Final Concerts: UW Choral Union, UW Symphony, Jazz; Jewish Archive; and more!

April 18, 2016
Greetings from the School of Music!  We’re overflowing with concerts the next two weeks; here are just a few highlights. Click here to see the entire calendar.
Choral Union presents Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation”

Beverly Taylor, conductor

Mills Hall, Sunday, April 24, 3:30 PM

Poster design by Tonka Raycheva

Haydn’s “The Creation,” written between 1797 and 1798, is considered one of the great masterworks of western music and civilization.  It has beautiful and exciting choral writing, demanding, intricate and soaring solos, and some of the most inventive orchestral writing of its time, both in the opening depiction of Chaos—the pre-creation state, and in the pictorial writing about animals, water, and light, all at their beginning stages.  Part I depicts the stages of creation, Part II a celebration of that creation, and Part III the new love between Adam and Eve.

“The Creation” debuted in London and was sung in English.  Our production uses the Robert Shaw version of the English text, which clears up some of the original strange grammar which resulted from the Haydn’s libretto going through a German translation and back to English. The libretto mixes Biblical language with new language for the soloists.

Our soloists include alumna Jamie-Rose Guarrine, as angels Gabriel and Eve; Voice Professor James Doing as angel Uriel; alumnus  Benjamin Schultz as angel Raphael; and current student Benjamin Li as Adam.

Tickets: $15 general public, $8 students. Buy online here or in person at the Memorial Union Box Office or at the door.

UW Symphony Orchestra with Guest Conductor Andreas Stoehr

Mills Hall, Friday, April 22, 8:00 PM- Free concert

Andreas Stoehr rehearses the UW Symphony Orchestra. Photograph by Hannah Olson.
Andreas Stoehr rehearses the UW Symphony Orchestra. Photograph by Hannah Olson.

Vienna native Andreas Stoehr will lead the university orchestra in performances of Overture to Der Freischütz (Carl Maria von Weber), Wesendonck Lieder (Richard Wagner), and Symphony No. 6 (Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). With soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn.

“At first glance our program appears to be a nice bouquet of romantic pieces, but as I believe that music and philosophy share the same spiritual source, one can see that each composer tries to answer the main question: ‘Where is the exit from the burden of life?’ ” says Prof. Stoehr.

“Carl Maria von Weber’s answer: ‘There is God, there is hope, therefore good wins over evil.’ Wagner leads us to ‘unbewusst, höchste Lust’ (unaware, sublime desire; the last lines of Tristan and Isolde ) expressing his belief in uncontrollable, germinating power of love. The poetry by Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner’s muse, reflects their profound, but impossible relationship and inspired him to Tristan and Isolde as his unique philosophy of escaping the world through an idealized love. Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ Symphony No. 6  does not try at all to answer the question. We sense in his music his personal struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness. Like the most famous literary works of his time by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece comes to us as a drama, but without words. When life is over – it’s over.”

Hear Andreas Stoehr on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Midday” with Norman Gilliland, noon on Wednesday, April 20.

Jazz Week with LA saxophonist Bob Sheppard

Nine area high schools to participate in final concert

April 26, 28, 29 – Various times and locations

The Jazz Studies program, led by Professor Johannes Wallmann, will present a weeklong residency with LA-based Bob Sheppard, worldwide multi-woodwind performer, recording artist, and jazz musician.

Bob Sheppard. Photograph by Suzuki K.
Bob Sheppard. Photograph by Suzuki K.

The three-day event includes master classes and two concerts. It will feature the UW Jazz Ensembles, the UW Jazz Orchestra, the UW High School Honors Jazz Band, and the Johannes Wallmann Quartet.  The 2016 Honors Jazz Band, directed by UW Director of Jazz Studies Johannes Wallmann and co-conductor Eric Siereveld, is a twenty-member big band that includes top jazz students from Edgewood, James Madison Memorial, Madison East, Madison West, Middleton, New Glarus, Portage, Sun Prairie, and Waunakee High Schools.

Events:
Free Master Class/Concert Tue, April 26, 8 PM, Morphy Hall (with the Composers Septet & Contemporary Jazz Ensemble)
Concert Thur, April 28, 8 PM, Morphy Hall (with the Johannes Wallmann Quartet) Ticketed $15 single
Concert Fri, April 29, 8 PM, Music Hall (with the UW Jazz Orchestra & High School Honors Jazz Band) Ticketed $15 single

$25 both Thursday and Friday shows. Students of all ages free!

Buy tickets to Thursday’s show.

Buy tickets to Friday’s show.

Buy tickets to both shows.


 

U.S. Air Force “Freedom Winds” percussion/wind quintet to perform April 21 – Free concert

Music Hall, Thursday, April 21, 7:30 PM

FWindslogo

The School of Music is honored to present the Freedom Winds, a visiting ensemble from the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America. Composed of six virtuoso Airman Musicians, the group adds percussion to the traditional woodwind quintet instrumentation to enhance standard literature and increase their musical capabilities. Repertoire includes jazz and ragtime classics along with popular themes from Broadway’s hit shows to Hollywood’s greatest films.  Please join us for what promises to be a fun and memorable concert!

“Out of the Shadows” Rediscovering Jewish Music, Literature and Theater

May 1-5, 2016, Madison, various locations and times

“Piecing together lost generations of creativity”: that’s how the Wisconsin State Journal’s Gayle Worland phrased it in her news story last summer. Generations of Jewish creativity lost due to the Holocaust and the diaspora, now placed front and center in a worldwide effort to discover those that were lost, reclaim those that are forgotten, and perform those that have been neglected.

From May 1 through May 5, that creativity will be on display in Madison as part of “Out of the Shadows,” coordinated by music education professor Teryl Dobbs and faculty at the University of Leeds, England. Over five days, events ranging from cabaret to ethnomusicology discussions to chamber music to theater will be presented at various locations in Madison. Ticket prices range from $5 to $10.00. Buy tickets here.

PJA-2016-flyer

The three-year “Performing the Jewish Archive” project involves a large number of partners, exploring archives, delivering community and educational projects, holding at least two international conferences and a series of symposia at the British National Library, as well as mounting five international performance festivals––in the United States (Madison, WI), the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Download the full schedule here (PDF)

Or check our online link: http://www.music.wisc.edu/performing-the-jewish-archive-may-2016-events/


Faculty News: Parry Karp

Student News: Claire Powling, Grace Subat



PHOTO GALLERY     A Day in the Life of a Music School: A master class with composer and cellist Paul Desenne, April 11, 2016. Images by Michael R. Anderson.


 

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.


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.

Perlman Trio holds annual concert; Recital showcases teaching talent and their youthful students

News and Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – March 30, 2016

Happy Spring from the School of Music! In this newsletter:

–The Perlman Trio’s annual performance
–UW Masters Singers add State Capitol concert
–Three student recitals illustrate breadth of school; many more scheduled this month
–Community Music Lessons Spring Recital showcases youthful students and their college teachers
–Fresco Opera’s Clara features alumni
–Pro Arte, Wingra Wind Quintet, UW Symphony, and UW Varsity Band in concert
–University Opera’s Transformations earns critical praise

For a complete listing of events, please click to see our April calendar.

Perlman Piano trio to perform April 9
The Perlman Piano Trio. L-R: Adam Dorn, violin; SeungWha Baek, piano; Micah Cheng, cello.
The Perlman Piano Trio. L-R: Adam Dorn, violin; SeungWha Baek, piano; Micah Cheng, cello.

The Perlman Piano Trio, a student ensemble funded by donor Kato Perlman, holds its only concert of the academic year on Saturday, April 9, 3:30 PM, in Morphy Hall. The trio consists of Adam Dorn, violin; SeungWha Baek, piano; Micah Cheng, cello. On the program is the Mozart Piano Trio in E major, K. 542; the Schumann Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op.44; and the Brahms Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 101. For the quintet, the trio will be joined by Keisuke Yamamoto on the violin and Luke Carmichael Valmadrid on the viola.

“It’s my first piano trio,” says violinist Adam Dorn, a Minneapolis native. “It’s very high caliber playing, very different from anything I’ve ever done. And being given a scholarship to do something that you love is amazing.” The trio is  coached by Martha Fischer, professor of collaborative piano, and Parry Karp, cellist of the Pro Arte Quartet.
A reception will follow the concert. To learn more about the backgrounds of our musicians, download this PDF of the program.
Perlman Piano Trio program

Catch Masters Singers at the State Capitol!

rotunda

This just in from graduate student and co-conductor Christopher Boveroux: The UW Masters Singers will entertain passersby in the State Capitol rotunda, Friday, April 8, 4:30 PM.  They’ll sing all a cappella in preparation for their spring concert on May 2.  

Recitals offer a peek into the world of our college musicians

April is jammed with college recitals of all sorts, many not even held in our halls. We encourage the community to hear our young musicians as they hone their skills for future careers in performance and education! A few examples:
–A graduate brass trio with Matt Onstad, trumpeter (also a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet); Melvin Cortez Jackson, a hornist, and Brett Keating, on the euphonium. They’ll play music of Poulenc, Beethoven, Hovhaness, and David Sampson’s “Duncan Trio.” Wednesday, April 6, 6:30 PM in Morphy Hall.
–Third year undergrad pianist Emili Earhart, a student of Christopher Taylor’s, will perform the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano, by John Cage. Sunday, April 10, 5:00 PM, Morphy Hall.
–Soprano Yanzelmalee Rivera, a graduate student of Elizabeth Hagedorn’s who hails from Puerto Rico, will sing works of Robert Schumann, Joseph Marx and Debussy, accompanied by graduate collaborative piano student ChanMi Jean. ChanMi Jean studies with Prof. Martha Fischer. Saturday, April 16, 6:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Many more recitals may be found on our calendar: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/2016-04/

April recital also showcases youth in the school’s Community Music Lessons program

From Samantha Sinai, Community Music Lessons Coordinator
The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce an upcoming recital on Sunday, April 17th from 11:00-12:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall. This is not your typical School of Music recital, as our students will not be the ones performing. Instead, they are excited for students of their own to perform.

A youthful student takes lessons with a School of Music student. (File photo)
A youthful student takes lessons with a School of Music student. (File photo)

The recital will feature students on a variety of instruments. For example, Ian, a 12-year-old guitar student of Erik Gibelyou, will perform a piece by Leo Brouwer. Bobby, a 10-year-old violin student of Isidora Miranda, will also perform. In the future, we hope to offer a recital at the end of each semester to allow students a chance to share with the community how they have grown musically throughout the semester. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the joy of music and the progress these students have made this semester.  And please join us for a reception after the performances!

The Community Music Lessons program (CML) at UW-Madison provides music lessons on most instruments, from piano to trombone. This spring, CML enrolled 98 students, twice as many as last spring, and employed 33 School of Music students as the instructors. CML is very excited to have so many students this year; we look forward to attracting even more in the fall.

Pro Arte Quartet, Wingra Wind Quintet, the UW Varsity Band and UW Symphony also on tap this month

The Wingra Wind Quintet offers an all-French program, Sunday, April 3 at 7:00 PM in Morphy Hall.

The Pro Arte Quartet performs music of Respighi and Korngold: Sunday, April 10, 4:00 PM, Mills Hall.

April 14, 15 and 16: Our own Varsity Band, conducted by Michael Leckrone, plays in the Kohl Center. Buy tickets here.

The UW Symphony Orchestra will play the Overture to Der Freischütz (Carl Maria von Weber); Wesendonck Lieder (Richard Wagner); and Symphony No. 6 (Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) with guest conductor Andreas Stohr. Friday, April 22, 8:00 PM, Mills Hall.

Clara, Fresco Opera’s spring show, features singers from the School of Music

Alumna Christina Kay (MM 2014) is only one of several graduates to perform in this weekend’s Fresco Opera show, Clara (April 1-3, Overture Center). Others include Melanie Cain (MM 2003, DMA 2005), artistic director and founder of Fresco Opera Theatre, owner of Maven Vocal Arts, and vice president of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing; Chelsie Propst (MM, voice 2012, DMA minor in voice 2013); and Meghan Hilker, a current master’s voice student.

Fresco_Clara

The production features the music of Clara and Robert Schumann and Brahms, and centers around their alleged love triangle. Writes Christina: “For those of you unfamiliar with Fresco, they do ‘opera’ in a unique way, often incorporating dialogue and mashing together music from various operas and composers. This is the first time they’ll be using non-operatic songs to create their own story, and it should be really beautiful. A great intro to the genre of “art song,” for those unfamiliar.”

“Transformations” earns praise from area reviewers

For those who had not heard, last month’s opera, Transformations, was well-received by Madison’s critical community. “[David] Ronis’s direction (he also serves as visiting director of the opera program) is richly inventive, with snippets of choreography throughout, including a conga line and a parody of the Supremes. The staging is delightful, using the full height of the set to frame and reframe action,” Isthmus’s Jay Rath writes. “This entire production would easily compare well to any professional opera company.”   Read story here: http://isthmus.com/arts/stage/university-opera-transformations/


Alumni News: Eli Kalman releases new CD
Faculty News: Violist Sally Chisholm named Germain Prévost Professor of Music

New on SoundCloud: “Luminosity,” by Anthony DiLorenzo, as performed by the Festival Brass Choir at last fall’s Brass Fest II. Stay tuned for news of a third Brass Festival in late September!

Next issue: News about our upcoming Jazz Festival, Choral Union, “Performing the Jewish Archive,” and a guest concert with the U.S. Air Force’s “Freedom Winds” woodwind/percussion quintet

Review: UW Opera Scores with “Transformations”

University Opera’s “Transformations” called “breathtaking” by critic

News bulletin: Isthmus reviewer Jay Rath has called University Opera’s new show, Transformations, an “astonishing success,” and we wanted to let you know!

“Ronis’s direction (he also serves as visiting director of the opera program) is richly inventive, with snippets of choreography throughout, including a conga line and a parody of the Supremes. The staging is delightful, using the full height of the set to frame and reframe action,” Rath writes. “This entire production would easily compare well to any professional opera company.”

Read story here: http://isthmus.com/arts/stage/university-opera-transformations/

Transformations is a chamber opera based on poetry by Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Sexton, set to music by Conrad Susa. Sexton’s writing was confessional and often confrontational, and she drew on themes present in her own life, mental illness being just one. She took her own life in 1974, shortly after the Minnesota Opera premiered Transformations.

Despite the grim theme, the opera is often quite hilarious, and the cast is not only talented but enacts the humor with perfect timing.

The opera is directed by interim opera director David Ronis, with a chamber orchestra conducted by Kyle Knox (featured last February in this newsletter). Performers are sopranos Erin Bryan, Nicole Heinen and Cayla Rosché, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Buechel, tenors Dennis Gotkowski, Michael Hoke and William Ottow, baritone Brian Schneider and guest bass-baritone Benjamin Schultz. The design team includes David Gipson, lighting; Hyewon Park and Sydney Krieger, costumes; and Greg Silver, technical director. The production stage manager will be Delaney Egan and additional student staff includes Thomas Stone, master electrician, and James Dewhurst, assistant master electrician.

Don’t miss your chance to see Transformations! Tickets may be purchased at the Memorial Union Box Office, or at the door day of show. General Admission: $25; Seniors: $20; Students: $10.

Read our original news release here.

Performances:

Sunday, March 13, 3:00 PM, Music Hall.

Tuesday, March 15, 7:30 PM, Music Hall.

Above: Nicole Heinen as Rapunzel in Transformations. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

 

A Taste of the Middle East Coming to Morphy Hall

Special Concert Announcement from the UW-Madison School of Music – March 3, 2016
duoJalal – A fusion of cultures and styles, with Yousif Sheronick, percussion, and Kathryn Lockwood, viola

In Concert: Monday, March 14, 7:30 PM, Morphy Hall

$15 public, available at the Memorial Union Box Office and at the door. Free to students. Note: Seating is limited. We recommend patrons buy ahead of time or arrive early.

duoJalal_Anja HitzenberSMALL
Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick. Photograph by Anja Hitzenber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yousif Sheronick, a native of Iowa,  discovered the music of Arabian countries when his Lebanon-born mother sang tunes over the drone of the family vacuum cleaner. As a youth, he gravitated toward American rock and was a member of the local drum corps. His natural percussion skills landed him a full scholarship to the University of Iowa, but it wasn’t until he enrolled as a master’s student at Yale University that he really dug into the music of Eastern countries. He traveled to Brazil and studied music of India, Africa and the Middle East.

Kathryn Lockwood, a native of Australia, studied classical viola at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and came to the US in 1991, where she received a master’s degree at the University of Southern California. She then won several awards in succession: the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, Grand Prize at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, Concert Artists Guild Management Award, and awards at solo competitions such as the Primrose Competition, Washington International Competition, and the Pasadena Instrumental Competition.  She was an original member of the Pacifica Quartet and co-formed the Lark Quartet in 1985. Along the way she met Sheronick.

The two met, married and formed a new ensemble, duoJalal, that spanned cultures, genres and styles.  “duoJalal started organically when a friend and composer offered to write us a piece,” says Sheronick. “We had so much fun we decided to keep going and commissioned more pieces which showcases our unique voice as an ensemble of melody & rhythm.”

Hear duoJalal on SoundCloud:

“duoJalal” was named to honor the cross-cultural poetry of the 13th-century Turkish poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi, whose work Sheronick discovered when he arrived in New York City.

Today, duoJalal performs music ranging from classical to Klezmer, jazz to Middle Eastern. Wrote Toronto Star reviewer John Terauds: “Sheronick applies impeccable technique to a wide range of percussion tools, from the bodhran in the opening piece to a goat-hoof shaker in Glass’s ‘Duo for Solo Viola and Percussion.’ Lockwood is all slow, sensuous allure with her bowing arm one moment, a tempest of notes the next. If this is what world music’s future holds, bring on the party.”

At the School of Music, duoJalal’s concert was suggested by percussion professor Anthony di Sanza and viola professor Sally Chisholm, the long-standing violist with the . “They sit halfway between the Western classical world and global music, and that’s a world I find interesting,” says Di Sanza. “Yousif plays a lot of Middle Eastern percussion music, and we have a good number of students who have been playing Middle Eastern instruments and studying this regularly. And I also like the idea of collaboration with the string area, and with Sally Chisholm.”

“I am certain she will give wonderful feedback to our violists on standard viola repertoire as well as offer her unique perspective on paths musicians can create for themselves,” says Chisholm.

Additional Events:
String Master Class: Mon March 14, 12:05 PM, Room 2521- Free
Percussion Master Class: Mon March 14, 12:05 PM, Room 1629 -Free
Presentation/Discussion about Composing Global Chamber Music: Tuesday, March 15, 12PM, Room 2521 – Free

We hope you will join us for one or more events!
Here is the March 14 concert program:

  • David Krakauer (b. 1956): Klezmer a la Bechet (in the SoundCloud link above)
  • Evan Ziporyn (b.1959): Honey from Alast
  • Yousif Sheronick (b.1967): Jubb Jannin
  • Enzo Rao (b.1957): A Different World
  • Kenji Bunch (b.1973): Lost & Found (2010)
    I. Lost in Time (Dumbek)
    II. Found Objects (Djembe)
  • Somei Satoh (b.1947): Birds in warped time II (1983)
  • Giovanni Sollima (b.1962): Lamentatio

For more information, please contact the concert manager at 608. 263.5615.

We thank the University of Wisconsin Anonymous Fund for its support of this residency.

 

 

 

University Opera presents spring show, “Transformations”; Clarinet Day debut; cellist Andrew Briggs impresses Middleton audience

News and Concert Highlights from the UW-Madison School of Music – Feb. 29, 2016

University Opera presents its spring 2016 show:”Transformations”

Transformations, a 1970s chamber opera that explores serious psychological themes through the re-telling of Grimm’s fairy tales, will be staged March 11, 13 and 15 by UW-Madison University Opera. The opera was written by Conrad Susa based on poetry by Pulitzer-Prize winner Anne Sexton, who suffered from mental illness and depression, and took her own life in 1974 at age 45.
‘It’s a challenging and compelling piece of music theater,” said David Ronis, director. “It’s a great vehicle to teach skills to young opera singers, and stimulating thought and dialog across the university and community.”  While the opera is dark at times, it contains much humor as well.

Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton

Sexton’s writing was often confessional and overtly feminist. Her champions included Maxine Kumin, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. Transformations was commissioned of Susa in 1972 by the Minnesota Opera, known for its interest in contemporary works. The libretto includes eight cast members who play multiple roles from the fairy tales; the plot involves a middle-aged witch who is transformed into a young beauty pulled into a nightmare.

Transformations is conducted by graduate assistant conductor Kyle Knox.

Click this link to read much more about this production, including the cast list and backstage personnel.

Performance dates, times and prices:
Friday, Mar 11 @ 7:30pm (Pre-show discussion, 6 PM)
Sunday, Mar 13 @ 3:00pm
Tuesday, Mar 15 @ 7:30pm
General Admission: $25; Seniors: $20; Students: $10
Tickets available at the Memorial Union Box Office. Also available at the door.

Transformations is a thought-provoking and complex opera that benefits from thought and discussion. Join us for a pre-show discussion at 6:00 PM in Music Hall, March 11, with noted University scholars:
Lynn Keller – Professor of Poetry, UW-Madison
Thomas DuBois – Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies,UW-Madison
Laura Schwendinger – Professor of Composition, School of Music, UW-Madison
Karlos Moser – Emeritus Director of Opera, UW-Madison
David Ronis
– Interim Director of Opera, UW-Madison
Moderator: Susan Cook, Director, UW-Madison School of Music


Selected Concert Highlights, March 2016

The Hunt Quartet. Sunday, March 6, 6:00 PM, Morphy Hall, free and open to all. The Hunt Quartet is the graduate string quartet at UW-Madison, comprised of Paran Amirinazari, violin; Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; and Andrew Briggs, cello. The quartet will play music of Beethoven, Webern, and Schubert. Funding is provided by Dr. Kato Perlman and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

The Hunt Quartet. L-R: Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and cellist Andrew Briggs, cello. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.
The Hunt Quartet. L-R: Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and cellist Andrew Briggs, cello. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

UW Chamber Orchestra
Wednesday, March 16, Mills Hall, 7:30 PM. The UWCO, conducted by James Smith, will perform works of Bela Bartok, Elliott Carter, and Einojuhani Rautavaara, one of Finland’s most important composers. Rautavaara’s style has been influenced by Orthodox liturgical music and Finnish fiddlers and is both Romantic and mystical; read about him at this link.

“Le Domaine Musical”
Friday, March 18, Morphy Hall, 8:00 PM. Free concert. An homage to the late composer Pierre Boulez, featuring music of Pierre Boulez, Anton Webern, Claude Debussy and Johann Sebastian Bach. Performers drawn from School of Music faculty as well as students.

 

See much more on our complete calendar: recitals, jazz, classical, voice and percussion concerts, colloquia, and opera: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/


UW-Madison hosts its first “Clarinet Day”

On Saturday, February 20th, the clarinet studio and Wesley Warnhoff, adjunct professor of clarinet, hosted its first “Clarinet Day,” including Warnhoff and students performing works by Francis Poulenc and Eric Mandat, master classes with high school students, and chamber music sessions with college and high school students working side by side. The day concluded with the group attending a stunning performance by the UW Wind Ensemble conducted by Professor Scott Teeple. Warnhoff plans to turn this into an annual event; check back next year!

Clarinet Day 2016
Clarinet Day 2016

New on SoundCloud: Hear Martha Fischer, Wes Warnhoff and Jamie-Rose Guarrine perform “The Shepherd on the Rock” at last January’s annual “Schubertiade” concert. Fischer is prof. of piano and collaborative piano at UW-Madison. Guarrine received her DMA at UW-Madison and now teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Cellist Andrew Briggs earns ovation from Middleton Community Orchestra audience

“I must say that he gave me about the most satisfying experience of it that I have ever heard.” Reviewer John Barker, in his review of the MCO’s Feb. 24 concert, in which Briggs, a UW-Madison graduate student studying with Prof. Uri Vardi, played Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. “The reason for that is not only his playing skill but also his natural rapport with an audience: He communicates.”
Click to read the full post at The Well-Tempered Ear.

Andrew Briggs
Andrew Briggs

Faculty News: James Doing, Laura Schwendinger
Alumni News: Danny Kim


 

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.


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.

Help for Small-Handed Pianists, with Jessica Johnson; Pianist Christopher Taylor solo recital; Cuba Trumpet Expert performs with UW Jazz; and more!

News and Concert Highlights from the UW-Madison School of Music. February 9, 2016

Join us this Sunday for Symphony Showcase: UW Concerto Winners perform solo. Sunday, Feb 14, Mills Hall, 7:30 PM. $10 general public/all age students free. And see our complete calendar, including recitals, jazz, classical, voice and percussion concerts, colloquia, and opera, at this link: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/


A Solo Recital with Pianist Christopher Taylor, Feb. 26, 8 PM, Mills Hall
Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor

On Feb. 26, acclaimed pianist Christopher Taylor will play music of Bach, Brahms, and Scriabin in his only solo Madison concert this academic year. On the program: J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, Aleksandr Scriabin’s 12 Etudes, and the lovely Johannes Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 1.

Read Jessica Courtier’s review of Taylor’s 2015 performance with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. “We in Wisconsin are privileged to call Christopher Taylor one of our own,” she wrote. Tickets are $15 for the general public; free for students of all ages.


Jessica Johnson holds out hope for pianists with small hands

How big are your hands? If you aspire to be a professional pianist, that’s an important question. On average, women have smaller hands than men, and are frequently stymied when trying to stretch their fingers to reach the larger octaves written into many major concertos, such as those by Liszt and Rachmaninoff. That simple fact bears on another simple fact: There are fewer women in the top echelons of professional concert pianists. Injuries are also common.

Jessica Johnson
Jessica Johnson

On Sat., Feb. 20, Jessica Johnson, professor of piano and piano pedagogy, will hold a full day of all-free events to demonstrate what has been working for her: The adoption of a specially sized piano that is 7/8 of normal size. Made by Steinbuhler & Co., one of these is now owned by the School of Music, and Prof. Johnson has found that playing it has been a “life-changing” experience.

Join us on Feb. 20 at 2:30 for a workshop, master class, hands-on demonstrations, and concert, all featuring the Steinbuhler DS 5.5 7/8 piano. Learn more here. And watch for an article about this revolutionary new approach in an upcoming story by Gayle Worland, in the Wisconsin State Journal.

handspan

Trumpeter & Cuban Music Expert Mike Davison to perform with the UW Jazz Orchestra

Master class: Mon Feb 22, Mills Hall; Concert: Weds., Feb. 24, 7:30 PM, Music Hall. Read more here.

Even after a semester with Juan de Marcos, we’re still feeding on Cuban music! This month, we’re bringing Mike Davison (DMA, trumpet performance 1987)  to campus from the University of Richmond, where he teaches and performs. He’ll join the UW Jazz Orchestra, the Waunakee High School Jazz Ensemble I and the UW Latin Jazz Ensemble in an evening of rousing Caribbean tunes. Davison’s bio includes concerts around the world, four recorded jazz CDs, and performances with well-known singers, musicians, and even for a pope.


UW Wind Ensemble travels to Verona and west Madison for concerts
Tom Curry
Tom Curry

Find the UW Wind Ensemble in your corner of Dane County! Last December, the Wind Ensemble made an appearance at the Sun Prairie High School and will continue its out of town concerts this spring. Find them at Verona High School on Feb. 19, at Oakwood Village – West (Mineral Point Road) on March 31, and of course at the School of Music as well (Feb. 20). Both February concerts will feature Tom Curry, adjunct professor of tuba, in a work titled “Heavy Weather,” by the composer Jess Turner.

 


Summer Music Clinic registration now underway

Registration is open through May 2 for UW-Madison’s legendary Summer Music Clinic, which offers dozens of classes in all kinds of musical skills for kids completing grades 6-8 (junior session) and 9-12 (senior session). For one week, students live in UW dorms and attend classes that they choose from a lengthy list, including band, orchestra and choir; sight-singing; jazz improvisation; opera; swing dance; yoga; and even specialized classes on subjects ranging from the music of film composer John Williams to Stephen Sondheim to rock’n roll. Instructors are all highly skilled; many are university professors or other working professionals. Taste the fun by visiting SMC’s Facebook page! For more information, email anne.aley@wisc.edu.

Below: Summer Music Clinic photographs by Michael R. Anderson.


Faculty News: Daniel Grabois, Laura Schwendinger.

Alumni News: Violist Elias Goldstein.


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.


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.

Kyle Knox: The Accidental Conductor

by Katherine Esposito

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin

It was the path he’d chosen, the direction he’d pursued, and Kyle Knox had finally tasted triumph in 2005, when he won, at age 23, the position of assistant principal clarinet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

It was a plum trophy in a sometimes punishing profession, realized only after a decade of studious toil in the practice room and on the orchestra stage.

Kyle Knox.
Kyle Knox. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

The young man who’d once won Most Valuable Player in Raritan, New Jersey as a 12-year-old Little Leaguer had bent his competitive edge toward music, and he’d won something akin to MVP there, too. He studied with the great clarinetists – Ricardo Morales and Yehuda Gilad – went on to Juilliard and Tanglewood, and bested hundreds of rivals for the Milwaukee job.

Then, three years later, almost imperceptibly, one neuron at a time, it all started to unravel.

Today, Knox is best known in Madison as a promising young conductor, a graduate student at UW-Madison who recently made his Madison Opera debut in its production of Little Women. In 2014 and 2015, he conducted University Opera’s award-winning Albert Herring and also two concerts with the Middleton Community Orchestra. (He is also the husband of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster, Naha Greenholtz.)

Kyle Knox with his wife, Naha Greenholtz, hiking in Santa Fe, 2009.
Kyle Knox with his wife, Naha Greenholtz, hiking in Santa Fe, 2009. Family photograph.

He has impressed many observers, including Madison Symphony Orchestra conductor John DeMain, who has watched Knox conduct several times, including Albert Herring, in which DeMain’s daughter Jennifer was cast. “[Kyle] worked uncompromisingly to achieve as close to perfection as possible,” says DeMain.

Until a few years ago, however, Kyle had never considered becoming a conductor leading an orchestra. He was exhilarated to be playing in one.

His emergence as a conductor has almost been an accident, one that may now be resolving in his favor. But he faced many bleak days before he got there.


 

It was almost imperceptible at first, just odd coordination problems with his right hand. It was the spring of 2009. “I remember I was playing principal on Peter and the Wolf, and there’s this one passage with fast 16th notes and C-major arpeggios, and I remember having a hard time with this particular passage, repeating 16th notes, a very specific sequence of finger motions, and thinking, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ It was very strange” Kyle says.

For that concert, he wound up transposing it into a different key, and playing on an A clarinet instead of the usual one. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” he continues. “I just thought, oh, for some reason, my pointer finger is a little slow.”

“But maybe a month later, I was playing E-flat clarinet on Shostakovich’s 6th Symphony, and there’s a huge E-flat solo in the beginning of the second movement, very fast, and it had a very similar sequence of fingerings in the middle of the solo, and I practiced it obsessively, and I recorded it at home, and drove my wife crazy. But no matter how much I practiced, I never felt comfortable with the fingerwork.”

Classical orchestral musicians, at the highest levels, achieve mastery through one main thing: practice. It is not enough to be talented and musical; one must constantly revisit passage after passage to precisely engrave notes in the mind. Largely due to this kind of preparation, Kyle had always been assured and confident while performing. But now he began to feel unmoored.

The symphony schedule was intense: much music, many solos, multiple performances. In concert after concert, the strange sensations recurred. At first, Kyle thought it was just a matter of working harder, to fix those notes even more firmly in his brain. “When something’s difficult, you want to feel secure on it. When I do these octaves, I know the distances, [so that] even if I miss the note, I know it was a fluke. It has to feel right in your head,” he says.

But it wasn’t feeling right anymore. He began to lose confidence in his playing. A rigorous orchestra schedule gave him little respite.

His fellow musicians and the symphony patrons did not detect anything awry. But Kyle felt it was getting worse.

After six months he consulted neurological specialists at the Cleveland Clinic and Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, who studied his movements as played his clarinet in their offices. They asked him questions and ruled out a few possibilities. Then they gave him a diagnosis: focal dystonia. He had never heard of it before.

His response was to practice even harder. He describes the chain of events that unfolded. “I started obsessively practicing, to make it feel right. In an effort to make it feel right, you start playing wrong, because you start compensating. You start doing strange things, which eventually start to show in your actual playing, and then you start hearing mistakes, which confirms your initial fear that there was something wrong. And then it becomes a feedback loop.”

For three years, Kyle continued to play with the MSO. He was managing, but the amount of music to learn and crush of performances — 150 per year — became overwhelming. “I just couldn’t rehab in a way that gave me confidence about playing in orchestra full time,” he says. “Wind players can’t hide. Everything you do is a solo, so you feel exposed. It was a really rough time.”

He remembers his final concert, in October 2010, Mozart’s Requiem with conductor Edo de Waart, on which he played the basset horn. “I hadn’t told anyone anything about what I was dealing with,” he says. “I remember thinking about the routines of orchestra life, how accustomed to the whole ritual I had become and reflecting on how some day soon I just wouldn’t be doing it anymore. It was heavy. After that Requiem performance I talked to the personnel manager and started my injury leave. That was it.”


 

Since the age 13, Kyle had known he wanted to work with music. He remembers hearing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” on the radio, and watching a documentary about Leonard Bernstein and the music of Gustav Mahler. “I was mesmerized,” he says. “I was interested innately. I had to figure out a way to access it, and access came through the clarinet.”

Now, that access was cut short. He was adrift. He immediately dove into conducting after cobbling together a volunteer orchestra in Milwaukee, trying out conducting studies at Northwestern University, and ultimately attending graduate school at UW-Madison.

At the School of Music, he studies with orchestra conductor James Smith, an “accidental conductor” himself who also once played clarinet. “Jim is enormously accomplished,” Kyle says. “I’ve been very lucky to play some of America’s greatest orchestras in my career. I’ve played for a lot a famous conductors, and I can legitimately say that Jim is as good as anyone I’ve ever played for.”

Kyle Knox with the UW Symphony Orchestra, 2013.
Kyle Knox with the UW Symphony Orchestra, 2013.
Scott Gendel (MM & DMA, School of Music) and Kyle Knox, preparing Little Women. Gendel is coach & accompanist for the show. Photograph by Steffanie Berg.
Scott Gendel (MM & DMA, School of Music) and Kyle Knox, preparing Little Women. Gendel is coach & accompanist for the show. Photograph by Steffanie Berg.

Madison got to know Kyle three years later, after several notable turns as a promising young conductor. Early on, he caught the eye of John DeMain, who knew about Kyle’s focal dystonia, and who saw real promise, and wanted to give him a chance.

Telling Kyle’s story on paper makes it all sound so simple. One career ended, another one started. He did it the only way he knows, urgently, intently, almost desperately, uncomfortable with any lack of movement in his life. The truth, however, is that he really had very little control over what was happening. And that was the main thing he needed to accept.

“Being a clarinetist was a thing that defined me,” he says. “It was part of my sense of self, and you can’t underestimate that.” He knows better now. “The things that made me able to accomplish anything on the clarinet are intrinsic qualities. The clarinet doesn’t define me. I define myself.”

If he had to enter that valley once more, he’d hope to approach it differently. He’d take time to grieve, to try to discern underlying meaning, to try to figure out the nature of the problem. Rushing doesn’t help anyway, he says.

“Sometimes, in a effort to redefine yourself too quickly, you can slow your process down of ending up where you’re going to end up anyway,” he continues. “Maybe you’ve been pushing too hard, maybe you’re been working too hard. Your body is telling you things, and you need to use it as an opportunity to reflect.”

“You have to be sympathetic with yourself. I think that is hugely important. And to have as much an eye on the long term as possible-that life is long, that your career is long, that there are lots of things in the future that will happen that are potentially good. But you have to let them unfold.”

Ten years ago, he wouldn’t have listened to these words. It wasn’t who he was. But it is who he is now.

“It’s possible to have great aspirations, but also to be patient and to be sane. It is possible to be of both minds. And I think the most successful people are that way.”

Katherine Esposito is the publicist and concert manager at the UW-Madison School of Music

Spring Performances with Kyle Knox, Conductor

Madison Opera’s Little Women

February 5 & 7, 2016

http://www.madisonopera.org/

 

University Opera, Transformations

March 11, 13, 15, 2016

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

 

Madison Savoyards, The Gondoliers

July & August, 2016

http://madisonsavoyards.org/

 

Middleton Players Theater, Sunday in the Park with George

June & July, 2016

http://www.middletonplayers.com/

 

Summer Music Clinic Honors Orchestra

June 26-July 1, 2016

http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/smc/index.html

 


About Focal Dystonia

Kyle Knox is only one of many musicians who was diagnosed with focal dystonia, many of them very famous. Glenn Gould, the pianist, and Robert Schumann, the 19th century composer, both are now believed to have suffered from it. Pianist Leon Fleischer used only his left hand for several decades while searching for a solution. A New York Times story in 2012 sheds light on this little-understood and seldom discussed condition. Another Times story recounts the story of pianist Fleischer.

Here’s how Kyle Knox describes it:

“Focal dystonia is far too complicated for me to paraphrase easily. That said, I’ll try: Basically it is a neurological condition where the brain’s ability to rewire itself, called plasticity (normally a good thing as it enables the acquisition of new skills and information), becomes overactive. In the case of musicians, it becomes overactive in a very specific way that involves otherwise familiar gestures that have been long perfected through years of practice. To put it simply, music that was once effortless suddenly starts to ‘feel’ wrong. It doesn’t sound wrong to outside listeners, but the neurological experience of playing, for example, a certain finger combination, becomes distorted in the player’s mind. As my neurologist told me, ‘all initial symptoms of musician’s focal dystonia are imperceptible to the outside observer.'”

A link from the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation provides more information.

Please note: This story was simultaneously published on the website of the UW-Madison School of Music.

Hire a Musician!

Do you seek one or more musicians for your wedding, private party, corporate event, or church service? Our students routinely gig in the community and now there’s an updated place for you to advertise. See this website and send your request to the email listed. Note: All arrangements are made between the students and the employer.


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.


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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