The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: “New Music Saturday” is rich with FREE concerts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

September 19, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Think of this coming Saturday as “New Music Saturday.”

That is because fans of new and contemporary classical music have a busy day of MUST-HEAR concerts ahead of them.

Two FREE concerts will be featured in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.


The first concert is in the afternoon and will be given by the UW-Based percussion group “Clocks in Motion” (seen below in concert).

clocks in motion in concert

The “Clocks” concert is at 3 p.m. in Mills Hall and will present a FREE concert highlighting the music of American composers Henry Cowell (below top) and John Cage (below bottom).

henry cowell

John Cage and cat

Here are some program notes provided by Clocks in Motion:

“The performance will be interactive. Audience participation will be a central focus in the performance, resulting in a seamless sound tapestry that will transform the concert experience into a fully immersive event.

“Clocks in Motion’s ability to use virtually any object as an instrument will be extended to the audience, who will be encouraged to use their cell phones, keys, voices, hands, and other objects to contribute musical sounds throughout the performance.

“Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (, Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds rare instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

“Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion now serves as the ensemble in residence with the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Clock in Motion Logo white on black square

“The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles including Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern, West African, and Indian.

“Among its many recent engagements, the group served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Rhapsody Arts Center, University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

”For more information on Clocks in Motion, including repertoire, upcoming events, biographies, and media, visit


But that isn’t the end of new music on Saturday.

Also on this coming Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the acclaimed Center for New Music (below) at the University of Iowa will return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a FREE concert.

The Center for New Music at the University of Iowa was established in 1966 with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation. Its purpose is to promote contemporary to audiences rarely exposed to such repertoire. The Center also resulted in a tight collaboration between composer and musician. During the past 47 seasons, the Center has performed over 400 concerts and presented over 2000 compositions. It has commissioned and premiered works by composers such as Berio, Crumb, Messiaen and Carter, and continues to serve as a vehicle for contemporary music in the Midwest.

university of iowa center for new music ensemble

The concert of late 20th-century and early 21st-century repertoire features Viennese violinist Wolfgang David and pianist-composer David Gompper (below).

David Gommper and Wolfgang David

The program includes “Nuance” for solo violin (2012) by David Gompper (below); the Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 (1938-46) by Sergei Prokofiev; “Ikona” for violin and piano (2008) by David Gompper; and “Dikhthas” for violin and piano (1979) by Iannis Xenakis  (1922-2001).

Here is a note about “Nuance” — heard at the bottom in a YouTube video — from composer David Gompper (below) and reprinted courtesy of the UW School of Music:

“Nuance (2012) for solo violin is based on a simple descending melody heard in the opening bars. The three-part form explores timbral resources of the instrument through an extended series of character developments. Written in London in January 2012, it has undergone a number of expansions and a “filling out”. Very much in my mind was the application of the ratio 1.414 (the square root of 2), the same portion found in many of Bach’s works.”

Classical music: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra celebrates young composers and sibling soloists this Friday night with The Five Browns.

October 2, 2012
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ALERT-REMINDER: Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus, the Guest Artist Series presents violinist Wolfgang David and pianist David Gompper perform  a FREE concert that features  Schoenberg’s Phantasy, Op. 47, as well as works by Feldman, Gompper and Ravel.  Also, earlier on Tuesday — at 3:45  p.m. in Room 2511 of the Mosse Humanities Building, pianist David Gompper will hold a  Composition Masterclass.

By Jacob Stockinger

It is billed as “50 Fingers.”

You could also call it “3-M.”

Or maybe “The Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Whatever you call it, we are not talking chemistry, agriculture or biology.

We are talking classical music: Specially, the composers Mozart, Mendelssohn and Nico Muhly that span three centuries, the 18th, 19th and 21st.

That last name belongs to a modern composer whose has composed Four Nocturnes for Five Pianos — a piece clearly tailored for the guest soloists on Friday night’s opening concert of the new Masterworks season by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) under the baton of conductor Andrew Sewell, who is entering his 12th year as the WCO’s music director.

The concert will take place this Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of Overture Hall. Tickets are $15-$65. Call the Overture box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit:

The program strikes The Ear as vintage Andrew Sewell (below), an accomplished musician who has an uncanny ability to take well-known performers and well-known composers or works and mix them up with unknown ones in some kind of unusual angle, approach or theme that creates an unusual and informative synergy.

The Five Browns (below), you may recall, are the remarkable set of five sisters and brothers – three sisters and two brothers — from Utah who are all Juilliard-trained pianist and who perform sometimes together and sometimes in a tag team manner.

For background about the best-selling players who have been featured on TV and radio shows as well as in many traditional and new media outlets, visit:

You may have heard of them when the three daughters made sensational headlines by accusing their father Keith of sexual abuse. He was convicted and is serving time. But that is another story for another time.

Our concern here is musical, and it is in music – not crime – that The Five Browns, with the eclectic repertoire that runs the gamut from classical to pops, are unique.

Here are program notes from the WCO:

“A program celebrating composers in their youth are represented on this concert.

“Mozart’s Overture to “Il ré pastore” (The Shepherd King), K. 208, is from one of his earliest operas. Scintillating and delicate, it has all the hallmarks of the genius to come.

“Another early work, his Concerto No. 7 in F Major for Three Pianos, K. 242, completes our survey of the young master (below), having recorded No.’s 6, 8 and 9 on our Early Mozart CD in 2008.

“Nico Muhly (below) has already established himself as a composer to watch, and we are excited to present this work just one year after its premiere at the Ravinia Festival in August 2011.  “The Edge of the World” features four nocturnes for five pianos and chamber orchestra. 

“Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11, is a gem of a work too often overshadowed by the popularity of the later symphonies by Mendelssohn (below). It will keep us all on our toes.”

For more information about season and single tickets, the WCO and its guest artists, including videos, visit:

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