By Jacob Stockinger
Add in the love of music as well as the love between a husband-father and wife, and then between a mother and daughter (below, on the left is mother Julia Monteros Wooster and on the right is daughter Mariah Wooster-Lehman).
Finish it off with some rebuilding and repairing, and the desire to make a generous gift to a university under siege from budget cuts dictated by an anti-intellectual governor, Scott Walker, and the Republican state legislature.
What you end up with is a love story, Steinway-style, that took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music. (And this piano is already in use in a practice room, 1268, of the George L. Mosse Humanities Building.)
It doesn’t need much introduction. The photos and the words, simple but eloquent and moving, written by the daughter, do the work.
The only thing to add is that The Ear recalls reading a new story that owning pianos in the home has become less popular nationwide. A lot of pianos even get junked or thrown out in the garbage, let alone neglected until they fall into disrepair and can’t be used any more.
So maybe there are more such pianos, with or without the love story, out there to benefit students and staff at the UW-Madison.
If so, leave a message in the COMMENTS section or call (608) 263-5615.
Here is a link to the story:
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
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:
ALERT: Just a reminder that this Saturday afternoon, the top-ranked Youth Orchestra (below) of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will perform under conductor James Smith at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street.
Also included are the winners of the WYSO Concerto Competition. Trumpeter Noah Mennenga will perform the Trumpet Concert by Alexander Arutiunian. Pianist Theodore Lau will play the third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, O;. 37, by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for young people 3-18. For more information, call (608) 263-3320 or visit http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/dianne-endres-ballweg-winterfest-concert-series/
By Jacob Stockinger
Spring Break starts tomorrow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
So The Ear wants students and faculty to leave on a positive note and then return with renewed energy and dedication, knowing that the UW-Madison School of Music still ranks relatively high (No. 24) among the nation’s top 30 public and private schools for overall programs and even higher (No. 10) for music education in an informal blog survey.
To be sure, the UW-Madison School of Music is facing a lot of complex challenges.
Those challenges range from finding enough scholarship money to compete in recruiting outstanding students to finding enough money to recruit and retain outstanding faculty.
And some of the challenges look to be made worse through budget cuts and policy changes proposed by the Republican-dominated legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker (below), though we will have to wait to see the final outcomes.
But the politicians sure are sending out signals that they want to treat the world-class university more like a trade school than a star player in the liberal arts, the arts and the humanities. They just don’t see those fields as adding much to economic development.
As if economic development is the bottom line for everything of personal and social value.
Besides, study after study shows the relevance of music education to success in other fields. (Below are the UW Symphony Orchestra and UW Choral Union.)
So before anyone starts fooling around and making major changes and cuts, it is good to be reminded of what a precious educational, cultural and economic resource the UW-Madison remains, as a world-class learning institution.
But it won’t take much negligence or wrong-headed tinkering for the UW to drop out of the ranking.
So here they are to read and then think about how to best protect the great university that the state of Wisconsin has.
First comes the overall ranking (No. 24) among private and public Schools of Music, which, if The Ear recalls correctly, has dropped over the past decade:
And then comes the ranking (No. 10) in the specific area of music education in a less prestigious blog poll done by an individual:
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Gradually the old sign will turn into a new building.
In case you missed it – and it was easy to do with all the live events going on this weekend – the University of Wisconsin School of Music announced the long-awaited plans for its new music center with a concert hall and rehearsal space. The Ear is very pleased that acoustics are given a top priority.
Compromises have been made due to funding delays and shortfalls. But even with the scaled-down design, the $22-million building still sounds as if it will be an impressive building, and an impressive addition to the UW-Madison School of Music program.
Here is an architect’s rendering, a drawing of what the building at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue, next to the new wing of the Chazen Museum of Art, will look like.
It should help maintain or even foster the already high standards of the UW-Madison School of Music, which is nonetheless facing major challenges in student recruitment and staffing. But one wonders: What will music students think about the glass-walled room that will allow passers-by to peer in while they are practicing?
For the full story, including what happens when more money is collected, here is a link to the official announcement.
And here is a link to a story in The Wisconsin State Journal
The Ear wants to hear.
REMINDER: Don’t forget that tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is the 36th annual FREE Karp Family Labor Day concert. Usually the best attended concert of the UW School of Music season, the MUST-HEAR event will this year feature three generations of Karps performing music by George Frideric Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, John Harbison and Felix Mendelssohn with reading of texts by Shakespeare. For more information, including program notes by Howard Karp, and details here is a link to a story I posted on Friday:
By Jacob Stockinger
It’s Labor Day again.
As fans of this blog know from past years, I like to use the occasion to celebrate the hard work that goes into making art – all art, but specifically classical music. The work may seem easy or invisible, but it isn’t.
That means I am talking about not only the composers and the performers – but also the countless people behind the scenes. That means the teachers, the editors and publishers, the stage directors and managers, the lighting people, the sound engineers, the publicists, the administrators, and in opera, the people who design and create sets and costumes, the carpenters and electricians, and so many more.
It means everyone who can claim some credit for music and indeed all the performing arts.
Each year, I also like to ask what piece of music best celebrates Labor Day? You can check past years to see previous choices that have included Aaron Copland (below top) and his “Fanfare for the Common Man”; Frederic Rzewski (below middle) and his mammoth set of piano variations on “The People United Can Never Be Defeated” played by Marc-Andre Hamelin; and Giuseppe Verdi (below bottom), whose “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” seems more and more appropriate, given the widening wealth gap and low wages in this country.
But this year I thought I would take the wise advice of an old friend and a loyal reader and features the final movement of the Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, the “Farewell” Symphony by Franz Josef Haydn.
The story, as you may recall, goes that Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s employer and patron, had kept his palace orchestra in residence for longer than usual and that the musicians wanted to head back to their families in Vienna and elsewhere. (Below is the Esterhazy estate, which you can still visit and where you can still hear concerts.)
So the celebrated Papa Haydn (below) came to the rescue and took up their cause by incorporating it aurally and visually into the “Farewell” Symphony, which has since become of his most beloved and perhaps the mostly frequently performed on his more than 100 symphonies.
During the final movement (in a YouTube video at the bottom), the various instrumentalists get up and leave as the music proceeds until, at the end, there is only one or two violinists are left. They then rise and sometimes leave, allowing their silence to speak loudly.
The prince got the message and let the musicians return home.
Talk about solidarity! The famous composer and the nameless musicians helped each other. Too bad our current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and so many other radically conservative Republicans who want to see a race to the bottom a la Mississippi can’t understand the importance and merits of cooperation and of working together instead of against each other.
Anyway, here is the finale movement, offered here in the recognition and memory of so much hard work in music and the performing arts and in the hope of future cooperation and union solidarity against the selfish big money interests that now increasingly run our government and dictate our lives: