The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is the Fourth of July. Independence Day is the right time to celebrate American classical composers and patriotic concert music. Here are three ways to do that

July 4, 2018
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the Fourth of July – Independence Day.

That makes it exactly the right time to think about American composers and American patriotic music – both of which have been receiving well-deserved airplay all week on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Here are three items that seem appropriate because they pertain to American composers and American classical music.

ITEM 1

Tonight at 7 p.m. on the King Street corner of the Capital Square in downtown Madison, guest conductor Huw Edwards (below) will lead the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra in its Concert on the Square for the Fourth of July.

The “American Salute” program includes: “American Salute” by Morton Gould; the Overture to “Candide” by Leonard Bernstein; “Wisconsin Forward Forever” by march king John Philip Sousa; and, of course, “The 1812 Overture” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Blankets can go down on the ground starting at 3 p.m. For more general information about attending the concert including weather updates, rules and etiquette, and food caterers and vendors, go to:

https://wisconsinchamberorchestra.org/performances/concerts-on-the-square-2-2/

ITEM 2

Can you name 30 American classical composers? The Ear tried and it’s not easy.

But thanks to Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, California – which will also play and stream (click on the Listen tab) such music today — it isn’t hard.

Here is a link:

http://www.capradio.org/music/classical/2018/07/02/the-30-american-composers-were-featuring-on-the-fourth-of-july/

You can click on the link “Playlist for Independence Day” and see the photo of the composers and the titles of compositions that will be played.

You can also click on the composer’s name in the alphabetized list and see a biography in Wikipedia.

Can you think of American composers who didn’t make the list? Leave the name or names – Henry Cowell and Virgil Thomson (below)  come to mind — in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.

ITEM 3

Finally, given the controversial political issues of the day surrounding immigration, The Ear offers this take on perhaps the most virtuosic piano transcription of patriotic music ever played.

It was done by someone who immigrated permanently to the U.S. in 1939 and then became a naturalized citizen in 1944. He also raised millions through war bonds during World War II.

He was the Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz, here playing his own celebrated virtuoso arrangement – done in 1945 for a patriotic rally and war bonds concert in Central Park — of ”The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa.

Here is a link to his biography in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Horowitz

And here is the YouTube audio of his own performance of the Sousa piece, with the score, including all the special technical demands, especially lots of Horowitz’s famous octaves, to follow along with. It’s a performance that has become justifiably legendary:


Classical music: Concerts on the Square start this Wednesday and feature a lot of classical music. Plus, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra announces its impressive 2016-17 indoors Masterworks season

June 27, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

This coming Wednesday night at 7 p.m., on the downtown Capitol Square, marks the opening of what has been billed as “The Biggest Picnic of Summer” — the six annual outdoor summer Concerts on the Square (below) by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and guest soloists.

ConcertsonSquaregroupshot

They are big because each concert, under the baton of WCO artistic director Andrew Sewell, last year averaged a weekly crowd of more than 42,000 people, up from 35,000 the previous year, according to the Capitol Police. (The highest was 50,000; the lowest 28,000.)

Concerts on the Square crowd

You should also know that this year the Concerts on The Square will include a generous — maybe, The Ear suspects, even an unprecedented — amount of classical music on June 29, July 6, July 17, July 27 and Aug. 3.

On the programs you will find music by Felix Mendelssohn, Joaquin Turina, Aaron Copland and Ottorino Resphighi (this Wednesday); by Leo Delibes, Peter Tchaikovsky (including the annual and traditional Fourth of July or Independence Day performance of his “1812 Overture”) and Jules Massenet (with famed local Metropolitan Opera singer, mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss on July 6); by Paul Dukas, Jean Sibelius, Niels Gade and Antonin Dvorak (on July 13); Ludwig van Beethoven (July 27);  Arthur Honegger and Peter Tchaikovsky (Aug. 3).

Here is a link  with more information including links to tickets, rules about behavior and seating, and food options:

http://www.wcoconcerts.org/performance-listing/category/concerts-on-the-square

Even as it prepares for this summer’s six Concerts on the Square, which start Wednesday night, June 26, and run through August 3, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra has announced its 2016-27 indoor Masterworks season of five classical concerts. It is an impressive lineup that features a local violist who has made it big, Vicki Powell, and the very young violin sensation Julian Rhee, who won the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Final Forte with a jaw-dropping reading of the Violin Concerto by Johannes Brahms, as well as a guitarist and duo-pianists.

Here is a link to more information:

http://www.wcoconcerts.org/performance-listing/category/masterworks

 


Classical music: Need a break from the holiday rush? Try the Middleton Community Orchestra and soprano Emily Birsan this Monday night at 7:30. Plus, tuba, sousaphone, euphonium and baritone players — both amateurs and professionals — are wanted for Sunday’s “Tuba Christmas” in the state Capitol.

December 20, 2013
1 Comment

ALERT: Attention alls players of the tuba, sousaphone, euphonium and baritone players: If you want to have a Christmas blast, gathered in the Wisconsin State Capitol and around the state Christmas Tree in the Capitol Rotunda (bel0w), here is your chance. All you need is the instruments, the skills, the desire, some paraphernalia and $10. For details, see:

http://www.tubachristmas.com/readtcloc.php?TCState=WI&TCCity=Madison

tuba christmas in capitol

By Jacob Stockinger

Need a break from the rush of holiday shopping, partying and prepping?

You might try attending a concert by the Middleton Community Orchestra (below top), which is made up of amateurs and professionals and is conducted by Steve Kurr (below bottom).

Middleton Community Orchestra press photo1

Steve Kurr.

The concert is on this coming Monday night, December 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the comfortable Middleton Performing Arts Center (below), which is attached to Middleton High School.

Middleton PAC1

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door and at Willy St. Coop West.

The concert, “An Evening with the Middleton Community Orchestra and Soprano Emily Birsan” promises to be an enjoyable evening of great music.

The orchestra will be featured in: Mikhail Glinka’s “Russlan and Ludmilla Overture; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Dance of the Tumblers”; and Ludwig van Beethoven’sSymphony No. 6, “Pastoral.”

The very accomplished University of Wisconsin School of Music alumna Emily Birsan (below) will return top the MCO holiday concert to sing four arias by Mozart, Strauss, Donizetti and Charpentier.

Details are at www.middletoncommunityorchestra.org

Emily Birsan is in her final year of the Chicago Lyric Opera apprentice program and is on the brink of a stellar international career.  Here is a link to her bio for more details: http://www.emilybirsan.com/bio.html (You can hear her sing “Musetta’s Waltz,” from Puccini’s “La Boheme,” with the Middleton Community Orchestra under Steve Kurr in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Emily Birsan 2013 in red

The Ear has found the MC performances a thoroughly enjoyable treat.

The performance usually lasts about 90 minutes without an intermission and features socializing over cookies and punch with the players afterwards.

Middleton Community Orchestra reception

If you need more reasons to attend, here is a review I wrote about one performance:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/classical-music-review-let-us-now-praise-amateur-music-makers-and-restoring-sociability-to-art-here-are-9-reasons-why-i-liked-and-you-should-attend-the-middleton-community-orchestra/

And if you use this website’s search engine, you can also check out the many positive reviews of the Middleton Community Orchestra by critic John W. Barker.


Classical music: Can anyone tell The Ear what has happened to The Exclusive Company on State Street?

January 20, 2013
10 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

There is no phone message when you call.

Nothing saying “This number is disconnected” or “This number has been changed to so-and-so.”

Just an endless busy signal.

But there is no business.

There is no sign in the window, either.

It’s obvious that The Exclusive Company store at 508 State Street, in downtown Madison, has been closed for a while, probably since Jan. 1. Just look at the recent photos of the exterior and the of the interior, which is being gutted and renovated. 

Here are the old and new exteriors:

Exclusive Company exterior STATE ST

Exclusive Compnay closes 1

And here are the old and new interiors:

Exclusive Company interior State St

Exclusive company closes 4

When I last checked into the future of the store, the ever helpful manager told me it would be moving to another Madison location away from State Street. And I posted a story about it. Here is a link:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/classical-music-the-exclusive-company-on-state-street-is-moving-but-not-going-out-of-business/

And here is a later story from the Wisconsin State Journal with more background but still no hard info about the store’s future:

http://host.madison.com/business/the-exclusive-co-state-street-s-last-full-line-record/article_4153594e-32b2-11e2-97c3-001a4bcf887a.html

Since then, I can’t find out anything.

Even when you visit the Exclusive Company’s statewide website, the old store — with its old address, old phone number and old hours — is still listed. What is the point of having a website if it isn’t updated with current information?

http://www.exclusivecompany.com/Section/Locations/index.html

It’s a shame. The store, which sold classical, pop, rock, jazz, folk, world and other music, was around for 24 years. And for 24 years I did business there, especially enjoying the great classical selection when the late Charles Lunde (below) ran the classical section.

Exclusive Co outside with Lunde

All the time I loved doing business there.

And I still want to do business with the store, wherever it is.

But I need something to go on.

A new phone number.

A new address.

A date for opening.

Or even a confirmation that it is gone for good, like the other Exclusive company store on the far west side that closed three years ago.

In the meantime, another store — the Earthbound Trading Company — is going to move into the location and it looks like it will be pretty soon, my guess is in late January or early February.

Exclusive Company closes 3

Exclusive company close 5

So can anyone help me learn the future — if there is one — of the lasting remaining  Exclusive Company store in Madison? A reader? A worker in another branch?

The Ear wants to hear.


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