The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Winners of the UW-Madison concerto and new music competitions perform this Sunday night in the annual “Symphony Showcase” concert

February 9, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following news and invitation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music:


They’ve prepared for months and now are ready to show off a bit on the stage of Mills Hall.

Our annual Symphony Showcase is a concert featuring the winners of our annual concerto competition in solo performances with the UW Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Smith.

This year’s winners are all graduate students with impressive worldwide résumés; one is a composer whose new work will be premiered by the orchestra. (Below, in a photo by Michael R. Anderson, they are, left to right: Kangwoo Jin, piano; Luis Alberto Peña, piano; Garrett Mendelow, percussion; and Paran Amininazari, violin.)

UW concerto winners 2016 Michael R. Anderson

Please join us on Sunday, February 14, at 7:30 p.m. for our concert and reception in Mills Hall.

Please Note: Parking is FREE on Sundays in Grainger Hall.

Concert tickets are $10, but are free for students of all ages. You can Buy in advance (with a $4 handling fee) or in person in the lobby of Mills Hall.

Here are the winners:

Violinist Paran Amirinazari is a doctoral student of Professor Soh-Hyun Park Altino. She will play a movement from the Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor by Sergei Prokofiev.

Pianist and Collins Fellow Kangwoo Jin is a doctoral student of Professors Christopher Taylor and Jessica Johnson. He will perform the third movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18, by Sergei Rachmaninoff. (you can hear it played by Yuja Wang at the bottom in a YouTube video.)

Garrett Mendelow is doctoral percussionist and Collins Fellow studying with Professor Anthony Di Sanza. He will play the Arena Concerto by Swedish composer Tobias Brostrom.

Luis Alberto Peña is a doctoral piano student of Professor Christopher Taylor. He will perform the Burleske in D Minor by Richard Strauss.

Yunkyung Hong (below, in a photo by Michael R. Anderson) is a doctoral composer studying with Professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski. Her work is titled “Transluceny.”

Yunkyung Hong Michael R. Anderson

Read their full biographies here:

We also encourage you to read our full newsletter, complete with photos and additional links, at this site:

Classical music: Five alumni composers return to UW-Madison for two FREE concerts of their work this Thursday and Friday nights. On Tuesday night, UW trombonist Mark Hetzler and friends premiere four new works.

November 2, 2015

ALERT: On Tuesday night at 7:30 in Mills Hall, UW-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler with be joined by Anthony DiSanza, drums/percussion; Vincent Fuh, piano; Ben Ferris, bass; Tom Ross-percussion; Garrett Mendelow, percussion.

Mark Hetzler and friends present a FREE concert titled “Mile of Ledges” with the premiere of four new works. Two new compositions (Falling and Mile of Ledges) by Mark Hetzler will feature lyrical and technical trombone passages, soulful and spirited piano writing, complex percussion playing and a heavy dose of electronics. In addition, the group will showcase new music by UW-Madison alum Ben Davis (his $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for quartet and electronics) and Seattle composer David P. Jones (a chamber work for trombone, piano, bass and two percussionists).

Read a Wisconsin State Journal about Mark Hetzler. Download PDF here.

By Jacob Stockinger

If The Ear recalls correctly, alumni who return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music are generally performers or scholars.

All the more reason, then, to celebrate this week’s major UW event, which was organized by UW-Madison composer and teacher Stephen Dembski (below). It features five composers who trained at the UW-Madison and who are now out in the world practicing their art and teaching it to others.

Steve Dembski's class

Steve Dembski’s class

Dembski writes:

This week, the UW-Madison School of Music will welcome back five graduates of the composition studio who have developed creative, multi-dimensional careers in a range of fields: acoustic and electronic composition, musicology, theory, audio production, conducting, education, concert management and administration, performance, and other fields as well.

The two-day event is intended to show the breadth of talent at UW-Madison as well as demonstrating that music students focus on much more than performance as a way to shape successful careers.

The composers include: Jeffrey Stadelman (below), who is now associate professor of music composition at the University at Buffalo.

jefffey stadelman

Paula Matthusen (below, BM, 2001), who is assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University.

paula matthusen

William Rhoads (below, BM, 1996), who is vice-president of marketing and communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.

William Rhoads

Andrew Rindfleisch (below, BM, 1987), who is a full-time composer living in Ohio. (You can hear his introspective and microtonal work “For Clarinet Alone” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Andrew Rindfleisch portrait

Kevin Ernste (below, BM, 1997), who is professor of composition at Cornell University.

kevin ernste

The UW-Madison School of Music will present two FREE concerts of their music, performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below top), the Wingra Woodwind Quintet (below bottom, in a photo by Michael Anderson), the UW Wind Ensemble, and other faculty members and students.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wingra Woodwind Quintet 2013 Michael Anderson

The FREE concerts are on this Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall; and on this Friday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. There will be workshops and colloquia yet to be announced.

For complete composer biographies, along with comments about their works, and more information about the two-day event, visit this site:

Classical music: This weekend brings concerts of wind music; old and new music for Baroque flute; and early songs about money and poverty.

April 25, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings us three big events: two performances by the Madison Opera of Jake Heggie’s opera “Dead Man Walking” (Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.); a one-time performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s rarely heard a cappella “Vespers” by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Choral Union on Saturday night at 8 p.m.; and pianist Ryan McCullough in Ludwig Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas at Farley’s House of Pianos on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

But there are smaller concerts for you to consider too, some of which do not conflict with the others.


Tonight, Friday night, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble (below, in a photo by Katherine Esposito), under director and conductor Scott Teeple, will perform a FREE concert.

UW Wind Ensemble Katherine Esposito

The program include “Profanation” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Bencriscutto; 
”Concerto for Wind Percussion and Wind Ensemble” by Karel Husa; 
”Colonial Song” by Percy Grainger “Raise the Roof” by Michael Daugherty; and
”Symphony in Three Movements” by retiring UW tubist and composer John Stevens (below).

John Stevens


On Saturday from noon to 1 p.m., the FREE concert series Grace Presents will present “New and Historic Music for Baroque Flute” with flutist Millie Chang (below) and others.

Millie Chang

The concert is designed to be a refreshing break, a parenthesis in time and task, from the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which has started up again. Audiences are invited to bring lunch or food.

dane county farmers' market

The venue is the lovely and acoustically resonant Grace Episcopal Church (below are exterior and interior views), at 116 West Washington Avenue, down on the Capitol Square.

grace episcopal church ext

Grace Episcopal harpsichord

Some of Madison’s most talented classical instrumentalists will perform the short but unique recital for baroque flute featuring compositions spanning three centuries.

Performers include Millie (Mi-Li) Chang and Danielle Breisach (below top), Baroque flute; UW-Madison professor Stephanie Jutt, modern flute; UW-Madison professor John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord; and Eric Miller (below bottom), viola da gamba. 

Danielle Breisach

Eric Miller viol

Here is the specific program: David MacBride: “Shadow” for two baroque flutes (1993); Robert Strizich: “Tombeau” for baroque flute and harpsichord (1982); François Couperin, “Concert Royal” No. 2 in D major (1722), which can be heard in a YouTube video at the bottom; University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music composer Stephen Dembski (below top), “Gits and Piths” for modern and baroque flutes (2014); UW-Madison bassoonist, conductor and composer Marc Vallon (below bottom), “Ami” (2014); and Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in B minor for baroque flute and harpsichord, BWV 1030 (1736-37).

For more information, visit

Stephen Dembski



The fourth concert of the Kat Trio Chamber Music Series features the Veldor Woodwind Quintet. The concert will take place in Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Road, Fitchburg on Saturday night, April 26, 2014 at 7 p.m.

There will be 30-minute Q&A session before the performance.

Suggested donation: $10 adults and $5 students.

Member of the Veldor Woodwind Quintet (below) are: Barbara Paziouros Roberts (flute), Andy Olson (oboe), Joe Kania (clarinet), Brad Sinner (horn), and Brian Ellingboe (bassoon). They combine educational backgrounds in music performance from the Eastman School of Music, DePaul University, Lawrence University, Luther College, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music with many years of performing experience both locally and abroad.

Now in their fifth year, the Veldor continues to entertain audiences with its dynamic performances of standard and non-traditional repertoire alike.

For additional information, visit

Veldor Woodwind Quintet


Then on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m., at the Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 110 North Whitney Way, the early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below) is performing a program titled “Toss The Pot: Songs About Money, or the Lack Thereof.”

Eliza's Toyes 2012 2

Writes founder singer and conductor Jerry Hui (below): “Through songs from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque period, we sing about the age-old problem of money, people’s desire for it, as well as things that are even more precious. There’ll be a “sermon of money” from “Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”; selection from Palestrina’s “Canticum Canticorum”; a song by Orlandi di Lassus about hungry musicians stealing food; chansons by Josquin des Prez, Sermisy and Le Jeune; and many more.”

Tickets are $15.

Jerry Hui



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Classical music: A two-day FREE and PUBLIC mini-festival at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this Friday and Saturday will explore the electronically-enhanced Disklavier and music and videos that have been written for it.

March 5, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

University schools of music are often accused being too tradition-bound.

But that is less the case at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

New music often gets performed there, thanks to a couple of well-know faculty composers (Stephen Dembski and Laura Schwendinger) and the UW Contemporary Chamber Music Ensemble as well as many faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students who focus on, study and perform new music.

And now there is also a push to study and increase awareness of new instruments.

In this case, the object of study is the Disklavier.

Disklavier Player

Piano professor Todd Welbourne, who is now the director of graduate studies at the UW School of Music, has always been interested in modern and contemporary music and in interactive media, including an installation he did to mark the bicentennial of Franz Liszt. To read about that event, use this link:

Now Welbourne has arranged a two-day Disklavier festival that will take place this Friday and Saturday afternoon and night. All events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Welbourne (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) recently spoke via email to The Ear about upcoming festival:

Todd Welbourne by Katrin Talbot

What is a Disklavier and what advantages does it have? Why focus on it rather than the traditional piano?

A “Disklavier” is normal acoustic piano (grand or upright) that has a sensory system added to capture the movements of the hammers as they strike the strings. The system does not affect or interfere with the operation or sound of the piano.

Disklavier grand

The movements are recorded and the information can then be used to reverse the process and cause the piano to play back exactly what was previously recorded much the way a “player piano” records and replays by means of a piano roll.

Instead of a roll of paper, though, the information is recorded in a computer language called MIDI.  Technically, then, a Disklavier is a “MIDI-piano.” The Disklavier, made by Yahama, is simply a brand name that has become a “proprietary eponym” basically through market domination.

The MIDI information can be used not only to reproduce sound but, in conjunction with a computer and additional software, can also be used to trigger events outside the instrument. These include images on a screen, and other sounds for example from a separate synthesizer or computer-generated sounds.

What is Disklavier Fest and why is it being held at the UW-Madison School of Music? Will it become an annual tradition here?

It’s part of our annual Guest Artist Series, which is always a good opportunity to bring in artists that are doing new and interesting things. But it is definitely a one-time event.

Who are the guest artists and why were they chosen? 

The guests are Daniel Koppelman (below top) from Furman University in South Carolina, and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski (below bottom) from Stanford University.

I had met them at various New Music Conferences around the country and liked their work and wanted them to share their work with our students, faculty and interested community members.


Jaroslaw Kapuscinski

What events or programs will take place, and what music will be played?

There are two concerts and two “info-sessions”: on Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9.  Info-sessions are at 3 p.m. in Room 2411 of the Mosse Humanities Building at 455 North Park Street in Madison; and concerts are both at 8 p.m. in Morphy Hall.

Friday night’s program by Koppelman is all sound and includes: “Gestural” (2012) by Christopher Dobrian (b. 1959); “Nocturne Fragments” by Benjamin Broening (b. 1963) (Mercurial; Flexible, mysterious, resonant; Gentle, tolling); “A Case of You” (1970) by Joni Mitchell (below, b. 1943); Sonatina (1941) by Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997) (Presto, Moderato, Allegro molto; INTERMISSION; “digitalisman’ by Daniel Koppelman (b. 1957); “Chips of Chiseled Clouds” (2013) by D. Koppelman; and “Upon Reflection” (2012) by C. Dobrian.

Joni Mitchell 1

Saturday night’s program is all multi-media and employs visual elements.

It will include: “Mondrian Variations” – video [10 min.] — Inspired by musical variation form, the video transforms, deconstructs and reconstructs five  paintings by the 20th century Dutch artist Piet Mondrian in three movements: Moderato, Lento and Boogie-Woogie (Below is Mondrian’s famous painting “Broadway Boogie-Woogie”); “Oli’s Dream” (in collaboration with Camille Norton) [7 minutes.] …a dream in which a piano becomes a typewriter and in which a typewriter becomes a piano. “Oli’s Dream” is therefore an experiment in synesthesia, an attempt to fuse the temporal modes of music with the spatial and temporal domains of words.; “Juicy” (in collaboration with John Edmark) [10 minutes] — a six-movement suite, which fuses images of fruits with live piano music.

Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian

Also included is “Where is Chopin?” [31 minutes], …a performance/installation, in which an original composition based on Frederic Chopin‘s 24 Preludes (Op. 28) is played on the Disklavier piano and controls a multi-channel video projection showing rapt listeners. The images are a search for traces of Chopin’s music in minds and faces of people from around the world.

To carry out this project, Kapuscinski performed a series of personal interviews with over 150 volunteers in selected cities in countries where Chopin (below) is hugely popular but where he personally never set foot (Tokyo, San Francisco, Wellington, Sydney, Seoul, Beijing, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Mexico City).


During these interviews Kapuscinski performed Chopin’s preludes and discussed them with the listeners while camera operators and photographers documented the emotional reactions.

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