webcasts – tch15.medici.tv – went live with scene-setting content this Wednesday, June 10. The eight hosts for the live tch15.medici.tv presentations – in both English and Russian – include Gramophone magazine editor-in-chief and BBC broadcaster James Jolly, longtime Libération critic Eric Dahan, violinist Sascha Maisky, and Radio Orpheus broadcaster Irina Tushintseva, among other European journalists and music personalities.
Five medici.tv Daily Journal video teams will be on hand to create exclusive content from Russia for tch15.medici.tv, which will feature the latest news from the competition and much more – including interviews with the prestigious jurors, many of whom are past winners of the Tchaikovsky Competition, such as Deborah Voigt (below) and Denis Matsuev (with complete jury listing below).
A brand name/hash tag for this year’s events – #TCH15 – will help galvanize the passionate social-media communities that follow this preeminent international classical music event in this 175th anniversary year of Tchaikovsky’s birth. The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and medici.tv also have key partners, including TV Kanal Kultura, The Mariinsky Foundation of America, iTunes, WQXR, euronews, and Ross Telecom, among others to be announced.
The appointment of Valery Gergiev (below) as chairman in 2011 and the presence of exceptional jury members have resulted in the rebirth of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. This event’s unique international influence was underscored by the rocketing ascent of pianist Daniil Trifonov, winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition, a feat reminiscent of Van Cliburn’s dazzling success at the inaugural contest in 1958.
On June 15 at 7 p.m. Moscow time is the live webcast of the Opening Gala concert from Moscow. The complete competition rounds will be presented from June 16 to June 30, with the climactic Award Ceremony on July 1. Winners will then perform at Gala Concerts on July 2 in Moscow and July 3 in St. Petersburg, where a Grand Prix Winner may be declared.
The 120 candidates for the three rounds of this year’s Tchaikovsky Competition – in piano, violin, cello and voice – will be narrowed from 236 young musicians from 37 countries who made it to the preliminary auditions (after 623 initial applications from 45 countries). The list of competitors selected for the preliminary auditions has been published on the official site of the XV Tchaikovsky Competition: http://tchaikovskycompetition.com/en/contestants.
The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will remain available for free on all devices on tch15.medici.tv until the next competition.
Held once every four years, the International Tchaikovsky Competition has helped launch the careers of an all-time who’s who of classical music, including such artists as pianists Van Cliburn (below), Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grigory Sokolov, Mikhail Pletnev, Boris Berezovsky, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Matsuev and Daniil Trifonov; violinists Viktor Tretiakov, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova and Akiko Suwanai; cellists Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky, David Geringas, Boris Pergamenschikov, Antônio Meneses, Ivan Monighetti and Alexander Kniazev; and singers Deborah Voigt, Paata Burchuladze, Evgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Kazakov and Jong Min Park, among others.
“The International Tchaikovsky Competition is 57 years old – it’s a significant age with a remarkable history of introducing so many exceptional talents to the world – but we live in the Internet era,” says Valery Gergiev, artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre and co-chair of the organizing committee of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition. “Now, both amateurs and professionals of classical music are ready to join us via the Internet, TV broadcasts or any other form of media communication that one might only imagine – this truly international audience wishes to be part of our great musical adventure. We aim to expand this audience, to offer music lovers the world over the chance to become part of the digitally engaged virtual audience of the Tchaikovsky Competition. Our partners from medici.tv share this passion with us.”
Schedule and Jury members of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition
June 15: Opening Concert of the Competition at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
June 16 to June 30: Competition rounds (see details below)
July 1: Awards Ceremony at the Moscow Philharmonic’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
July 2: Winners Concert at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
July 3: Winners Concert at Mariinsky II in St. Petersburg
Round I: June 16-20, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round II: June 21-25, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Jury members: Dmitri Bashkirov, Michel Béroff, Boris Berezovsky, Peter Donohoe, Sergei Dorensky, Barry Douglas, Vladimir Feltsman, Klaus Hellwig, Denis Matsuev, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Alexander Toradze; and Martin T. Son Engström.
Round I: June 17-20, Small Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round II: June 21-25, Small Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of Moscow Philharmonic
Jury members: Salvatore Accardo, Yuri Bashmet, James Ehnes, Maxim Fedotov, Liana Isakadze, Ilya Kaler, Leonidas Kavakos, Boris Kuschnir, Vera Tsu Wei Ling, Mihaela Martin, Vadim Repin, Roman Simovic, Viktor Tretyakov, Maxim Vengerov, Nikolaj Znaider, and Michael Haefliger.
Round I: June 17-20,Small Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Round II: June 21-25, Small Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Great Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Jury members: Wolfgang Boettcher, Mario Brunello, Myung-wha Chung, David Geringas, Lynn Harrell, Alexander Kniazev, Mischa Maisky, Ivan Monighetti, Sergei Roldugin, Martti Rousi, Jan Vogler, Jian Wang, and Clive Gillinson.
Round I: June 23-25, Mussorgsky Chamber Hall at Mariinsky II, St. Petersburg
Round II: June 27-28,Mussorgsky Chamber Hall at Mariinsky II, St. Petersburg
Round III (Finals): June 30, Mariinsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg
Jury members: Olga Borodina, Mikhail Kazakov, Dennis O’Neill, Mikhail Petrenko, Thomas Quasthoff, Deborah Voigt, Chen-Ye Yuan, Sarah Billinghurst, John Fisher, Larisa Gergieva, Tobias Richter, and Eva Wagner-Pasquier.
About the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition
June 15 to July 3, 2015 – Moscow (piano, violin), St. Petersburg (cello, voice)
This year’s competition attracted 623 applications from 45 countries: Russia, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. In the qualifying round, the competition jury accepted a total of 236 musicians: 61 pianists, 48 violinists, 48 cellists and 79 vocalists (40 male, 39 female).
In addition, the selection commission may invite applicants directly to Round I who have won First Prize in competitions of the World Federation of Music Competitions, the Alink-Argerich Foundation and the All-Russian Music Competition. For Round I, the XV Competition has accepted two pianists, one violinist, three cellists and two vocalists (one male, one female). After the preliminary auditions, the total number of contestants accepted by the competition will be 30 pianists, 25 violinists, 25 cellists and 40 vocalists (20 male, 20 female).
Of course, the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition welcomes musicians from any country in the world. The contestants in the piano, violin and cello competitions must be between 16 and 32 years old as of the June 15 opening of the competition. The voice contestants must be between 19 and 32 years old. Prior to the preliminary auditions, for which a schedule will be announced separately, the judges will arrive at a shortlist of applicants based on the video recordings submitted.
The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will award six prizes for pianists, six for violinists, six for cellists, four for male singers and four for female singers. From among the First Prize winners, one will be singled out to receive the Grand Prix, a prize of $100,000 in addition to the winner’s First Prize. The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will offer the following prizes in each category: First Prize of $30,000 USD and a Gold Medal, Second Prize of $20,000 and a Silver Medal; Third Prize of $10,000 and a Bronze Medal; Fourth Prize of $5,000 and a Diploma; Fifth Prize of $3,000 and a Diploma; Sixth Prize of $2,000 and a Diploma. There will be additional prizes of $2,000 and a Diploma for the best concerto performance with a chamber orchestra in Round II – one prize each for a pianist, a violinist and a cellist. The two best musicians in each category from Round II that are eliminated from Round III will receive a Diploma and a runner-up prize of $1,000. Depending on the outcomes of the competition and within the limits on the number of prizes, the judges may choose not to award all prizes or to divide them among the contestants (except for the Grand Prix). In addition, the jury may award Diplomas and a prize of $1,000 to the best accompanists in the Competition (no more than two awards in each category).
Follow the International Tchaikovsky Competition:
By Jacob Stockinger
Our friends at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society – which The Ear named Musicians of the Year two years ago – will begin its new summer season this coming weekend.
The season features six concert programs performed over three weekends in three different venues and cities.
Here is the first part of two postings based on the BDDS press release. Part 2 will run tomorrow:
BACH DANCING AND DYNAMITE SOCIETY (BDDS) PRESENTS ITS 24TH ANNUAL SUMMER CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL — GUILTY AS CHARGED — JUNE 12–28, 2015.
This festival features 12 concerts over three weekends. Each weekend offers two different programs. Concerts will be performed in The Playhouse at Overture Center in Madison, the Stoughton Opera House, and the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green.
Combining the best local musicians and top-notch artists from around the country, a varied repertoire and delightful surprises, BDDS presents chamber music as “serious fun” infused with high energy and lots of audience appeal, and makes this art form accessible to diverse audiences. Led by artistic directors and performers (below) Stephanie Jutt, flute, and Jeffrey Sykes, piano, 20 guest artists will perform in the festival.
So, what is the meaning of this year’s theme?
Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is clearly a criminal enterprise. After all, we are named after the only major composer to ever spend a significant amount of time in jail, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Our crime at BDDS?
We’ve destroyed the stuffy, starched-collar atmosphere of traditional chamber music concerts and replaced it with a seriously fun vibe. We’ve broken down the barriers that separate audience and performer, making our concerts into riotously interactive events. Rather than leading audiences through a museum, we invite audiences to trespass into the creative and re-creative process right in the concert hall.
We own up to our crimes, and we proudly proclaim that we are GUILTY AS CHARGED.
GUILTY AS CHARGED features six programs, each performed multiple times and in multiple venues, and each named after some “crime.”
In “Stolen Moments” we feature music that has been stolen in some fashion: stolen from another composer, stolen from oneself, stolen from a completely different land and culture.
Felix Mendelssohn stole a chorale tune from Johann Sebastian Bach as the basis of the slow movement of his second cello sonata (heard at bottom in a YouTube video with cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist James Levine).
Franz Joseph Haydn stole from himself to create his flute divertimentos; Ludwig van Beethoven stole Irish and Scottish folksong texts and tunes as the basis for his songs with piano trio accompaniment.
“Stolen Moments” will be performed at The Playhouse in the Overture Center for the Arts, on Friday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m., and in the Hillside Theater at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Spring Green, on Sunday, June 14, at 2:30 p.m.
“Rob the Cradle” features the music or poetry of artists who died tragically young, robbing the world of their creative talents.
The Flute Sonata by Dick Kattenburg, a light-hearted and joyous work, was written at the age of 18 shortly before he died in a Nazi concentration camp.
The powerful “Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok” by Dmitri Shostakovich feature the luminous poetry of the man many considered Russia’s finest poet, a man whose life was cut short by the conditions of early Soviet years.
Both programs feature the talents of two great singers—bass-baritone Timothy Jones (below top) and soprano Emily Birsan (below bottom) — familiar to BDDS audiences as the voices of Robert and Clara Schumann from our 2013 season.
“Rob the Cradle” will be performed in The Playhouse of the Overture Center for the Arts, on Saturday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m., and at the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green, on Sunday, June 14, at 6:30 p.m.
For the fourth year, BDDS will also perform one free family concert, “What’s So Great About Bach?” an interactive event that will be great for all ages. Together with the audience, BDDS will explore interwoven layers of melody. Everyone will be up on their feet helping to compose for the musicians on stage.
This event takes place 11–11:45 a.m. on this Saturday, June 13, in The Playhouse of the Overture Center. This is a performance for families with children of all ages and seating will be first come first served.
CUNA Mutual Group, Pat Powers and Thomas Wolfe, and Overture Center generously underwrite this performance.
BDDS Locations are: the Stoughton Opera House (381 E. Main Street, below top); the Overture Center in Madison (201 State Street); and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Hillside Theater (below bottom, County Highway 23 in Spring Green).
Single general admission tickets are $40. Student tickets are always $5.
Various ticket packages are also available, starting at a series of three for $114. First-time subscriptions are half off.
For tickets and information visit www.bachdancinganddynamite.org or call (608) 255-9866.
Single tickets for Overture Center concerts can also be purchased at the Overture Center for the Arts box office, (608) 258-4141, or at overturecenter.com additional fees apply).
Hillside Theater tickets can be purchased from the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center on County Highway C, (608) 588-7900. Tickets are available at the door at all locations.
TOMORROW: PART 2 WITH WEEKS 2 AND 3
ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, to be held from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison Meeting House at 900 University Bay Drive, will offer a transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations, originally composed for solo harpsichord, arranged for string trio by Russian violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Performers are Kangwon Kim, violin (below); Micah Behr, viola; and Mark Bridges, cello. (You can hear the opening of this transcription, with the arranger who was inspired by Glenn Gould, in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
By Jacob Stockinger
Our friends at the Madison Choral Project (below) write:
Dear Friends of Great Choral Music,
Due to high interest, we are pleased to announce we have added a second concert with guest conductor Dale Warland (below).
We will now offer two concerts on the last weekend of May, both at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave, Madison:
Friday May 29th, at 7:30pm (Tickets are still available)
You can get your tickets by clicking on the links above, or going through our website: www.themcp.org/tickets
Join us for this memorable evening of music-making!
A reception at the church to follow each concert.
The distinguished career of choral composer and conductor, Dale Warland, spans more than six decades and has made a profound contribution to the music of our time.
As founder and music director of The Dale Warland Singers, he commissioned over 270 new choral works and fostered the careers of an entire generation of composers.
This program, “Music of our Time,” features compositions by 20th and 21st century composers such as Ola Gjeilo, Arvo Pärt, Dominick Argento and Morten Lauridsen, as well as several others. With just over an hour of music, the concert will be divided into six thematic sets: 1- American Voices; 2- From the Balkans; 3- From Belgium; 4- Traditional Texts: International Voices; 5- Classic American Folk and a Madrigal; and 6- From Minnesota.
All musical selections were chosen by Dale Warland, specifically for this collaboration with the Madison Choral Project.
If you would like to change your tickets from Friday to Sunday, please reply to this email and we can assist you.
By Jacob Stockinger
Even as the school year winds down, there are several noteworthy events and concerts at the University of Wisconsin this weekend.
The Wind Ensemble is the premier wind/percussion ensemble in the UW-Madison School of Music. Repertoire varies from classical wind compositions to contemporary works.
The Wind Ensemble actively commissions new works from world-renowned composers, often performing with internationally acclaimed soloists and guest conductors.
Jacob Klingbeil will assist as graduate student guest conductor.
YOUniversity Band will be side-by-side with community musicians
The program includes:
Gvorkna Fanfare by Jack Stamp
Baron Cimetieres Mambo by Donald Grantham
Irish Tune from County Derry by Percy Grainger
Starwars Trilogy, by John Williams/arr. Donald Hunsberger
At 1:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, a FREE Doctoral Recital: Russian Literature and the Music Salon. It is a multimedia concert with narration.
This doctoral project, organized by pianist Oxana Khramova, involves several students and faculty members from various departments.
It will be devoted to writers and composers who were connected to St. Petersburg in their lives and works: Nikolai V. Gogol, Anna A. Akhmatova, Joseph A. Brodsky, Sergei Prokofiev and Alfred Schnittke.
Listeners will experience their masterpieces through the prism of Russian music, language and visual images. By attempting to combine literature, music and art. participants hope to recreate the atmosphere of St. Petersburg’s culture (as recreated in the museum photo below).
Oxana Khramova, piano, DMA candidate, School of Music, where she is a student of Christopher Taylor
Yana Groves, piano, DMA candidate, School of Music
Nicole Heinen, soprano, MM candidate, School of Music
Ilona Sotnikova, visual images and literature, PhD candidate, Department of Slavic Languages and Literature
Conor Ryan, narrator, Undergraduate Student, Department of Slavic Languages and Literature
At 4 p.m., in Mills Hall, the All-University String Orchestra will give a FREE concert under the baton of director Janet Jensen (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot). Sorry, no word on the program.
From 4 to 6 p.m. the Wingra Woodwind Quintet will hold its 50th Anniversary Party at the University Club (below), 803 State St., next to the Humanities Building.
Embodying the Wisconsin Idea and serving as role models to our students, the Wingra Quintet has a rich tradition and will honor current and former members.
Former members who plan to attend are Robert Cole, flute, Marc Fink, oboe, Glenn Bowen, clarinet, Richard Lottridge, bassoon, Douglas Hill, horn, and Nancy Becknell, horn. (Below are photos from 1990 and 2010.)
A short program of 20 minutes is planned and then we will celebrate with hors d’oeuvres and beverages catered by the University Club. Everyone is invited to enjoy the food, music, and good company of current and former members of the Wingra Quintet.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about the rich history of the WWQ here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/wingra-woodwind-quintet/
At 1 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Women’s Chorus (below) and University Chorus will give a FREE concert. Anna Volodarskaya and Sarah Guttenberg will conduct.
This event is FREE. Registration is encouraged, but not required.
No program has been announced.
By Jacob Stockinger
Yesterday — Friday, March 20, 2015 – brought us the first day of spring.
It also marked the centennial of the birth of the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (below).
Richter was such a complex and towering figure that it would take a book to really do justice to him and to his career.
With one exception that gets no mention.
Somehow that information seems particularly pertinent to The Ear, given the growing acceptance of LGBT people and of marriage equality.
Still, Wigler’s essay is an excellent read and includes a YouTube video – there are many, many YouTube videos of Richter, who had an immense repertoire, playing. This video is of a live performance by Richter in which he plays the last movement of the first piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
You can hear the power and energy, the subtleties and excitement, to say nothing of the originality of interpretation, that Richter brought to music.
Enjoy it -– and tell us if you ever heard Richter live and what is your favorite performance by Sviatoslav Richter with a link to a YouTube video is possible.