The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: Just a reminder that next Saturday afternoon and evening is the pared down Chamber Music Marathon – five hours, NOT 24 – by the Sound Ensemble Wisconsin to benefit music education and local food.

December 5, 2012

ALERT:  This Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. in the Madison Children’s Museum, the Black Marigold Wind Quintet (below) will perform a family concert that is FREE with museum admission. For information, visit: Madison Children’s Museum. The program includes favorites such as Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” The concert is free with museum admission. You can also visit the group’s website for more information., where the spring concert series has been scheduled. 

Black Marigold

By Jacob Stockinger

Readers may recall that the recently organized and outstanding Madison-based chamber music group, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (below), originally announced that it would hold an inaugural 24-hour chamber music marathon from next Saturday morning, Dec. 8, to Sunday morning, Dec. 9, from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m.

It was even presented as a possible alternative to Wisconsin Public Radio’s 4th annual Bach Around the Clock noon to midnight Bach marathon in mid-March, which has been canceled for 2013.

SEW group

The purpose was and remains to benefit the Wisconsin School Music Association and local food providers. A minimum $5 donation is suggested. The public is free to stop by and attend at any time for however long.

Here is a link to the original story:

But SEW director and violinist Mary Theodore (below) has just told The Ear that the firsta annual event is being downsized from 24 hours to five hours: from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. next Saturday.

Mary Theodore

The five-hour event will still be held at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education in Waunakee (below), not far from Waunakee High School.

Wisconsin School Music sign

The curtailed version might even be preferable.  Imagine it is very hard to line up both performers and audiences for, say, 11 p.m.  or 3 a.m. But maybe another year will allow for sufficient time to expand it to six or seven hours with some piano students and other amateurs and professionals on the roster.

Even in the scaled-down version this year some fine performers will perform some fine repertoire.

The performers include Con Vivo, SEW, Madison pianist and piano teacher Gloria Chuang and others. The repertoire includes a Haydn Piano Trio; Bartok’s Duos for Two Violins (at bottom); Prokofiev’s “Overture on Hebrew Themes”; two movements from Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet; rags by Scott Joplin; a string quartet by Margaret Brouwer; works for clarinet, viola and piano by Max Bruch; music for viola and piano by UW composer Joseph Koykkar (below) and a talk about musicianship through performance.

joseph koykkar

Here is a link with complete details of the marathon’s schedule.

Classical music: Madison-area piano students explain why, despite nerves and hard work, they like to play music for others and perform in public

June 15, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

A little over a month ago,  I attended a student recital that my piano teacher in Madison, Bill Lutes (below), holds every spring for his non-adult students, usually in the auditorium at Oakwood Village West retirement community.

It is always an enjoyable and illuminating event. But this time proved especially so. Lutes had asked his students to provide personal commentaries about playing the piano in general and playing in public in specific.

So in addition to hearing wonderful music by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Bartok and Rachmaninoff and others, I also got to ponder the thoughts of young people and the meaning that classical music and performing that music hold for them.

I thought others might like to see and hear their comments. So I asked Lutes if the students (below) and their parents would agree to a public posting, with pictures I took. They did.

So here they are.

I realize there are many, many Madison-area recitals and student concerts that merit a similar recognition. The problem is that I just don’t know of them. But if you or a music student you know, adult or non-adult, would like to leave a short and similar commentary, please do so in the Comments section of this blog.

I also think asking music students who participate in a recital to give a brief “artist’s statement” is a wonderful idea. It gets students thinking about the role of music in their lives. It helps parents to appreciate their child’s achievement and to understand what paying for their children’s music lessons really means. And it fosters learning by listeners from performers.

I want to thank the students for both the music and their thoughts about the music. Their individual recital pictures follow their statement.

Maya Nitschke Alonso/Cherokee Middle School

I love playing piano because I really enjoy all of the different sounds it can make and the variety of dynamics that it can produce. I also really like all of the action and the movements that can be added to the sounds while you are playing.


Maylynn Hu/Elm Lawn Elementary School

I love playing piano. It is really fun. I especially like Beethoven and Mozart‘s music. I find playing their fast pieces very enjoyable.

Hallie Turnbull/Graduated, Memorial High School

My piano is my most dependable and necessary creative outlet. This staple of my daily diet uses Bach for stability, Mendelssohn for tranquility, and composing for passion. I am definitely one to believe all problems are alleviated with a little piano time.

Allen Chang/ Kromrey Middle School

Playing the piano takes the mind off of real things in life. On the piano you are the controller of the mood, by making these things happy, sad, angry, or anything you want it to sound. There are many different sounds you can express.

R. J. Leiferman /Graduating, Middleton High School

Although I have never been a fan of practicing, playing the piano, especially for other people, is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.  I’m not quite sure why I like it so much, but I do.  There is something about playing music for other people, giving them the gift of music, that I really enjoy.


Andrew Brettin/West High School

I enjoy playing the piano because I like making music. Sometimes I try playing songs that I hear on the radio because I like playing songs that everybody knows.


Adrian Binkley/Waunakee Middle School

I love playing the piano for many reasons. One is the freedom it can give the performer, which is not found often in other things. Another reason is that it can create and/or share ideas much more “colorfully” than words. Also, this art form is more of a language than most people think, which creates a connection between pianists.

Sam Averill/Graduating, Waunakee High School

I love playing piano because it is such a versatile instrument that allows for so much musical expression. It will also help me in my future endeavors in college and beyond.

Leslie Huang/West High School

Playing the piano offers an escape from the outside world. It’s a constant challenge, but when you get it just right, the music expresses what can’t be put into words and creates an entirely new world unique to the player, as well as everyone who experiences it.

 Hannah Lou/ West High School

Playing the piano is like you are transformed into your own magical world, full of sorrow, happiness and unimaginable stories. It is a special way to enjoy music and a great way for relaxation. I have always loved the sound of the piano ever since I was a little child.

Loren McMahon/ Jefferson Middle School

I love playing the piano because you can express your feelings in what you play, and especially how you play. When you play a song on piano you make it your own, even if you’ve never even heard it before. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment when you finish performing something with as close to perfection as to your ability!

Ethan Seidenberg/Hamilton Middle School

I like to play the piano because it gives me a sense of an accomplishment to learn a piece.  I like that the two hands can have different melodies.

Vivian Wilhelms/Waunakee Middle School

I love playing the piano because it allows me to express my deepest thoughts and feelings.  It is so relaxing because it allows me to think inwardly about myself, yet at the same time, I am reaching for things beyond myself.  Whenever I play, it is as if I become part of a different world — a world in which everything I imagine becomes real.  It is such a magical feeling that I can only find in my music. 

Garrick Olsen/Waukesha Virtual High School

I love to play the piano for others as well as for my own enjoyment. Music is definitely a huge part of who I am, and I can’t really imagine life without it.

Max Butler/Graduating,  Memorial High School

I like to play piano because the more I put into it, the more I get out of it. When I have puzzled over each technical and musical detail of a piece, I play the piano in a deeper and almost completely different way. And that is one of the most rewarding I have ever had.


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