The Well-Tempered Ear

Here is a collaborative obituary for music critic, radio host, performer and gay pioneer Jess Anderson, who died in January at 85

March 7, 2021
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By Jacob Stockinger

In late January of this year, Jess Anderson (below) — a longtime friend, devoted musician and respected music critic – died at 85.

The Ear promised then that when more was known or written, it would be posted on this blog.

That time has come.

Jess was a polymath, a Renaissance Man, as the comments below attest to time and again.

For the past several years, he suffered from advancing dementia and moved from his home of 56 years to an assisted living facility. He had contracted COVID-19, but died from a severe fall from which he never regained consciousness.

Jess did not write his own obituary and he had no family member to do it. So a close friend – Ed Wegert (below) – invited several of the people who knew Jess and worked with him, to co-author a collaborative obituary. We are all grateful to Ed for the effort the obituary took and for his caring for Jess in his final years.

In addition, the obituary has some wonderful, not-to-be-overlooked photos of Jess young and old, at home, with friends, sitting at the piano and at his custom-built harpsichord.

It appears in the March issue of Our Lives, a free statewide LGBTQ magazine that is distributed through grocery stores and other retail outlets as well as free subscriptions. Here is a link to the magazine’s home webpage for details about it: https://ourliveswisconsin.com.

That Jess was an exceptional and multi-talented person is obvious even from the distinguished names of the accomplished people who contributed to the obituary:

They include:

Chester Biscardi (below), who is an acclaimed prize-winning composer, UW-Madison graduate, composer and teacher of composition at Sarah Lawrence College.

John Harbison (below), the MacArthur “genius grant” recipient and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who teaches at MIT and co-directs the nearby Token Creek Chamber Music Festival in the summer.

Rose Mary Harbison (below), who attended the UW-Madison with Jess and became a professional performing and teaching violinist who co-directs the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.

Steve Miller (below), a close friend who became a bookmaker and is now a professor at the University of Alabama.

The Ear, who knew Jess over many decades, was also invited to contribute.

Here is a link to the joint obituary in Our Lives magazine, a free LGBTQ periodical that you can find in local grocery store and other retail outlets: https://ourliveswisconsin.com/article/remembering-jess-anderson/?fbclid=IwAR027dzv2YqRUNlYF1cF6JyXnEcQxAwcprPYbtBQCs3rYt0Nu847W_xbjpk

Feel free to leave your own thoughts about and memories of Jess in the comment section.

It also seems a fitting tribute to play the final chorus from The St. John Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach. You can hear it in the YouTube video below. It is, if memory serves me well, the same piece of sublime music that Jess played when he signed off from hosting his Sunday morning early music show for many years on WORT-FM 89.9.

 


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Classical music: A FREE recital by the Del Sol string quartet on Monday night honors pioneering composer Ben Johnston

May 20, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has been asked to post the following announcement:

The San Francisco-based ensemble the Del Sol Quartet will give a FREE public recital on Monday night, May 21, in Madison in honor of pioneer composer, teacher and mentor Ben Johnston (below).

For more information about the composer, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Johnston_(composer)

The recital is on the occasion of Johnston’s upcoming induction into the American Academy of Arts and Lettershttps://artsandletters.org/pressrelease/2018-newly-elected-members/

This FREE performance will be held in the new Atrium Auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, on Monday night at 7 p.m.

The program will feature Johnston’s two most popular string quartets: the Fourth Quartet (based on the beloved theme “Amazing Grace”); and the Tenth Quartet (also based on a popular folk melody). In addition there will be works by some of Johnston’s contemporaries. (You can hear the Fourth Quartet of Ben Johnston in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Johnston, 92, has made his home in the Madison area for the past 11 years, where he continues to advance the field of microtonal music composition and performance, most notably initiated in the U.S. by music legend Harry Partch, with whom Johnston studied for several years. Partch’s seminal work, “Genesis of Music,” was first published in Madison by the University of Wisconsin Press in 1949.

Winner of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, Johnston spent most of his career at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He had a significant role in some of the Contemporary Arts Festivals, which were annual events in the 1960s. His service, as composition teacher and mentor there, led to an honorary doctorate from that institution. He is also the author of “Maximum Clarity,” published by the University of Illinois Press.

Hailed by New York Times critic Mark Swed as “probably [America‘s] most subversive composer …able to make both radical thinking and avant-garde techniques sound invariably gracious,”Johnston’s diligent dedication recently resulted in the release of the third CD by the Milwaukee-based Kepler Quartet https://www.keplerquartet.com/ on the New World Music label https://www.newworldmusic.com/

The three CD series encompasses all of Johnston’s string quartets and took 14 years of painstaking collaboration to bring to fruition, receiving high acclaim internationally. Johnston has been well-known in experimental music circles since his second quartet came out on Nonesuch Records in 1969.

Hailed by Gramophone as “masters of all musical things they survey” and two-time winner of the top Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the Del Sol String Quartet shares living music with an ever-growing community of adventurous listeners.

Del Sol (below) was founded in 1992 at Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada and is recognized as a “vigorous champion of living composers,” focusing on music that reflects the cultural diversity of the community, advocating works by both world-renowned and emerging composers, and collaborating across disciplines. Del Sol has commissioned and premiered over 100 works by a diverse range of composers.

The Quartet has performed on prominent concert series nationwide, including the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, Symphony Space, Cabrillo Festival, Other Minds Festival, and Santa Fe Opera.

The quartet conducts an active educational program in the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to regular residencies at universities and music schools across the country.”

For more information, go to: http://delsolquartet.com/


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Classical music: Sergei Pavlov is named the new artistic director and conductor of the Festival Choir of Madison as well as the new Director of Choral Activities at Edgewood College.

August 28, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following news release:

The Festival Choir of Madison is delighted to announce the appointment of Sergei Pavlov (below) as its new artistic director beginning with the 2015-16 season.

Pavlov will also join the faculty of Edgewood College this fall as their new Director of Choral Activities after serving as adjunct choral director during the 2014-15 school year. He succeeds Albert Pinsonneault, who has taken a position with Northwestern University in Illinois.

Sergei Pavlov

Pavlov’s past professional experience includes conducting positions, among others, with the opera program at the University of Illinois in Urbana; Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina; the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris; the Classic FM Radio Symphony and Choir in Sofia, Bulgaria; National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado.; and the Teatro Nacional Sucre and Coro Mixto Ciudad de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. (In a YouTube video at the bottom you can hear Sergei Pavlov discussing in fluent Spanish Charles Gounod’s opera “Faust” when it was produced in Quito, Ecuador.)

A native of Sofia, Bulgaria, Sergei Pavlov moved to the United States in 2004 and completed a Master of Music in 2007 and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting in 2011 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

About his new position with the Festival Choir of Madison (below), Pavlov says: “I am excited to become part of a community with wonderful musical and choral traditions. Madison is a vibrant, modern city with great culture, and the Festival Choir has a unique place in the cultural scene of Wisconsin’s capital.”

festivalchoir

The Festival Choir of Madison is a mixed-voice choir of singers from all walks of life. Established in 1973, the choir has commissioned works from outstanding living composers while also performing many favorites of the choral repertoire.

Rehearsals are held Monday evenings from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave. For information about the Festival Choir and about joining the choir for the 2015-16 season, please see the choir’s website at http://festivalchoirmadison.org/


Classical music: Here is an update with more details about the memorial celebration for the late UW-Madison pianist Howard Karp on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m.

August 15, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Members of the Karp family have asked The Ear to fill you in about some more details concerning the memorial celebration for the late Howard Karp (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

Howard Karp ca. 2000 by Katrin Talbot

As you may recall, Howard Karp, who taught for decades at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Kentucky, died unexpectedly this summer on June 30. He was 84. Here is a link to an announcement that was posted on this blog about Karp’s death.

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/classical-music-pianist-howard-karp-who-taught-at-the-university-of-wisconsin-madison-has-died-at-84/

Howard Karp's hands by Katrin Talbot

A FREE memorial celebration of his life and career is planned for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. in Mills Hall.

And here is a link to a previous post, with link to other sources, about the reception:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/classical-music-memorial-for-the-late-university-of-wisconsin-madison-pianist-howard-karp-is-set-for-sunday-aug-31-at-3-p-m-in-mills-hall-here-is-a-link-to-an-obituary-in-the-wisconsin-state-jou/

Although some official announcements and this blog have said the memorial will run from 3 to 6 p.m., The Ear has been told that the celebration will probably last from 3 p.m. to about 5 p.m. with a reception to follow.

That reception will be held either in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music courtyard, if the weather permits, or in the lounge outside Mills Hall.

The master of ceremonies for the event will be Bill Lutes (below right, with his wife, UW-Madison pianist Martha Fischer. Lutes studied with Howard Karp and still teaches piano in Madison. You may also recall his name from his days at Wisconsin Public Radio and as a coach with the University Opera.

martha fischer and bill lutes

Most of the music will be recordings made by Howard Karp himself, including a new 6-CD set of live performances from Albany Records. (On a CD from the UW-Madison School of Music, at the bottom in SoundCloud, you can hear Howard Karp playing the well-known “Heroic” Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53  by Frederic Chopin.)

There will also be some live performances.

Cellist son Parry Karp will be joined by his violinist-pianist brother Christopher Karp, who is a medical doctor specializing in infectious diseases and who works with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  to perform “Kol Nidre” by Max Bruch.

Then the Karp Family, which usually gave a FREE Labor Day concert for more than 30 years, will perform the slow movement from the Piano Quartet by Robert Schumann. The players will be violinist son Christopher Karp, pianist wife Frances Karp, cellist Parry Karp and his violist wife Katrin Talbot.

Karp Family in color

Acclaimed keyboard artist Malcolm Bilson (below), who has retired from teaching at Cornell University is slated to play the piano – rather than his specialty, which is the early music fortepiano — in music by Franz Schubert.

Malcom Bilson 2

As more details develop, they will get posted here.

Here is Howard Karp’s stirring and daring reading of Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise.

https://soundcloud.com/uw-madisonsom

Howard Karp ca. 1955


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