The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: This very busy week features a four-day national choral conference, plus orchestral and chamber music as well as The Metropolitan Opera’s “LIve in HD” production of Wagner’s “Gotterdammerung.”

February 8, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

This is a big week for vocal music in Madison, with both a four-day national choral conference and on Saturday the long-awaited “The MET Live in HD” broadcast of “Gotterdammerung,” the final installment of Richard Wagner’s mammoth “Ring” cycle in a new production by the Metropolitan Opera that began last season.

But there is also a lot of orchestral and chamber music to be heard, especially by University of Wisconsin performers and guest artists.

Here is a round-up;


The American Choral Directors Association will host its national conference in Madison from today through Saturday. It will feature some 2,000 singers with 700 directors and quite a few local groups, including the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (below, in a photo by Jim Pippitt) plus the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Youth Choirs (see Friday’s listing.)

Many venues will be used, among them the Overture Center.

Tickets have been kept affordable and run $5-$15.

For a background story, visit:

For a list of events and performers, visit the American Choral Directors Association site:


The FREE Friday Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium at the First Unitarian Society’s Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature “From the Sublime to the Ridiculous” with Eva Wright, organ; Donna Corcoran, soprano; Tyrone Greive, violin; Janet Greive, cello; and Betty Bielefeld, flute.


At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Symphony Orchestra, under conductors Jim Smith (below) and David Grandis, and the winners of the annual concerto and composition competition will perform a FREE concert.

The concerto winners are violinist Alice Bartsch, pianist Jeongmin Lee, baritone Michael Roemer and marimbist Brett Walter.  The composition winner is Youn-Jae Ok.  The conductors are James Smith and David Grandis. (A special posting about this concert and these young performers will be featured tomorrow.)

The program includes “Scottish Fantasy” by Max Bruch, “Le nozze de Figaro by Mozart, Keiko Abe’s Prism Rhapsody for Marimba and Orchestra, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58, and the world premiere of DMA Youn-Jae Ok’s Mi-Ryen.

A reception for musicians and audience will follow in Mills Hall lobby, sponsored by the School of Music Alumni Association.

 At 8 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center, St. Paul composer Stephen Paulus’ oratorio “To Be Certain of the Dawn” will receive its Wisconsin and Madison premiere.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $7 for students (available from Overture Center box office at 608 258-4141.)

The work was commissioned in 2005 by the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis as a gift to Temple Israel Synagogue in commemoration of both the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate,” which officially decried anti-Semitism and opened the doors to significant interfaith dialogue.

It will be conducted by Lee Nelson (Wartburg College) and performed by Wisconsin Youth Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra; the Madison Youth Choirs (the Britten and Capriccio choirs, below) and a combined choir of singers from Nebraska Wesleyan, Minnesota State and Wartburg College.


At 11 a.m. at the Point and Eastgate cinemas in Madison, the Metropolitan Opera’s “The MET Live in HD” series will present “Gotterdammerung” (The Twilight of the Gods), the last in Richard Wagner’s ambitious “Ring” cycle.

Tickets are $24, $22 for seniors. The production, which stars Deborah Voight (below with Morris), Bryn Terfel and Jay Hunter Morris as well as The Machine set of Cirque du Soleil director Robert Lepage, lasts six hours.

Here is a link to a video preview and other links to downloadable program notes and other information.

Four members of the eight-musician Oakwood Chamber Players (below, in a photo by Bill Arthur) will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Oakwood University Woods Auditorium, 6209 Mineral Point Rd., and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the UW-Madison Arboretum Welcome Center, 1207 Seminole Hwy.

Tickets at the door are $20; $15 for seniors; and $5 for students.

Performers are Leyla Sanyer, violin; Christopher Dozoryst, viola; Maggie Darby Townsend, cello; and Vincent Fuh, piano.

The program is the Trio in C minor, Op. 66, by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847), which replaces the advertised Schumann Piano Quartet, and the Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 15, by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924).

For information visit:


This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” features the Ancia Saxophone Quartet (below) on Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery Number III at the Chazen Museum of Art.

As usual, the concert will be broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio.

The acclaimed quartet performs regularly at regional, national and international composition and saxophone conferences, including the World Saxophone Congresses in Montreal (2000) and Minneapolis (2003).

The quartet will be performing a program including the works of modernist composers of the 20th Century Charles Ives, William Albright, and Jean Absil; a quartet by Romantic-era composer Alexander Glazunov; and “Hammering Away (at the Great Unknown)” by the highly acclaimed Caroline Mallonée, a composer of today’s era.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can call ahead and reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited. All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For more information or to learn how to become a museum member, contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception follows the performance, with refreshments generously donated by Fresh Madison Market, Coffee Bytes and Steep & Brew. A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

At 1:30 p.m., members of The Oakwood Chamber Players will perform Mendelssohn and Faure at the UW Arboretum Visitors Center (below). See Saturday above. 

At 2 pm. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra (below), conducted by James Smith and graduate assistant conductor David Grandis, performs a FREE concert.

The program features “Homage to Mozart” by Frank Martin; “Pulcinella Suite” by Igor Stravinsky; and “Symphony No. 3 in A minor,” Op. 56 (“Scottish”) by Felix Mendelssohn.

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Guest Artist Series will offer a FREE recital by pianist Robert Shannon (below), a member of the faculty at the Oberlin Conservatory.  “Sonata in D major,” D. 850 by Schubert; “Le moqueur polyglotte” (“The Mockingbird”) from “Des canyons aux etoiles” (“From the Canyons to the Stars”) by Messiaen; and two movements from “Years of Pilgrimage” (Second Year: Italy) by Liszt.


At 7 p.m. in Morphy Hall, piano Robert Shannon will give a FREE and public master class. He is a specialist in the Taubman Method, which stresses injury-avoidance. See his concert on Sunday.


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall: The UW Faculty Concert Series will offer a FREE concert by Mark Hetzler, trombone (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) and Vincent Fuh, piano; with Yorel Lashley, conga; and percussionists Anthony Di Sanza, Sean Kleve, Joseph Murfin and Brett Walter.

The program features “Mystic with a Credit Card” by Michael Colgrass; “Sonata for trombone and piano” by Daniel Schnyder; “Sonata” by Jack Cooper; and “Javier’s Dialog” by Dennis Llinas.

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