The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The 16th annual all-day Wisconsin Flute Festival will be held this Saturday and will present a FREE public concert on Saturday afternoon

April 3, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following announcement to post:

The 16th annual Wisconsin Flute Festival will be held on this coming Saturday, April 6, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Wisconsin Flute Festival brings together flutists and music lovers of all ages from Wisconsin, the greater Midwest, and across the country, for an engaging and educational day celebrating everything flute.

The festival includes: workshops; lectures; performances; junior, youth, and collegiate artist competitions; master classes and an extensive exhibit hall.

This year’s festival will feature guest artist Bonita Boyd (below in a photo by Kate Lemmon), an internationally renowned performer and Professor of Flute at the Eastman School of Music. (You can hear a sample of her teaching in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The festival will begin at 8 a.m. at the Pyle Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will culminate in a FREE 90-minute public concert beginning at 5:30 p.m. in Music Hall, at the bottom of Bascom Hill and a short walk from the Pyle Center.

The free evening concert will be performed by featured guest artist Bonita Boyd with Madison guitarist Christopher Allen (below).

Workshop topics will include yoga for flutists, orchestral audition preparation, recording techniques, a repair clinic, piccolo techniques, and more.

Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in an interactive session with low flutes including; alto flutes, bass flutes, and a contrabass flute, and take part in two flute choir reading sessions.

Performances during the day will feature an eclectic mix of music performed by professional and student flutists.

Festival attendees will hear music by composers from around the globe and from a variety of periods. Compositions by living composers will feature prominently in many of the recitals at the festival. Solo flute, flute and piano, flute quartet, and flute with mixed ensemble can be heard.

For flutists shopping for an instrument, music or accessories, companies from across the U.S. will be on-site in the Festival’s exhibit hall. Technicians will be also available to evaluate instruments and conduct minor repairs. Confirmed exhibitors include Burkart Flutes and Piccolos, Flute Specialists, Inc., Flute World, the Geoghegan Company, Heid Music and Verne Q. Powell Flutes.

Tickets range from $30 to $40 for festival participants. Tickets for non-flutist family members of participants (parents, siblings, etc.) are available for at a special rate of $7. Registration is now open and information is available online at https://wisconsinflutefestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival.

The evening concert, beginning at 5:30 p.m., will be held in Music Hall at the UW-Madison and is FREE and open to the public.

The program will include Mountain Songs by Robert Beaser, Histoire du Tango by Astor Piazzolla, Canyon Echoes by Katherine Hoover, Entr’acte by Jacques Ibert and Pièce en form de Habenera by Maurice Ravel.

The 2019 Flute Festival – which is a program of the Madison Flute Club — is sponsored by Heid Music. Major funding is provided by Verne Q. Powell Flutes, American Printing, Eric and Tobi Breisach, Distillery Marketing and Design, and Karl Sandelin – in memory of Joyce Sandelin.

Additional funding is provided by Audio for the Arts, Breisach Cordell PLLC, Dr. Danielle and Jeffrey Breisach, Madison Classical Guitar Society, Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Jessica and Jim Yehle.

ABOUT THE MADISON FLUTE CLUB

The Madison Flute Club was founded in 2002 and currently presents over 20 concerts each year to an audience of more than 1,500 community members. The club involves, on average, 35 active adult members and over 30 youth from the surrounding area.

To advance and achieve its mission, the Madison Flute Club has undertaken several large projects and partnered with numerous organizations and events in Dane County. These projects include the commissioning and world premiere of a work for flute choir for Design MMoCA, successfully fundraising for a contrabass flute — the first such instrument in Wisconsin — and performing at the National Flute Association Convention.

Madison Flute Club ensembles and members have been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Midday with Norman Gilliland, on WORT 89.9 FM in Madison and in the publication The Flutist Quarterly.

For more information about the Madison Flute Club, go to: http://www.madisonfluteclub.org


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Classical music: A ticket to the concert here by the Imani Winds is an ideal gift to mark the African-American holiday Kwanzaa

December 27, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

The African-American and Pan-African harvest and heritage holiday of Kwanzaa started Wednesday and runs through Jan. 1.

Many people know the name of the events that mark the African Diaspora.

But do you know more about the holiday itself?

Do you know the seven principles of Kwanzaa?

Do you know the history and person behind the celebration, which started the United States in 1966?

Here is a link to a comprehensive view of Kwanzaa in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

If you are looking for a suitable gift to give during Kwanzaa, it would be hard to beat tickets to the concert by the Imani Winds (below) on Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Shannon Hall at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

The Imani Winds have been nominated for a Grammy Award, and have established a reputation for world music and commissioning new works.

For more information about the group, the performers, ticket prices and how to buy tickets, go to: https://union.wisc.edu/events-and-activities/event-calendar/event/imani-winds/

The group’s name comes from a principle of Kwanzaa — namely, faith. And one member, Valerie Coleman, composed a signature piece based on the first principle of Kwanzaa – Umoji, or Unity. You can hear that work in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Then in June, from June 6 to June 9, Valerie Coleman (below) returns to Madison as the Composer-in-Residence for the second annual LunArt Festival — a cultural and all-women festival devoted to performers, composers, writers and artists.


Classical music: Gift guide or gift or both? Critics for The New York Times name their top classical recordings of 2018, and so does National Public Radio (NPR)

December 22, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is “Panic Saturday” — another, newer theme day on the commerce-driven Holiday Consumer Calendar that goes along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber-Monday and Giving Tuesday. 

In past years, by this time many media outlets would publish the list of the top classical recordings of the past year. And The Ear has offered them as holiday shopping guides with links to the lists.

They seem to be running late this year, probably too late for many shoppers.

But recently the team of critics for The New York Times named their Top 25 classical recordings of 2018 that run from the 15th century to today (sample album covers are below).

This time, the website didn’t just reproduce something that first appeared in the printed edition. And something more than small snippets or excerpts are offered.

This time, the newspaper took full advantage of the electronic possibility of the web and used streaming to add hours of sound samples — some as long as 40 minutes – so you can see what you think of the recordings before you buy them. (Be sure to look at reader reactions and comments.)

It is a new and innovative way to do a Top 25 list – very appealing or entertaining as well as informative. Even if you don’t use it to buy anything for others or yourself, it can provide many minutes of listening pleasure. You can think of it as a gift guide or a gift or both.

Of course, there are also the usual short and very readable, to-the-point narratives or explanations about why the recording stands out and what makes it great music, a great performance or a great interpretation.

So there is a lot to listen to and help you make up your mind. The Ear has enjoyed it and found it helpful, and hopes you do too, whether you agree or disagree with the choice:

Here is a link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/arts/music/best-classical-music-tracks-2018.html

Since this is the last weekend for holiday shopping before Christmas, here is the previous list – notice the duplications in the two lists — posted here, which was of the nominations for the upcoming 2019 Grammy Awards:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2018/12/08/classical-music-here-are-the-just-announced-grammy-nominations-for-2019-they-can-serve-as-a-great-holiday-gift-guide/

And here is the Top 10 list, which was chosen by the always discerning Tom Huizenga (below) — who explains the reasons for his choices — and which also offers generous sound samples, from National Public Radio (NPR) and its Deceptive Cadence blog. Also look for duplications:

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/18/677776208/npr-musics-best-classical-albums-of-2018

What recordings would you suggest? 

The Ear wants to hear.


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Classical music: Combining a ticket to a live music performance with a book or recording that is tied to the concert’s program makes a great holiday gift

December 20, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

The holidays seem to arrive earlier each year.

The Ear isn’t sure why that is.

Whatever the reason, a lot of holiday gift shopping can by now seem last-minute and somewhat frantic.

But if you are shopping for a classical music fan, you are in luck if you go local.

The best way to please the recipient and also to support the local arts is to give a ticket to a live concert – always the most powerful and exciting musical experience — perhaps coupled to a related book or recording. (Below is UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor in a photo by Michael R. Anderson).

This blog doesn’t have room to list separately all the many musical groups in the area. But here are some samples that might interest you.

Through Monday, Dec. 24, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson) is once again offering a special deal for the remainder of the season. Tickets to both the “Beyond the Score” program and the remaining four season concerts, including Mahler’s mammoth “Symphony of a Thousand,” have been reduced to two price ranges: $10 and $25 for the former; $25 and $50 for the latter.

For more information, go to: https://madisonsymphony.org/concerts-events/buy-tickets/offers-discounts/holiday-tickets-sale/

If you want to see what other performers and presenters are offering – say, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below), the Oakwood Chamber Players, the Madison Bach Musicians, the Middleton Community Orchestra, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, the Willy Street Chamber Players, the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Overture Center and the Madison Opera, to name just a few of the more prominent names – just go to Google and type in their name to search and go to their home page on the web.

Many of them have all sorts of other discounts for students, seniors, subscribers, groups and others.

Don’t forget that Madison features many FREE concerts, especially at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

True, a few of the most attractive and gift-worthy UW concerts are ticketed ($17 for adults, $7 for UW students) – including the annual Schubertiade, the yearly recital by pianist Christopher Taylor and the world premiere of the new Viola Sonata by John Harbison (below). But you could offer to take someone to a free chamber music or orchestral concert and provide companionship, transportation and maybe even dinner.

Here is a link to the very busy lineup and informative previews at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music: https://www.music.wisc.edu

To top it off, you could add one of two outstanding local books The Ear puts at the top of the holiday gift guide.

The first is John Harbison’s “What Do We Make of Bach” (below top) which is short, very readable, thoroughly engaging and wonderfully informative in an autobiographical way that helps us celebrate both the 80th birthday of Harbison and the upcoming 334th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The second book, now in its second printing, is a comprehensive history of the Pro Arte Quartet (below) done by John W. Barker, who often writes for this blog as well as Isthmus.

Of course, a CD with one of the composers or works on a program also makes a fine complement, whether it is a Mahler symphony, a Bach suite or Schubert’s “Swan Songs” from his final year.

Finally, The Ear wants to know: What are your suggestions for a for holiday gift of classical music?

It could be a live concert or a recording, either something new or an old favorite.

It could be a particularly informative and enjoyable or entertaining book, including biographies of Leonard Bernstein (including one by his daughter Jamie Bernstein, below), whose centennial has been celebrated this season.

Over the next few days, The Ear will post suggestions  and Top 10 lists by professional critics. But in the end, it is the audience, the ordinary public, that many people want to hear from.

So perhaps you will leave your ideas in the COMMENT section.

Thank you! And have Happy Holidays — a Merry Christmas, a joyous Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.


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Classical music: Need a break from holiday shopping or final exams? A FREE “Just Bach” midday concert TODAY marks Christmas. On Friday at noon a free concert features violin music of Mozart and Ravel.

December 12, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

Need a  break from holiday shopping or final exams this week? Today’s post brings announcements of two short and appealing midday concerts:

TODAY

Just Bach is a new monthly series of hour-long concerts in Madison celebrating the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The series continues with an end-of-semester performance at 1 p.m. TODAY, Wednesday, Dec. 12, at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave.

Admission is free with goodwill offerings accepted. Audience members are permitted to eat and drink during the performance.

Next semester’s dates are Jan. 23, Feb. 20, March 13, April 24 and May 29.

The orchestra of baroque period-instrument specialists will be led by concertmaster Kangwon Kim.

The goal of this series is to share the immense range of Bach’s vocal and instrumental repertoire with the Madison community at large. The period-instrument orchestra will bring the music to life in the manner and style that Bach (below) would have conceived.

The audience will be invited to sing along during the opening hymns and the closing cantata chorales.

Here is the complete program for today’s concert:

BWV 729: In dulci jubilo (Mark Brampton Smith, organ)

Chorale: Wie soll ich dich empfangen (How shall I embrace You?) from Part I of the Christmas Oratorio (All sing)

BWV 61: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Now come, Savior of the Heathen)

Chorale: Ich will dich mit Fleiss bewahren (I will cherish you assiduously) from Part III of the Christmas Oratorio (All sing)

Aria from BWV 213: Schlafe, mein Liebster (Sleep, my beloved)

Chorale: Schaut hin, dort liegt im finstern Stall (Look there, there He lies in a dark stall) from Part II of the Christmas Oratorio (All sing)

Duet from BWV 110: Ehre sei Gott (Glory be to God)

SELECTIONS FROM PART IV OF BACH’S “CHRISTMAS ORATORIO”:

Recit and Chorale: Immanuel, o suesses Wort! (Emmanuel, oh sweet word!)

Aria: Floesst, mein Heiland, floesst dein Namen (My Saviour, Your name instills)

Recit and Chorale: Wohlan, dein Name soll allein (Well then, Your name alone)

Aria: Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben (I will live only to honor You)

Chorale: Brich an, o schoenes Morgenlicht  (Break forth, oh beautiful morning light) from Part II of the Christmas Oratorio (All sing). You can hear it in the YouTube video at the bottom, performed by the critically acclaimed Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir, sung to pictures of Bach’s own manuscript.

Singers are Sarah Brailey and Elisheva Pront, sopranos; Cheryl Bensman-Rowe, mezzo-soprano; Wesley Dunnagan, tenor; and UW-Madison Professor Paul Rowe, bass.

The orchestra includes: Kangwon Lee Kim (below) and Nathan Giglierano, violins; Marika Fischer Hoyt and Micah Behr, violas; James Waldo, cello; and Mark Brampton Smith, organ.

FRIDAY

This Friday, Dec. 14, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. the FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will features violinist Wendy Adams and pianist Ann Aschbacher.

The  duo will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 35, K. 526 – which you can hear in the YouTube video at the bottom — and Maurice Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2

Here is some background:

The First Unitarian Society of Madison presents “Friday Noon Musicales,” a distinguished artist recital series now in its 31st season.

Talented area musicians play most every Friday, from October through May. Mostly classical music, but Broadway, jazz, folk and other styles are presented at times as well. Enjoy complimentary coffee, tea and live music.

Concerts are free and open to the public. No ticket is required. All performances 12:15–1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive.

Visit https://fusmadison.org/music for upcoming featured artists.


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Classical music: Here are recommendations for post-Christmas shopping

December 27, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

Well, it’s time to start using those gifts cards you got for Hanukkah,  Christmas and other holidays.

Or maybe just to treat yourself.

In any case, here are two more lists of top classical recordings of 2017.

Maybe you will find something of interest.

The first list has the Top 10 recordings chosen by National Public Radio (NPR) and its Deceptive Cadence blog. It has photo and sound samples:

https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2017/12/19/570182207/npr-musics-top-10-classical-albums-of-2017

And here is a list of the Top 10 from The Classical Review, along with some runners-up or honorable mentions:

http://theclassicalreview.com/2017/12/top-ten-recordings-of-2017/

Earlier in December this blog features other lists.

Here are links to some in case you need a reminder or want to compare lists and look for overlaps and agreement, such as the CD of piano music by Philip Glass in the YouTube video at the bottom:

Here are the nominations for the upcoming Grammy Awards:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/classical-music-here-are-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2018-grammy-awards-they-make-a-great-holiday-gift-list-of-gives-and-gets/

Here is a list from critics for The New York Times:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/classical-music-here-is-the-new-york-times-holiday-gift-guide-of-classical-music-for-2016/

Here is a link to lists by the Chicago Tribune, Gramophone Magazine and Forbes magazine:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/classical-music-here-are-lists-of-the-best-classical-recordings-of-2017-as-named-by-the-new-york-times-the-chicago-tribune-forbes-magazine-and-gramophone-magazine/


Classical music: Today is Small Business Saturday. Here are classical music gift suggestions from the critics for The New York Times. Plus, a FREE Christmas Carol Sing is in Overture Hall tonight at 7.

November 28, 2015
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ALERT: Want to relax after eating and shopping? Tonight at 7 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center, there is a FREE and PUBLIC one-hour Community Christmas Carol Sing, hosted by the Madison Symphony Orchestra. All ages are welcome. Accompaniment will be on the Overture Concert Organ, played by MSO Principal Organist Samuel Hutchison.

By Jacob Stockinger

Thanksgiving is done, and now we look forward to the holiday season of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and even winter solstice festivals.

To further and foster your shopping, today is now known as Small Business Saturday, the day following Black Friday. It is supposed to encourage consumers to shop and eat at locally owned businesses.

Unfortunately, the availability of classical music recordings has shrunk so much over the past decade, it can be hard to shop locally for classical music gifts except tickets — which make a great gift.  But you can still try. Any tips you want to leave in the COMMENT section and share with others?

And a gift guide might be appreciated or even helpful, whether you shop online or locally.

Today, The Ear offers installment Number 2 from The New York Times.

New York Times classical music gift guide 2015

Yesterday’s post featured gift ideas from the BBC Music Magazine and the Telegraph newspaper.

Here is a link to that post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/classical-music-here-are-the-best-classical-music-cds-of-2015-according-to-the-bbc-music-magazine-and-the-telegraph-newspaper/

Today is the annual gift guide put together by the various critics for The New York Times. Prices have a wide range, and there are some inexpensive gifts. But this year there seems to be an emphasis on more expensive sets of books and recordings.

Could it possibly be that because the critics get free review copies, they feel compelled to push them or hawk them at the holiday time?

Maybe. But in the spirit of the season let’s pretend that the suggestions – many of which are very good and The Ear agrees with – are based on merit alone.

Here is a link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/multimedia/2015-holiday-gift-guide-musicmovies.html

All the gift guides in various areas or field are on the same website.

So first you have to scroll down to Classical Music.

Then you have to click on the name or title to get more information about the item including the price.

It seems kind of inconvenient and a little bit sleazy to The Ear, what with all that navigating.

Which web designer came up with this way? The Ear much preferred the guides of past years, where you got the full text without so much work and so much clicking. All you had to do was scroll.

Try and see what you think, whether you disagree or agree with The Ear.

Good luck.

Good shopping.

And, if you are the recipient rather than the giver, good listening and reading.

 


Classical music: This holiday season, why not give the gift of live music plus your time and companionship? Here are some suggestions from The Ear and from guest blogger Janet Murphy. Plus, what piece best expresses today’s Winter Solstice?

December 21, 2013
1 Comment

READER SURVEY: Today is the Winter Solstice at 11:11 p.m. CST. What piece of music most expresses or embodies that welcome event when the days finally start getting longer and the nights shorter — even if the warm and sunny weather is still far in the future? Let The Ear know with a COMMENT.

winter solstice image

By Jacob Stockinger

Well, it’s getting down to the wire when it comes to holiday shopping.

As I do every year, I suggest that you give the gift of live music. There wis nothing like it — nothing even comes close.

Of course, you can also couple it to new CD recording or a DVD video with the same performer or work, or even a new book about Johann Sebastian Bach or Ludwig van Beethoven or someone else.

Bach Music in the Castle of Heaven

But the other important thing to give is yourself: Some time and some companion ship. This is especially true for children and young people who need some guidance, and for older people who may have accessibility issues and need your help if they are to get out to an event.

It isn’t hard to put together. Let the recipient’s taste in music be your guide. You can go on-line and explore the possibilities. You can go to bigger and more expensive events by the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below, which has a holiday ticket sale going on through Christmas Eve), the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Wisconsin Union Theater and the Overture Center.

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

Or you could seek out free or more inexpensive events, especially chamber music but also orchestra concerts, choral concerts and opera, at the University of Wisconsin School of Music (below is the Pro Arte String Quartet, which will present the FREE world premiere of a work it commissioned from Belgian composer Benoit Mernier on March 1-2) or Edgewood College or any number of small groups.

ProArte 2010 3

Just get a holiday cards and write out a heart-felt message with the event, date and time and your offer to go with the recipient, maybe even share a meal or snack before or after the event. And if it is weeks or months out, that just gives people something to look forward to once the holidays are over.

In that same spirit, guest blogger and UW Choral Union singer Janet Murphy (below) offered this specific gift idea:

Janet Murphy

Murphy writes: Arboretum Cohousing (www.ArboretumCohousing.org) aka. Arbco, is presenting an evening with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss of Madison (below) on Saturday, January 18.  Struggling to come up with a gift for the Impossible to Buy For?  Well, you could end the pain right now by buying the ITBF a ticket to see Kitt at:

www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/468942

But why?

Here are four good reasons to give the gift of concert tickets:

You want to go to the concert, so you cleverly buy a ticket for someone else to go with you.

Tickets produce nothing to clutter our lives, take back, assemble, be redeemed, or be discarded.  No batteries required.

You support the local arts with your holiday spending.  Musicians and venues need us today so they will exist tomorrow.

You and your guest get to enjoy those warm feelings of giving and receiving twice – first in the bleak mid-winter, and then again at concert time.

kitt reuter foss copy

And here are four good reasons you might choose to give the gift of Kitt Reuter-Foss tickets:

Madison doesn’t have enough opportunities to see one of our premier talents.

November’s Arboretum Cohousing concert with keyboardist Trevor Stephenson (below) was a ridiculous amount of fun.  If you missed it, you can make up for that mistake now.

Arbco Trevor answers questions

Intimate venues mean a value-added experience: Visit with fellow concert-goers, see the performers up close and personal, hear gloriously unamplified music, and expect to be surprised (something magical always happens).

There are sweets and savories galore (below) – and you can enjoy them while you listen.

Arbco Refreshments

In addition, you will be doing a good deed. All proceeds from the concert go to restore Arco’s vintage Mason and Hamlin grand piano (below), so the gift of music will also enable Arbco to present more music in the future.

With so many performances in Madison to make your ITBF happy, what are you waiting for?  Go for it.

Mason and Hamlin harp and strings


Classical music: The Exclusive Company on State Street is moving, but NOT going out of business. And WYSO holds a benefit Wednesday night with the Pro Arte String Quartet.

November 11, 2012
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ALERT: This Wednesday evening, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras will host a fundraising benefit concert of chamber music by the renowned Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer) to benefit the WYSO scholarship program. Founded in Brussels in 1912, the original Pro Arte Quartet served as court musicians for Queen Elizabeth of Belgium and traveled the world performing both modern and classical pieces. In 1940, while on a 10-day performance run at the Wisconsin Union Theater, the musicians were stranded in the United States by the outbreak of World War II and accepted a residency at the UW-Madison. They are believed to be the oldest continually performing string quartet in the world. The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the Blackhawk Country Club. Tickets are $50 each. Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and will receive two complimentary drink tickets. The Pro Arte Quartet performance of music by Haydn, Schubert and John Harbison is to begin at 6:45 p.m. All proceeds will directly benefit WYSO students in need, providing tuition assistance for orchestra membership, the Chamber Music Program and private lessons. You can make reservations at the WYSO office at 608 263-3320 x10 or wyso@wyso.music.wisc.edu

By Jacob Stockinger

A good friend recently announced – with some alarm in his voice – that he saw that The Exclusive Company (below) at 508 State Street (phone 608 255-2433) was going out of business.

That would be too bad, thought the Ear, who shops there but had heard nothing about it. That longtime landmark store is one of the last remaining brick-and-mortar bastions of classical music in Madison. Even Barnes and Noble has cut back to the point of leaving consumers littler choice other than on-line places such as Amazon.com or Archivmusic.com.

So The Ear headed down to State Street to check it out.

Turns out that the storefront windows all have been papered over with messages that are easy to misread as a Going Out of Business SALE.

True, the store has cut back a lot on classics, especially since the days when the late Chuck Lunde (at bottom) headed up the classical department and had most of the basement to display his extensive stock.

But going out of business now is not what is happening, according to those who run the store, the local franchise of a Wisconsin company that has seven other locations around the state. (A far West Side location in Madison closed three years ago.)

For more about the Exclusive Company, visit:

http://www.exclusivecompany.com

It turns out that the Exclusive Company has lost its State Street lease. For more than a year, apparently, the landlord has been looking to dramatically increase the rent, maybe even double it.

Last year, the Exclusive Company said it couldn’t pay that much, so it went on a month-to-month lease while the landlord searched for another tenant.

It took quite a while, but apparently a new occupant has finally been found who is willing to pay the rent increase.

And the Exclusive Company is still looking for another location, preferably near the current state Street location but that is also affordable. I will keep you informed about the new location when I find out more about it.



Until then, you can still find a fair amount of new and old classical releases on CDs and DVDs, to say nothing of used CDs and DVDs. And what you don’t find on the shelf, you can usually order without a long wait. At least that is what The Ear has found.


Classical music: The US is experiencing an epidemic of “piano-cide.” But help is available and there are alternatives to loss. Is piano waste happening here in Madison and Wisconsin? What can be done to save or rescue pianos here and elsewhere? Part 2 of 2.

August 12, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

As I explained yesterday – and as readers of this blog well know — I am a devoted and even devout pianist.

I always used to find myself pained by piano abuse –- even when it is in the cause of making music by, say, rocker Jerry Lee Lewis (below) stomping and banging and doing hard glissandos on the piano. (I am not a guitarist, but I felt the same way when The Who used to destroy its guitars at the end of a show.) OUCH!!!! It hurts just to look at abused instruments that are capable of creating such beauty, no?

So you can imagine my distress when I found out that vast numbers of usable and even beautiful, valuable old pianos are being dumped and discarded, trashed and destroyed, simply because no one takes the time to find them a good home and an appreciative player.

Here is the original story about the widespread destruction of piano from The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/arts/music/for-more-pianos-last-note-is-thud-in-the-dump.html?pagewanted=all

Happily, the reporter Daniel J. Wakin received so much response that he ended up writing a sequel that has many tips – and much good news — about how to save pianos.

Here is a link to Wakin’s welcome follow-up story about rescuing and saving pianos (below).

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/arts/music/used-pianos-can-be-donated-to-charities-and-artists.html

I admit it: The story isn’t earth-shaking during a time of the deadly Syrian struggle and other major geo-political events. So it probably won’t win any major prizes for investigative reporting and public service. But little things can matter big and make a big difference — especially during hard economic times when  those who want to make music or take music lessons can’t afford an instrument but might indeed be looking for a piano. 

What do you have to say about the predicament and the possible solutions? Leave your view in the COMMENT section.

Save a Piano!

Save Classical Music!


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