The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: In this Saturday night’s concert, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin features music by Paul Schoenfield, Morton Gould and George Gershwin as well as the art of sampling music through “turntableism.” Plus, the UW Chamber Orchestra and Winds of Wisconsin perform this Sunday.

February 15, 2013

ALERT: In Sunday, there are two concerts worth noting and attending at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. On Sunday at 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra will perform a FREE concert under guest conductor and UW alumnus Kevin McMahon (below). McMahon is the music director of the Sheboygan and Wheaton (Illinois) Symphony Orchestras  and was a Collins Fellow while studying at the UW. His program includes Vaughan Williams Overture to “The Wasps”; UW soprano Mimmi Fulmer in Joseph Cantaloube’s popular “Songs of the Auvergne“; and Mozart’s dramatic Symphony No. 40 G minor. Then at 5 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Winds of Wisconsin of Wisconsin perform a FREE concert (the program includes: “Lux Arumque” by Eric Whitacre; “La Fiesta Mexicana” by H. Owen Reed; and “Fanfare for the Third Planet” by Richard Saucedo ) under director Scott Teeple.

Kevin McMahon

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the most inventive and interesting chamber music groups in the area is the recently formed Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (below). It uses fine performers at different venues and offers different thematic programs, always with some unusual angle or logic in mind, and always with top quality performances.

SEW Sound Ensmble of Wisocnsin 2012

This Saturday is a prime example.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in the new, crisply designed Atrium auditorium (below) of the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin will present “American Patchwork” as its next concert, honoring the art
 of musical sampling of American genres.

Tickets are $15 general admission and can be purchased in advance on SEW‘s website or by cash or
 check at the door.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

SEW will perform the classic and popular piano trio “Cafe
 Music” by American composer and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor teacher Paul Schoenfield, who was in Madison last spring when the Pro Arte String Quartet gave the world premiere of his “Three Rhapsodies for Piano Quintet” with pianist Christopher Taylor that the quartet had commissioned for its centennial celebration. In the often performed piano trio work (in a YouTube video at the bottom), the composer pays tribute to ragtime and Broadway, among other styles. Also on the program are 
Morton Gould‘s “Rag-Blues-Rag” for piano as well as several Gershwin songs.

Paul Schoenfield BW klezmerish

The stage will then be
turned over to SEW’s special guest turntablist, DJ Moppy (below, aka Christopher Thomopoulos), who will be joining them from Chicago to 
represent the craft of sampling, using Gershwin among other samples on his turntables.

Moppy for SEW Chris Thomopoulos

If you want to sample the sampler, DJ Moppy 
demonstrates turntablism in a short video which can be found on the “Events” page of SEW’s website:

Musicians for the concert include Vince Fuh, Mary Theodore, Maggie Townsend, Rachel
 Eve Holmes, and Chris Thomopoulos (DJ Moppy).

In keeping with the concert’s theme, SEW will be accepting fabric at the performance for their community quilt, sponsored by Stitcher’s 
Crossing and fabricated by volunteers, to be presented and auctioned at the last concert to benefit 
SEW’s future programming. All are welcome to bring 5″ square to 1/4 yard, 100% cotton fabric they’d
 like to share.

This event is sponsored in part by WORT 89.9 FM.

According to SEW’s founder and director, violinist Mary Theodore (below), SEW’s mission is to share great chamber music with more people through theme-based programming,
 collaboration, and education while encouraging participation in an authentic performance experience.

Mary Theodore violin

Theodore wanted to remind readers of the following: “As many are aware, ticket proceeds do not begin to cover the cost of expenses necessary to present concerts and sustain an organization.  SEW is actively seeking contributions to fund this event.  If you’re interested in hearing more about this SEW and their upcoming project, please visit 50 cents to every contributed dollar is matched.”

SEW has received excellent reviews: “SEW will certainly bring a new dimension to Madison’s cultural scene,” said John W. Barker on The Well-Tempered Ear about the group’s inaugural concert last season. “The performances were all splendid … and the command of technique and the precision of ensemble
throughout was of the highest artistic standards.”

For more information, visit the group’s website:


Classical music education: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) is seeking musicians of all kinds –- students, amateurs, professionals — for an inaugural 24-hour marathon in Waunakee on Dec. 8-9 to benefit music education and local food.

November 16, 2012
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ALERT: This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen,” broadcast live from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio, features Lawrence University faculty members Wen-Lei Gu and pianist Catherine Kautsky in Mozart‘s Violin Sonata in E minor;  Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1; Debussy’s Violin Sonata; and “Why Are the Flowers So Red” (1980) by Ti Hua Han.

By Jacob Stockinger

Violinist Mary Theodore (below), the founder and director of Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW), a new and highly accomplished professional chamber music group in the Madison area, has asked The Ear to help publicize a very worthy event: The first SEW marathon to raise money for music education and local food.

Mary recently read on this blog about Wisconsin Public Radio canceling the 12-hour birthday marathon Bach Around the Clock 4 this March and said she hadn’t known of the event (below, a h short from 2011). Here is a link to that story:

But she says she also thought that some of the same players might be interested in participating in the marathon.

Here is her press release:

“Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (below in a group shot)  is actively seeking participating musicians for their First Annual 24-Hour Chamber Music Marathon to benefit two great regional educational programs — one for music and one for local food (see below for more information on these programs).

“SEW is inviting musicians of any age or level to perform pieces polished at their level and welcomes any style of music of chamber size (defined as approximately 1 – including SOLO PIANO — to 10 people with no conductor) on acoustic instruments. There will be a quality piano available.

Musicians can participate in the marathon as individuals or as part of an ensemble and may sign up for 30 or 60 minute time slots or for multiple time slots.

“Currently, ensembles such as Sound Ensemble Wisconsin and con vivo! (below) are signed up, as well as other professionals from our community.  SEW welcomes students, amateurs, and professionals. This is about gathering as much of our community together as we can to support two wonderful programs.  SEW hopes that 24 hours of non-stop music will inspire folks to give.

“The marathon will be held from December 8 at 9 a.m. to December 9 at 9 a.m. at the Center for Music Education in Waunakee (below top and bottom).  There will be a suggested $5 minimum donation at the door, although participants are welcome to raise pledges in advance if they wish.

“Let’s get out there and play some music for these awesome programs!

“Please contact Mary Theodore, SEW Director, at for more information and to sign up.

“The proceeds will be split equally between Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance ( and Community GroundWorks Youth Grow Local Program (  

“The Wisconsin Center for Music Education’s “Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance” ( is a planning process which helps teachers explore the elements of the meaningful music performance skills of knowledge and affect and integrates those elements into student-centered teaching plans.  CMP offers innovative ideas and effective ways to teach those significant elements.

“Community GroundWorks Youth Grow Local Program ( provides young people with safe, supportive environments in the city where they learn to grow and prepare healthful foods and develop a connection to nature.

“The Youth Grow Local Program serves a diverse, primarily low-income, population of 2,000 young people annually.  The Youth Grow Local Program also helps build the capacity of the garden-based education movement locally, statewide, and nationally through resource development and professional development opportunities for educators.”


Classical music education: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin opens its inaugural season with a FREE concert on Saturday afternoon plus a sound installation at the Wisconsin Science Festival that runs today through Sunday at the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery.

September 27, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) is opening its inaugural season with the FREE concert “The Common Thread.”

SEW is taking part in the Wisconsin Science Festival through a performance and interactive sound installation, examining our relationship to music and how musicians have tapped into the power of music in different ways over time.

The sound installation, designed by SEW director and violinist Mary Theodore (below top), will be on display in the Atrium at Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (below bottom) for the duration of the festival, from this Thursday through Sunday.

The performance will take place on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 3 p.m. in the Atrium (below) at WID. Music includes Indian Raga; Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6; Steve Reich’s “Drumming, Part One”; and Gyorgy Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 2.

Performers (below) include Vanitha Suresh, Andy Johnson, Mary Theodore, Mary Perkinson, Chris Dozoryst, Mark Bridges, and percussion group Clocks in Motion. UW Professor of bassoon Marc Vallon will also give a brief talk about Ligeti.

This concert is free and open to the public; donations are encouraged.

SEW will be accepting fabric at all performances for their community quilt, sponsored by Stitcher’s Crossing and fabricated by volunteers, to be presented and auctioned at the last concert to benefit SEW’s future programming. All are welcome to bring 5-inch square to 1/4 yard, 100% cotton fabric they’d like to share.

SEW’s mission is to share great chamber music with more people through theme-based programming, collaboration, and education while encouraging participation in an authentic performance experience.

For more information, visit:

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