The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Shirley and Stanley Inhorn win the first John DeMain Award from the Madison Symphony Orchestra League.

September 10, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Here is some news that comes in a press release from the Madison Symphony Orchestra about an award made in honor of John DeMain (below bottom, in a photo by Prasad), the longstanding music director and maestro of the MSO who is about to begin his 21st season on the podium:

“The first annual John DeMain Award for Outstanding Commitment to Music will be presented this Friday, Sept. 12, by the Madison Symphony Orchestra League (MSOL) in recognition of an individual or individuals for their longstanding and unwavering support of the League, the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and music in the community.

“Shirley and Stan Inhorn (below top) are two such worthy individuals.

Stan and Shirley Inhorn MSO

John DeMain full face by Prasad

“Music has been a central part of every aspect of their lives – from friendships and charitable contributions to volunteering and leisure time – for more than five decades.

“Their involvement with music began young with music lessons and playing as high school and college students, and has continued throughout their lives in Madison.

“Both have been involved in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO), serving in many capacities through the years. They were made life trustees of WYSO in 2012. Shirley has been a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra League and its predecessor — the Women’s Committee of the Madison Symphony Orchestra – for more than 40 years.

“Stan played in the second violin section of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (below) and subsequently joined the MSO Board. He also was one of the first men to join the MSOL.

“The Inhorns have endowed the MSO’s Principal Second Violin Chair and pledged an estate gift to the MSO’s endowment designated for the Up Close & Musical® Education Program.

“They have also been major donors to WYSO and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

“Together and individually, they have made a lasting difference to music in our community.”

mso from above

This is not the first time the Inhorns (below) have been so honored. Almost three years ago, when they were named Lifetime Trustees of the Wisconsin Symphony Youth Orchestras (WYSO), The Ear interviewed them.

Stanley and Shirley Inhorn

Here is a link to that post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/classical-music-how-do-two-scientists-became-award-winning-supporters-and-funders-of-music-education-meet-the-inhorns-of-madison/

And here is a statement that Shirley and Stanley Inhorn gave to The Ear on the occasion of receiving the inaugural John DeMain Award:

“Like many other Madisonians, we are lovers of classical music. Our volunteer efforts, therefore, have been directed to local organizations such as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (below top), and the Pro Arte Quartet (below bottom). Our many decades of support and involvement in these groups reflect this passion.

wyso violas

PAQ-8BIT03

“We were surprised and honored to learn that we had been chosen to receive this award from the Madison Symphony Orchestra League. We know that many other people also devote volunteer hours to assure that classical music remains strongly embedded in Madison’s social fabric.

“We are grateful for the abundance of high-quality musical offerings available in Madison. And we are pleased to know that our efforts have contributed to this reality.”

— Shirley and Stan Inhorn

 

 

 


Classical music education: The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) is expanding its chamber music program to non-WYSO string and wind players. The program also seeks non-WYSO pianists.

September 4, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Here is the news I have heard from cellist Karl Lavine, who heads the expanding chamber music program (below) for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. It is good news for many reasons, but especially to pianists who often remain stuck as soloists and never experience the joy of collaborative work in chamber music. (Below is a piano quartet from a WYSO chamber music concert last spring in Morphy Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.)

WYSO DSC_8972

Karl Lavine (below top) is as congenial and cooperative as he is accomplished, and that is saying something. He is the principal cellist with both the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and he also plays in the MSO’s Rhapsodie String Quartet (below bottom).

Karl Lavine, principal cello of WCO

Rhapsodie Quartet MSO Greg Anderson

Writes Karl:

“We are interested in having pianists for the WYSO Chamber Music Program. We have not had any formal auditions to date as most of the pianists have previously come from WYSO or they have been students of Karen Boe (below), who is the WYSO Chamber Music Program piano ensemble coach.

Karen Boe

“We also have only had two or three pianists — all advanced musicians capable of learning and performing chamber works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven or Johannes Brahms  — per semester working with our groups. (At bottom is a YouTube video of violinist Kyung-Wha Chung playing one of The Ear’s favorite chamber works, the piano part of which he wishes he himself could play with a violinist: Mozart’s dramatic and tuneful Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304.)

“The history so far has been one that involved our more advanced players, mostly string players, with these pianists. However, we have had wind players join us as well. Doing both their main instrument and the piano can stretch them pretty thin.

WYSO DSC_8944

“We have not opened collaboration with pianists up to our younger string and wind players primarily because the level of technique and experience necessary make it very difficult to assign repertoire.

“I am not opposed to considering younger WYSO instrumentalists to collaborate with pianists, but it creates a whole new set of parameters for coaching and rehearsing.

“Frankly, it is tough enough to get the more experienced pianists up to speed on the standard chamber repertoire — even though they might be very accomplished as soloists — given we only have 10 coaching sessions per semester. Many of the pianists that have participated in the program have never worked in this type of collaboration before.

“We are open to the idea of having an audition of prospective pianists. In addition, a letter of reference from their private teachers would be required. We would also limit applicants to pianists who have advanced to the Wisconsin School Music Association State Level with the “A” list repertoire, or participated in Wisconsin Music Teachers Association or Federation competition in piano.

Farley's House of PIanos MMM 20141

Here is another tidbit for the blog: We are opening up participation in the WYSO Chamber Program to string and wind players who are NOT a part of WYSO. We have a separate brochure/application for these folks. This is a pilot project this year and we will see what our numbers turn out to be.

So, It would be most helpful if you could write about WYSO’s Chamber Music Program offering openings for those instrumentalists who are not current members, orchestral musicians (string and wind Players) AND pianists:

“1. Membership is open to those between the ages of 10 and 18 and currently in Middle School or High School.

“2. For pianists, a letter from your current private teacher recommending you for the program.

“3. A WYSO Chamber Music Program Brochure can be obtained from the WYSO office. You can find information about the coaching sessions and performance possibilities offered as well as expectations.

“4. For more information, contact the WSYO office: (608) 263-3320, OR send an email to wyso@wyso.music.wisc.edu   OR by contacting Program Director, Karl Lavine at (608) 239-4131; email is karllavine@gmail.com

The WYSO Chamber Music Program offers 10 coaching sessions a semester and public recitals in December and May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Classical music education: WYSO’s Youth Orchestra will perform a FREE concert of music by Antonin Dvorak, Peter Tchaikovsky, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Manuel DeFalla and more from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday night at Old Sauk Trails Park, thanks to the Gialamas Company.

August 8, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

All reports say that the 10-day tour to Argentina, completed just last weekend, was a rousing success for both members of the Youth Orchestra (below) of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) and for their many South American hosts and audiences.

WYSO Youth  Orchestra

Here is a link to the live real-time blog with the complete set of postings done for the tour:

www.wysotour2014.blogspot.com

But why take someone else’s word for it?

You can hear the musicians for yourself in some of the same music that the young performers played in several different locations in Argentina.

They will once again perform, under the baton of UW-Madison School of Music conductor James Smith, on this coming Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. in Old Sauk Trails Park on Madison’s far west side at 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive..

WYSO Concert in the Park, playing under Jim Smith 3

The event actually starts at 5 p.m. when the park opens to audiences for picnicking and eating, kind of like a smaller Concert on the Square for the far west side and to greet the approaching end of summer and to reach lots of young people.

The concert typically attracts thousands. Just look at the parking!

WYSO Concert in the Park Photo aeriel view

Here is a link to the official site:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/events/concerts-recitals/

And here is a link to the major sponsor and underwriter, the real estate development firm The Gialamas Company, with more information:

http://www.gialamas.com/Events/tabid/164/vw/3/itemid/26/sm/615/d/20140813/Default.aspx

If you want to know about food, you will probably want at least to check out the two providers  — Benvenuto’s and Sprecher’s — with whom you can reserve food and beverages if you don’t want to bring your own.

http://www.gialamas.com/Portals/0/CITP2014/Benvenuto’s%20Menu.pdf

http://www.gialamas.com/Portals/0/CITP2014/Sprecher’s.pdf

WYSO Concert  the Park Tent 4

Finally, courtesy of WYSO, here is the complete program with approximate timings:

CONCERT IN THE PARK, AUGUST 13, 2014

Overture to Candide. By Leonard Bernstein. (6 minutes)

Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op.36, Fourth movement: Finale: Allegro con fuoco. By Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky. (10 minutes)

El sombrero de tres picos Three-Cornered Hat) Suite No. 2        By Manuel de Falla     (12 minutes)

  1. Los vecinos
  2. Danza del molinero (Farruca)
  3. Danza final

Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28. By Camille Saint-Saëns (12 minutes) with WYSO concerto contest winner violinist Savannah Albrecht (bel0w)

Savannah Albrecht

INTERMISSION

Symphony No. 8, in G major, Op. 88, Movement 4: Allegro ma non troppo. By Antonin Dvořák   (10 minutes)

“Billy the Kid” Suite. By Aaron Copland (22 minutes)

  1. The Open Prairie
  2. Street in a Frontier Town
  3. Card Game at Night (Prairie Night)
  4. Gun Battle
  5. Celebration Dance (after Billy’s Capture)
  6. Billy’s Death
  7. The Open Prairie Again

“Over the Rainbow.” By Harold Arlen (4 minutes) with the acclaimed local jazz singer Gerri DiMaggio (below top). The performance is dedicated to the memory of Candy Gialamas (below bottom on the right, with her husband George Gialiamas).

“Malambo” from Estancia Suite, Op. 8a. By Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (4 minutes). It is an audience favorite, a participation piece in South America. You can hear the high-octane and colorful orchestral music performed to an uproar of approval at the BBC Proms by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestsra of Venezuela in a YouTube video at the bottom.)                                                      

Gerri DiMaggio

George and Candy Gialamas

Have some fun, hear some fine music and learn how good music education is in WYSO and in this part of Wisconsin.

See you there.

Come say hi to The Ear.

 

 


Classical music: Celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend with chamber music by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) and by graduate students in the Hunt String Quartet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

May 9, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you are looking for something unusual or different to do to celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend, you could turn to three FREE chamber music events.

SATURDAY

This Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will present two different chamber music concerts, both FREE and open to the public.

More than a dozen various combinations of chamber music — duets, trios, quartets — will be performed by middle school and high school students. Sorry, no word on specific programs or works but you are sure to hear what jazz people call “standards.” The Ear would be surprised if we didn’t hear some music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Antonin Dvorak among others.

Most people probably think of WYSO members as primarily orchestral musicians, and indeed they are. Next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, WYSO will present various orchestral concerts during the Spring Concert Weekend.

For more information including the groups and the programs, here is a link:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/events/concerts-recitals/

WYSO DSC_8972

SUNDAY

Then on Sunday evening, it is the turn of the Hunt Quartet to perform a FREE concert, their second and final of the season, in honor of Mother’s Day.

Members of the quartet (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) are graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music: Paran Amirinazari (center right) and Elspeth Stalter-Clouse (center left), violins; Ju dee Ang (far left), viola; and Lindsey Crabb (far right), cello. They will be joined by guests violist Molly O’Brien and cellist Rachel Bottner.

hunt quartet 20-13-14 CR katrin talbot

The Ear heard the Hunt Quartet perform a concert (below) in Mills Hall in February of string quartets by Franz Joseph Haydn and Bela Bartok, and he was impressed.

Hunt Quartet in Mills 2-2014

Sunday’s FREE concert will be at 7 p.m. in the Madison Country Day School (below), located at 5606 River Road in Waunakee. It is a lovely setting for a spring concert, surrounded by scenic landscape and farm fields.

Madison Country Day School BIG USE 2

The program includes the String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51, by Johannes Brahms (bel0w) and the string sextet “Transfigured Night” (“Verklarte Nacht”), an early work by Arnold Schoenberg that is based on a poem by Richard Dehmel – an unusual but fitting choice for the holiday, as you can find out in the program notes further down.

Here are notes of the program provided by the Hunt Quartet:

Brahms, String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51: This quartet is considered to be a masterwork of string quartet repertoire. It was written in 1873 and was a long work in progress for the prolific composer. Out of his three string quartets the quartet in C minor is one of the more popularly performed works. Consisting of four movements, the outer movements are angst driven and energetic while the middle two movements show Brahms’ lyrical and singing style.

brahms3

“Verklarte Nacht” (“Transfigured Night”), Op. 4, by Arnold Schoenberg (below): This is a programmatic one-movement string sextet divided up into five distinct sections, each corresponding to one of the stanzas in the poem by Richard Dehmel. At the bottom, you can hear a wonderful YouTube performance of it by Pierre Boulez and members of the acclaimed Intercontemporary Ensemble of Paris.

The title translates to “Transfigured Night,” and the poem is about a man and woman walking through the woods by the light of the moon. They are in a relationship, but the woman has a secret— before meeting her current partner, she conceived a child by a stranger.

She confesses this and the man accepts the child she is carrying as his own, thereby “transfiguring” both the unborn child and the night itself.

Arnold Schoenberg 1936

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Classical music education: Trust The Ear — you will be pleased and perhaps even astonished by the annual Winterfest concerts of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras on this Saturday and Sunday on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

March 11, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings the annual Winterfest concerts given by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

WYSO Winterfest logo 2014

Once again, The Ear predicts, audiences will see and hear some of the city’s biggest, most enthusiastic and youngest audiences (below) greet equally young, enthusiastic and talented young players who turn in performances of astounding and often unexpected high quality.

The Ear knows that from personal experience. I will never ever forget a remarkable performance of the Symphony No. 8 by Antonin Dvorak that I heard at a spring WYSO performance several years ago. It was serious music-making, not just student music-making.

WYSO young audience

In retrospect, all that should be no surprise. Young people from all around southcentral Wisconsin become members of WYSO only through a rigorous audition process, and the training is hard and long. But WYSO’s young performers end up making great music greatly, so that when they are invited to go on tour to Europe (two summers ago) and South America (this coming summer) it seems a natural outcome.

wyso violas

The concerts on this Saturday and Sunday are the primary concert fundraisers for the group that holds the most promise of insuring the future of classical music and music education among young people, especially at a  time when arts funding is being taken away from many public schools.

The concerts also serve as the run-up to the all-important Art of Note gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 29, from 6 to 10 p.m. at CUNA Mutual. The concerts are guaranteed to whet your appetite for the Art of Note, which will feature fine food, wine, live music by student groups, auctions of items from sports matches and restaurants to vacations and entertainment, and old violins (below bottom) recycled as art.

Art of Note 2014 logo

Art of Note violins 2014

(In the interest of full disclosure, The Ear has to say that he is a member of the Board of Directors of WYSO — precisely because he considers it such a vital investment in the future of the performing arts and arts education. You should attend the concerts if you can, and also donate what you can to WYSO because I can’t think of a better or more deserving investment you can make.)

On this Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and March 16, more than 350 talented young musicians will perform both classical and contemporary works.

The Winterfest Concerts will be held in Mills Concert Hall in the University of Wisconsin-Madison George L. Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park Street, in Madison.

WYSO concerts generally last about 1-1/2 hours, and provide a great orchestral concert opportunity for families. Dress is casual and the atmosphere is respectful, but informal. These concerts are, in a word, fun. 

Tickets are available at the door: $10 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.

WYSO was founded in 1966 and has served nearly 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.

The concert series kicks off on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with Sinfonietta (below) performing works by Aaron Copland, Peter Illich Tchaikovsky, Bedrich Smetana, Gazda, and Leyden.

WYSO Sinfonietta

Then on Saturday at 4 p.m. the Concert Orchestra (below) will perform numerous works, including “Three Songs of Chopin” by Frederic Chopin, “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Gustav Holst, “Band of Brothers” by Michael Kamen, and “The Great Gate of Kiev” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modeste Mussorgsky.

wyso concert orchestra brass

On Sunday at 1:30, the Philharmonia Orchestra (below, rehearsing) will perform the irresistible final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 5 in C minor, the fourth movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s searing Symphony No. 5, “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1” by Edvard Grieg, “March and Procession to Bacchus” by Leo Delibes, and finally “Procession to the Cathedral” by Richard Wagner.

WYSO rehesrsal Philharmonia Violins

Then also on Sunday at 4 p.m., the Youth Orchestra (below, in performance under WYSO’s music director and UW-Madison conducting professor James Smith) will close the concert series with Symphony No. 4 in E-Flat by the 19th-century Romantic Russian composer Peter Illich Tchaikovsky (it is The Ear’s favorite of Tchaikovsky’s six wonderful  symphonies); “Liturgical Scenes” by the 20th-century American composer Ellsworth Milburn; and “El sombrero de tres picos” (The Three-Cornered Hat) by the 20th-century Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. (At bottom is a YouTube video of the finale to Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 as performed at last year’s WYSO Winterfest.)

WYSO Youth  Orchestra

For more information about the Winterfest concerts and the Art of Note gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 29, as well as for information about auditioning to join WYSO and ways to support WYSO, visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

WYSO extends special thanks to Diane Endres Ballweg for her generous multi-year support of the Winterfest Concerts. The concerts are also generously supported by Dane Arts, with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Classical music: Mary Mackenzie, a former Madisonian now singing in New York City is seeking help to finance the first recording of composer John Harbison’s “Songs After Hours.”

January 6, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Mary Mackenzie (below), a very accomplished singer, a friend of the blog and a former Madison resident, writes:

mary mackenzie

Dear Mr. Stockinger,

It has been quite a while since you saw me perform — I suspect it may have been “Brundibar” with Madison Opera in 2000! — but I always enjoy keeping up with your blog about all things musical in Madison.

I was last in Madison in August, and gave a recital at the Token Creek Music Festival (below, and art bottom in a YouTube video). Returning home to Madison to share my life-long love of song with family and friends is always a treat for me.

TokenCreekbarn interior

I was fortunate to have an extensive musical education in Madison. I was involved in the music programs at West High School, WYSO (Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra) and the Madison Opera, and I was able to see my mother play almost every week, either with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra or the Oakwood Chamber Players.

I went on to receive a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and later moved to New York City, where I received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

I made my Carnegie Hall debut in the Stern Auditorium in November with the American Symphony Orchestra, singing “Warble for Lilac Time” by Elliott Carter (bel0w).

Elliott Carter

My eight years in New York City have been rich with a busy and varied singing career. I have made a name for myself as an interpreter of contemporary music – particularly art song and chamber music – and have worked with many prestigious living composers. (Below is Mary Mackenzie performing Harrison Birtwistle’s “Three Settings of Celan” with the Juilliard School’s Axiom Ensemble in a photo by The New York Times). It is one piece in particular, and the relationship I forged with the composer  John Harbison that has resonated with me.

Mary Mackenzie ii in Harrison Birtwistle's %22Thee Settings of Celan%22 with the Juilliard School's Axiom Ensemble NYT

I am writing to tell you a bit about the jazz songs, Songs After Hours, by John Harbison (below) and a unique new artistic endeavor of mine, which includes creating the first-ever recording of these works. It is my hope that you will see the value in this project, and consider supporting its production.

JohnHarbisonatpiano

Five years ago, I performed John’s Songs After Hours at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. Though scored only for piano and voice at the time, John mentioned his wish to see the music developed further for a jazz combo.

Fast forward to 2012, when I had an opportunity to work with some of the most exceptional jazz musicians in New York City. Through their artistry and creativity, I knew that I’d found the group to realize John’s vision. We created original arrangements of the songs for voice and combo and are going into the studio soon to make the debut recording in 2014. The album will ultimately be released by Albany Records.

There are many financial obligations involved in making a record, and while I am applying for grant funding and running a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter, I am looking for outside donors as well.  In particular, I would like to find donors to sponsor each of the five musicians involved in the project. (Below is a photo of Mary Mackenzie performing Hector Parra’s “Hypermusic — Ascension” at the Guggenheim Museum.)

Mary Mackenzie in Hector Parra %22Hypermusic -- Ascension%22 at the Guggenheim Museum

As for the Kickstarter, the deadline is January 17, so not that far away. The link for the page is:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1472615144/the-john-harbison-project-songs-after-hours-debut.

The goal of the Kickstarter is to raise $10,000, which would go towards studio costs, engineering, mixing, and mastering.  Of course, if we exceed our goal, then that’s more money towards the overall budget. I am hoping that I can find some donors that are separate from the Kickstarter to help sponsor the musicians.

I will be applying for a grant through the Aaron Copland Fund for the remainder of the funds.

I have some of the best jazz musicians accompanying me on this project, and I believe they deserve to be compensated with at least $1,500 for their work on this record. Ideally, I’d like to give them more if funding allows. This totals at least $7,500 for five musicians.

I am hoping Madisonians will consider supporting this record.  Of course, any amount anyone can give would be a great help, perhaps even a sponsorship of one of the musicians. You and others can contact me at mmackenzie981@gmail.com or at www.mary-mackenzie.com or call me at (608) 215-9261.

Sincerely,

Mary Mackenzie


Classical music: Ringing cell phones and coughing made Saturday’s concert by the UW-Madison’s Clocks in Motion enthralling and unforgettable.

September 23, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Loyal readers of this blog know well the name of Mikko Utevsky. The young violist and conductor is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin School of Music, where he studies with Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm and plays in the UW Symphony Orchestra.

Utevsky, who has won awards and impressive reviews for his work in music education since his days at Madison’s East High School,, is the founder and conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, which will perform its fourth season next summer. He has also been named the new Music Director of a local community orchestra, The Studio Orchestra, effective two weeks ago. The ensemble has an out-of-date website here (www.disso.org).

You can check out his many honors and projects by typing his name into the search engine on this blog site.

Utevsky offered The Ear a guest review of an unusual percussion concert this past weekend by Clocks in Motion. I immediately took him up on the offer. After all, he is a fine and perceptive writer who, you may recall, blogged for this post when he was on tour two summers ago with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras tour to Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Here is the review by Mikko Utevsky (below):

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

By Mikko Utevsky

When we go to a concert, we go to listen and to watch. Perhaps with the very best performers we hope to be touched by the music, for the musicians on stage to speak to us through their playing.

But the role of the audience in classical music is generally passive: we expect to sit quietly, clap when a piece ends, cough politely between movements. We certainly do not walk in the doors expecting to be part of the performance.

At Saturday afternoon’s free performance in Mills Hall of “Percussion is Revolution” by UW-Madison resident ensemble Clocks in Motion (below, in concert), however, all this was turned on its head, and the result was an experience unlike anything I have ever witnessed. (For more information, visit: http://clocksinmotionpercussion.com)

clocks in motion in concert

The ideas of John Cage (below) and his colleagues have not penetrated the conscious of the concert-going public, by and large, and we are comfortable with our music on its pedestal, secure in the rituals surrounding a symphony concert or string quartet recital. The opportunity to see it toppled, however briefly, is notwithstanding an event not to be missed.

John Cage and cat

I, like many audience members, was slightly skeptical about the idea of a participatory concert. I went unsure of what to expect, but I had thoroughly enjoyed the ensemble’s other concerts I had attended, and thought it best to approach with an open mind.

After an exciting opener of “Pulse” by Henry Cowell (below), th group’s music director Sean Kleve explained the structure of the remainder of the program to the audience.

henry cowell

The next four works, all by John Cage , would be played without break and without applause. However, they would be separated by interludes of audience sound. We were asked to make sure our cell phones were turned ON – unthinkable in any other context – and permitted to make one call to another audience member during the course of the performance of Cage’s notorious 4’33” that would follow the next piece.

cell phone ringing

At another juncture, we were asked to read from the program notes in a whisper. Elsewhere we were invited to make noise using whatever we had in our pockets, and later to cough and clear our throats, as inevitably occurs between movements during a conventional classical music concert.

coughing

A video would be projected on the back wall during the performance – a potpourri of more or less random short clips (rain dripping from a rooftop, a turtle, a can rolling off a table, quotes on the nature of music, screensaver-like digital images) – which Kleve (below  top) informed us had not been timed to match the music, nor had it been viewed by any members of the ensemble other than Dave Alcorn (below bottom), who assembled it.

Sean Kleeve

Dave Alcorn Clocks in Motion

Our role as audience, then, was to experience. We had music to listen to, video to watch, spaces to participate (as well as permission to accept accidents – a phone ringing, dropping a program – as part of the concert), and an ensemble of visually engaging performers to observe.

The effect was totally immersive, hypnotic, and utterly enthralling. I have never experienced such a powerful performance, or been so completely engaged by the performers on stage.

Clocks in Motion (below, playing outside the UW-Madison’s George Mosse Humanities Building, and at bottom in  YouTube video where the group discusses its mission and goals) ) is a virtuosic ensemble, made up of incredibly talented and dedicated musicians (including multiple Collins Fellows). Their performances are unfailingly engaging, energetic, and executed with a precision befitting their excellent training and intense rehearsals.

(Clocks in Motion is running an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign for a new studio album, featuring two premieres; a link is below:)

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/clocks-in-motion-s-first-album

Not a piece on the program was dull, though there were highlights: Cage’s “Imaginary Landscape 1″ and “First Construction in Metal” were personal favorites, along with the Cowell opener.

Clocks in Motion outside

During “Imaginary Landscape 1,” I could not tell at one point whether the synthesized pitches were coming from in the room or inside my own head. Elsewhere, this would have been disconcerting; here, it simply allowed me to immerse myself in the landscape the performers were inviting me to imagine with them. I think John Cage would approve, both of the effect and of the superb performances of so much of his music.

I realize it is difficult to write authentically about music such as this without sounding trite or ridiculous, and that I may come across as such here. Discarding the accumulated pomp and circumstance with which we dress our music in the classical world does not come easily, at least when reading about it, and if indeed my assessment seems laughable, so be it. The risk of being laughed at is one worth taking for music like this.

For a young musician such as myself, performances like “Percussion is Revolution” are formative experiences – albeit few and far between.

For the veteran concertgoer, perhaps they are powerful enough to challenge the rituals of concert music, at least for an afternoon. If (when?) the program is offered again, it is not to be missed. Attend with an open mind, and be prepared to take part and to accept your experience as a kind of music not played at a symphony concert.

And if you laugh a little, you’re among friends.


Classical music: The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra will perform a FREE concert of classics this Wednesday night at 7 at the Gialamas Company’s 12th annual summer Concert in the Park at the Old Sauk Trails Business Park. Here are details and the background.

August 12, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Think of it as the Seventh Concert on the Square – except that the 12th annual Concert in the Park (below, in an aerial view) is from from downtown, located instead on Madison’s far west side in the Old Sauk Trails Business Park, 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive.

WYSO Concert in the Park Photo aeriel view

After all, it is OUTDOORS. And it is FREE. And it is on a Wednesday night – in fact this Wednesday night, Aug. 14, from 5-9 p.m., with the music starting at 7 p.m. sharp.

It is all very familiar friendly and features food and treats, including an ice cream social and a fireworks show.

But the annual Concert in the Park also has a few differences.

Here are some details about the event that is becoming increasingly popular as it becomes increasingly established as a showcase for young talent and a good time for the public.

For one, it is performed by the Youth Orchestra of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) rather than the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Any funds raised will benefit the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), which has taught more than 5,000 young musicians from over 100 communities in Southcentral Wisconsin since it was a founded in 1966.

For more information about WYSO, here is a link to WYSO: http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

Also, the guiding financial support comes from the Gialamas Company, a real estate development firm headed by husband George and wife Candy Gialamas (below) as well as from other sponsors.

George and Candy Gialamas

For the fifth year in a row, the performers are extremely talented young students, WYSO’s premiere performing group (below) and who will perform under the baton of conductor James Smith, director of orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. And the repertoire is all classical music, drawn from the concert WYSO performances during its regular past season.

WYSO Concert in the Park, playing under Jim Smith 3

THE PROGRAM

Here is the generous, varied and very accessible program, with the timing in minutes included in parentheses:

Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss Jr.  (9); Suite from the opera “Carmen” by Georges Bizet featuring “Les Toréadors,” “Prelude et Aragonaise,” “Intermezzo,” “Les dragons d’Alcala,” the famous “Habanera” and the “Bohemian Dance” (15); First movement from the Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra by Franz Joseph Haydn with oboist Lauren McNeel (10); the Allegro resolute, alla Marcia from Symphony No. 2, “Antar” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (5); INTERMISSION The second movement from Symphony No. 2, “Romantic” by Howard Hanson (14); Allegro Appassionato from the Concerto No. 2 in D Minor for Piano by Felix Mendelssohn with pianist Vivian Wilhelms (10); Music for Symphony Orchestra by Yasushi Akutgawa (12).

By way of introduction, conductor James Smith (below) writes:

“The concert is a wonderful exposure for the WYSO program, and the concert is presented with the utmost professionalism because of the financial support from the Gialamas Company.

“We perform for an audience that finds the orchestra far exceeds their expectations, and it gives the members of the orchestra another chance to feel appreciated for their musical talent.

“Naturally, our traditional audience is primarily family and friends of the musicians.  The Concert in the Park gives the orchestra a feeling of accomplishment and artistic validation.”

Smith_Jim_conduct07_3130

THE ACTIVITIES

You can arrive around 5 p.m. to enjoy pre-concert activities, to socialize and to picnic. You can set up lawn chairs and blankets at that time.

Schoep’s Ice Cream and The Gialamas Company, Inc. will once again be partnering with the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund for the 5th Annual “Ultimate Ice Cream Social. All-you-can-eat ice cream is sold for $5 for adults, $3 for children, and $3 for a super scoop. Free face painting and coloring sheets are available for the kids. All the proceeds of this event go to keep the Heat and Power on for those most in need.

WYSO Concert in the Park kids eating ice cream 2

FOOD AND BEVERAGES

Appetizers, a picnic dinner and beverages are available from the concert caterers, Benvenuto’s Italian Grill or Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub. Food and drinks must be pre-ordered and placed with the restaurant of your choice prior to tomorrow, TUESDAY, August 13. Food is delivered to sponsor tables between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

If you do not have a reserved sponsor table but still wish to order food, you may pick up your order at the event. Menus and ordering information can be found online at www.gialamas.com/events.

Sponsorships:  Are still available.  Contact Erica@gialamas.com for more information!

WYSO Concert  the Park Tent 4

HOW IT GOT STARTED

Here is the history of the WYSO Concert in the Park as told by Candy Gialamas to Gialamas Company employee Erica Wiley:

How was the event started?  Whose idea was it?  How did the first year go?

It all began over 12 years ago. George and I went golfing with friends. The Clubhouse was closed by the time we were done, so one of our friends suggested a local restaurant that had an outdoor patio.

A group of musicians from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was playing and after they were finished, Andrew Sewell, the conductor, came over and chatted with our table.  After Mr. Sewell’s departure from the conversation, one of our friends suggested that we should put on a classical Concert in Old Sauk Trails Park.

Shortly thereafter, George asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary … and I said an outdoor concert!

The first year, we only had one month to plan and orchestrate the entire event.  Our Construction Manager, Andy and I took care of everything and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performed.  We invited friends, family and our tenant and the first year, 800 people showed up.

The last few years, we’ve had audiences of 5,000.  The event continues to grow and flourish each year!

Do you or your children have a musical background or play an instrument?

Our entire family is very involved with numerous art and music organizations. George sang his way through college while attending Marquette University. Aris enjoys singing as well; Lana and Gina both took piano lessons as children.  All of the Gialamas children have followed in our footsteps and are involved with various art and music boards and fundraising.

What about symphonic music inspires you?  Why do you think everyone should experience a Symphony Concert?

The whole reason I wanted to start Concert in the Park was that music is a universal language and inspires feelings that everyone from any background and culture can relate to.

Symphony music can bring joy, sadness, excite or sooth and can inspire a range of emotions depending on the piece.  Since the beginning of time people have used musical expression to tell stories, document events, etc. Music is an integral part of history.

What do you think of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra performance as compared to a typical Symphony performance? (Editor’s note: You can hear WYSO perform the dramatic last movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s famous Fifth Symphony in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The last five years, we have asked the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform at the event and could not be more pleased with their performance each and every year.

The talent that the youth musicians possess is absolutely amazing and inspiring.  They give such an exceptional performance and you can feel their excitement at playing an outdoor venue in front of such a large crowd.  The audience can truly see how much they enjoy performing.  They are a wonderful group of musicians and we are proud to support them.


Classical Music: Award-winning conductor and music educator Tom Buchhauser of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras will retire at the end of this season.

September 21, 2012
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ALERT: University of  Wisconsin-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will perform a FREE concert on the Faculty Concert Series this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. He will be joined by pianist Vincent Fuh, bassist Nick Moran and percussionist Todd Hammes for an evening of progressive rock, jazz and electro-acoustic modern classical music. The program will feature works by Nels Cline, Mark Engebretson, Madison composer John Stevens, Henry Cowell and the Dub Trio.

By Jacob Stockinger

For the past 30 years, cellist-conductor Thomas Buchhauser has served as an exemplary music educator for thousands of students who have played in the ranks of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.

But at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Buchhauser will retire and bring to a close his career as WYSO’s associate music director.

In addition to his 30 seasons conducting WYSO’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Buchhauser taught at Madison Memorial High School and Jefferson Middle School from 1966-1999; played cello for Madison Symphony Orchestra for nearly 20 years; served on the faculty of the National String Workshop for 10 years; and directed ensembles for the University of Wisconsin School of Music Pre-College Institute, the Madison Community Orchestra and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Steenbock Young Artist Concerto Concerts. 

Buchhauser (below, conducting the WYSO Philharmonia Orchestra in a photo by Cheng-Wei-Wu) has received numerous awards for his excellence in teaching, including the Wisconsin Music Educators Conference Distinguished Service Award (1983), the National School Orchestra Association Director of the Year Award (1993), the American String Teachers Association Outstanding Service Award (1993), the Rabin Youth Arts Award (2001), and has scholarships named in his honor by the WSMA Honors Project, WYSO, and Madison Memorial High School.  In 1999, Madison Metropolitan School District named the Memorial High School auditorium the “Thomas E. Buchhauser Auditorium.”

According to a statement from WYSO, Buchhauser’s masterful conducting along with his kindness and wit have endeared him to multiple generations of students who have taken his lessons to heart. WYSO founder Marvin Rabin (below, a reception when he won a lifetime achievement award last year from the Wisconsin School Music Association) confirmed this legacy, stating, “Tom’s presence has made a positive and striking difference in the lives of so many music students and teachers. We are very fortunate and grateful that Thomas Buchhauser has contributed so profoundly to our community.”

Upon announcing his decision to retire, Buchhauser told WYSO: “I have had many teachers and experiences that have shaped my life as a musician, teacher and conductor but none so profound as Marvin Rabin’s coming to Madison in 1966 to start WYSO and David Nelson asking me to be Associate Music Director of WYSO in 1983. It has been an honor to be part of such a great organization and I will be forever grateful to WYSO for all that it has given to me.”

Here is a sample of Tom Buchhauser at work — you can find others on YouTube— conducting a 2011 performance by WYSO’s Philharmonia Orchestra of “Greensleeves”:


Classical music: Let us now praise ensemble orchestra players who are overshadowed by conductors and soloists. Auditioning for a symphony orchestra is an arduous life-changing event, as a terrific NPR story documents.

September 19, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Gradually, the new concert season is getting under way. One of the biggest opening concerts comes this weekend, when the Madison Symphony Orchestra opens its new season.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson (below) returns to Madison to solo in the rarely performed and rarely heard Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op. 44, by Tchaikovsky – who wrote three piano concertos of which only the first, the famous one in B-flat minor, achieved mass appeal. (Some of the rarely recorded Second Concerto’s gorgeous second movement is at the bottom.)

The performance of the Tchaikovsky is part of an all-Russian program that also includes Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony and Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite. The conductor is MSO’s music director John DeMain (below, in a photo by James Gill), who is starting his 19th season in Madison at the MSO.

Also featured will be the “Adagio for Strings” — NOT to be confused with Samuel Barber‘s famous work with the same title —  by University of Wisconsin composer and tuba player John Stevens, who also serves as the director of the UW School of Music. The work was originally composed in 1991 for tuba and euphonium ensemble, then revised in 2009 for strings and given its premiere by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. The performance of this work is being dedicated to the memory of longtime retired MSO music director and conductor Roland Johnson who died in May at 91, and to the memory of Paul Haugan, the longtime principal tuba player for the MSO who died prematurely in July. See below). 

Performances are in Overture Hall on Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16.50 to $78.50. For more information about tickets, call the Overture Box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit www.madisonsymphony.org

For J. Michael Allsen’s program notes for the “Russian Resounds” concerts, visit:

http://facstaff.uww.edu/allsenj/MSO/NOTES/1213/1.Sep12.html

Still, the soloist isn’t the only intriguing part of the concert.

A lot of fine music-making rides on regular orchestra players and especially on principal players or section leaders. And this past summer, the longtime and very accomplished principal tuba player Paul Haugan (below), died at 57 this past July. Here is a link to my post last month that announced the death of the highly accomplished Madison-born Milwaukee resident:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/classical-music-madison-symphony-orchestra-principal-tuba-player-paul-haugen-of-madison-and-milwaukee-dies-at-57/

Who will replace Haugan?

I don’t yet know. But a recent story on NPR traced the process of auditioning for a major symphony orchestra. It shows how much work and nervousness goes into the strenuous, intimidating and extremely competitive make-or-break chance for a full-time job with a symphony.

It makes for fascinating listening and might just give you a new appreciation of the regular orchestra players, who are usually overshadowed by both the conductor and the soloist.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/07/21/156989230/a-musician-and-the-audition-of-his-life


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