The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Meet Conor Nelson, the new flute professor at the UW-Madison

August 13, 2020
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By Jacob Stockinger

The UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music has a new flute professor who follows Timothy Hagen in taking the place of retired longtime predecessor Stephanie Jutt, who continues to perform locally with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society..

He is Conor Nelson (below) and he starts later this month at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.

Here is the biography — impressive for both his performing and his teaching –that the university released: 

“Praised for his “long-breathed phrases and luscious tone” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Canadian flutist Conor Nelson is established as a leading flutist and pedagogue of his generation.

“Since his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, he has frequently appeared as soloist and recitalist throughout the United States and abroad.

“Solo engagements include concertos with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Flint Symphony, and numerous other orchestras.

“In addition to being the only wind player to win the Grand Prize at the WAMSO (Minnesota Orchestra) Young Artist Competition, he won first prize at the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition. He also received top prizes at the New York Flute Club Young Artist Competition, the Haynes International Flute Competition as well as the Fischoff, Coleman and Yellow Springs chamber music competitions. (Editor’s note: In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear Conor Nelson perform the second and third movements of the Flute Sonata by French composer Francis Poulenc.)

“With percussionist Ayano Kataoka (below left, with Nelson), he performed at Merkin Concert Hall, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Hall and Izumi Hall. A recital at the Tokyo Opera City Hall received numerous broadcasts on NHK Television. Their CD entitled, “Breaking Training” was released on New Focus Recordings (NYC). His second CD, “Nataraja,” with pianist Thomas Rosenkranz, is also available on New Focus.

“He has collaborated with pianist Claude Frank on the Schneider concert series in New York City and appeared at numerous chamber music festivals across the country including the OK Mozart, Bennington, Skaneateles, Yellow Barn, Cooperstown, Salt Bay, Look and Listen (NYC), Norfolk (Yale), Green Mountain, Chesapeake, and the Chamber Music Quad Cities series.

“He is the Principal Flutist of the New Orchestra of Washington in Washington, D.C., and has performed with the Detroit, Toledo and Tulsa Symphony Orchestras. He also performed as guest principal with A Far Cry, Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, and the Conceirtos de la Villa de Santo Domingo.

“A respected pedagogue, Dr. Nelson has given master classes at over 100 colleges, universities and conservatories.

“Prior to his appointment at UW-Madison, he served as the flute professor at Bowling Green State University for nine years and as the Assistant Professor of Flute at Oklahoma State University from 2007-2011.

“His recent residencies include Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea; the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China; the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico; and the Associacao Brasileira de Flautistas in Sao Paulo.

“He is also a regular guest of the Texas Summer Flute Symposium and has been the featured guest artist for 11 flute associations across the country. His former students can be found performing in orchestras, as well as teaching at colleges, universities and public schools nationwide. They have also amassed over 60 prizes in young artist competitions, concerto competitions and flute association competitions.

“Nelson received degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University and Stony Brook University where he was the winner of the school-wide concerto competitions at all three institutions. He is also a recipient of the Thomas Nyfenger Prize, the Samuel Baron Prize and the Presser Award.

“His principal teachers include Carol Wincenc, Ransom Wilson, Linda Chesis, Susan Hoeppner and Amy Hamilton. Nelson is a Powell Flutes artist and is the Assistant Professor of Flute at UW-Madison where he performs with the Wingra Wind Quintet.”

 


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Classical music Q&A: Cellist Benjamin Whitcomb hopes to build classical music fans with his FREE concert of three cello masterpieces by Beethoven, Debussy and Rachmaninoff this Friday night at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education in Waunakee and on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.”

September 17, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

This Friday night, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. adults and students have a chance to hear a FREE concert of three unqualified masterpieces for cello and piano.

The concert is by cellist Benjamin Whitcomb, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and is a member of the acclaimed Madison-based Ancora String Quartet. The pianist is Whitcomb’s longtime collaborator Vincent de Vries, who teaches at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

The concert is at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education (below)
, located at 1005 Quinn Drive in 
Waunakee, Wisconsin, 53597.

Wisconsin School Music sign

Wisconsin School Music Association building

The program includes: Cello Sonata No. 5 in D Major, Op. 102 No. 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-0827), a late work especially known for its final fugue movement; the Cello Sonata by Claude Debussy (1862-1918); and the Cello Sonata in G Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943, heard at the bottom in a YouTube video with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax ). 

Benjamin Whitcomb is an accomplished teacher and performer who does both solo recitals (more than a dozen recitals of the complete six Solo Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach, some at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, below) and chamber music.

Benjamin Whitcomb playing Bach 1

Whitcomb recently explained his reasons for doing the free concert to The Ear:

benjamin whitcomb3

“Vincent and I get together a once or twice a year to do a series of performances, despite the distance between us — he is based in Seoul, Korea. We have been doing this since 2002.

“Every time we get together, we talk about how some concerts pay very well but are poorly attended whereas others are just the opposite, and we both agree that we prefer performing for more people (not surprisingly). So, for any given series of concerts, once we have lined up enough to “pay the bills,” we start looking for other venues that might reach more people and/or different audiences.

“Sometimes we end up performing for groups that don’t hear much live classical music, and it is very rewarding to have some of the audience members come up afterwards and express just how much our performance moved them and affected them.

“Vincent (below) and I are both of the opinion that there are many people who would be fans of live classical music if they but were exposed to it.

Vincent de Vries

“The idea of playing at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education springs primarily from the fact that part of their mission, too, is to spread and encourage the appreciation for music (including live classical music) in the region.”

A SECOND CHANCE

You should also know that if you miss this Friday night concert, the same performers and program will be featured in concert and in the live broadcast on this Sunday’s edition of Wisconsin Public Radio‘s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” Museum in Madison (below). It runs from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery 3.

SALProArteMay2010


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