The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Mosaic Chamber Players continues with its all-Beethoven concerts of sonatas for strings and piano this Saturday night. Plus, the woodwind quintet Black Marigold performs a FREE concert Friday at noon.

January 28, 2016
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ALERT: The week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, to take place from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature the local woodwind quintet Black Marigold. It will perform music by August Klughardt, Darius Milhaud and Brian DuFord.

Here is a link about Black Marigold’s winter concerts and the program:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/classical-music-the-wind-quintet-black-marigold-announces-its-four-upcoming-free-winter-concerts/

By Jacob Stockinger

The Mosaic Chamber Players — recently hailed as “among the finest purveyors of chamber music in Madison” by critic John W. Barker on The Well-Tempered Ear blog — will be performing an all-Beethoven program this Saturday night, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will take place in the beautiful and historic Landmark Hall of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, on Madison’s near west side.

This will be the third program of a 5-concert cycle of all the string sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (below).

Beethoven big

The impressive list of performers (below, from left), most of whom were educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and Lawrence University in Appleton, includes pianist Jess Salek; violinist Laura Burns; cellist Michael Allen; and violinist Wes Luke.

They play with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Oakwood Chamber Players, the Ancora String Quartet, the Rhapsodie String Quartet, the Madison Youth Choirs, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, Fresco Opera Theatre, Opera for the Young, and other ensembles here and in Dubuque and LaCrosse.

Mosaic Chamber Players 2016. Jess Salek piano. Laura Burns violn, Michael Allen cello. Wes Luke violin

On the program are: the Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major Op. 30, No. 1; the Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 102, No. 1; and the Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, Op. 47 “Kreutzer.” (You can hear the first movement of the famous and riveting Kreutzer Sonata performed by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

There will be a reception following the program.

Tickets are $15 for the public; $10 for seniors; and $5 for students – by cash or check only. NO CREDIT CARDS WILL BE ACCEPTED.

Adds founder and pianist Jess Salek:

“This concert is perfect for an adult or caregiver night-out, and also for students at the middle school-and-above age.

“Please come hear some beautiful music performed by talented, expressive, and professional local artists.

“Thanks for considering. Hope to see you there!”


Classical music: The Mosaic Chamber Players opens their new season with violin sonatas by Mozart, Grieg and Szymanowski this Friday night.

October 29, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Violinist Wes Luke and pianist Jess Salek will perform a “passionate program”of violin and piano music called “Sonatas and Myths” tomorrow night, Friday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive.

The program includes: the elegant and intense Sonata in G Major K. 379, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (you can hear the sonata in a YouTube video at the bottom); the fiery Sonata in C minor, Op. 45, by the 19th-century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg; and the extraordinary and unique “Myths,” Op. 30, by the 20th-century Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.

There will be a reception following the program.

Tickets are $15 for the public; $10 for seniors; and $5 for students. Check or cash only will be accepted.

Information about upcoming concerts can be found on Mosaic’s website http://www.mosaicchamberplayers.com/ or you can “like” or follow Mosaic Chamber Players on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Here is some background information about the performers::

Wes Luke (below) is a violinist and educator who performs and teaches across the upper Midwest.  He currently serves as the Concertmaster of the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Symphony Orchestra, the Principal Second Violinist of the Dubuque (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra, and a section violinist in the Madison Symphony Orchestra. He also regularly plays in the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Wisconsin Philharmonic, where he has also served as Concertmaster.

Wes Luke 2015

Jess Salek holds degrees from Lawrence University (Bachelor of Music in piano performance) in Appleton, Wisconsin, and State University of New York at Stony Brook (Master of Music in piano performance). He has worked as Music Theory Instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and as a piano instructor at Prairie Music Academy in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He also has served as a judge for piano competitions and music festivals throughout Wisconsin.

From 2009-2013, Salek (below) served as Music Director of Fresco Opera Theatre, which in 2013 received Bronze in the Performing Arts Group category in Madison Magazine’s “Best Of Madison” competition -– an award voted by fans.

He is the founder and owner of Salek Piano Studio, Inc., where he teaches a diverse group of over 45 students of all ages and levels on the west side of Madison.

jess Salek 2015

Salek performs as substitute keyboardist with Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for Concerts on the Square and Madison Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW), a non-profit chamber music organization in Madison, and serves as accompanist for Madison Youth Choirs, a non-profit performing group based in Madison.

Most recently, Salek founded the Mosaic Chamber Players, a professional group dedicated to performing varied chamber music programs throughout Wisconsin. The Mosaics were recently described as “among the finest purveyors of chamber music in Madison” in a review by John W. Barker for The Well-Tempered Ear blog.

Here is a poster about the upcoming season of the Mosaic Chamber Players (using the magnifying tool will help you read it):

Mosaic 2015-2016 season poster jpeg


Classical music: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin opens its return season this Sunday night with an event that combines music, food and poetry.

September 8, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) write:

After Sound Ensemble Wisconsin’s 2014-2015 hiatus, which allowed director Mary Theodore to care for her new baby, SEW is pleased to announce its return for the 2015-16 season. Please stay tuned for news on the rest of the season.

What does food sound like? What does music taste like? This coning Sunday night, participants can enjoy a lovely evening out as they explore their senses as the pathway to their souls through the performing arts of food and music, accompanied by poetry.

The 2015 realization of 2014’s highly successful “SEWing Taste and Sound, Bite by Byte” is a collaboration between Sound Ensemble Wisconsin’s Mary Theodore (below left in a photo by Katrin Talbot); Chef Dan Bonanno (below right) of Madison’s celebrated restaurant Pig in a Fur Coat; and poet-violist Katrin Talbot (center).

SEW dinner poetry photon2

The event centers around the aesthetic similarities of food and music, both of which Mary Theodore, SEW’s director and violinist, considers performing arts.

This year, SEW has based the evening on a set of six Duos for Two Violins by Bela Bartok. (You can hear many of them performed by Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Each duo, or byte of music, will inspire Chef Bonnano and be paired with one course, or bite, of food — and performed/served as such to create a six-course meal, including a beverage pairing for each course. Talbot will also read her original poems, composed for each variation.

At the end of the meal, SEW musicians will perform the music from beginning to end with the aim of offering participants a new experience of the music, a new journey of taste and sound.

Please see the Wisconsin State Journal interview and the Madison Magazine review based on the highly successful 2014 “SEWing Taste and Sound, Bite by Byte” at SEW’s website: http://soundensemblewisconsin.org/press/

This performance will take place on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. at Pig in a Fur Coat, 940 Williamson Street. Tickets are currently on sale at www.soundensemblewisconsin.org and are $105 per person or $100 per person by check (with guests’ names) to: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, 716 Edgewood Avenue, Madison, WI 53711.

Performing musicians are Mary Theodore and Eleanor Bartsch (below), a prize-winning graduate of the UW-Madison School of Music.

Eleanor Bartsch

“SEW will certainly bring a new dimension to Madison’s cultural scene,” veteran music critic John W. Barker has written.

 


Classical music: This coming Sunday is busy with lots of live concerts from Con Vivo, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin and Edgewood College as well as Wisconsin Public Radio and the Pro Arte Quartet. Plus, on Saturday afternoon the Percussion Ensemble of Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) performs its annual EXTRAVAGANZA concert.

February 27, 2014
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ALERT: On Saturday at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (WYSO) Percussion Ensemble will perform the 13th annual Percussion ‘EXTRAVAGANZA’  in the UW Humanities Building. Directed by Vicki Peterson Jenks, the WYSO Percussion Ensemble is comprised of 12 talented young percussionists and one bassist from Madison, Middleton, Verona, Viroqua, Mount Horeb, DeForest, and Barneveld. (See the impressive individual profiles in the YouTube video at the bottom.) 

WYSO will donate part of proceeds to support the American Red Cross Badger Chapter.

The concert features special guest artist Steve Houghton. A Kenosha, Wis., native, Houghton is an internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author and educator who is currently a professor at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of MusicAlso joining the WYSO Percussion Ensemble in guest appearances will be two WYSO alumni, composer and pianist Jon D. Nelson and bassist Sam Olson – both Sun Prairie natives – the UW World Percussion Ensemble, UW-Madison Professor of Saxophone Les Thimming, and WYSO student flugelhorn player Noah Mennenga.

Tickets for the 2014 WYSO Percussion EXTRAVGANZA! are $10 for adults, $5 for youth (18 and under) and can be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the start of the concert. For more information, contact the WYSO office at (608) 263-3320. Parking is available at State Street Campus Ramp, Helen C. White Hall, and Grainger Hall parking facilities. You can also visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

WYSO Percussion Ensemble 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What a close friend and colleague calls “train wrecks” — that is, competing or conflicting events and concerts  — just keep on happening.

It is true that choices become more difficult, and more mutually exclusive, as the classical music scene continues to expand in the Madison area.

Take this Sunday, which is normally a pretty quiet day — but NOT this week.

Of course, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Pro Arte Quartet (below) will give the second premiere performance of Belgian composer Benoit Mernier’s String Quartet No. 3 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.” It will air live from the FREE concert in Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

But check out these other events:

SALProArteMay2010

CON VIVO

At 2:30 p.m., the ensemble Con Vivo (“Music with Life) continues its 12th season of chamber music with a concert entitled “Germanic Gems” at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, across from Camp Randall.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students.

The program includes the First Suite for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach; a duet for violin and viola by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and the “Fairy Tales” Trio for clarinet, viola and piano by Robert Schumann. The program will also feature the outstanding church organ with duets for violin and organ by Joseph Rheinberger, a solo work for organ by 17th-century composer Johann Reincken, and “Ein Alterblatt” (An Old Page), a romantic piece for violin, viola, cello and organ by Ferdinand Manns.

To round out the afternoon’s offering, Con Vivo will perform a quintet for clarinet, two violas, cello and piano by a mystery composer who will be reveled at the concert!

Audience members are invited to join musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss this chamber music literature and to hear about their Carnegie Hall debut this past December.

Con Vivo is a professional chamber music ensemble comprised of Madison area musicians assembled from the ranks of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and various other performing groups familiar to Madison audiences. 

Con Vivo core musicians

EDGEWOOD CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

Also at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra will perform in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, on Madison’s near west side.      

Admission is $5 for the public; free with Edgewood College ID.

The orchestra will perform under the direction of music conductor Blake Walter (below). The program of masterworks includes the Symphony No. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven; the Orchestral Suite No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach; and the Overture to “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

blake walter john maniaci

Included in the program is a special performance of the Piano Concerto in D Major by Franz Joseph Haydn. It will be performed by the recent Madison Memorial High School alumna Johanna Novich-Leonard (below), winner of the Edgewood College Student Concerto Competition.

Johanna Novich Leonard

SOUND ENSEMBLE WISCONSIN

At 6 p.m., Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) will be collaborating with Chef Dan Bonanno and poet Katrin Talbot (below in a photo with violinist Mary Theodore on the far right holding a violin bow) for a “delicious” event at A Pig in a Fur Coat restaurant, located at 940 Williamson Street, Madison, WI, 53703. Phone is (608) 316-3300.

SEW poet, chef and violin

Tickets are currently on sale at www.sewmusic.org and are $105 per person or $100 by check (with guests’ names) to:  Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, 716 Edgewood Avenue, Madison, WI 53711. Performing musicians (below) are SEW members and incude violinists Mary Theodore and Mary Perkinson, violist Chris Dozoryst, and cellist Maggie Townsend.

More information and tickets are available at www.sewmusic.org.

SEW dinner group photo

Here is an excellent story written by Gayle Worland of The Wisconsin State Journal:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/music/a-menu-of-music/article_7668c3ef-b514-546a-9be5-e25aab9a0a70.html

And here is the SEW press release:

“What does food sound like?  What does music taste like?

“Participants enjoy a lovely evening out as they explore their senses as the pathway to their souls through the performing arts of food and music, accompanied by poetry.  “SEWing Taste and Sound, Bite by Byte” is a collaboration between Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, Chef Dan Bonanno of Madison’s celebrated Pig in a Fur Coat, and SEW’s 2013-14 Artist-in-Residence, who is Madison poet and violist Katrin Talbot.

“The event centers around the aesthetic similarities of food and music, both of which Mary Theodore, SEW’s director and violinist, considers performing arts.  SEW has based the evening on a movement from a Beethoven String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 5, Andante Cantabile, that is a theme and variations.

“Each variation, or byte of music, will inspire Chef Bonnano and be paired with one course, or bite, of food — and performed and served as such to create a seven-course meal, including a beverage pairing for each course.

“For example, the third variation, which might remind one of a bubbling brook with a contrast of smooth, running water and sunlight glistening through the trees as well as a touch of sweetness, has inspired Chef Bonanno to create a smooth, creamy risotto with fresh blueberries and sweetbreads.

A Pig in a Fur Coat logo

“Katrin Talbot will also read poems composed for each variation.

“At the end of the meal, SEW musicians will perform the quartet movement from beginning to end with the aim of offering participants a new experience of the music, a new journey of taste and sound.

“As a large part of SEW’s mission is to bring more people to classical music, SEW makes an effort to demonstrate that music can be found in many things that we experience every day.

“SEW achieves this by collaborating with other artists, institutions, etc. through innovative programming and authentic events.  Also, as SEW’s founding principle is that music is a vital part of humanity and should serve everyone, the ensemble strives to both offer engaging and unique programming to regular participants (their term for “audience”), as well as to offer music to those who might not have access to it otherwise.

“As part of the March 2 program, SEW will be performing during dinner hour at a food pantry and offering two free tickets to the Sunday event.  As a side note, SEW also played at a correctional facility as a precursor to their last event.”

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Classical music: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin excels in a concert of songs, poetry and chamber music to a small audience hurt by competing concerts.

February 18, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker, who also took the performance photos. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.

John-Barker

By John W. Barker

The Sound Ensemble Wisconsin is one of a number of new and enterprising chamber groups that has been developed in Madison in recent years.

This one is in its second season, and offered its second concert of that season in the Atrium auditorium of the First Unitarian Society of Madison on Sunday night.

The group’s premise is to seek “a provocative and original approach to chamber music.”

Something of that aim was represented in the unusual seating plan set up in the auditorium, with double ellipses (below) surrounding the performing space.

SEW setup Barker

Further, for this concert, the approach was to match a number of vocal and instrumental pieces with readings of the poetry that provided the inspiration or even the very texts for the selections.  These were read by Katrin Talbot (below, far right), herself a poet, as well as an admired photographer and violist.

SEW Katrin Talbot Barker

The first half of the program offered (though not in this order) some songs. One, by Debussy, “Nuit d’etoiles” (Starry Night) , was sung by soprano Rachel Eve Holmes (below right) with pianist Jess Salek.  They were joined by violinist Mary Theodore, the group’s guiding spirit, and cellist Maggie Townsend to present one of Franz Joseph Haydn’s settings of Scottish folk songs.

SEW songs Barker

Without the soprano, this trio went on to present the Three Nocturnes of Ernest Bloch. The trio in turn yielded to a quintet (below), with Susanne Beia and Mary Perkinson, violins, and Chris Dozoryst and Jen Paulson, violas, joining Townsend in Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Nocturne and Scherzo for String Quintet — for which Holmes returned to sing the English folksong, which inspired that gentle and thoughtful music.

SEW sextet Barker

The high point came as the closing music, Arnold Schoenberg’s string sextet (below), “Verklärte Nacht” (Transfigured Night), with cellist Parry Karp, acting as a last-minute substitution for Karl Lavine, joining the previous quintet.

In the past I have found that I much prefer the original chamber form of this remarkable 1899 work over the more commonly heard adaptation of it for string orchestra; though, to be honest, one does not often have a chance to hear either in live performances.  The chamber version allows the richly complex six-part writing to be heard more clearly, without the lush overload of the orchestral version. (You can hear it for yourself at the bottom in the YouTube video of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center playing the opening of “Transfigured Night.”)

SEW Schoenberg sextet Barker

I have also found that this outpouring of late-Romantic, hyper-chromatic polyphony makes particular sense when one can experience this music not only played close-up, as in this concert, but also in plain view.

The result is that one can really see as well as hear which instrument is doing what as the piece unfolds.  I note, in fact, that, thanks to this hearing, I understood better than before the important role of the first viola, even amid the propelling forces of Beia and Karp. All the players were caught up in a unified and impassioned performance that was simply riveting.

It was a pity that barely 30 people turned up as an audience.  Perhaps that was due to so much competition, including the Madison Symphony Orchestra concert among other things.

Still, those who attended certainly came away feeling richly rewarded by this experience, and with heightened awareness of the stimulating contributions to the Madison chamber music scene that SEW is making.

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Classical music: Sound Ensemble Wisconsin performs music and poems about love and night this Sunday evening. Plus, three guitarists perform new music for FREE this Friday at noon.

February 12, 2014
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ALERT: This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark auditorium of the historic First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will feature guitarists Jamie Guiscafre (below), Chris Allen and Chris Murray in new music of Margaret Brouwer, Dan Cosely, Guiscafre and Justin Merritt.

Jaime Guiscafre

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following announcement violinist and SEW founder Mary Theodore about an appealing and unusual combined concert and poetry reading that is coming up this Sunday afternoon:

“Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (below are some SEW musicians) follows November’s highly successful opening to their second season, “Sound Stories,” with a concert on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 5:45 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, the historic landmark designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Performers for this concert are SEW musicians violinist Suzanne Beia, violist Chris Dozoryst, Jen Paulson, violinist Mary Perkinson, pianist Jess Salek, violinist Mary Theodore, Maggie Townsend, and guest artists cellist Karl Lavine and soprano Rachel Eve Holmes.

SEW group

“Sound Stories:  Of Love and Night” features 60 minutes of vocal and instrumental works based on nocturnal themes, many based on love poems or ballads. It seems like a program matched to Valentine’s Day weekend.

The program includes Ernest Bloch’s Nocturnes for Piano Trio (1924); Ralph Vaughan Williams‘ Nocturne and Scherzo for String Quintet (1906); and songs by Franz Joseph Haydn and Claude Debussy. The concert features Arnold Schoenberg‘s “Verklarte Nacht” (Transfigured Night) for String Sextet (1898), based on Richard Dehmel‘s poem of 1896. (The work can be heard performed under the direction of Pierre Boulez in a popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

Poems by Richard Dehmel and Walt Whitman will be read by Katrin Talbot (below), a Madison violist and poet and SEW’s Artist-in-Residence for the 2013-14 season.  Talbot will also read the English translation for Debussy’s “Nuit d’Etoiles” (Starry Night).

Katrin Talbot face on

The performance will take place in the new Atrium Auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) at the First Unitarian Society.  Beginning at 5:45 p.m., the event will be timed with the sunset and last a little over an hour with intermission.

Tickets are $10 with cash, check or charge at the door.

Please note: Coming soon, SEW will be collaborating with Chef Dan Bonanno and Katrin Talbot for a truly unique and delicious event at “Pig in a Fur Coat” on Sunday, March 2, at 6 p.m.  More information and tickets are available at www.sewmusic.org.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

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Classical music Q&A: Creator and host Anders Yocom talks about Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Sunday Brunch,” which will mark its one-year anniversary this coming Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to noon.

August 15, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

For the most part, the classical music you hear on Wisconsin Public Radio is demarcated by a time of day and the particular host or programmer. Only occasionally does a unifying theme emerge -– say, American composers and American classical music on the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving; or holiday music on Christmas.

However, one major exception is the weekly program called “The Sunday Brunch,” which airs every Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. (Then the program segues into New Releases with the same host.)

brunch

“The Sunday Brunch” is the brain-child of Anders Yocom, who hosts it and adds his congenial commentaries. The amiable and resonant-voiced Yocom is familiar to Madison audiences in many ways. He is the welcoming voice at concerts by the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Overture Hall and he has served as the narrator in various pieces by local musical groups. (Below is Yocom narrating works by Bela Bartok at a concert by the Sound Ensemble Wisconsin — SEW — at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.)

SEW Anders Yocum as Bartok

This Sunday’s broadcast will mark and celebrate the one-year anniversary of “The Sunday Brunch.” The play list will feature 17 selections of music in all kinds of musical genres, from a cappella singing to symphonies and concertos to guitar etudes.

The well-known composers on the play list include Cesar Franck, Alexander Borodin, Franz Liszt, Arcangelo Corelli, Antonin Dvorak, Philip Glass, Richard Wagner, Antonio Vivaldi, Franz Schubert, Gabriel Faure, Richard Rodgers and of course Johann Sebastian Bach, for whom Yocom has a special affinity. The less well-known composers to be included are Antonio Salieri, Benjamin Godard, Alessandro Marcello, Etienne-Nicholas Mehul, Giaches de Wert and Giulio Rigondi.

Anders Yocom (below, in a photo by Jim Gill) recently answered an email Q&A for The Ear:

anders yocom studio  head shot cr Jim Gill

How and when did you come up with the idea for “The Sunday Brunch,” and when did show first air?

I have been thinking about it for years, inspired by two classical radio hosts I like to listen to. I heard Carl Grapentine (below) every day on WFMT when I lived in Chicago, and more recently Emma Ayres (at bottom, in a YouTube video busking with her violin for flood relief) on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Classical in Australia on my Internet radio.

Carl Grapentine WFMT

Both people host weekday morning drive programs with short pieces interspersed with information about the day and stories about music. I marvel at the music selection. Each piece they choose, one after another, seems to perfectly fit the moment. I wanted to follow their lead. I proposed “The Sunday Brunchfour years ago and it began one year ago.

Is your show part of a larger strategy by Wisconsin Public Radio for attracting new listeners? What are the future plans for the show?

WPR is always looking for new programming ideas and ways to attract new listeners, not just over the air, but via the growing digital technologies as well.

I was hosting music on WPR last summer, and when Mike Arnold (below), WPR’s Associate Director, heard my proposal for “The Sunday Brunch,” he gave it an immediate green light.

Mike Arnold Wisconsin Public Radio

Next month, Peter Bryant (below), a veteran public broadcaster and music lover, will come from Kentucky to WPR as the Program Director of the News and Classical service. I look forward to his encouragement and guidance to make “The Sunday Brunch as good as it can be.

peter bryant

What are your goals for the show? And what has been the public or listener response so far?

What weekly time feels warmer or more enjoyable than Sunday morning? I think of families and friends at leisure, possibly before or after church; maybe enjoying their own Sunday breakfasts or brunches; or sipping their favorite hot beverages while reading their favorite publications.

My goal is to enhance whatever pleasant and relaxing Sunday environment they may have created for themselves. All of the response I have received so far has been very positive. And over the last year, we are seeing increased audiences on Sunday mornings.

People eating Brunch

How do you choose the music that is suitable for The Sunday Brunch? Do you look to celebrate certain special holidays like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?

I like to play music that somehow addresses what listeners might be thinking about on given days such as holidays. I also call attention to music anniversaries.

In general, I select short pieces and excerpts from longer works, with varied instrumentation from solo to chamber to symphony, including choral and vocal, representing the music periods from Baroque to contemporary. Also, the fun and joy of an occasional movie or Broadway show tune.

The Sunday Brunch specializes in joyful or “feel good” music. I hasten to add that not all music meets these criteria, and much of the music I don’t play should be heard on radio. And it is played at other times every day on WPR.

You often use sections – single movements of a larger work. What do you say to critics of that practice?

So far, we have received not one complaint about the practice of playing single movements. And I agree that complete performances of symphonies, concertos and other works are often required for a satisfying listening experience.

I respect adherence to the artistic intent of composers. However, the composers of most of the works I play never envisioned electronically reproduced performances heard in kitchens, bedrooms, cars or any of the places where mobile devices can go.

At concerts, audiences focus on the music. For radio listeners, the music is there to accompany something else listeners are attending to. I wish we could ask Mozart what he thinks about one of his rondos playing through speakers in my kitchen, followed immediately by a Philip Glass waltz.

anders yocom studio wider cr Jim Gill

What else would you like to say or add about “The Sunday Brunch” or about Wisconsin Public Radio in general?

I am a music lover and listen to music nearly every waking hour. I am also a veteran radio listener and broadcaster. I look for ways to please people who like to have music in their environments, wherever they may be. “The Sunday Brunch is a unique approach, and I hope listeners like it as much as I like presenting it. I am grateful to WPR for supporting me in this effort.

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