ALERT: Please IGNORE the posted dates and times below. Professor Emery Stephens has CANCELLED his appearances this week at the UW-Madison due to illness. According to the UW-Madison, Stephens will try to reschedule his master classes and recital layer this spring. The Ear apologies for any misunderstanding or inconvenience, but he just heard about the cancellation.
By Jacob Stockinger
(You can hear Emery Stephens narrate “The Passion of John Brown” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
Now this week – today and Tuesday – the acclaimed scholar and baritone singer returns to the UW.
This time he will spend Monday coaching UW voice and piano students.
Then on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, Stephens plus the voice and piano students and UW collaborative pianist Martha Fischer will perform a FREE recital of African-American songs and spirituals. Also included are some solo piano works by African-American composer Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949, below).
Here is a link not only to more information about Stephens’ recital, including the program, but also to information about his last visit and about a performance on Wednesday from 1:20 to 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union by the Black Music Ensemble.
By Jacob Stockinger
Just as the first semester is coming to an end, The Ear has learned that four major retirements in the spring will put the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music staffing and teaching in a bind that poses some major challenges.
Three of the retirements are by major performers. The fourth is by a major scholar, a musicologist and music historian.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
For more information, go to: http://www.music.wisc.edu/faculty/john-aley/
For more information, go to: http://www.music.wisc.edu/faculty/lawrence-earp/
Jutt plans to move to her native New York City to live, but says she will continue her duties with the MSO and the BDDS.
For more information, go to: http://www.music.wisc.edu/faculty/stephanie-jutt/
Smith, a one-time professional clarinetist, plans to move into a new house he has built in Cross Plains where he will work on his repertoire and pursue stints as a freelance guest conductor.
For more information, go to: http://www.music.wisc.edu/faculty/james-smith/
All four have served the UW-Madison and area music-lovers well indeed and for a long time.
The bind for the music school is that, thanks to the boa constrictor-like choke hold on the UW-Madison’s budget and staffing by Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-intellectual, anti-education cronies in the Legislature and on the Board of Regents, tenured faculty do not usually get replaced by tenure-track positions. Instead the school has had to offer most new teachers non-renewable three-year stints as adjunct professors.
True, there is a long of talented people out there looking for jobs. So adjuncts are not necessarily inferior performers or teachers. But who wants to be moving around every few years and starting over?
As far as The Ear understands it, in the long-term the move to adjuncts is not good for the students, especially graduate students, for other faculty members and for the reputation of the School of Music, which has managed to secure major funding support for construction and physical plant projects but much less support for staff and scholarships.
Clearly, it introduces an element of instability and insecurity that hardly seems helpful in the competitive academic market place.
In any case, The Ear congratulates all the retirees on their distinguished careers and thanks them for so many years of public service and so many enjoyable hours of performing and understanding great music. They will be missed.
Feel free to leave your own comments and reactions in the COMMENT section.
No doubt the future retirees would like to hear from you.
And The Ear too wants to hear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He liked how the entire hall, not just the main stage, was used, including the balconies from which a fanfare opened the concert:
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:
He liked the period and very energetic dancing with handkerchiefs and leg bells:
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.