School of Music announces David Ronis as visiting director of opera

The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of opera director David Ronis to serve a one-year term as Visiting Assistant Professor, Director of University Opera, replacing William Farlow, who retires this year after 16 years in the position. His final production of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict will be staged Tuesday, April 15, in Music Hall.

David Ronis.

David Ronis.

Ronis, a tenor with many singing and acting roles to his credit, is currently on the faculties of the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College/City University of New York, and Hofstra University on Long Island, where he teaches voice, directs opera, and coaches singers on acting and auditioning skills.

“The voice and opera programs are delighted to welcome David Ronis,” says Mimmi Fulmer, professor of voice and opera at the School of Music. “Mr. Ronis will direct two full productions for University Opera during the 2014-15 season, as well as join me in teaching Opera Workshop. He brings a background of a distinguished singing career in both opera and musical theater as well as extensive credits as a director. We are fortunate to have him contribute his artistry and experience to our singers and our audiences. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work together to present another wonderful season of University Opera.”

Ronis’s resumé is impressive. His 2009 and 2011 productions of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Argento’s Postcard From Morocco won first and third place, respectively, in the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition. Other recent productions include L’incoronazione di Poppea, Suor Angelica, La Damoiselle Elue, The Magic Flute, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Dido and Aeneas at Queens College, Rigoletto for the Queens Symphony Orchestra, Cosî fan tutte for OSH Opera, From Berlin to Potsdam: A Kurt Weill Cabaret for the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and a portion of Gregg Wramage’s Death in Summer at the Manhattan School of Music, part of their annual “From Page to Stage” series.

Mr. Ronis is also the co-director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College, a faculty member at the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and served as the local chair for the National Opera Association’s January 2014 convention in New York City.

Ronis visited UW-Madison in March and says he was “very impressed with the students.”

“Their skill level is very high, they were very engaged, interested and motivated. They asked really difficult questions. I just loved it,” he added.

David Ronis.

David Ronis as “Lumiere” in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Mr. Ronis has sung over 50 operatic roles, including performances of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, the Four Servants in Les Contes D’Hoffmann, Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus, Basilio and Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Goro in Madama Butterfly. He has appeared on stages from Milan’s La Scala to Vienna, New York to Hong Kong. He also has performed as a soloist in the world’s most famous halls and at summer music festivals and has acted in many musical theater productions, independent films and commercials. He is a member of the National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, the College Music Society, Actors Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists and the Screen Actors Guild.

Mr. Ronis received his B.F.A. degree from Purchase College of the State University of New York and the M.A.L.S. (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) in Opera Studies, an interdisciplinary research degree, from Empire State College/SUNY. He also studied at the Conservatoire Americain in Fontainebleau, France, then under the direction of the legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Additionally, he received the Anthony Gishford Award to attend the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England, where he worked with the late Sir Peter Pears.

For more information, please email or call Mimmi Fulmer, fulmer.wisc@gmail.com. 608/263-1882.

UW Jazz is big winner in Eau Claire; Lincoln Trio to premiere Schwendinger work live on radio; “Save the date” for May 16 grad celebration

UW Contemporary Jazz ensemble wins first place in UW-Eau Claire Jazz Festival

Jazz Orchestra is runner-up in separate category

UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble. Top row (l-r): Robert Medina, Alex Charland, Dylan Edwards, Johannes Wallmann, Ben Knox; bottom row (l-r): Nat Schwartz, Michael Wedoff

Two School of Music jazz ensembles directed by Assistant Professor Johannes Wallmann were recognized at the 47th Annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival this past weekend: The UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble won first place in the college combo category (out of ten participating bands), and the UW Jazz Orchestra was the runner-up in the college big band category (out of seven bands). As a result of their first- and second-place finishes, both groups were invited to perform at the festival’s evening concert for an audience of several hundred festival participants and community members.

The UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble is a sextet consisting of trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, piano, bass, and drums, that performs pieces composed in the last couple of decades by significant jazz artists, UW visiting guest artists, ensemble students, and its director. The ensemble’s winning set included London-based trumpeter Kenny Wheeler’s “Foxy Trot,” Wallmann’s “Arbutus,” and the ballad “Jurre” by Chicago guitarist Zvonimir Tot, who had performed as a guest artist with the ensemble in March at UW. The ensemble was founded in 2012 by Prof. Wallmann when he joined the faculty of the School of Music.

The UW Jazz Orchestra was first established in 1968 in the classic big band format. Its present incarnation focuses on repertoire from the 1950s to today, with an emphasis on the music of guest composers and performers. The UWJO’s festival set included New York trombonist Pete McGuinness’s “The Swagger,” Thad Jones’s “Cherry Juice,” and Wallmann’s “Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”

Alex Charland (tenor sax), Peter Garofalo (piano), Ben Knox (alto sax), and Erik Olsen (trombone) all received outstanding soloist awards at the festival. This marks the second year that UW jazz ensembles have participated in the Eau Claire jazz festival. Last year’s ensemble came in second and third in their respective categories. Congratulations to all!

Noted jazz trumpeter to perform with college and high school students on May 1

Meanwhile, in Mills Hall at 7:30 PM on May 1, Grammy-award winning jazz trumpeter Brian Lynch will cap off the jazz season as a guest of the UW Jazz Orchestra. Lynch, a native of Milwaukee who now makes his home in New York City, will appear in concert with the orchestra and the High School Honors Jazz Band, an auditioned ensemble comprised of the best jazz musicians that Madison-area schools have to offer. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a list of every high school student who will perform in the orchestra.

Brian Lynch.

Brian Lynch. Photo copyright Tomoji Hirakata.

Lynch went to Nicolet High School, and learned from local artists first hand. After graduating from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Lynch moved to New York, where he performed with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet, and collaborated with greats such as Hector Lavoe, Eddie Palmieri, Benny Golson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lila Downs, and Prince. Click here for a 2007 New York Times story about Lynch and Eddie Palmieri performing at the 92nd Street Y.

Going on to produce 15 albums and teach as Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, Lynch has made a name due to his ability to draw from a wide range of jazz styles and inspirations. “I think that to be a jazz musician now means drawing on a wider variety of things than 30 or 40 years ago,” Lynch says. “Not to play a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but to blend everything together into something that has integrity and sounds good.” This concert is presented by Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Performing Arts Committee and Isthmus Weekly and supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. WORT 89.9 FM is the media sponsor. This event is ticketed: prices range from $5 for students to $15 for adults. For tickets, click here.

Please note: Lynch will offer a master class on May 1 at 1:30 PM, Mills Hall. The public is welcome.

 

World premiere of new Schwendinger work to be broadcast live on WFMT radio

Laura Schwendinger

Laura Schwendinger

The Grammy-nominated Lincoln Trio will premiere Laura Elise Schwendinger’s Arc of Fire, commissioned in 2012 by Chamber Music America, on Saturday, April 19, 2014 at Gottlieb Hall at the Merit School of Music in Chicago.  It will also be broadcast live on WFMT’s show, “Relevant Tones.”  The Lincoln Trio will also be playing Stacy Garrop’s Sanctuary. in 2012, Schwendinger won the extremely competitive award with the Lincoln Trio, hailed in FANFARE Magazine as “one of the hottest young trios in the business.” Arc of Fire, composed in August, 2013, is dedicated to the memory of Gene Chinn, Schwendinger’s father-in-law. It is an intense and virtuosic 22 minute work that follows the stages of fire:

I. incipient… spark II. smoldering III. flames… IV. inferno V. false ebbing… VI. flare up VII. ebbing… (decay) and VIII. memento mori (melancholy waltz) for what has been lost, IX. decay…embers.

Meanwhile…save the date! The world premiere of Laura Schwendinger’s “Creature Quartet,” performed by the JACK Quartet, will be held on Friday, May 8, 2015, 8 pm at the renovated Shannon Hall, Wisconsin Union Theater, as part of the theater’s celebratory 75th anniversary.

New professor Jerome Camal augments growing “global music studies” program

With the appointment of Professor Jerome Camal, a faculty appointment in the Department of Anthropology, this semester marked a new beginning for ethnomusicology at UW-Madison’s School of Music. The new initiative, a “global music studies” program, examines music’s constitution as a cultural force woven into the social and political fabric. The university will offer courses and certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels with the expectation of initiating formal degrees in the future. It is made possible through support from the Mellon Foundation.
Click here to read more.

“Grace presents” Baroque music for a Saturday at noon

At the Square on Saturday for the just-opened Farmers’ Market? Stop in to Grace Episcopal Church, 116 W. Washington Avenue, for an hour of free R&R. On April 26, the church will offer a concert of new plus historic music for baroque flute, featuring Mi-Li Chang and Danielle Breisach on baroque flute; John Chappell Stowe on harpsichord; Stephanie Jutt on modern flute; and Eric Miller on viola da gamba. The program will include compositions by David MacBride, Robert Strizich, François Couperin, and Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as UW-Madison composers Stephen Dembski and Marc Vallon.

Javanese music and dance in Mills Hall, April 26

The Gamelan Ensemble, 2001. Photograph by Michael Forster Rothbart.

The Gamelan Ensemble, 2001. Photograph by Michael Forster Rothbart.

On Saturday, April 26 at 3:00 pm in Mills Hall, the University of Wisconsin School of Music, Department of Dance, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and Indonesian Students’ Association present “Across Regional Boundaries: A Javanese Music and Dance Concert. The program is a collaboration between the UW Javanese Gamelan Ensemble in its first year under the direction of Steve Laronga and the UW Javanese Dance troupe, directed by Prof. Peggy Choy. The concert will present the closely related but sharply contrasting repertories and performance styles of the Central Javanese court music tradition of Yogyakarta and the lively popular traditions of East Java. Joining the UW Javanese Gamelan will be guest artists Prof. Christina Sunardi (University of Washington), an expert on East Javanese dance, and Yogyanese music and dance experts Prof. Roger Vetter (Grinnell College) and Val Vetter (Grinnell College). For more information, please contact Steve Laronga at smlaronga@wisc.edu.
Read more. 

School of Music to hold a combo awards & graduation celebration

School of Music graduate Ami Yamamoto in December 2013, with her parents, Tatsuhiko and Mami.

School of Music graduate Ami Yamamoto in December 2013, with her parents, Tatsuhiko and Mami.

The School of Music will be honoring and celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2014 as well as recipients of student awards on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. in Music Hall.

All graduates and award recipients are encouraged to attend this special recognition along with their family, friends and guests.  Members of the School of Music administration, faculty, and staff will be hosting the event.  Other guests of honor are the School’s generous scholarship and award donors, the School of Music Board of Visitors, members of the School of Music Alumni Association, representatives from the UW Foundation, and the School’s Academic Associate Dean from the College of Letters & Science.  A catered reception of hors d’oeuvres and light refreshments will follow the ceremony.

Parking on campus will be free and open to the public starting at 12 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  Guests are welcome to park in any UW-Madison parking ramp and surface lot. To view a map of parking options, please click here.

Music Hall offers accessible seating. Please call 263-1900 to specify your needs for accessible seating so we are able to accommodate you.

The College of Letters & Science will host a pre-commencement reception in the Field House at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  Please click here for more details.

Hyperion Fox Trot Orchestra to hold reunion concert May 19

A benefit for the Karlos and Melinda Moser Opera Ticket Fund

Mills Hall, 7:30 PM. Tickets: $20 from Vilas Box Office, 265-2787.  www.arts.wisc.edu

Melinda Moser (at piano), Karlos Moser, and Rick Mackie.

Melinda Moser (at piano), Karlos Moser, and Rick Mackie.

The original Hyperion Oriental Fox Trot Orchestra was a “hot dance” revival orchestra, complete with strings, which performed an eclectic survey of early Twentieth Century popular American music. From Ragtime classics, through the transitional Tin Pan Alley idiom which names the orchestra, to masterpieces of the Jazz Age, the repertoire is sourced from collections of original published scores and manuscripts and includes a few transcriptions from famous recordings of the times.

The orchestra was very popular in Madison gigs in the 1970’s. Spearheaded by former University Opera director Karlos Moser and Madison Symphony Orchestra executive director Rick Mackie (who will both reprise their original roles in this 15-person orchestra) the May 19 concert will celebrate the Hyperion’s original debut at the Grand Benefit Ball for the Wisconsin Ballet on April 4, 1974. The program will be a mélange of New Orleans music and some famous derivatives, featuring music of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and Duke Ellington. Karlos Moser will open the concert with Magnetic Rag, Scott Joplin’s last, a poignant end to the era of ragtime as jazz kicked-in the door. Special Guest Jacqueline Colbert will perform several vocals expressing the influence of the blues which was and is so pervasive in jazz. Hyperion will have audience dancing in the aisles with a playlist including Joplin’s “Magnetic Rag”; Jelly Roll Morten’s “New Orleans Blues,” “Jungle Blues,” and “I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate”; Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “; and Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing.”

This concert will reunite artists who have played with the orchestra over the decades, including six of the original members present at its debut performance. Violinists Karen Smith (now with the Milwaukee Symphony), Wendy Buehl (Madison Symphony) and Leyla Sanyer (formerly Madison Symphony) were there from the beginning, with Buehl taking on the special task of cataloguing the unique collection of rarities in the orchestra’s library. Originals Melinda Moser, piano, Rick Mackie, drums and Pete Deakman, bass, also join Moser for this performance. The reed section will include tenor saxophonist Dick Lottridge, another UW School of Music faculty veteran best known as professor of bassoon and former principle bassoonist of the Madison Symphony. Lottridge has been a member since 1980, the year in which violinist Diane Mackie made her first Hyperion appearance. UW Professor of Trumpet John Aley has been in the first chair since 1982. Download press release: Hyperion Press release

Below: Watch Karlos and Melinda Moser perform in a “Music in Performance” class at the School of Music, Spring 2013, a one-credit class popular with non-majors and the community that seeks to introduce newcomers to the varied genres of music. To learn more about this class, see http://music.wisc.edu/mip.

 

Former percussion professor and studio to hold summer reunion

Students of Professor Emeritus Jim Latimer have planned an all-percussion reunion of former students (and their families) and are trying to spread the word to reach as many former students as possible. This includes students of the applied area, percussion ensemble and techniques classes.

Jim Latimer was professor of music, head of the percussion area and director of the UW Percussion Ensemble at UW-Madison from 1968 until his retirement in June 1999. He was also timpanist with the Madison Symphony for the same 31 years. From 1972 to 1978, he was Music Director of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras and took the orchestras on the first out-of-state tours, including representing Wisconsin at the Bicentennial Parade of American Music and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in 1976. He has conducted one of Wisconsin’s finest concert bands, the Capitol City Band, since 1981 and continues to play concerts in the park with CCB each summer. He also conducts the volunteer community band, the VFW Band, is the founding member of the Madison Marimba Quartet and plays percussion with his own dance ensemble. He can be reached at jhlatime@wisc.edu

Saturday, June 28, 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm (open mic at 4 pm).
Rennebohm Park, 115 N Eau Claire Ave, Madison, WI
RSVP by May 1 to one of the following alums:
MaryJo Biechler hop2it@uwalumni.com
Connie Coghlan concog@aol.com
Nancy (Kath) Riesch-Flannery nancysue1@aol.com
David Pedracine at pedracine@yahoo.com

Did you know that the School of Music Alumni Association has its own website? Here’s where you can read and contribute news of alumni, become a member, find out about special events, and contribute money toward much-needed student scholarships at the School of Music. http://uwsomaa.org/

The 2014 High School Honors Jazz Band

Performing Thursday, May 1, Mills HAll, with Brian Lynch and the UW Jazz Orchestra.

Edgewood High School – teacher: Carrie Backman
-Benjamin Drummond, alto saxophone (alumnus of UW Summer Music Clinic)
Madison Memorial High School – teachers: Ben Jaeger (bands) & Ben Ferris (jazz, SoM UW ’13 Music Ed alumnus)
-Gabriel Guglielmina, trombone
-Lindsey Kermgard, trumpet
-Kameron Kudick, drums/percussion
-Sam Szotkowski, trumpet
Madison West High School – teacher: Dr. Scott Eckel
-Marie Kaczmarek, trumpet (alumna of UW Summer Music Clinic)
McFarland High School – teachers: Joe Hartson and Benjamin Petersen
-Maria Hilgers, baritone saxophone
Middleton High School – teacher: Brad Schneider
-Eli Bucheit, piano
-Burton Copeland, trumpet
-Tanner Tanyeri, drums/percussion
Sun Prairie High School – teacher: Steve Sveum
-Ryan Kruger, bass trombone
-Sam Olson, bass
-Xavier Payne, tenor saxophone
-Alexander Valigura, trombone
Stoughton High School – teacher: Dan Schmidt
-Lucas Myers, guitar
Verona Area High School – teachers: Paul Heinecke (jazz) and Eric Anderson (band)
-Philip Rudnitzky, tenor saxophone
Waunakee High School – teachers: Sam Robinson and Ryan Gill (UW SoM music ed alum)
-Andrew Maxfield, alto saxophone

 

 

 

 

New professor Jerome Camal augments growing “global music studies” program

Interviewed by Nicole Tuma, MM 2014 flute & voice

With the appointment of Professor Jerome Camal, a faculty appointment in the Department of Anthropology, this semester marked a new beginning for ethnomusicology at UW-Madison’s School of Music.  The new initiative, a “global music studies” program, examines music’s constitution as a cultural force woven into the social and political fabric. The program was the brainchild of professor Ronald Radano, Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and former UW ethnomusicologist R. Anderson Sutton, now Dean of the School of Pacific and Asian Studies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for International and Exchange Programs at the University of Hawaii-Mānoa.

Jerome Camal.

Jerome Camal.
Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

The university will offer courses and certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels with the expectation of initiating formal degrees in the future. It is made possible through support from the Mellon Foundation.

Camal came to Madison from the University of California at Los Angeles, where he was part of the Mellon Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities, Cultures in Transnational Perspective. Prior to that, he studied at Webster University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies; then earned a master’s in jazz performance from the University of New Orleans; and followed up with a Ph.D in musicology with an emphasis in ethnomusicology and a certificate in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.

Up to 2011, he performed regularly on saxophone,  clarinet and flute as a freelancer in New Orleans and Saint Louis as well as in Guadeloupe and subsequently in France. Now, Camal’s research focuses on music and politics in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe where he has been studying gwoka, a drum and dance tradition peculiar to that island.

This semester, Professor Camal is offering a graduate-level seminar on the subject of “Caribbean Music: Mobile Sounds, Creole Identities.” Next fall, he teach Anthro 104, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. In the spring, he’ll teach two music- related seminars in the spring, one of them on the anthropology of dance. His summer plans include writing a book and getting married!

I spoke to him about the intellectual journey that brought him from his home in Nancy, France to the United States, first to pursue a career as a jazz saxophonist, and then to undertake formal academic studies.

When did you decide that you wanted to go into musicology and ethnomusicology? Had it been coming for a while, or was there a moment when you started getting really interested in it?
Well, I realized after a while that the musician’s life and lifestyle was just not for me. I’ve always enjoyed intellectual pursuit, and that was missing from my life. I really enjoyed the artistic stuff, and that was great, but the reality is, when you’re trying to make a living as a musician, a lot of times you end up doing the kind of music that you don’t care about, and you can’t do the music you really care about because you wouldn’t get paid for it. Artistically it wasn’t totally fulfilling, intellectually it was a complete vacuum, and financially it was disastrous, so I decided to apply for a graduate program, and honestly at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do. I initially wanted to do this thing on jazz scenes, but it didn’t sound like a terribly exciting topic. Then I got really interested in the Civil Rights Movement, and I started to do a little bit of research on the SNCC Freedom Singers. SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) had these vocal groups that raised money. And I wrote a paper about them, and I began to contact some of them, I was gung-ho, I was going to do some interviews…and then Ingrid Monson came out with a book about jazz in the Civil Rights Movement, right then.  “Well, there goes that idea,” I thought.  And then eventually I found all of this stuff going on in the Caribbean, and because I am bilingual I was in a really good position to do this work.

So you found your way to the study of Caribbean music through jazz?
Well yes, sort of. When I went down to Guadeloupe to do my field work the first time, my idea was to work on the musicians who mixed the local traditions with jazz, and then when I got down there I interviewed a lot of musicians, but they were saying, “Stop with your jazz crap already, why don’t you just focus on our music?” And I discovered that there were some really interesting things going on politically, and that music played a big part in the political questions that were being debated in Guadeloupe. Now I’ve gone 360 degrees because I’m actually working on a big paper on jazz and gwo ka, which is the traditional music. What I’m looking at is the power relationships that are taking place when you have American musicians who go down to Guadeloupe and work with local musicians there, and then they put out a CD. What happens? Who gets to control what the music sounds like, whose name is actually out there?

You’ve also taught some classes on popular music.
That’s the reality of a teaching position, right? I taught at UCLA for a few years, which is a program that’s really into popular music, so one of the courses that I had proposed was on Caribbean popular music, and especially on a side-by-side study of hip hop, Jamaican dance hall and reggaeton. So they thought that I was a popular music person, and so they asked me to teach the history of rock ‘n roll, so I became a rock ‘n roll guy. I did that twice, and I really, really enjoyed it. This year, I’m on the committee for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music conference, and it feels like a good fit. The questions that people who study popular music are asking are the questions that I am interested in learning about.

Jazz, the Caribbean, rock ‘n roll…how did your appointment as an anthropology professor come about?
I was the first hire in Ron Radano’s plan to put together the Global Music Studies Initiative, and they had a really well-defined job announcement. They were looking for someone who did African Diaspora, either the Caribbean or Latin America. It just fit very well with what I do. I’m really happy; I love the anthropology department. It’s cool, because I get to learn something new. It’s also very liberating to teach courses that have nothing to do with music. When I was at UCLA the very first class that I taught was a graduate seminar on music and nationalism, and now, this coming semester I’m going to do a seminar just on ethnicity and nationalism where I may talk about music at some point, but it’s an anthropology course, so I can really deal with some of the theories and read more stuff, read it differently, and not necessarily worry about applying them to music. I’m also affiliated with the School of Music; half of my teaching has to be cross-listed with the School of Music so that I can continue to contribute to the ethnomusicology curriculum. I’m also affiliated with LACIS (Latin American Cultural and Iberian Studies).

Beyond music and anthropology, what are you interested in bringing to the classroom?
I received a Madison Institute for Learning Excellence Fellowship to help me develop hybrid pedagogical tools for bringing technology into the classroom, especially in large, lecture-based courses, and using social media tools in the classroom, figuring out how to use these technologies to actually increase student engagement in lectures that can be totally boring and impersonal.

What sort of tools do you think have the most potential in that respect?
I’ve experimented with Twitter. I created an account for a class, and students would tweet questions, or I would ask them something and I’d ask them to tweet answers back. And I would periodically check the feed and answer questions orally during the class. And then after class we would keep the conversations going. We’d sometimes exchange videos, or articles that we found – you know web pages, anything. That was pretty successful, so I’m probably going to continue working with that. There are also instant polling websites…it’s basically the idea of a clicker, but much more sophisticated because you can ask students to type full sentences. My attitude is, “If you’re going to be on your computer, I’m going to disrupt your Facebooking by asking you to do things online that actually have something to do with what we’re talking about.” Not only do we have professors who are not good at thinking or knowing about some of the things that can be done with these tools, but we have a lot of students that aren’t good at them either. It’s important to think about how to use social media beyond “Here’s a picture of my friends and me at the bar last night,” and to teach students to use online tools like Wikipedia in a way that makes sense.

In terms of your own teaching, what courses are you planning on offering in the future?
I’m not entirely sure. I may end up teaching the “Musics of the World” class. Also, no one is teaching a seminar in ethnomusicological methods right now, so that’s something I’m probably going to do in the future. And I may start to think in terms of undergraduate courses on global popular music. I think that would be fun, and it’s also something that no one is offering right now, so it might be a good idea in terms of relevant courses that could attract a large undergraduate population to the School of Music. I taught a seminar last semester that was an introduction to the anthropology of the Caribbean which I’m going to be revamping to become a more lecture-based 200- or 300-level course for undergrads, an introduction to the Caribbean as a region. I cannot just offer courses on the Caribbean because there’s not enough interest, so I’m thinking about offering things on popular music, topics in anthropology, theoretical topics in anthropology…I’m really invested in post-colonial studies, so I’ll maybe develop a course along those lines. It sort of depends on what the different departments need and where they’re hoping to go. I hope we can find a happy medium.

Reach Professor Camal on campus:

Office: 5313 Sewell Social Science Bldg.
Email address: camal@wisc.edu

Visit his personal website: http://tanbouolwen.com/

Read more about his research in these books of essays:

American Creoles

Sun, Sea and Sound: Music and Tourism in the Circum-Caribbean

 

 

 

 

Ukraine, Russia and China represented among winners of piano competition

All good friends at the 29th Annual Beethoven Piano Competition, sponsored by Emeritus Chancellor Irving Shain

Sunday, April 6, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall. Reception to follow.

2014 Beethoven Piano Competition winners Oxana Khramova, Yana Groves and Zijin Yao. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

2014 Beethoven Piano Competition winners Oxana Khramova, Yana Groves and Zijin Yao. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

When its comes to beautiful music, political differences are all but irrelevant. That will be nicely shown this Sunday at the annual winners recital of the Beethoven Piano Competition, in which UW-Madison School of Music pianists from Ukraine, Russia and China will perform their winning works.

The competition was held last weekend and is now in its 29th year. It is sponsored by former University Chancellor Irving Shain. Winners receive cash honoraria.

The winners are Zijin Yao of China; Oxana Khramova, a Russian native; and Yana Groves, a native of Ukraine. Zijin Yao is a doctoral student in piano performance and pedagogy who studies with professors Martha Fischer and Jessica Johnson. Oxana Khramova is a doctoral student in piano performance and pedagogy who studies with Professor Christopher Taylor. Yana Groves will finish her master’s degree this spring and begin doctoral studies next fall in the studio of Christopher Taylor.

All will perform music composed by Ludvig van Beethoven. The program will include Sonata in D Major, Op. 10 no. 3 (Khramova); 15 Variations and Fugue in Eb Major, op. 35 (“Eroica”) (Zijin Yao); and Sonata in Eb Major, Op. 27 no. 1 (Groves).

The winners will appear in recital on Sunday, April 6 at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall. Admission is free, and there will be a post-concert reception for audience and musicians.

The judge for the competition was Karen Boe from UW-Whitewater, who also awarded an honorable mention to Haley O’Neil, who studies with Christopher Taylor.

Here are biographies of the winning students.

Pianist Zijin Yao was born in China’s Hubei province and received her bachelor’s degree at China Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 2010. In the same year, she was admitted by the Graduate School of China, Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship and received a master’s degree in 2013. A passionate performer, Zijin is the winner of the 2013 Beijing Piano Festival, recipient of the Gold Award of the Piano Group at the 2012 National Music and Dance Competition in Beijing. A committed piano teacher, she has focused on exploring piano pedagogy alongside the art of piano performance. She has published six articles on piano performing and teaching in several major academic journals in China during the last three years.

Oxana Khramova began her musical career at the age of seven. During her studies, Oxana played many solo and chamber music recitals and was a prize winner at the All Russian Piano Competition in 1996. In 2010 Oxana moved to the United States and completed her master’s degree in piano performance at the University of Northern Iowa. Oxana is a teaching assistant at the School of Music, and a piano instructor for the Piano Pioneers program and at Farley’s House of Pianos.

Yana Groves is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine, where she attended Music School # 9 and studied with Glazirina Tatiana, majoring in piano performance. She began her US studies with Dr. Karen Becker at SUNY Plattsburgh in 2007 and has participated in master classes with Evgenia Tzarov and Helen Huang. In the spring of 2011 Groves made her debut as soloist with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 488. She completed her bachelor’s degree with a double major in music and accounting in May 2012, graduating summa cum laude. In the spring of 2013, Yana and flutist Danielle Breisach were the winners of the Annual Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition.

 

 

Retiring director Farlow brought high expectations and humor to the stage

Written by Paul Baker
Photographs by Michael R. Anderson

In his 16 seasons as director of University Opera at UW-Madison, William Farlow has become known for high expectations coupled with a devilish sense of humor.

This is his final year, his final opera: Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, to be performed in Music Hall April 11, 13, and 15. Now, in near-daily rehearsals, a group of voice students are receiving their very last chances to experience the Farlow Method.

(Click here for a news release about this show.)

It is not always easy. He can be brutally honest one minute, and chuckle with mirth the next. Students may accept his comments with a professional “thank you” or jokingly threaten to post questionable comments on his Facebook page. On the other hand, during one rehearsal a few years ago of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, known for a somewhat-oppressive tone, he donned bunny ears to lighten the mood.

He does not compromise. He wants the best. Some young actors sometimes find it difficult to deliver their spoken words, he confides. “They overdo it. They don’t yet know how to underplay less important lines.”

To a pair of male actors, clearly still working on their delivery: “That dialog sort of went reasonably well.”

To the chorus, who failed to show sufficient fear when the inept Somarone brandishes his conductor’s baton, he invoked the name of a famous household appliance: “Your inhalation must sound like a giant Hoover [vacuum], sucking up in Chicago!”

To the chorus, again, celebrating Don Pedro’s military victory over the Moors: “You will have to put out a lot more sound. The longer you sing, the less energy there seems to be. It should be the opposite. Especially when the orchestra is here.”

At a recent rehearsal, Farlow never sat for long. He constantly jumped onto the stage to position actors and chatted during breaks when conductor James Smith worked with musicians. His need to be in the middle of things stems from his time at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, he says. The director would suggest a change, and Farlow would sprint down the aisle, grab the actors and push them into new positions. He developed a response to the common adage that “directors must not invade the actors’ space”: “Baloney!”

Farlow well remembers this stage of a singer’s career. Before he began directing, he performed half a dozen or so Gilbert and Sullivan roles. The experience became critical to his directing. It’s like being a good orchestral musician before you conduct, he says, or a good shortstop before you coach.

Stress is always part of performance, and the last thing Farlow wants to do is add to it. So much is going on at any given moment that rehearsals can seem like a circus. He tries to keep pressure low, unless he’s really ticked off about something. He knows that actors must be comfortable to give their best.

The two-act Béatrice et Bénédict is based loosely on William Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing. Written by Hector Berlioz and premiered in 1862, it is scored for lead singers, chorus, and a large orchestra. The story line leads up to a double wedding ceremony.

Although the singers deliver dialog in English, they sing in the French. Farlow decided that was the way to go, following his success with a production of The Magic Flute with English dialog and German singing.

The modestly-sized chorus consists of six female and six male undergraduates. A professional company doing Béatrice et Bénédict would employ a chorus three times that size, Farlow says, but Music Hall doesn’t require such forces.

Lead parts are sung by Lindsay Metzger (Beatrice), Benjamin Schultz (Somarone), Anna Whiteway (Hero), Daniel López-Matthews (Benedict), Erik Larson (Don Pedro), Jordan Wilson (Claudio), Kathleen Otterson (Ursule), and  Annisa Richardson (Adèle).

Farlow stayed on as Director of University Opera this last year because he knew he had two more master’s students majoring in opera performance left to graduate. He loved last semester’s production of Handel’s Ariodante (“It was beautiful”) and he thinks he can see the Berlioz through to the end. “Just needs a little tightening up here and there.” And that’s exactly what he was doing.

Later, over lunch, Farlow takes a minute to reflect. Four weeks from tomorrow my directing career is over, he says, a glint in his eye. He’s already been asked to direct four productions and he’s turned them all down.

Even though he will no longer direct, he will continue to serve as artistic advisor for Madison’s Fresco Opera and artistic consultant and master teacher for Des Moines Opera. 

Working his way through a delicious looking spinach quiche, he was reflective, yet upbeat, when we talked. Béatrice et Bénédict has been on his wish list for at least 30 years. He first saw it performed on public television and thought, “it was the greatest thing I’d heard.”

The most rewarding challenge

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s in El Paso, Texas, William Farlow benefited from strong public school music programs. His first career ambition was to direct a high school orchestra; he graduated college from the University of Texas-El Paso as a music theory/composition major. But that impulse passed very quickly. His eyes were opened to the possibility of a professional career as a director when he did graduate work at UT-Austin with Walter Ducloux, the internationally known conductor, pianist, translator, writer, and educator whose career spanned over 50 years.

A former pianist and violinist, Farlow chose opera as his life work because it combines singing, dancing, lighting, costumes, poetry, prose, stage design, and orchestral conducting. Opera is the most rewarding and the most frustrating challenge of all, says Farlow. “To make all those elements come together at the same time is a huge undertaking, but when it does all come together it’s unlike anything,” he says.

Most operas he’s witnessed have been good. Unforgettable performances are rare. One can enjoy outstanding performances by individual singers in an otherwise mediocre production. But a really extraordinary experience requires everything to sparkle: singers, orchestra, the conducting, the sets, the costumes. He places the Chicago Lyric’s recent La Clemenza di Tito in the “wonderful” category, and not only because UW alum Emily Birsan played the role of Servilia. (Note: Birsan is scheduled to perform in this weekend’s performance of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart’s Requiem. Students may purchase tickets for as little as $12. She will also give a master class at the School of Music Thursday, April 3, at 1PM in Mills Hall.)

Farlow’s years of experience prepared him for directing Tristan und Isolde for the Pittsburgh Opera (where he served as operations director from 1990-1992), Turandot for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Salome for the Los Angeles Opera. He has also directed productions for the Canadian Opera Company, Los Angeles Opera and the Kalamazoo Symphony.

People sometimes ask when his career really took off. “I don’t know that it ever did take off,” he says. “I just started working more in opera and working less at Barnes and Noble.”

The anatomy of the UW Opera program

“Wonderful” is a term voice professor Mimmi Fulmer uses to describe Farlow’s work. She credits him with transforming the program in two ways: using the university orchestra, rather than using a “pick-up” ensemble. And rather than assigning meaty roles to faculty and guests, he picked only students.

Plotting out operas for the coming year, Farlow always chose works by surveying his resources and solving an equation, of sorts. It went like this: Here are my singers. What operas can they do now? Is the orchestra part workable? Does it require a huge chorus? If it requires five baritones, do we have five baritones? Will this role prepare this student for where she or he should be next year? “I choose operas that will afford the most parts to the most singers,” he says.

He developed a policy of accepting students into the opera performance program only if he knew if he knew they could be cast in three major roles. He wanted to understand their strengths and their potential so that he could plot their growth and pull out the best they have to offer. “When a really talented student lands on my doorstep,” he says, “I want to know I can work with them for a few years, and that gives me some leeway.” Two dozen Master’s of Music in Opera Performance students have graduated during his tenure.

After graduation, when their professional careers start to develop, singers need to be patient, Farlow says. If you want a career as a musician, you have to give it everything, he says, “and that means doing all kinds of temp work that you never thought you would, and you have to give it at least five years. And you’ll see if that’s what you want to do, or not.”

Mimmi Fulmer says Farlow always listened to a student’s voice, then mentally placed what that voice will be able to do several shows ahead. Farlow’s hunches generally proved to be correct. It’s not just that he had a crystal ball, Fulmer says; he also provided students opportunity and training. He could tell where the voice was going and help them make the next leap.

Fulmer updates her list of vocal and opera program graduates. The alumni, and what they’re doing, are a tribute to Bill, she says. The program has sent graduates (of the master’s and doctoral programs-there is no undergraduate opera major) to choice positions all over the world, and she credits that to Farlow’s leadership. Farlow recently saw former student Emily Birsan sing in the Lyric Opera’s production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. But Emily is just the tip of the iceberg, says Fulmer. Click here for a partial list of opera graduates: UW-Madison Opera Graduates2013

Farlow appreciates his UW faculty colleagues, who demonstrate their commitment in myriad ways. Longtime university orchestra conductor James Smith, for example, attends every rehearsal of every production, something Farlow has seen nowhere else. “Bill has an immense knowledge of all areas of music: vocal, orchestral, chamber music, and theatrical,” Smith says. Indeed, Farlow has directed operas ranging from works by 17th century Italian composer Cavalli to a 2009 world premiere of Maura Bosch’s Art and Desire, based on the life of Jackson Pollock.

Other faculty members have gone to great lengths to realize certain shows. With Mimmi Fulmer and emeritus professor and pianist Bill Lutes, Farlow presented a semi-staged version of Schoenberg’s Erwartung, one of his “absolute favorite things,” even though Schoenberg’s music is difficult and Fulmer said learning it was the hardest thing she’d done.

He also appreciates his tech colleagues, not only for their talent but for their longevity. Costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park have worked with Farlow on nearly every production. He’s had only had three tech directors, including incumbent Greg Silver, who’s been with him for seven years. Set designer and scenic artist Liz Rathke and lighting designer Steven M. Petersen have been stalwart as well.

He’s had help from a supportive media. Farlow credits Scott Herrick and Perry Allaire of WORT-FM with promoting his productions faithfully. Journalist Jacob Stockinger has supported UW opera for decades, beginning with his Capital Times columns and now with his blog, The Well-Tempered Ear. Many times Wisconsin Public Radio’s Jonathan Overby invited Farlow to guest on his program Higher Ground. And not just to plug the opera, but to stay in studio for an extra hour to play Ed McMahon to Overby’s Johnny Carson.

Besides faculty and staff salaries, the major part of University Opera’s funding comes from private donors and outside grants. Both Bill and Mimmi Fulmer, like many in the arts and on campus, have taken on larger roles in advancement and fund raising, work that now serves as a model for the entire School of Music.

Who will likely replace him? Farlow says whomever is hired will bring a skill set that overlaps, but does not duplicate, his own. “Professionals have their own way of doing things,” he says. “There are certain things that must be done but, beyond that, it’s up to the person.”

UW Opera says goodbye to director Farlow with a Berlioz comedy

Top:  Anna Whiteway (Hero). Bottom: Daniel López-Matthews (Bénédict) and Lindsay Metzger (Béatrice).

Top: Anna Whiteway (Hero). Bottom: Daniel López-Matthews (Bénédict) and Lindsay Metzger (Béatrice).

A Delightful Comedy to Usher Out a Veteran Director

Photographs by Max Wendt

Madison, WI – Veteran director William Farlow’s final opera takes the stage in University Opera’s spring production of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict. Sung in French with English surtitles by Christine Seitz, the work will be given three performances—Friday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. and Tuesday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m.  All shows will be presented at the Carol Rennebohm Auditorium in Music Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

“My time here has been the most extraordinary and rewarding of my career,” says Farlow. “One of my greatest joys has been to help develop young singers for the professional world,” he says. Those singers include James Kryshak, Emily Birsan, and Jamie van Eyck.

For his last show, Farlow has chosen a delightful comedy, full of friendly trickery and an unlikely match made in heaven. The storyline is modeled on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, telling the story of a young man who scoffs at love and marriage. “Women are as “gentle as a thistle,” he thinks, but in the end, he is convinced (or is it hoodwinked?) into marrying Beatrice. “The opera ends with a duet, as Beatrice and Benedict admit their true feelings. OK, they concede, they really are in love, at least for today. Perhaps they’ll be enemies again … but not until tomorrow” (National Public Radio, 2009: read more here.)

The opera’s overture is also justly famous. In this video clip, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is joined by conductor Peter Oundjian in Berlioz’s Beatrice et Benedict: Overture, performed in February, 2011 at the Sydney Opera House.

During his sixteen seasons with University Opera, Farlow has brought to life over thirty opera productions and an equal number of scenes performances. His career has taken him to Scotland, Mexico, Canada, and throughout the United States, and has worked with artists such as Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Carlo Maria Giulini. Click here for a feature story about William Farlow.

The current show cast includes undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, supported by the UW Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James Smith.  The roles of Béatrice and Bénédict will be performed respectively by Lindsay Metzger and Daniel López-Matthews, and the role of Héro will be portrayed by Anna Whiteway. Erik Larson will appear as Don Pedro, and Jordan Wilson will perform the role of Claudio. The cast will be joined by University Opera alumni Benjamin Schultz and Kathleen Otterson, who will perform the roles of Somarone and Ursule. Schultz currently works as the assistant director of the School of Music, and Otterson is a senior music instructor at Edgewood College and also serves as music director at Christ Presbyterian Church. Her local career is marked by appearances with Madison Opera and Madison Savoyards, and she is a member of the UW Opera Props Board of Directors.

Chorus members includes Arren Alexander, Aimee Teo Broman, Emi Chen, Tia Cleveland, Kyle Connors, Meg Huskin, Jennifer Kuckuk, Kirsten Larson, William Ottow, Michael Ward, Eric Wilson, and Fred Younger.

Left to right:  Daniel López-Matthews (Bénédict), Lindsay Metzger (Béatrice), and Anna Whiteway (Hero).

Left to right: Daniel López-Matthews (Bénédict), Lindsay Metzger (Béatrice), and Anna Whiteway (Hero).

Production and music staff includes assistant conductor Kyle Knox, costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park, technical director and set designer, Greg Silver, lighting designer Steven M. Peterson, scenic artist Liz Rathke, vocal coach and musical preparation Thomas Kasdorf, and chorus master Susan Goeres.

Tickets are $22.00 for the general public, $18.00 for senior citizens and $10.00 for UW-Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at http://www.arts.wisc.edu/  (click “box office”). Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00–5:00 p.m. and the Vilas Hall Box Office, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and after 5:30 p.m. on University Theatre performance evenings.  Because shows often sell out, advance purchase is recommended.  If unsold tickets remain, they may be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance.  The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

In an effort to help patrons find parking on campus, the Campus Arts Ticketing office is offering prepaid parking permits for a guaranteed parking spot on the evenings of ticketed UW arts events for $5.  Preorder your permit online at http://arts.wisc.edu/map (5 days or more in advance; $1 handling fee) or call (608)-265-ARTS (3 days or more in advance; $1 handling fee).

University Opera is a cultural service of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Its mission is to promote professional training and practical performing experience for student singers, conductors and pianists and, when possible, provide opportunities for student designers, actors and dancers.  For more information, please contact Christina Kay at christina.kay2012@gmail.com. Or visit the School of Music’s web site at music.wisc.edu.

Student recitals in full swing; Thimmig & Friends present rarely-heard Morton Feldman work; Perlman Trio + 2 on April 12

Spring means recitals at the School of Music

For musicians in college music programs, spring often means a hectic gathering of resources to produce the ultimate in personal statements: the solo recital. In the next five weeks, we will present dozens of them, offering a smorgasbord ranging from Beethoven to Brazilian.  Most recitals are listed on our calendar; click on “show student recitals” to find them. Selected examples include:

MIKKO_uwmusic-mayco-080713-4542

Mikko Utevsky, conducting the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra in summer 2013. Photograph by Mike Anderson.

Thursday, March 27, 7:30 PM, Capitol Lakes Retirement Community
Mikko Utevsky, viola
Haydn/Piatigorsky,  Divertimento in D major; Bloch, Suite Hebraïque; Milhaud, Viola Sonata No. 1 (“On anonymous, unpublished 18th-century themes”); Brahms, Sonata for Viola (Clarinet) and Piano in E flat major, Op. 120 No.2. Utevsky also directs the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, which is now preparing for summer concerts.

Nicole Tuma

Nicole Tuma. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Saturday, March 29, 1:30 PM, Morphy Hall
Nicole Tuma, flute, with Steve Radtke, piano, Rachel Bottner, cello, Allison Kelley, oboe, Rosemary Jones, clarinet, Ross Duncan, bassoon, and Sarah Gillespie, horn.
“Of Flutes and Fauna: Music Inspired by the Animal Kingdom”
Malagigi the Sorcerer, Efrain Amaya; “Goldfinch” Concerto, Antonio Vivaldi; Opus No. Zoo, Luciano Berio; Solo de Pajarillo, Omar Acosta; and Vox Balaenae, George Crumb.

Oxana Khramova.

Oxana Khramova.

Saturday, April 5, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Oxana Khramova, piano
A DMA solo recital featuring Beethoven’s Sonata op. 10, No. 3 in D Major and Ravel’s Miroirs.

Saturday, April 19, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Quadrivium Saxophone Quartet, performing transcriptions of works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Grieg, and more.

Jacob Wolbert

Jacob Wolbert
Photograph by Mike Anderson

Saturday, April 26, 1:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Jacob Wolbert, percussion. Featuring marimba, multiple percussion and Brazilian music, with special guests!
Many more recitals to be found at this link! http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar  [click "show student recitals]

Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2) presents annual concert

The Perlman Piano Trio + 2.

The 2013-14 Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2). L-R: Madlen Breckbill, violin; Alice Bartsch, violin; Daniel Ma, cello; SeungWha Baek, piano; Jeremy Kienbaum, viola. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

The free annual performance of the student ensemble, the Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2) will take place on Saturday, April 12, at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall in Humanities. The original ensemble, formed as a piano trio in 2007, is funded by Dr. Kato Perlman, a retired research scientist who was inspired by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, who is also heavily involved with the school of music through his support of several competitions. (One of these, the Beethoven Piano Competition, will hold its annual winners’ recital on April 6 at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall. Winners have not yet been announced.)

As students graduate, new musicians audition to replace them. This year’s ensemble consists of Madlen Breckbill, violin; Alice Bartsch, violin; Daniel Ma, cello; SeungWha Baek, piano; and Jeremy Kienbaum, viola. Both Madlen Breckbill and SeungWha Baek were previously featured this year as winners of the school’s annual concerto competition, the Symphony Showcase, while Alice Bartsch was a winner two years ago.

The April program will include the 40-minute long Trio No. 1 in B-flat major for piano, violin, and cello, D. 898, written by Franz Schubert (click here to hear audio) and finished in 1828, just before he died.  It will also include the adagio of the piano trio in E flat major, Hoboken XV:22, by Joseph Haydn, written in 1794, as well as the piano quintet op. 81 in A major by Antonín Dvořák, composed in 1887. A public reception will follow the performance.

Thimmig, Hedstrom and Kleve to perform final work in Morton Feldman trilogy

Russian-Jewish experimental composer (1926-1987) from New York City wrote music that was “glacially slow and snowily soft”

On March 30, at 5 PM in Mills Hall, UW professor Les Thimmig (on flute), pianist Jennifer Hedstrom, and percussionist Sean Kleve (the last two both members of Clocks in Motion, UW-Madison’s new resident percussion ensemble), will perform the final work of three trios, “For Philip Guston,” dedicated to Philip Guston, who was a painter and Feldman’s closest friend, who died in 1980. This final installment is a Wisconsin premiere, according to Thimmig, and is four hours long.

American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was first noted for his inclusion in the “Cage School”; in addition to John Cage, the group included Earle Brown and Christian Wolff. Their approach of “letting the sounds speak for themselves” stood in marked distinction to the structuralist side of the early 1950’s avant garde, a group including Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Milton Babbitt, among others. Feldman’s music served as an important influence and guide in the development of the minimalist school of the 1960’s, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. A prominent influence on Feldman’s musical development was the work of the painters of the New York school of Abstract Expressionism: Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko, among others.

Thimmig3

Thimmig and Feldman were acquaintances in New York, Thimmig says. “We sat on bar stools together, we ate dinner together.” Feldman’s music is not often heard, he adds: “It’s important for this to get out. As the years go by, this kind of music goes into the music history dustbin.”

In 2006, writer Alex Ross of The New Yorker published a lengthy analysis of Feldman; you can read it here.

Ross wrote: “The often noted paradox is that this immense, verbose man wrote music that seldom rose above a whisper. In the noisiest century in history, Feldman chose to be glacially slow and snowily soft. Chords arrive one after another, in seemingly haphazard sequence, interspersed with silences. Harmonies hover in a no man’s land between consonance and dissonance, paradise and oblivion. Rhythms are irregular and overlapping, so that the music floats above the beat. Simple figures repeat for a long time, then disappear. There is no exposition or development of themes, no clear formal structure. Certain later works unfold over extraordinarily lengthy spans of time, straining the capabilities of performers to play them and audiences to hear them. More than a dozen pieces last between one and two hours, and “For Philip Guston” and “String Quartet (II)” go on for much longer. In its ritual stillness, this body of work abandons the syntax of Western music, and performers must set aside their training to do it justice.”

Percussionist Sean Kleve says the the trios “are unlike any performance experience I’ve ever had.”

“I’ve had to work on new ways to experience the music in which I allow myself to concentrate in the moment and not permit my mind to think about what is to come and what I have already played,” he added. “At a certain point in rehearsals, I don’t even feel like the music takes that long to play. Rather, it feels like a series of related or unrelated moments which are happening to me. My major role as the performer is to fit in and allow the music to unfold in its natural pace and patient manner.”

“The Annals of Accompanying”: UW pianist Martha Fischer describes the unique skills needed to be a collaborative pianist

Blogger Jake Stockinger presents a two-part series on his website, “The Well-Tempered Ear,” in which he interviewed UW pianist Martha Fischer and UW baritone Paul Rowe about their upcoming concerts (Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch, which they will perform with alumna Julia Foster, who earned a BA in 2003) as well as the qualities required to become a truly good collaborative pianist.

 

Paul Rowe, Martha Fischer, and alumna Julia Foster.

Paul Rowe, Martha Fischer, and alumna Julia Foster.

“No longer are they called ‘accompanists’; today these performances are understood to be much more,” Fischer says. “If we, as pianists, think of it as “just accompanying” — as a lesser experience — then we are perpetuating the stereotype that accompanists are good sight-readers who should stay in the background and be nothing more than pretty wallpaper to the soloist’s great artistry. If we as pianists bring all we have to offer to the table and are as prepared (or more so) than our partners, then we play in a way that demands respect. And that’s where it should all begin.”

Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.

Concerts:

TONIGHT: Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.

Vermilion, South Dakota, Friday, March 28, 9AM, University of South Dakota (as part of the National Association of Teachers of Singing regional meeting and competition. The three will then serve as judges the following day.) Click here for more info.

 

Musicologists to gather at UW for the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, April 11 & 12

The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (MGMC) is a joint venture organized by graduate students from Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. MGMC encourages the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Conferences are held annually on a rotating basis, at Madison, Chicago, or Evanston.

The eighteenth annual MGMC meeting will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will include paper sessions, a new music concert, and a keynote address delivered by Tamara Levitz. MGMC 2014 is generously funded by the UW-Madison School of Music and the UW-Madison Lectures Committee. For the full program, click here: https://sites.google.com/site/mgmc2014/program

Friday, April 11, 4PM, Room 2650 Humanities: “Riot at the Rite: Racial Exclusion and the Foundations of Musical Modernism,” a talk by Tamara Leivitz, UCLA. Abstract: “The premiere of Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet Rite of Spring in Paris on May 29, 1913 had received much attention in scholarly works for the infamous riot that confronted its first performance. The lecture aims to deconstruct the myth of the riot, with the goal of exposing the process of racial exclusion in modernist listening practices that emphasized the work’s newness over its strangeness. Through the proliferation of this myth, Prof. Levitz will show how concert organizers, musicologists, and journalists cemented the practices of racial exclusion that define listening cultures of modern music to the present day.”
Saturday, April 12, 1 PM. New Music Concert at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave, featuring new works for Clocks in Motion and the woodwind quintet, Black Marigold. 

Faculty oboist Kostas Tiliakos to perform Greece-inspired program with Christopher Taylor and Stephanie Jutt

Pianist Christopher Taylor and flutist Stephanie Jutt will accompany Kostas Tiliakos on oboe and English horn in his only solo recital this year, April 7 at 7:30 PM in Morphy Hall. His program will consist by composers Minas Alexiadis, Anastassis Philippakopoulos, Theodore Antoniou, Jurgis Juozapaitis, and Thea Musgrave. Tiliakos, a visiting assistant professor of oboe, replaced retiring faculty oboist Marc Fink last fall. “The idea was to play music either written by Greek composers or music inspired by Greece and its history and mythology,” Tiliakos says. Three of the pieces were written and premiered by Tiliakos: Alexiadis’ Folk Cadenza No.5 (premiered at the International Double Reed Conference 2013, at University of Redlands, California); and Philippakopoulos’ Syrna and Antoniou’s Trio Lyrico for oboe, flute, and piano. The last two were premiered by Tiliakos in Athens in 2000 and 2008, respectively.

 

Kostas Tiliakos.

Kostas Tiliakos.

New trombone ensemble holds first concert; Mark Hetzler to solo

The Madison Area Trombone Ensemble will present its inaugural concert at 3pm on Sunday, March 30th, at First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave. Founded by School of Music alumnus and Madison freelance trombonist Kevan Feyzi (BM, 2012), MATE is an all-volunteer group is comprised of some of the top trombonists in the community. The program will feature Mark Hetzler, associate professor of trombone, performing David P. Jones’ Bone Moan, a composition for solo trombone with six-part trombone choir and the title track on Hetzler’s eponymous album, released in December on Summit Records. The program also includes compositions by local trombonist Rich Woolworth plus Randall Thompson, Haydn, Duke Ellington, and arrangements by members of the group.

Trombonist Mark Hetzler.

Trombonist Mark Hetzler. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.