Bartsch Sisters make beautiful music together, thanks to donor support

For some years now, UW-Madison has been home to the two Bartsch sisters, Eleanor and Alice, of Bloomington, Minnesota, both violinists who have excelled at the School of Music and beyond. Eleanor, 24, is now a first-year master’s degree candidate in the studios of Felicia Moye and David Perry. Alice, 21, is a senior in the studio of Felicia Moye.  Both young women are violinists with the Madison Symphony Orchestra; both have won the UW-Madison Concerto Competition; both were in the Perlman Piano Trio (Alice is still a member); and now, both will perform on November 8 with Samuel Hutchison, the organist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall. The concert will include J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. (Listen to Alice and Eleanor Bartsch discuss their budding careers this Thursday morning, Nov. 7 at 7:08 am, on WORT 89.9 FM radio. The show is “Anything Goes,” with host Rich Samuels.)

Alice and Eleanor Bartsch.

Alice and Eleanor Bartsch.
Photo supplied by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

But this isn’t just a story about their upcoming performance. It is also a way to give thanks to Kato Perlman and Paul Collins, both longtime contributors to the School of Music, who together have supported dozens of the school’s most talented performers. In 2007, Katherine “Kato” Perlman, PhD, a distinguished service emerita and senior scientist, founded the Perlman Piano Trio, which provides a yearly grant to an undergraduate pianist, violinist and cellist and concludes with a concert in the spring. This year, Dr. Perlman is also sponsoring the Bartsch sisters in their Nov. 8 concert with Samuel Hutchison. (Other sponsors include Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore, with additional funds from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.)

Meanwhile, Paul Collins, a retired executive with Citigroup and an ex-officio member of the UW Foundation, has not only endowed two professors (violinist David Perry and pianist Christopher Taylor) at the School of Music, but has funded many graduate students in music and who supports Eleanor today in her master’s degree program.  The Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellowships were established in honor of his mother, Adele Stoppenbach Collins, a 1929 School of Music graduate. Collins Fellows receive two years of support at the masters level and three years at the doctoral level. For 2013-14, ten students are receiving fellowships.

Another major donor, former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, provides funds to support the school’s annual Beethoven Piano Competition and Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition.

The School of Music wishes to extend its gratitude to Kato Perlman, Paul Collins and Irving Shain for past and future support. You, too, can become part of the School of Music family through a contribution to Share the Wonderful, UW-Madison’s ongoing annual fund. Your gift can provide a scholarship; help renovate our lounge; finance a student’s music festival participation; and more! 

We asked Eleanor Bartsch a few questions about her time at UW-Madison, and how the Collins Fellowship has made a difference in her life.

I believe you are from a musical family. Can you describe that a bit?
“Alice and I grew up in a very musical family. Our mother is a professional violinist and violin teacher and our father is a pianist and organist. There was always music going on in the house whether it be practicing or rehearsals. Our father works with a lot of opera singers so that was something we heard a lot of. It was definitely loud, but it led to Alice and I both having a love of opera.
With whom do you study at UW as an undergrad, and do you still study with him/her?
“In my undergraduate degree, I studied with David Perry. He is an amazing teacher and player. Now I am actually doing my studies with both Felicia Moye and David Perry. Although I still felt that I had a lot of things to learn from David, studying with Felicia has given me a different perspective on a lot of things in my playing. I feel so lucky to be working with two of the best teachers in the country in the great city of Madison.

I know you play with the MSO. Tell me about what that’s been like. What other groups do you perform with? Do you prefer a particular style/genre of music?
“The Madison Symphony has been a wonderful opportunity. I joined the orchestra in my sophomore year of college and have learned so much from playing with the group since then. When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I also won a position with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. I love playing in orchestra, and I feel lucky to get to do it almost every week. Juggling school and work can be difficult at times, but in the end I remember that I’m doing what I love. I have also done a lot work in Madison’s rich baroque music scene, playing with the Madison Bach Musicians and Wisconsin Baroque ensembles. I enjoy working with local non-classical artists as well and have been experimenting and recording with some local rock and hip hop groups. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the strict classical music world, and I look forward to more opportunities like this.
How important is the Collins grant to your career? 
“The Collins Fellowship has been an amazing opportunity for me. Because of it, I am able to focus solely on my music career and on decisions about the future. After my undergraduate degree, I worked several different non-musical jobs. Although I have to admit that the stability was nice, I really looked forward to getting back to the music. The Collins has allowed me to make that transition with ease.

Budding violinists in Minnesota: Eleanor, left, and Alice, right.

Budding violinists in Minnesota:
Eleanor, left, and Alice, right.

“While taking a couple of years off from school, I really discovered a love of teaching. Having a master’s degree will give me more opportunities to teach at a higher level. Thanks to the Collins, I am also completing a certificate in Business Entrepreneurship from the UW Business School. This is teaching me what I need to know if I ever wanted to run or start my own music school or musical group.  It is difficult to make a career in music, and to do it, one has to be more and more enterprising. I think that it is important for all of us as musicians to branch out and diversify within our field and beyond. The Collins Fellowship is the reason I am able to do this.

What’s it like to perform with your sister? Do you think you will continue?
“Performing with Alice is great. We have this sort of ‘psychic’ sister vibe about timing and musical phrasing that makes it easy, fun, and rewarding. We both have very busy performing and school schedules, so it’s also just great to get to see her (and hear her–she is an incredible player)! We are very close and I am so happy to have her here in Madison. When we aren’t rehearsing or in school, we are always texting each other, sending videos, emailing, tweeting and face-booking each other, etc!”

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2 comments on “Bartsch Sisters make beautiful music together, thanks to donor support

  1. Hugh Gitlin says:

    I wish I could have made it on Friday, but I will be in LA for a wedding.

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