By Jacob Stockinger
Here is the official announcement of the 2017-18 season by the Madison Symphony Orchestra:
The 2017-18 season of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO, below, in a photo by Greg Anderson) presents nine programs that invite audiences to “listen with all your heart” and “feel the emotion, power and majesty” of great classical music.
Subscriptions are available now, and single tickets for all concerts go on sale to the public Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.
For more information about tickets and ticket prices plus discounts for new subscribers and renewing subscribers, go to:
MSO music director John DeMain, who will be marking his 24th season with the MSO, has created an exciting season that features favorites combined with firsts.
Says DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad): “I must point out two monumental firsts: the MSO debut of the great violinist Gil Shaham, renowned and sought after the world over, whose appearance Madison has waited for for many years; and the Madison premiere of the Glagolitic Mass by Czech composer Leos Janacek, a gargantuan work for chorus and orchestra with a prominent role for our “Colossal Klais,” the Overture Concert Organ.”
Performances are in Overture Hall of the Overture Center at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays; 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.
The 2017-2018 subscription series concerts begin on Sept. 15, 16 and 17 with “Orchestral Brilliance”—proudly presenting the Madison Symphony Orchestra performing the Johann Sebastian Bach/Leopold Stokowski version of the organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor; Felix Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony and Hector Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy” with MSO principal viola Christopher Dozoryst (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) as soloist. (You can hear Leopold Stokowski conduct his own transcription of the work by Bach, which was used in Walt Disney’s film “Fantasia,” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)
“From the New World” on Oct. 20, 21 and 22 features the return of beloved pianist Olga Kern (below), a gold medalist in the Van Cliburn competition, performing Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, and the MSO performing Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” and Maurice Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.
On Nov. 17, 18, and 19 “Troubadour: Two Faces of the Classical Guitar” features sensational guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin (below) playing two works, one by American composer Chris Brubeck, and the other by the Spaniard Joaquin Rodrigo, with the MSO performing two Suites—Manuel DeFalla’s The Three-Cornered Hat and Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid.
The cherished kickoff to the holiday season, “A Madison Symphony Christmas,” returns on the first weekend in December — the 1, 2, and 3. Guest artists Emily Pogorelc, soprano, and Eric Barry, tenor, join John DeMain, the MSO, the Madison Symphony Chorus (below), Madison Youth Choirs and Mount Zion Gospel Choir on stage for the family-friendly celebration.
The MSO season subscription continues in 2018 with the long awaited appearance of violinist Gil Shaham (below) with the MSO—“Gil Shaham Plays Tchaikovsky” on Jan. 19, 20 and 21. This program features works by three of the most popular Russian composers of all time— Sergei Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges Suite, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 and Peter Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.
“Richly Romantic” concerts take place on Feb. 16, 17 and 18 when one of MSO’s favorite cellists, Alban Gerhardt (below), returns performing the lyrical William Walton’s Cello Concerto, and the MSO presents Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide.
Spring arrives April 13, 14, and 15 with “String Fever” featuring Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Spring, Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich (below) performing the Antonin Dvorak’s Violin Concerto.
The season finale, “Mass Appeal,” takes place on May 4, 5 and 6. Star of NPR’s From the Top, pianist Christopher O’Riley (below), will open the program with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22. The MSO premiere of the monumental Glagolitic Mass by Czech composer Leos Janacek features the Overture Concert Organ and the Madison Symphony Chorus, along with soloists Rebecca Wilson, soprano, Julie Miller, mezzo-Soprano, Roger Honeywell, tenor, and Benjamin Sieverding, bass.
The MSO’s 17-18 season includes the popular multimedia production of Beyond the Score®, “Edward Elgar: Enigma Variations,” featuring live actors and visuals in the first half, with the entire work performed in the second half. Joining the orchestra are American Players Theatre actors James Ridge (below), Colleen Madden and Brian Mani, along with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Norman Gilliland of Wisconsin Public Radio as the Narrator. This single performance takes place on Sunday, March 18, 2018*.
NOTE: *Advance tickets for Beyond the Score® are available only to MSO 17-18 season subscribers prior to single tickets going on sale to the general public on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Beyond the Score® is a production of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Gerard McBurney, Creative Director for Beyond the Beyond the Score®
ABOUT THE MADISON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 92nd season in 2017-2018 and its 24th season under the leadership of music director John DeMain.
The MSO has grown to be one of America’s leading regional orchestras, providing Madison and south central Wisconsin with cultural and educational opportunities to interact with great masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world.
Find more information at madisonsymphony.org
By Jacob Stockinger
It’s Valentine’s Day.
If you want to celebrate, there is always chocolate or roses or champagne or a special dinner.
But there is music too.
Many composers come to mind: Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Antonin Dvorak, Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, Gabriel Faure, Giacomo Puccini, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev, and Sergei Rachmaninoff to name a few.
But The Ear thinks one of the most beautiful pieces is a short one, a miniature if you will.
It is the Romance in F-sharp Major, Op. 28, No. 2, by the Romantic German composer Robert Schumann (below with his wife Clara Wieck Schumann). Nobody wrote music about love, music filled with love and yearning, better than Schumann.
Not only does the piece sound intimate.
It IS intimate — with the two thumbs playing the melody a third apart much of the time. It is as if the two thumbs, left and right, are the two lovers.
Little wonder that the composer asked his virtuoso pianist-composer wife Clara to play it for him as he lay dying.
And to top it off, it is not all that difficult to play, so you could learn it and play it for your Valentine.
Here it is, performed in a YouTube video by the late Van Cliburn:
But what about you?
As radio stations like to say ”The Request Line is open!
What piece of classical music – big or small, old or new, hard or easy — would you play or dedicate to your Valentine?
Duets of all kinds seem especially appropriate. But so do songs and symphonies, operas and oratorios, and all kinds of chamber music.
So tell us about your musical gift for Valentine’s Day.
Leave a message in the COMMENT section, with a short explanation and dedicatory comment and perhaps with a YouTube link if possible — the forward it to your Valentine.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
Two concerts at the UW-Madison this week are especially noteworthy:
A winner of the bronze medal at the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Taylor (below, in a photo by Michael R. Anderson) concertizes around the world to rave reviews, especially for his performances of modern or contemporary music.
This Friday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, Taylor will perform a more tradition recital, but with a still noteworthy program made up of Baroque and Romantic music.
He is known as an interpreter of that music too since he has performed all 32 piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Franz Liszt transcriptions of the nine symphonies by Beethoven. (You can hear Taylor play the opening of the Famous Fifth Symphony at a festival in Russia in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
Plus, Taylor is known for playing the “Goldberg” Variations, by Johann Sebastian Bach, on a special double keyboard piano that he has tinkered with and refined or improved upon, and which is now being built.
In the upcoming recital Taylor will perform the French Suite No. 1 in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach; the rarely played Piano Sonata No. 1 by Johannes Brahms; and the even more rarely played compete Twelve Etudes, Op. 8, of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. (The etudes include the last one in D-sharp minor that was a favorite of pianist Vladimir Horowitz.)
Tickets are $15. Students get admitted free.
For more information, visit:
Then on Saturday night, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the critically acclaimed Wisconsin Brass Quintet will perform a FREE concert of music by a variety of older composers and works as well as living composers and new music.
Members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (WBQ, below, in a photography by Michael R. Anderson) are, from left: Mark Hetzler, trombone; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Tom Curry, tuba; John Aley, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn.
The program is: Sonatine by Eugène Bozza (1905-1981); Allegretto Pizzicato by Béla Bartók (1881-1945); Madrigaux Slaves by Ivan Jevtić (1947- ); Morning Music by David Sampson (1951-); Contrapunctus IX from “The Art of Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach (1695-1750); Elegy by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975, arranged by UW-Madison emeritus professor of tuba and euphonium and a nationally recognized composer John Stevens); and Music for Brass Instruments by Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970) with special guest Tom Kelley, bass trombone.
A native of Appleton, Wisconsin, Tom Kelley is a junior at UW-Madison studying trombone performance under Professor Mark Hetzler. At the UW_Madison, Kelley has performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, Blue Note Ensemble, Low Brass Ensemble and a number of chamber groups.
He has also played outside the university in groups such as the Rock River Philharmonic and the Darren Sterud Jazz Orchestra. In the summer of 2015, Kelley attended the Sewanee Summer Music Festival where he won the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition. He enjoys biking, cooking and binge-watching TV and movies.
For general background on the Wisconsin Brass Quintet:
By Jacob Stockinger
The major event in the world of classical music for the past several weeks has been the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition that was held in Moscow and St. Petersburg. (Below is American pianist Van Cliburn, who won the first competition and made history.)
The winners – in the categories of piano, violin, cello and voice — were announced yesterday.
Here they are, along with a link to a way for you to stream the winners’ concerts, under competition head and conductor Valery Gergiev (below), live TONIGHT and Friday and for FREE.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear received the following press release – with a lot of important information and excellent background – that he wants to share. He notes that Moscow is 8 hours ahead of Madison in time difference.
The new relationship between the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and medici.tv will produce 19 days of nonstop free live webcasts from Russia, June 15 to July 3, 2015. These webcasts will present the performances of 120 candidates from around the globe, available to a worldwide audience live from Moscow (piano and violin) and St. Petersburg (cello and voice). Below is a portrait of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The dedicated online platform for these competition webcasts – tch15.medici.tv – went live with scene-setting content this Wednesday, June 10. The eight hosts for the live tch15.medici.tv presentations – in both English and Russian – include Gramophone magazine editor-in-chief and BBC broadcaster James Jolly, longtime Libération critic Eric Dahan, violinist Sascha Maisky, and Radio Orpheus broadcaster Irina Tushintseva, among other European journalists and music personalities.
Five medici.tv Daily Journal video teams will be on hand to create exclusive content from Russia for tch15.medici.tv, which will feature the latest news from the competition and much more – including interviews with the prestigious jurors, many of whom are past winners of the Tchaikovsky Competition, such as Deborah Voigt (below) and Denis Matsuev (with complete jury listing below).
A brand name/hash tag for this year’s events – #TCH15 – will help galvanize the passionate social-media communities that follow this preeminent international classical music event in this 175th anniversary year of Tchaikovsky’s birth. The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and medici.tv also have key partners, including TV Kanal Kultura, The Mariinsky Foundation of America, iTunes, WQXR, euronews, and Ross Telecom, among others to be announced.
The appointment of Valery Gergiev (below) as chairman in 2011 and the presence of exceptional jury members have resulted in the rebirth of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. This event’s unique international influence was underscored by the rocketing ascent of pianist Daniil Trifonov, winner of the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition, a feat reminiscent of Van Cliburn’s dazzling success at the inaugural contest in 1958.
On June 15 at 7 p.m. Moscow time is the live webcast of the Opening Gala concert from Moscow. The complete competition rounds will be presented from June 16 to June 30, with the climactic Award Ceremony on July 1. Winners will then perform at Gala Concerts on July 2 in Moscow and July 3 in St. Petersburg, where a Grand Prix Winner may be declared.
The 120 candidates for the three rounds of this year’s Tchaikovsky Competition – in piano, violin, cello and voice – will be narrowed from 236 young musicians from 37 countries who made it to the preliminary auditions (after 623 initial applications from 45 countries). The list of competitors selected for the preliminary auditions has been published on the official site of the XV Tchaikovsky Competition: http://tchaikovskycompetition.com/en/contestants.
The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will remain available for free on all devices on tch15.medici.tv until the next competition.
Held once every four years, the International Tchaikovsky Competition has helped launch the careers of an all-time who’s who of classical music, including such artists as pianists Van Cliburn (below), Vladimir Ashkenazy, Grigory Sokolov, Mikhail Pletnev, Boris Berezovsky, Nikolai Lugansky, Denis Matsuev and Daniil Trifonov; violinists Viktor Tretiakov, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova and Akiko Suwanai; cellists Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky, David Geringas, Boris Pergamenschikov, Antônio Meneses, Ivan Monighetti and Alexander Kniazev; and singers Deborah Voigt, Paata Burchuladze, Evgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Kazakov and Jong Min Park, among others.
“The International Tchaikovsky Competition is 57 years old – it’s a significant age with a remarkable history of introducing so many exceptional talents to the world – but we live in the Internet era,” says Valery Gergiev, artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre and co-chair of the organizing committee of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition. “Now, both amateurs and professionals of classical music are ready to join us via the Internet, TV broadcasts or any other form of media communication that one might only imagine – this truly international audience wishes to be part of our great musical adventure. We aim to expand this audience, to offer music lovers the world over the chance to become part of the digitally engaged virtual audience of the Tchaikovsky Competition. Our partners from medici.tv share this passion with us.”
Schedule and Jury members of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition
June 15: Opening Concert of the Competition at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
June 16 to June 30: Competition rounds (see details below)
July 1: Awards Ceremony at the Moscow Philharmonic’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
July 2: Winners Concert at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
July 3: Winners Concert at Mariinsky II in St. Petersburg
Round I: June 16-20, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round II: June 21-25, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Jury members: Dmitri Bashkirov, Michel Béroff, Boris Berezovsky, Peter Donohoe, Sergei Dorensky, Barry Douglas, Vladimir Feltsman, Klaus Hellwig, Denis Matsuev, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Alexander Toradze; and Martin T. Son Engström.
Round I: June 17-20, Small Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round II: June 21-25, Small Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of Moscow Philharmonic
Jury members: Salvatore Accardo, Yuri Bashmet, James Ehnes, Maxim Fedotov, Liana Isakadze, Ilya Kaler, Leonidas Kavakos, Boris Kuschnir, Vera Tsu Wei Ling, Mihaela Martin, Vadim Repin, Roman Simovic, Viktor Tretyakov, Maxim Vengerov, Nikolaj Znaider, and Michael Haefliger.
Round I: June 17-20,Small Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Round II: June 21-25, Small Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Round III (Finals): June 28-30, Great Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Jury members: Wolfgang Boettcher, Mario Brunello, Myung-wha Chung, David Geringas, Lynn Harrell, Alexander Kniazev, Mischa Maisky, Ivan Monighetti, Sergei Roldugin, Martti Rousi, Jan Vogler, Jian Wang, and Clive Gillinson.
Round I: June 23-25, Mussorgsky Chamber Hall at Mariinsky II, St. Petersburg
Round II: June 27-28,Mussorgsky Chamber Hall at Mariinsky II, St. Petersburg
Round III (Finals): June 30, Mariinsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg
Jury members: Olga Borodina, Mikhail Kazakov, Dennis O’Neill, Mikhail Petrenko, Thomas Quasthoff, Deborah Voigt, Chen-Ye Yuan, Sarah Billinghurst, John Fisher, Larisa Gergieva, Tobias Richter, and Eva Wagner-Pasquier.
About the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition
June 15 to July 3, 2015 – Moscow (piano, violin), St. Petersburg (cello, voice)
This year’s competition attracted 623 applications from 45 countries: Russia, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. In the qualifying round, the competition jury accepted a total of 236 musicians: 61 pianists, 48 violinists, 48 cellists and 79 vocalists (40 male, 39 female).
In addition, the selection commission may invite applicants directly to Round I who have won First Prize in competitions of the World Federation of Music Competitions, the Alink-Argerich Foundation and the All-Russian Music Competition. For Round I, the XV Competition has accepted two pianists, one violinist, three cellists and two vocalists (one male, one female). After the preliminary auditions, the total number of contestants accepted by the competition will be 30 pianists, 25 violinists, 25 cellists and 40 vocalists (20 male, 20 female).
Of course, the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition welcomes musicians from any country in the world. The contestants in the piano, violin and cello competitions must be between 16 and 32 years old as of the June 15 opening of the competition. The voice contestants must be between 19 and 32 years old. Prior to the preliminary auditions, for which a schedule will be announced separately, the judges will arrive at a shortlist of applicants based on the video recordings submitted.
The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will award six prizes for pianists, six for violinists, six for cellists, four for male singers and four for female singers. From among the First Prize winners, one will be singled out to receive the Grand Prix, a prize of $100,000 in addition to the winner’s First Prize. The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition will offer the following prizes in each category: First Prize of $30,000 USD and a Gold Medal, Second Prize of $20,000 and a Silver Medal; Third Prize of $10,000 and a Bronze Medal; Fourth Prize of $5,000 and a Diploma; Fifth Prize of $3,000 and a Diploma; Sixth Prize of $2,000 and a Diploma. There will be additional prizes of $2,000 and a Diploma for the best concerto performance with a chamber orchestra in Round II – one prize each for a pianist, a violinist and a cellist. The two best musicians in each category from Round II that are eliminated from Round III will receive a Diploma and a runner-up prize of $1,000. Depending on the outcomes of the competition and within the limits on the number of prizes, the judges may choose not to award all prizes or to divide them among the contestants (except for the Grand Prix). In addition, the jury may award Diplomas and a prize of $1,000 to the best accompanists in the Competition (no more than two awards in each category).
Follow the International Tchaikovsky Competition:
By Jacob Stockinger
Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. 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 for 12 years hosted 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.
By John W. Barker
Spring is officially over now, for the Middleton Community Orchestra (below, in a photo by Margaret Barker) has given the fourth and last concert of its fifth season — as usual, on a Wednesday night and before a sizable crowd at the Middleton Performing Arts Center.
The opening work was a rarity from the little-known Mexican composer Arturo Marquez (b.1950, below), called Danzon 2. It is a piece that starts with promise of melodic expression, but soon slips into a piling up of the usual hard-driven Latin dance rhythms, for a large orchestra, playing very loudly. A kind of musical refried beans.
This is a very thickly scored piece, placing particular emphasis on the winds. I found myself, as I listened, appreciating more than ever how cunningly Brahms designed the seams and sutures among the instruments, taxing the skills of the players for subtlety. Fortunately, the Middleton musicians faced the challenges bravely and brought off a very sturdy and convincing performance.
After the intermission, it was concerto time.
First, as MCO maestro Steve Kurr (below top) has regularly done, the young concertmaster was given a chance to tackle a solo assignment. Valerie Sanders (below bottom), a new graduate from the UW-Madison School of Music, took on the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor by Max Bruch, though only its slow movement. She played this lovely music quite sweetly, and one was tempted to wonder how she would have fared in taking on the two bolder wing movements, in the full concerto.
The Big Event was, of course, local pianist Thomas Kasdorf playing the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This is a very warhorse of the warhorses, a work that some will be surprised to learn that predates Van Cliburn, whose recording of it was the first classical album to sell one million copies. (Vladimir Horowitz was once the exponent automatically brought to mind.)
It is a colossally demanding piece, technically, and a summit of virtuosic display — as you can see and hear in the popular YouTube video at the bottom.
Kasdorf (below), a locally born, raised and educated pianist and a well-established young Madison fixture of enormous talent and virtuosity, made this his latest entry into the warhorse corral.
Yes, he had the chops to bring it off, in an undeniably exciting performance. But I had the sense that his heart was really in the quieter passages, where he had some ideas of his own.
In the prevailingly bravura writing, by contrast, he was battling for survival. He certainly won the battle, on technical points alone. But this is not a work he has fully made his own—he played from score, rather than memory. It is an interpretation in progress, rather than one securely controlled.
And I hope this is not a career effort in progress. He is too fine a musician to be just a barn-storming, roof-raising virtuoso. He should pursue rather the great variety of roles he as developed, in which he has so much more that is personal and nuanced to offer.
The orchestra, with fewer perils to face than in the Brahms, sounded confident and full-voiced.
All in all, it was a lively and stimulating concert, as we have come to expect from Steve Kurr and his remarkable Middletonians.
REMINDER: The Middleton Community Orchestra plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Middleton Performing Arts Center that is attached to Middleton High School. Admission is $10; students get in FREE.
The terrific program includes concertmaster Valerie Sanders in the Adagio from the Violin Concerto by Max Bruch and guest pianist Thomas Kasdorf in the ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (AKA the “Van Cliburn Concerto”). Here is a link to a fuller posting with more information:
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear has received the following important and impressive news about Kenneth Woods. Woods, you may recall, attended Memorial High School in Madison, played in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO) and attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where he work with Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp. We can all say Congratulations, Maestro!
Here is the press release:
Kenneth Woods has been appointed Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest. He is only the second Artistic Director in the festival’s 28-year history and succeeds Founding Artistic Director Robert Olson. Woods will oversee his first festival, MahlerFest XXIX, in May 2016.
Of his appointment, Woods remarks: “I’m thrilled and humbled to be invited to steer the festival’s ongoing exploration of one of the greatest composers of all time. I’ve always been impressed by the sophistication of MahlerFest’s programming and presentation, not to mention the musical standards attained by its participants. I must extend enormous congratulations to Bob Olson for everything he has achieved.”
Woods continues: “The complexity and scale of some tasks can only be fully appreciated once you’ve done them yourself, and as someone who has put together a few crazy Mahler projects of my own over the years, I know something about the kind of heroic effort Bob has made to build and sustain this festival. I take very seriously my responsibility to keep the torch he has lit blazing brightly for many years to come.”
Founded by conductor Robert Olson (below in 1988, the Boulder-based Colorado MahlerFest is an annual celebration of the life and music of Gustav Mahler.
Throughout one week every May, the festival explores Mahler through symposia, exhibits, films and the performance of a major symphonic work by the composer. MahlerFest is currently in the midst of its third cycle of Mahler’s symphonic compositions.
In 2005, MahlerFest received the Gold Medal (below) of the Vienna-based International Gustav Mahler Society, an honor so far bestowed on only one other American organization, the New York Philharmonic.
Gustav Mahler’s music has been a lifelong source of inspiration for Kenneth Woods, and has played an important part in his career. He has conducted acclaimed performances of the symphonies and songs across the Americas and Europe.
His first recording of Mahler’s music, Schoenberg’s chamber ensemble versions of Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) (Somm Records, 2011), received an IRR Outstanding rosette from International Record Review.
Off the podium, Woods (below) is in demand as an essayist and speaker on Mahler’s life and music. He has given talks and participated in panel discussions on Mahler for the BBC and NPR, and was the official blogger of The Bridgewater Hall’s Mahler in Manchester series in 2010-11.
In his native U.S., Woods achieved national media recognition as conductor of the Pendleton-based Oregon East Symphony for staging Redneck Mahler, an event that galvanized the community of a small, western Rodeo town.
With its combination of conducting, symposia, pre-concert lectures, films, community engagement and blog posts, MahlerFest’s format plays perfectly into Woods’ multifarious hands.
“For me,” Woods says, “Mahler has a singular creative voice. His music should be experienced as an immersive, transformative experience.”
PRAISE FOR KENNETH WOODS’ MAHLER
“This is a most important issue, and all Mahlerians should make its acquisition an urgent necessity.” International Record Review
“a richly balanced performance that easily stands out” Gramophone Magazine
“gives Mahler the ride of his life.” The Oregonian
“something that every lover of Mahler should hear.” MusicWeb International
* * * * *
For more information about Kenneth Woods please visit http://kennethwoods.net/blog1/
For more information about the Colorado MahlerFest please visit http://www.mahlerfest.org
About Kenneth Woods
Kenneth Woods is Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, a post he assumed in 2013, succeeding Vernon Handley.
Hailed by the Washington Post as a “true star” of the podium, Woods has worked with many orchestras of international distinction, and has appeared on the stages of some of the world’s leading music festivals. His work on the concert platform and in the recording studio has led to numerous broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
As Principal Guest Conductor of Stratford-upon-Avon-based Orchestra of the Swan (2010-2014), Woods made numerous acclaimed recordings, including the first-ever cycle of the Symphonies of Hans Gál (AVIE).
Woods’ unique gifts have been widely acknowledged by some of today’s leading conductors. In 2001, he was selected by Leonard Slatkin to be one of four participants in the National Conducting Institute at the Kennedy Center, where he made his National Symphony debut.
Toronto Symphony Music Director Peter Oundjian has praised Woods as “a conductor with true vision and purpose. He has a most fluid and clear style and an excellent command on the podium … a most complete musician.”
A widely read writer and frequent broadcaster, Woods’ blog, “A View from the Podium,” is one of the 25 most popular classical music blogs in the world. He has provided commentary for the BBC Proms, and has spoken on Mahler on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and BBC Radio 4’s “Today” Programme.
By Jacob Stockinger
The Middleton Community Orchestra (below) will present its final concert of the season on Wednesday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.
The concert will take place at the Middleton Performing Arts Center (below, exterior and interior), attached to Middleton High School.
This concert concludes MCO’s fifth year.
On the program is Danzon No. 2 by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez; the “Haydn” Variations by German composer Johannes Brahms; the slow Adagio movement from the Violin Concerto by Max Bruch with MCO concertmaster Valerie Sanders (below top) soloing; and the never-fail Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky –- the same exciting concerto that launched the career of Van Cliburn — by performed by the talented Middleton native, Thomas Kasdorf.
Tickets are $10 for general admission. Students are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available at Willy St. Coop West and at the door. The box office opens at 7 p.m.
There will also be a meet-and-greet reception (below) after the concert.
Here is information about pianist Thomas Kasdorf (below):
He is a recent graduate of UW-Madison School of Music with his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, where he studied with Christopher Taylor.
He was an inaugural member of the Perlman Piano Trio, which awards scholarships and performance opportunities to talented undergraduate students to give performances of chamber music.
His work with the Perlman Trio (below, with cellist Maureen Kelly and violinist Eleanor Bartsch) has been featured in performances on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Live at the Midday” series and as part of Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society’s House Concerts series, as well as in Middleton Community Orchestra’s inaugural season performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.
He was named co-winner of the Irving Shain Woodwind and Piano Duo Competition, with collaborative partner, flutist Morgann Davis. He was awarded the Bolz Prize of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition and performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor at their Spring Youth Concerts.
He has performed in master classes given by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenburg, Pinchas Zukerman, Sam Rhodes, Steven Isserlis, Ronald Leonard, Ralph Kirshbaum, Jonathan Miller, Timothy Eddy, Robert MacDonald, Jeffrey Siegel and Adam Neiman.
Thomas has worked in a variety of roles (both on and offstage) with a multitude of local theatre groups in over 100 different shows. With a specialty in the oeuvre of Stephen Sondheim, he has been called upon to arrange and perform reduced or solo orchestrations of Sondheim scores, including “A Little Night Music,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Putting It Together,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Side by Side by Sondheim,” “Into the Woods” and, most recently, “Company.” He proudly serves on the board of directors for Middleton Players Theatre, and was the director of the company’s recent production of “Les Mis.”
Last year’s performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto (below) was Thomas Kasdorf’s third performance with the Middleton Community Orchestra. He had performed the Triple Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven as part of the Perlman Trio, and the Piano Concerto in A major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
He has just concluded a wildly successful collaboration with MCO to produce a staged production of “Carousel,” and he says he is looking forward to his performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the MCO. (You can hear Van Cliburn play the opening movement of the concerto in a YouTube video at the bottom. It has some great shots of hands and fingers.)
By Jacob Stockinger
For piano fans, the first semester in Madison proved a bit underwhelming, even disappointing when compared to many past falls.
But that is about to change this semester, starting this weekend.
Of course this piano-rich week comes complete with the inevitable piano “train wreck,” as The Wise Critic terms such scheduling conflicts and competition.
CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR OR ILYA YAKUSHEV
For many area listeners, the big annual piano event is on this Friday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. That is when the UW-Madison School of Music virtuoso Christopher Taylor (below) — whom The Ear hears other schools are trying to lure away from the UW — performs his annual solo faculty recital.
Taylor, famed for his prodigious technique and fantastic memory, has won praise nationwide and even internationally for his performances of all kinds of difficult music, from Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven to Olivier Messiaen and Gyorgi Ligeti as well as contemporary musicians like Derek Bermel.
Taylor’s program this time is an unusual one that mixes old and new.
It features another of the dazzling two-hand transcriptions by Franz Liszt of the symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, which Taylor has been performing elsewhere in a cycle. This time he will perform the famous Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastoral.”
Also on the program are seven of the 12 etudes by the contemporary American composer William Bolcom, who taught at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5, by Johannes Brahms — a wondrously dramatic and beautiful work that you can hear performed by Van Cliburn International Piano Competition winner Radu Lupu in a YouTube video at the bottom.
Tickets are $10 and benefit the UW-Madison School of Music Scholarship Fund.
For more information, including some national reviews of Taylor, here is a link to the UW website:
But, as I said, there is a problem.
At exactly the same time on Friday night, in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, is a terrific concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev (below), who last performed Prokofiev and Gershwin concertos with the WCO.
This Friday night’s program includes Yakushev in two well-known concertos: the keyboard concerto in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach and the Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor by Felix Mendelssohn.
Also on the program – typically eclectic in the style that conductor Andrew Sewell (below) favors — is the English Suite for Strings by British composer Paul Lewis and the Chamber Symphony No. 2 by Arnold Schoenberg.
For information, go to: http://wcoconcerts.org/performances/masterworks/77/event-info/
But this piano weekend doesn’t stop there.
On Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., Ilya Yakushev will open the new season of the Salon Piano Series when he plays a solo recital in the concert room (below) at Farley’s House of Pianos, on Madison’s far west side.
The program includes the famous Sonata in C minor “Pathétique,” Op. 13, by Ludwig van Beethoven; the Sonata No. 2 by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev and “Carnival” by Robert Schumann. A reception will follow the recital.
Here is a link with more information:
And as background, here is a Q&A that The Ear did in 2011 with Ilya Yakushev:
MORE TO COME
Of course this is just the beginning of Piano Heaven.
There is still the concerto competition for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) to come, along with the UW-Madison concerto competition, the Bolz “Final Forte” Concerto Competition of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and others.
Later this semester, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra will also feature two other returning pianists –- Shai Wosner (below top) and Bryan Wallick (below bottom). They will perform, respectively, two concertos by Franz Joseph Haydn and the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major “Emperor” by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Here is a link to the WCO website:
And let’s not forget the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to the above piano events and others, the Madison Symphony Orchestra will feature the Irving S. Gilmore Competition winner Ingrid Fliter (below), a native of Argentina, in the lusciously Romantic Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor by Frederic Chopin on Feb. 13-15 – perfect fare for Valentine’s Day weekend.
That program which also includes the Symphony No. 4 by Robert Schumann and British composer Benjamin Britten’s “Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge” -– Bridge was Britten’s teacher — promises to be a memorable performance by a renowned Chopin specialist who last played a solo recital here ay the Wisconsin Union Theater.
And if you know of more. just add them in a Reader’s Comment for others to see,
By Jacob Stockinger
Last year, classical music lost of a lot of important people -– performers and composers.
For The Ear, three of the most important people were the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (below top), who was a master of the mainstream operatic and orchestral repertoire; the English conductor Christopher Hogwood (below middle), who also pioneered the performance and recording of early music, Baroque music, Classical era composers and even early Romantic composers — including Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Frideric Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert — on period instruments and with historically informed performance practices; and the Dutch flutist and conductor Frans Bruggen (below bottom), whose career followed a similar trajectory as Hogwood’s.
Those men made us hear music in new, unexpected and exciting ways — the highest achievement that any performer or interpreter can aspire to.
But we also lost highly accomplished and important singers and instrumentalists, including pianists and violinists.
Below is a link to the NPR story.
When you click on each entry you will get photo and full obituaries, readers’ comments and fine sound samples. So don’t be afraid to leave the NPR page and follow the various links.
And be sure to use the Comments section of this blog for any additions and tributes you wish to add, perhaps by naming your favorite composer or work they performed or recorded.