Meet New Faculty, Part 2; New Laura Schwendinger CD; “Schubertiade” Jan. 28; Calling All Oboists, Bassoonists, and Clarinetists

December 14, 2017

Holiday Greetings from the Mead Witter School of Music!

455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/

We wish everyone a harmonious holiday season and a happy New Year.

For our last newsletter of 2017, we offer three more faculty profiles, a sneak peek at events in late January, and news about a brand-new CD release featuring the music of Laura Schwendinger.

We’re also pleased to announce four of our five winners of our annual Concerto Competition. Our fifth winner will be a composer, selected later this month. 2017-2018 instrumental winners are Eleni Katz, bassoon (first bassoonist in 20 years!); Eric Tran, piano; Aaron Gochberg, percussion; and Kaleigh Acord, violin. Read about these winners here, and save March 18 on your calendar for our Symphony Showcase concert and free lobby reception!

Our second semester begins on January 20.

Our Annual “Schubertiade”: Sunday, January 28, 3:00 PM

This year’s Schubertiade will present at least one work from each year of Schubert’s all-too-brief but brilliant career. Beginning with one of his earliest piano duets, written when he was 14 years old, and ending with songs from his final year, this 5th Annual Schubertiade at the Mead-Witter School of Music will take place on Sunday afternoon, January 28, 2018 at 3pm in Mills Concert Hall.

Once again, pianists Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes will be joined by School of Music faculty, students, and guest mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood, professor of voice at UW-Whitewater.

Please join us for a reception in the University Club following the performance.

$15 adults/$5 non-SOM students.
http://www.music.wisc.edu/about-us/tickets/


Are there any young clarinetists, bassoonists or oboists in your midst?

If so, sign up now for Double Reed Fest (for oboists and bassoonists) on Saturday, January 20 and Clarinet Day, Sunday, January 21. Each day features master classes, lessons with our faculty, and a recital by special guests.

Double Reed Fest with Mead Witter faculty Marc Vallon, professor of bassoon; Aaron Hill, adjunct professor of oboe; and guest oboist Nancy Ambrose King, professor of oboe and chair of the Winds & Percussion Department at the University of Michigan. Ms. King won first prize in the Third New York International Competition for Solo Oboists, held in 1995.

Hear Ms. King perform Benjamin Britten’s 6 Metamorphoses After Ovid for Solo Oboe:

Clarinet Day with Mead Witter faculty Alicia Lee, assistant professor of clarinet, and special guest Gabriel Campos Zamora, a native of San José, Costa Rica, the newly appointed principal clarinet of the Minnesota Orchestra. Campos was most recently the associate principal clarinet of the Kansas City Symphony and has appeared as guest principal clarinet with the Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle and Houston Symphonies in addition to serving as the Virginia Symphony’s principal clarinet.


New CD from faculty composer Laura Schwendinger

Prof. Laura Schwendinger’s second recording for Albany Records features four works for quartets: two for the traditional string quartet; one for mezzo soprano and three strings; and one for piano quartet. The music is performed by the acclaimed JACK Quartet, mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck, and pianist Christopher Taylor. The CD is already available for pre-ordering from Amazon.


Choral Union wins applause from local reviewer

Emeritus history professor John Barker had this to say about our fall Choral Union performance of Mozart’s Great C Minor Mass and Brahms’ Schicksalslied.  “An excellent performance that should alert listeners to neglected treasures,” he wrote in The Well-Tempered Ear. Read the review here.


Meet New Faculty

We’ve posted interviews with several new faculty members on our WordPress blog. Read about their views on teaching, what excites them and even their most enjoyable and embarrassing moments in their musical histories. Interviews conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertation in piano performance. Here are a few quotations from our interviews (click the links to read the entire interview).

Chad Hutchinson, conductor
Chad Hutchinson

“This season we performed works of Mason Bates and Christopher Theofanidis on our first two concerts, and will feature Caroline Shaw and Stephen Shewan on concerts in the spring. Many of these works have never been performed in Madison or the state of Wisconsin, so it is very exciting to bring something fresh and invigorating to the area. The “Composer’s Datebook” segment on National Public Radio always says that “All music was once new,” which is true. I feel that if we only perform works that have been vetted in classical music we will miss out on exciting new opportunities.”

Alicia Lee, clarinet
Alicia Lee

“Six years ago, I along with some close musical friends founded a chamber collective called Decoda. Our mission from the start was to bring meaningful musical experiences to all audiences. As a freelancer (in my former life), it can be difficult to feel real ownership over the work that we find ourselves doing, and Decoda became a very important part of my life since we built it from the ground up. I would love to bring colleagues from Decoda to Madison and also to UW-Madison, because I think we have a unique process and way of presenting our music.”

Alex Noppe, trumpet
Alex Noppe. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

(Upon the founding of the Mirari Brass Quintet). “Originally, it was a group of graduate students at Indiana that formed the group, but over the years we changed a few members (adding Stephanie Frye, UW-Madison MM 2010 & DMA 2013). We’ve always had a bit of an interesting model in that we live in four different states scattered across the country, which definitely presents some challenges for rehearsing and performing.

“Mirari is in its ninth season together and we spend most of our time doing concert tours, educational residencies, and new music commissioning. We play a fairly eclectic mix of music that we’ve affectionately dubbed “stylistic whiplash”–everything from Renaissance to jazz to contemporary classical to Latin to musical theater, and on and on. At this point we’ve performed in about 30 states and did our first international concert tour this past summer in China. We have one album out from a few years ago and another one being released in just over a month on Summit Records.”


Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..


You received this newsletter because you either signed up at join-somnews@lists.wisc.edu or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

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Meet New Faculty: Chad Hutchinson, conductor

Chad Hutchinson, a native of Iowa, came to Wisconsin as adjunct professor to conduct both the UW-Madison Symphony and University Opera Orchestras. Prior to his appointment here, he was assistant conductor of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and director of the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestras, and has also conducted in Minnesota, Iowa, and Williamsville, New York. Prof. Hutchinson holds conducting degrees from the University of Minnesota and Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Morningside College. Read Chad’s full biography here. His commitment to outreach and the performance of new music is strong, and he has been recognized for his opera conducting skills with a third-place award in the American Prize in Opera Conducting.

Conductor Chad Hutchinson in rehearsal with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.


When you go to the Coasts, what questions do people ask you about the Midwest, and how do you answer?

When traveling outside the Midwest, when I say that I live in South Dakota people automatically assume that I live in a small town and don’t have access to resources. Sioux Falls has 175,000 people and I feel that it is my job to educate others that the Midwest has both rural and urban areas.

Having lived in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and South Dakota, truthfully they are all quite similar.  The generosity and genuine care for others is something that sets people apart in this part of the country.  The biggest difference living in South Dakota is that the state itself has a small population, so no matter where you are in the state the degree of separation is much less.  Also, my wife always has told me that the beauty of the prairie will grow on me.  There is a sense of calm that one experiences when being able to see the sunset to the west for many miles.

Concert audiences here can expect to hear the programming of both old and new music. How do you choose the newer works? 

Exposing students and audience members alike to new music is a core value of my educational philosophy.  I try to select repertoire by composers who are getting a lot of recognition and being performed regularly across the country in professional orchestras, or are composers that I feel are under-represented.  This season we  performed works of Mason Bates and Christopher Theofanidis on our first two concerts, and will feature Caroline Shaw and Stephen Shewan on concerts in the spring.  Many of these works have never been performed in Madison or the state of Wisconsin, so it is very exciting to bring something fresh and invigorating to the area.  The “Composer’s Datebook” segment on National Public Radio always says that “All music was once new,” which is true.  I feel that if we only perform works that have been vetted in classical music we will miss out on exciting new opportunities.  As an assistant with the South Dakota Symphony, I learned from Maestro Delta David Gier as he programmed living composers on nearly every subscription concert during his tenure with the orchestra.  There has been a transformation in the audience’s and orchestra’s reaction to new music there and I hope to make the same type of footprint here.  The School of Music at UW-Madison has so many applied faculty with experience in these endeavors that it has been a joy to have so much support from others with our selections of new music.

The “Composer’s Datebook” segment on National Public Radio always says that “All music was once new,” which is true.  I feel that if we only perform works that have been vetted in classical music we will miss out on exciting new opportunities.

After a helping of Babcock ice cream last summer, Chad Hutchinson’s daughters Lauren, 4 and Julia, 7, take a spin on the famous Terrace chair.

Share one memorable and one embarrassing musical experience.

When I was 20, I traveled to Spain, France and England as part of a college choir tour.  On successive nights in London, I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra on tour perform Wagner’s  Die Meistersinger and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.  For a young kid from Iowa, this was life-changing and made me realize the power of opera as well as the possibilities of color and dynamics within a professional orchestra.  I am always taken aback not by the loud playing of the great professional orchestras, but the control of soft dynamics.

My embarrassing moment came in Europe a few years later when doing a conducting workshop in the Czech Republic. As a college baseball player, I always would represent the number 2 as the index finger and pinky finger.  I got on the podium and said in my broken Czech, “Second movement please,” while holding up two fingers.  Pretty soon the entire orchestra is laughing and doing the same back to me.  I came to realize that in the Czech culture this is the equivalent of our middle finger gesture.  The orchestra liked “giving the finger(s)” to the young conductor.

What is different about conducting today vs. 30 years ago?

I think that the dictatorial days of the conductors of the past seems to have shifted quite a bit in recent years to a more level playing field with musicians.  Social media has changed the professional landscape with marketing campaigns for the top conductors of the major orchestras.  However, at the end of the day, the joy of collaborating with great musicians on amazing works of art is still the same today as it was 30 years ago.

Chad and Karen Hutchinson at the Wisconsin-Iowa football game.

You’ve been involved in quite a few unique events. Are there any that you would like to replicate here?

I spent the past year and a half working on a ballet project in South Dakota with four local companies and our youth orchestra.  I accepted this position [in Madison] before getting to the performance of the project, but I am happy to say that my successor is going through with the concert.  In this project, each company received a different composer – Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Copland and Gershwin – and the goal was to trace some of the evolution of the dance medium as well as giving the orchestra and dancers an opportunity to perform live with each other.  I hope to collaborate with the dance department on a project in the future as I feel that the more we work together in all the arts, the better.

Where were you guest conducting recently?

I have been in many high schools recently in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin recruiting first and foremost.  I also recently conducted the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony  and just returned from doing a High School Area All-State Festival in New York.

Your wife and family visited Madison this fall for the Badgers-Iowa football game. Did your family enjoy it (even though Iowa lost)?
I will admit that being a die-hard lifelong Iowa fan has been a bit difficult in recent years, both by getting my graduate degree from the University of Minnesota and now working here at UW-Madison. However, I root for the Badgers when they are not playing the Hawkeyes.  I had high hopes for the Iowa-Wisconsin game as it started so well for the Hawks, but the tides quickly turned and the Badgers had a great day. This being said, even though the Hawkeyes lost, the atmosphere at Camp Randall stadium was amazing and a lot of fun to be a part of.  Karen and I also took our kids to the Badger men’s and women’s basketball games, where they were super excited to meet Bucky Badger.


Professor Hutchinson will next conduct these performances:
University Opera presents La Bohème, February 23, 24 and 25 at the Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall, David Ronis directing.

Symphony Showcase, a concert featuring our concerto competition winners, March 18, Mills Hall.

Faculty Interviews, Part 1; Choral Union presents Mozart’s C Minor Mass; Take a class on Japanese music; Alumni News

December 1, 2017

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706

http://www.music.wisc.edu/

Post-Thanksgiving greetings, and welcome to Part 1 of a two-part end-of-semester newsletter!

Choral Union presents Mozart’s Great C Minor Mass and Brahms’ Schicksalslied (“Song of Destiny”)

With Beverly Taylor, conductor, the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra, and soloists Sarah Richardson, soprano; Chelsie Propst, soprano; Wesley Dunnagan, tenor; and Matthew Chastain, baritone. Event webpage.

Saturday, December 9, 8 PM and Sunday, December 10, 7 PM. $15 adults, $8 students.

The Great Mass in C-Minor “represents a super-human leap in the capacity of Mozart’s style. Someone once defined two kinds of genius: the person who is like us, only ten times better; the person whom nobody could predict. In the mass, Mozart becomes the second – in effect, a magician.” — Steve Schwartz, Classical.net

The Schicksalslied (“Song of Destiny”) is based on poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, an 18th-century German poet, and “portrays the brush between spiritually blinded, self-doomed mortals and the Elysian spirits.” — Carol Tailback, San Francisco Choral Society

Click here to see buying and parking options.


Curious about our new faculty?

We’ve posted interviews with several new faculty members on our WordPress blog. Read about their views on teaching, what excites them and even their most enjoyable and embarrassing moments in their musical histories. Interviews conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertation in piano performance. Here are a few quotations from our interviews (click the links to read the entire interview).

Double bassist David Scholl:
You’ve described Madison as “crunchy.” Define “crunchy.”
” ‘Crunchy’ is a term that comes from the type of health-conscious people who eat lots of granola, and the connotations that are associated with granola consumers, such as being environmentally conscious and having a more do-it-yourself lifestyle. Madison has a lot of great health food with all of its great restaurants, co-ops, and farmers markets; and with the thriving bike and artistic culture here the word seemed to fit. I meant it as a term of endearment, as I myself strive to be crunchier everyday.”

David Scholl

Flutist Timothy Hagen:
“One final point I try to impart to my students that I learned from Jim Walker: being the best musician you can be is not a guarantee of success. There is nothing wrong with capitalizing on every skill you have. This mindset has not only led me to career success in areas outside playing and teaching the flute, such as community outreach, composing, and curriculum design, but it also has enriched my artistic life and my personal life.”

Timothy Hagen

Jazz drummer & jazz history instructor Matthew Endres:
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching the students here at UW?   “These kids work and have a real passion for music. I’ve noticed substantial maturity in their playing in a very short period of time. They have a hunger for progress and the standards put onto them by faculty elevate their musicality immensely. I’m very honored to be working with world class educators here within the Mead Witter School of Music.”

Matthew Endres

In two weeks: Clarinetist Alicia Lee, orchestra conductor Chad Hutchinson, and trumpeter Alex Noppe.


Take a class on Japanese music (or other topics)

Musicology instructor Matthew Richardson (Ph. D, Northwestern University, 2016) has developed a brand-new class called “Music in Japan.” It’s an overview of the stylistic and historical depth of music in Japan, including traditional genres like classical court culture, kabuki, and geisha performance, as well as modern J-pop, film music, and anime music. “What Japanese hear in Japanese music is different from what Americans often hear in Japanese music,” he says. “And when Japanese fans listen to American music, it often means something different to them, too. One good example might be punk rock. In the US, that sort of sound is associated with rebellion and counterculture. But in Japan, a lot of artists use it as simply an energetic, youthful style without intending any of the political and meanings it has in the US.”
Read our complete blog post here.

Artist: Katsushika Hokusai, Edo period, Late, 1789-1868. Courtesy Harvard Art Museum.

Additional classes offered next semester (please check with the instructor; not all classes are open to non-majors):

  • MUSIC 416: Survey of Music in the Twentieth Century with Professor Susan C. Cook
  • MUSIC 542: Choral Literature and Performance Practices of Today with Associate Director of Choral Conducting Bruce Gladstone
  • MUSIC 546: String Literature with Artist-in-Residence and Pro Arte Quartet Violinist Suzanne Beia
  • MUSIC 319: Topics in Music and Ethnicity in the United States (Delta Blues) with Professor Charles Dill
  • MUSIC 318: Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas with Associate Professor of Dance Christopher Walker

and a variety of Special Topics courses (all MUSIC 497):

  • Opera Production with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Electro-Acoustic Ensemble with Associate Professor Daniel Grabois
  • Advanced Aural Skills: From the Conservatoire with Professor Marc Vallon
  • Marching Band Techniques with Assistant Director of Bands Darin Olson
  • Acting for Singers with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Jazz Innovators: Armstrong, Ellington and Beyond with Adjunct Professor Matthew Endres
  • Music, Critical Pedagogy = Social Change with Associate Professor Teryl Dobbs
Learn more about “Music in Japan” and other music courses available this spring by checking the “Public Search” option at this website.

Alumni News

Nathaniel Wolkstein
Allyson Fleck
Nick Connors
CHROMOS Tuba Quartet

The Chromos Tuba Quartet.

Click here to read.


Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..


You received this newsletter because you either signed up at join-somnews@lists.wisc.edu or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

Meet New Faculty: Alicia Lee, clarinet

Clarinetist Alicia Lee, assistant professor of clarinet, came here this fall from New York City, where she performed regularly with many ensembles, including the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Knights, Alarm Will Sound, NOVUS, and ACME, and participated in music festivals all over the world. She co-founded Decoda, a chamber music collective affiliated with Carnegie Hall, and is also a member of NOW Ensemble, a contemporary music group comprised of composers and performers. For seven years, Alicia was associate principal of the Santa Barbara Symphony and also played bass clarinet with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway in 2013-14. Her degrees are in French language and literature (Columbia University) She studied at The Juilliard School and earned additional degrees from the University of Southern California and The Colburn School as a student of Yehuda Gilad.

At the Mead Witter School of Music, she is now a member of the Wingra Wind Quintet.

Read Prof. Lee’s full biography here.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.

Alicia Lee. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

In New York City you’ve had a very active performing career. Are you still shuttling back and forth between NYC and Madison? Did you ever foresee yourself entering academia?

Yes, I am still shuttling back and forth between NYC and Madison – this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for nonstop United flights between Madison and Newark. I am lucky to still have performing opportunities on the East Coast, but the main reason I am going back so often is because my husband is still living in New York! I was not necessarily focused on finding a college teaching job, but it was always among the mix of my interests. I grew up in Michigan with my parents teaching in the music department at Michigan State University, so there is definitely a level of familiarity with this environment that I am very much enjoying.

You hold a bachelor’s degree in French language and literature. What connections have you made between French language/lit and music?

My initial reason behind choosing French language/literature as a focus of study was because I knew that I was headed towards a career in music. I wanted to spend my time at university studying something that I always found beautiful and fascinating but perhaps not the most practical! I discovered that the process of learning a language is similar to my experience of learning music. In order to feel really comfortable expressing myself, I have to feel so comfortable in the language that it becomes second nature. There are so many subtleties within language and the more you catch onto them, the more you see them in every language, including music. Unfortunately, my French never became quite as fluent to me as music, but I guess that’s why I became a musician.

What is your most memorable musical or professional experience? Your most embarrassing?

One of my most memorable musical experiences is hearing a classic, live recording of Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, sung by Benita Valente. There is a moment where her voice almost, almost breaks, but doesn’t. To me it’s one of the most sublime musical moments that has taught me so much about how I want to be able to play the clarinet. My most embarrassing musical experience was when I was in high school at a summer music festival. I showed up to an orchestra rehearsal – one of my very first orchestral experiences ever – without my music, which I had left on my bed in my dorm room after dutifully practicing my part. Everyone around me was urging me to just run back and get it, but I was so nervous and worried that I just faked my way through Prokofiev’s Love of Three Oranges Suite. Somehow the intense anxiety and adrenaline of the moment got me through. I’ve never played that piece since and if you asked me to hum a tune from it, it would be impossible.

Above: Alicia Lee joins the Decoda Ensemble for a performance of Thomas Adès “Catch.” With Lee are Anna Elashvili, violin; Claire Bryant, cello; and Michael Mizrahi, piano.

Are there any New York City projects that you could bring to Madison audiences?

Six years ago, I along with some close musical friends founded a chamber collective called Decoda. Our mission from the start was to bring meaningful musical experiences to all audiences. As a freelancer (in my former life), it can be difficult to feel real ownership over the work that we find ourselves doing, and Decoda became a very important part of my life since we built it from the ground up. I would love to bring colleagues from Decoda to Madison and also to UW-Madison, because I think we have a unique process and way of presenting our music.

About  UW-Madison’s Wingra Wind Quintet:

The Wingra Quintet is an opportunity for me to collaborate closely with my colleagues in the wind department. We look forward to expanding our performing season and programming many exciting works. One piece in particular that I am looking forward to is “Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet” by Gyorgy Ligeti. While it is considered a staple of the quintet repertoire, it is quite a time commitment, which often prevent it from being programmed. I am lucky to be in a situation where we have the time and space to put together such a masterwork from the repertoire, as well as have colleagues equally excited to work on this beast!

To contact Prof. Lee for information or a sample lesson, email her at anlee7@wisc.edu.

See Prof. Lee with the full Wingra Quintet, this Sunday at the Chazen Museum, noon. Click here for program.

 

Meet New Faculty: Alex Noppe, trumpet

New trumpet adjunct professor Alex Noppe came to UW-Madison this fall to teach both classical and jazz trumpet. While he hails from Green Bay, his career has taken him all over the world, as a member of the Mirari Brass Quintet, which he co-founded, of the Louis Romanos Quartet, which plays new Orleans-style jazz, and as a performer and soloist in orchestras and as a clinician at brass conferences. He’s also a composer and arranger. In Madison, Alex is a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, which recently returned from a Big Ten performance tour, and will next perform in Rhinelander (February 22); and in Madison (February 24).  Click here to read Alex’s full biography.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.

Alex Noppe. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

What approaches do you take when teaching jazz trumpet vs classical trumpet?

I don’t really treat different styles of music all that differently.  In my opinion, the “umbrella” under which all study is organized is trumpet fundamentals—all of the skills, concepts, and techniques that go into becoming an excellent player on your instrument.  Underneath that are various bins of styles & repertoire that get studied individually—baroque, jazz, orchestral, mariachi, etc.  But the techniques for learning each individual style don’t really differ that much.  I suppose jazz players tend to do a lot more ear-development exercises, but that’s something that everyone else should be doing as well.

You’ve had a diverse array of performance opportunities, which include orchestras, chamber groups, and jazz ensembles. Do you have a preference for any one type of performance setting or musical style? 

Not particularly.  I’m at my happiest when I’m involved in a variety of different performing activities, so I enjoy the challenge of rapidly switching back and forth between genres and groups.  Having said that, the majority of my playing these days is in small chamber groups.

The Mirari Brass Quintet. L-R: Stephanie Frye (tuba); Sarah Paradis (trombone); Matthew Vangjel (trumpet); Jessie Thoman (horn); Alex Noppe (trumpet).

Tell us about the Mirari Brass Quintet (pictured above).

Originally, it was a group of graduate students at Indiana that formed the group, but over the years we changed a few members (adding Stephanie Frye, UW-Madison MM 2010 & DMA 2013).  We’ve always had a bit of an interesting model in that we live in four different states scattered across the country, which definitely presents some challenges for rehearsing and performing.

Mirari is in its ninth season together and we spend most of our time doing concert tours, educational residencies, and new music commissioning.  We play a fairly eclectic mix of music that we’ve affectionately dubbed “stylistic whiplash”–everything from Renaissance to jazz to contemporary classical to Latin to musical theater, and on and on.  At this point we’ve performed in about 30 states and did our first international concert tour this past summer in China.  We have one album out from a few years ago and another one being released in just over a month on Summit Records.

What works have you arranged for Mirari?

I do the bulk of the in-house composing and arranging for the group, and at this point I’ve probably contributed about 20 pieces to our book. I’ve done a few jazz arrangements from composers like Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny, some original compositions, a piece for quintet and vocals, one for quintet with piano, and one for quintet and wind ensemble.

Above: The Mirari Brass Quintet performing “Spires,” a commissioned work from Rome Prize winner and Guggenheim Fellow Eric Nathan. “Spires” may be heard on Mirari’s 2012 CD, also called “Spires.”

What is your most memorable musical experience? What is your most embarrassing musical experience?

Tough question—not sure if I have only one answer for this!  Some of the more memorable performances include performing in Thailand and China with my chamber groups, a jazz festival in Maui that included a home-stay with not one but two infinity pools, and getting to work with an amazing array of great musicians including Leonard Slatkin, Wycliffe Gordon, John Clayton, Randy Brecker, and many others.  Oh yeah, and sharing a duet on an album with “Yes” lead singer Jon Anderson.

As for embarrassing experiences—probably too many to count, but they definitely include dressing up as pop star Michael Jackson for an orchestra concert, passing out while playing a high note during my freshman year of college, and recording a marching band version of “Spider-Pig” (yes, from the Simpsons movie!).

Your bio lists that you were a “cellophonist” in a concerto for cellphones and orchestra. What was that?

Definitely one of the more entertaining gigs.  My mentor in grad school, David Baker, was commissioned to write a concerto for cell phones and orchestra—especially amusing since he could barely use his own.  My role included juggling 3-4 different phones at the front of the stage and triggering off various ringtones, accompanied by the orchestra and several hundred phones from the audience.  The music director of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra coined the term ‘cellophonist’, and I’ve found it hilarious ever since.

Contact Alex for a visit and/or a sample lesson: noppe@wisc.edu

Meet New Faculty: Matt Endres, Jazz Drums & Jazz History

In September, we welcomed Matt Endres as a new adjunct professor teaching jazz drums and jazz history. Matt is from Sauk City,  and received his bachelor’s of music degree at UW-Stevens Point, his master’s degree in jazz studies from the University of Illinois, and his doctoral degree in jazz studies and ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois. He’s been a bandleader, a sideman, and played drums with the Downbeat award-winning group “Old Style Sextet.” He’s heard on multiple albums and has worked with many well-known musicians, including trumpeter Doc Severinson. Read Matt’s full bio here.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.


What is one topic in jazz history that you find most important to share with your students? 

I don’t focus solely on major artists who would be considered “hallmarks” in my courses. I find it more relevant to emphasize what was happening socially, racially, economically, and politically in the US from the 19th century to present day. These are the things that shaped what we know today as the purely American music of jazz. After all, these topics act as the main artery that powered the evolution of this music. Note: Next spring, Matt will teach the class “Jazz Innovators: Armstrong, Ellington and Beyond,” Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1 to 2:15 PM. Learn more in the Course Guide.

What types of opportunities would you like our students to have?

Playing gigs is definitely the best arena for personal development as a musician. We live in a city that is very rich in the musical sense. There are many opportunities to play in Madison and I stress the importance of getting out, being heard, and creating with as many musicians as possible.

What was it like working with Doc Severinsen?

Doc is one of the most professional people I’ve ever worked with. Any horn player that complains about their chops after a gig, I have no sympathy for. Doc is 90 years old and has more stamina than anyone. He still performs with true effortless mastery. A true sweetheart and a giant influence.

Click here to read a story in the Sauk Prairie Eagle about Matt’s appointment to the School of Music.

What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching the students here at UW?

These kids work and have a real passion for music. I’ve noticed substantial maturity in their playing in a very short period of time. They have a hunger for progress and the standards put onto them by faculty elevate their musicality immensely. I’m very honored to be working with world class educators here within the Mead Witter School of Music.  Within the jazz department specifically, Johannes Wallmann has a very clear vision on what this young department will be, and what he has created thus far is extraordinary. The opportunities he provides for the students is very inspirational. I’m very honored to have the privilege to work along side him and he has exposed me to many different academic arenas.

Share one memorable and one embarrassing musical experience. 

My most memorable experience also acts as my most embarrassing one. In October of 2014, in Macau, China, I dropped a stick in the middle of one of my solos in the finals of a music competition. I made it out alive and was able to develop it into a formative arrangement. That remains to be one of my most creative experiences I’ve had playing to this day.

What are some of the highlights from your career thus far?

I’ve had the pleasure of playing with many world class musicians/composers and created a lot of fantastic music.  I’m fortunate to have success internationally on music charts with a handful of these records. Still, the most memorable and rewarding aspect of recording has been noticing the personal progress in my own playing after cutting a record.

Where can we hear you in Madison?

I’ll play Thursday, December 7, with the Tony Barba Quartet at Madison’s (119 King St.) from 8-11 PM; Sunday, December 17 for Madison Jazz Jam at The Rigby (119 E. Main Street) from 4-7 PM; and Friday, December 29, at North Street Cabaret with the Tony Barba Quartet, 8 PM.


Want to meet Matt and /or request a sample lesson? Reach him at mcendres@wisc.edu.

School of Music pioneers new course on Japanese music

November 21, 2017

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/

Scroll down to see a partial list of additional second-semester courses (including String Literature, West African Dance & Music, and Electro-Acoustic Ensemble) offered at the School of Music. 

An Exploration of Japanese Music, from Traditional to Avante-Garde

Having taught one year already at the School of Music, musicology instructor Matthew Richardson (Ph. D, Northwestern University, 2016) isn’t brand new here. But we’d like to introduce you to him nonetheless, especially as he’s developed an innovative class in Japanese music history musicology that is now open to enrollment.

“Music in Japan”   (Music 660-402, Music Cultures of the World: Asia) will offer students an overview of the stylistic and historical depth of music in Japan, including traditional genres like classical court culture, kabuki, and geisha performance, as well as modern J-pop, film music, and anime music. A major theme will be to position Japanese music culture within global trends from China, Korea, the US, and beyond.  The class will meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:55 to 10:45 in Room 2441, Humanities. For music majors, the class will fulfill a world music requirement. For non-majors, the class will fulfill a distribution requirement.

We asked Matt to tell us the story behind his interest in Japanese music.

I got into Japanese music in a sort of round-about way. I had studied Japanese as a hobby during a gap year before graduate school. After I started grad school, I was writing a paper on some German synthpop* and came across a Japanese group called Perfume. They put together a lot of retro synthpop sounds with the really pop-y choreography that’s popular in Japan, and once I started trying to figure out what to make of them it snowballed into a dissertation on Japanese pop. One thing that drew me to the subject was that a lot of groups like Perfume work on many levels at once. On the surface level, they’re just really fun synthpop, but when you dig deeper there are references to obscure synthpop from the ‘70s, and sometimes even when they’re performing on a TV commercial or something, they sort of poke fun at advertising while they’re advertising something. It manages to be really simple but really complex at the same time.

“Japanese pop music has a lot of influence from European and American pop music, but at the same time some music styles mean something different in Japan than they do in Europe and the US. In other words, what Japanese hear in Japanese music is different from what Americans often hear in Japanese music. And when Japanese fans listen to American music, it often means something different to them, too. One good example might be punk rock. In the US, that sort of sound is associated with rebellion and counterculture. But in Japan, a lot of artists use it as simply an energetic, youthful style without intending any of the political and meanings it has in the US.

“Since I wrote the original description I’ve added a unit on Japanese artists who tour in the US, and American artists who tour in Japan, talking about why they do or do not catch on. One of the issues we’ll look at is how a lot of the Japanese singers who do sound more ‘American’ (like Thelma Aoyama and Utada Hikaru) flop in the US because they sound too ‘normal,’  but really eccentric pop groups (like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or Babymetal) often go viral in the US and then only later catch on in Japan.

“There actually aren’t any musicologists that specialize in anime, that I know of. That part of the class will be reading a lot of general things on anime in Japan, and then spitballing some of my ideas about how those ideas apply to how music works in anime. One of the takeaways will be that anime is all about creating these big, sweeping fantasy worlds, and each series or studio usually grabs onto one kind of music that somehow fits with the fantasy, whether it’s jazz or synthesizer music.”

*”Synthpop”???

“Sorry, sometimes I forget how much jargon is floating around in my head! Synthpop is a term for pop music that’s mostly played with keyboards and synthesizers, especially when there’s a little bit of a disco-ish beat (like A-ha or Devo back in the 70s/80s).”


Learn more about “Music in Japan” and other music courses available this spring by checking the “Public Search” option at this website.

A smattering of other courses offered next spring include the following. (Please note: check with the instructor as not all classes are open to general students and auditors):

  • MUSIC 416: Survey of Music in the Twentieth Century with Professor Susan C. Cook
  • MUSIC 542: Choral Literature and Performance Practices of Today with Associate Director of Choral Conducting Bruce Gladstone
  • MUSIC 546: String Literature with Artist-in-Residence and Pro Arte Quartet Violinist Suzanne Beia
  • MUSIC 319: Topics in Music and Ethnicity in the United States (Delta Blues) with Professor Charles Dill
  • MUSIC 318: Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas with Associate Professor of Dance Christopher Walker

and a variety of Special Topics courses (all MUSIC 497):

  • Opera Production with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Electro-Acoustic Ensemble with Associate Professor Daniel Grabois
  • Advanced Aural Skills: From the Conservatoire with Professor Marc Vallon
  • Marching Band Techniques with Assistant Director of Bands  Darin Olson
  • Acting for Singers with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Jazz Innovators: Armstrong, Ellington and Beyond with Adjunct Professor Matthew Endres
  • Music, Critical Pedagogy = Social Change with Associate Professor Teryl Dobbs

Our Full Concert Calendar

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The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..


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News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

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