By Jacob Stockinger
Conductor Carl St. Clair (below) returns for a third visit as guest conductor with the MSO to lead a pair of early 19th-century works with 112 musicians performing the largest of Richard Strauss’s symphonic tone poems. (MSO music director and conductor John DeMain is conducting a production of Puccini’s opera “Turandot” in Virginia.)
The program begins with the Egmont Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven, followed by the MSO’s premiere performance of the Trumpet Concerto by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, featuring Helseth. The concert ends with a nod to the awesome splendor of the Bavarian Alps, “An Alpine Symphony,” by Richard Strauss.
The concerts are this weekend on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, 201 State Street. See below for ticket information.
Beethoven (below top) composed his Egmont Overture in 1810. Both Beethoven himself, and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (below bottom) upheld the ideals of human dignity and freedom in their works.
Their personal relationship stemmed from Beethoven’s incidental music for a new production of Goethe’s play Egmont in 1810. This play about a nobleman’s betrayal by the Spanish monarchy, is beautifully paired with Beethoven’s music. As Goethe called it, Egmont Overture is a “Symphony of Victory.” (You can hear the dramatic “Egmont” Overture, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
Another friend of Beethoven’s, was Johann Nepomuk Hummel (below). Even though they were rivals, their respect for each other’s talent kept the relationship afloat.
Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto is a frisky fanfare with “playful dancelike” episodes laced throughout. This is the first time Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto will be performed by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Richard Strauss (below top) composed his Eine Alpensinfonie (“An Alpine Symphony”) from 1911-15. The final score used materials from some of his unfinished works, including an Artist’s Tragedy and The Alps.
Though there are many influences for this piece, the main is Strauss’s love for the Bavarian Alps. In his diary he wrote: “I shall call my alpine symphony: Der Antichrist, since it represents: moral purification through one’s own strength, liberation through work, worship of eternal, magnificent nature.” Antichrist is a reference to an essay by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (below bottom), and though the title was dropped for its publication, the work still carries many of Nietzsche’s ideals.
One hour before each performance, Michael Allsen (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), the author of MSO program notes and an MSO trombonist as well as a UW-Whitewater Professor of Music, will lead a 30-minute Prelude Discussion in Overture Hall to enhance concertgoers’ understanding and listening experience.
For more background on the music, please visit the Program Notes at: http://www.allsenmusic.com/NOTES/1617/6.Mar17.html.
Single Tickets are $16 to $87 each, available at madisonsymphony.org/helseth and through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street or call the Box Office at (608) 258-4141.
Groups of 15 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information, visit madisonsymphony.org/groups.
Club 201, MSO’s organization for young professionals, has continued to fulfill its mission for the past 11 years as the premiere organization promoting classical music and networking opportunities to the young professionals’ community in Madison. Tickets are $35 each and include world-class seating in Overture Hall, an exclusive after-party to be held in the Promenade Lounge, one drink ticket and a cash bar.
The conductor as well as musicians from the symphony may also be in attendance to mingle with Madison’s young professionals during the after-party.
The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, March 9, pending availability. Tickets can be purchased for this event, as well as the other events throughout the 2016-17 season by visiting the Club 201 page on the MSO’s website at http://www.madisonsymphony.org/club201.
Student rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two $12 or $15 tickets. More information is at: madisonsymphony.org/studentrush. Students can receive 20% savings on seats in select areas of the hall on advance ticket purchases.
Seniors age 62 and up receive 20% savings on advance and day-of-concert ticket purchases in select areas of the hall.
Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.
Major funding for the March concerts is provided by: The Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club, An Anonymous Friend, and Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, Inc. Additional funding is provided by: Audrey Dybdahl, Family and Friends, in loving memory of Philip G. Dybdahl, John A. Johnson Foundation, a component fund of the Madison Community Foundation, Madison Veterinary Specialists, Gary and Lynn Mecklenburg, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
By Jacob Stockinger
The critically acclaimed, Madison-based Ancora String Quartet welcomes its new first violinist Wes Luke – who replaces Leanne Kelso League — for the launch of the string quartet’s 16th season.
The concert is this coming Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive.
The program includes the String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven; “The Bullfighter’s Prayer” by the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina; and the String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11, by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky.
Tickets at the door are $15 for general admission; $12 for seniors and students; and $6 for children under 12.
Members of the Ancora (above from left) are: first violinist Wes Luke — who filled in for the past two seasons — plays with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the LaCrosse Symphony Orchestra, the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and the Mosaic Chamber Players; second violinist Robin Ryan, who plays with the Madison Symphony Orchestra; violist Marika Fischer Hoyt (she performs on both modern and early instruments) who plays with the Madison Bach Musicians, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble; and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and frequently performs chamber music.
According to program notes: “Beethoven’s charming and lyrical early quartet shows him bridging the divide between the Classical and Romantic eras; Turina’s dramatic tone poem fuses French Impressionism with musical elements from his native Seville; and Tchaikovsky’s first quartet includes the poignant Andante Cantabile, which moved writer Leo Tolstoy to tears. (You can hear it in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
A champagne reception will close the evening.
ALERT 1: This afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall at the Overture Center, is your last chance to hear pianist Garrick Ohlsson and the Madison Symphony Orchestra under conductor John DeMain in a program of the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Johannes Brahms; the tone poem “Don Juan” by Richard Strauss; and the Symphony No. 1 by Steven Stucky. Critics have loved the performances.
Here is a link to a review by John W. Barker for Isthmus:
Here is a link to a review by Lindsay Christians for The Capital Times:
ALERT 2: UW-Madison clarinetist Wesley Warnhoff will perform a FREE recital, with renowned UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor, on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. They perform a sonata by Johannes Brahms and a rhapsody by Claude Debussy among others. Here is a link to more information and the compete program:
By Jacob Stockinger
In recent years, since 1942, there have been only three. There was Luciano Pavarotti and Juan Diego Florez, who astonished the audience by repeating the nine high C’s in Gaetano Donizetti’s “La Fille du regiment” (The Daughter of the Regiment).
But just recently there was a third.
His name is Mexican tenor Javier Camarena (below in a photo by Marty Sohl for The Met). He was singing in Don Pasquale,” also by Donizetti, one of the masters of the show-offy and impressively embellished “bel canto” or “beautiful singing” style.
Camarena wowed the crowd with a high D-flat, a half-step higher than the high C that his predecessors sang.
Here is a story, with an interview, on NPR or National Public Radio, that gets you excited about the man and the event just by reading about them:
And here in a YouTube video is the aria he sang — and then sang again:
By Jacob Stockinger
The Madison Symphony Orchestra has just announced its next season for 2015-16. It is the 90th season for the MSO, and marks the 22nd season of music director and conductor John DeMain’s tenure.
Here is the press release that The Ear received.
More news and comments from music director and conductor John DeMain, who will conduct seven of the eight concerts, will follow.
Concerts are in Overture Hall on Fridays at 7:30 p.m; Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.
Single tickets for the Season 2015-16 will range from $16 to $85. (They are currently $16 to $84.)
Subscriptions to five or more concerts in Season 2015-16 are on sale now at www. madisonsymphony.org or by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. New subscribers can receive up to 50 percent off.
Madison Symphony Orchestra Announces 2015-2016 Season
The incomparable pianist Emanuel Ax and the soul-stirring orchestral/choral music of “Carmina Burana” are just two of the exciting highlights of John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad) and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) 2015-2016 Season.
MSO Music Director DeMain said, “We want audiences to be moved with great classical music as we excite their imaginations, lift their spirits, and stir their emotions.”
Beginning with a September program that focuses on the highly talented musicians in the orchestra, DeMain will lead the audience through an exhilarating variety of themes and cultures throughout the season. France and Scotland are just two of the sound worlds the MSO will explore, while monumental works central to the repertoire, such as Orff’s Carmina Burana and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, will anchor the year.
A world-class roster of guest artists will also join the season’s performances, including pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist James Ehnes, cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio, violinist Alina Ibragimova, and pianist Garrick Ohlsson.
The MSO’s own Principal Clarinet Joseph Morris will play a pivotal role in the September concert also.
The immeasurable talent set to perform in Overture Hall ensures that the coming season is not to be missed!
(* below denote first-time performances for the MSO under Conductor John DeMain.)
Sept. 25, 26, 27, 2015: Tchaikovsky’s Fourth. John DeMain, Conductor. Joseph Morris, Clarinet (below)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3
AARON COPLAND Clarinet Concerto*
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 4
Oct. 16, 17, 18, 2015: Scottish Fantasy
John DeMain, Conductor, James Ehnes, Violin (below)
JOSEPH HAYDN Symphony No. 85 (La Reine)*
MAX BRUCH Scottish Fantasy*
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances
Nov. 20, 21, 22, 2015: French Fantastique. John DeMain, Conductor. Sara Sant’Ambrogio, Cello (below bottom)
MAURICE RAVEL Valses Nobles et Sentimentales*
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto No.1*
HECTOR BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique
Dec. 4, 5, 6, 2015. A Madison Symphony Christmas. John DeMain (below top), Conductor. Emily Fons, Mezzo-soprano. David Govertsen, Bass-Baritone. Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director. Madison Youth Choirs (below middle), Michael Ross, Artistic Director. Mt. Zion Gospel Choir (below bottom), Tamera and Leotha Stanley, Directors.
John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra don their Santa hats for this signature Christmas celebration. This concert is filled with traditions, from caroling in the lobby with the Madison Symphony Chorus to vocal performances by hundreds of members of Madison’s musical community. Christmas classics are interwoven with enchanting new holiday music. The culminating sing-along is Madison’s unofficial start of the holiday season!
Feb. 12, 13, 14, 2016: Music, the food of love…
Daniel Hege, Guest Conductor (below top). Alina Ibragimova, Violin (below bottom)
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy Overture
MAURICE RAVEL “Daphnis and Chloe” Suite No. 2
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture tells the story of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers through thunderous passages portraying the conflict between the Montagues and the Capulets and a rapturous love theme.
Mar. 11, 12, 13, 2016. John DeMain, Conductor. Emanuel Ax (below top), Piano. Alisa Jordheim, Soprano (below bottom)
DMITRY KABALEVSKY Colas Breugnon Overture*
CÉSAR FRANCK Symphonic Variations*
RICHARD STRAUSS Burleske
GUSTAV MAHLER Symphony No. 4
Apr. 1, 2, 3, 2016. John DeMain, Conductor. Garrick Ohlsson, Piano (below)
STEVEN STUCKY Symphony No. 1*
RICHARD STRAUSS Don Juan
JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 1
Apr. 29, 30, May 1, 2016. John DeMain, Conductor. Jeni Houser, Soprano. Thomas Leighton, Tenor. Keith Phares, Baritone. Madison Symphony Chorus (below), Beverly Taylor, Director.
OTTORINO RESPIGHI Pines of Rome
CARL ORFF Carmina Burana
Respighi’s moving tone poem Pines of Rome illustrates four distinct scenes through music, and features one of the most stunningly beautiful melodies of the classical repertoire.
The Madison Symphony Orchestra starts its 90th season with the 2015-16 concerts. The MSO engages audiences of all ages and backgrounds in live classical music through a full season of concerts with established and emerging soloists of international renown, an organ series that includes free concerts, and widely respected education and community engagement programs. Find more information at www.madisonsymphony.org.
ALERT: Blog friend Rich Samuels writes: “At 7:22 a.m. on this Thursday morning, my classical music show “Anything Goes” that is broadcast weekly from 5 to 8 a.m. on WORT-FM 89.9 will be airing an interview with Norwegian trumpet soloist Tine Thing Helseth, who will be in Madison for concerts this weekend with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and a master class at the UW-Madison School of Music (see more below). Listeners can hear a sampling of her solo work as well as a performance by tenThing, her all-female Norwegian brass ensemble. Tune in to 89.9 FM.
By Jacob Stockinger
As he tells the story, Madison Symphony Orchestra’s longtime music director and conductor John DeMain was riding in his car and listening to Sirius XM radio. He heard a new recording by a terrific trumpet player and he was so impressed that he determined then and there that he would try to book her for a Madison concert — especially since most soloists he books are pianists, string players or singers.
Her name in Tine Thing Helseth (below), and DeMain succeeded. He booked her for a debut that will take place in Madison this weekend.
Helseth is young, energetic and articulate. She is also generous with her time and talent. In fact she will give master class for trumpet and brass players with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras and a FREE public master class at the UW-Madison School of Music at 1:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on this Thursday, Feb. 13.
Then come her MSO concerts, which she will perform under the baton of DeMain in Overture Hall on Friday night at 7:30 pm.; Saturday night at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Rounding out the program is Jean Sibelius’ powerful and popular tone poem “Finlandia”; the symphonic suite from John Adams’ opera about physicist Edward Teller and the A-Bomb called “Dr. Atomic”; and the luscious late Romantic suite from Richard Strauss’ opera “Der Rosenkavalier,” a perfect offering for Valentine’s Day weekend.
A prelude discussion by musicologist Susan Cook, the new director of the University of Wisconsin School of Music, will take place in Overture Hall one hour before each curtain time.
Tickets are $8.25-$82.50 with rush tickets and discounts available. They can be purchased at the Overture Center box office, 211 State St., or by calling (608) 258-4141 or by visiting:
Here is a link to the MSO’s program notes, written superbly as always by trombonist J. Michael Allsen who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater:
Helseth recently granted an email interview to The Ear:
Can you briefly introduce yourself, and tell us when and how you started studying music? How did you get into brass and what attracted you to brass and specifically the trumpet?
I started to play the trumpet when I was seven years old, basically because my mother plays the trumpet. I had played piano a couple of years already, but from the first moment the trumpet felt like my best friend — and we’ve stayed that way ever since! My mum had a good friend who played in the Norwegian Opera Orchestra, and she became my first teacher. I also played in my school band.
Do you find that being a woman plays any role, positive or negative, in your career or reception as a world-class trumpet player?
The most important thing as a performer will always be if you have something to say. Nothing else really matters.
But, that being said, I do feel comfortable with the fact that for some it might be a bit rare to see a woman having my profession. I feel a responsibility to show all the young kids out there that you can pick up whatever instrument you feel like, and make it your voice. Stereotypes can be boring. Just listen to your inner voice and follow your heart.
(Here is a link to a more extensive answer she gave about the issue of gender and sex roles in another interview:
What would you like to tell the audience about the Trumpet Concerto by Haydn (below)?
Franz Joseph Haydn’s trumpet concerto is basically the most famous concerto for my instrument. This year marks my very own 10-year anniversary for the first time I played it with a professional orchestra. I was 16 and it was with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway.
This piece will forever have a truly special place in my heart. I play it several times a year, but I never get tired of it. There are always new things to discover, new colors and voices in the orchestra. It’s a true chamber music work, and I absolutely love performing it. (And she performs it very well. You can hear the final movement at the bottom in a YouTube video that has drawn more than 3.3 million hits.)
What would you like the audience to know about the Trumpet Concerto by Alexander Arutiunian (below)?
It’s very romantic in style, with clear folk music elements and the harmonics reveals that it’s written in the middle of the 20th century. It reminds me a bit of Khachaturian. It has beautifully melodic material and a really catchy fast theme.
These concerts mark your debut in Madison, perhaps even Wisconsin and the Midwest? Is there anything special you want to say about the city, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, conductor John DeMain or the rest of the program (Jean Sibelius, John Adams and Richard Strauss)?
I am just very much looking forward to coming to Madison and working with the orchestra and Maestro DeMain, and to meeting the audience. As a performer I live for the communication with the musicians I work with and with the audience. It’s always exciting to come to new places and communicate with music.