News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September 27, 2016
It will be a weekend of many firsts.
Here’s the “first first”:On October 28 from 4 to 5:30 PM, at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue, the School of Music will officially break ground on the newHamel Music Center that will contain two performance halls, a rehearsal room, and state-of-the-art technology. Long considered a pressing need, the Hamel Center is being financed entirely by private funds from Pamela and George Hamel, the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids, Paul Collins, and many other donors. We welcome continued support! To read about the Hamel Center and learn more, see this link.
“We’re excited about wonderful opportunities these new spaces will provides for all our students as well as the larger Madison and Wisconsin community,” says Susan C. Cook, director of the school of music. “It’s an exciting time for all of us and we’re grateful for the support of our generous donors .”
Live music and refreshments will be served. The entire community is welcome to join the festivities!
The second “first” will be a concert that evening (Friday, Oct. 28) by UW-Madison’s Christopher Taylor, introducing his groundbreaking new piano, the “Hyperpiano.” It will start in Mills Hall at 8 PM, and Taylor will be available afterwards for conversation with patrons. Read our news release about this piano; buy your tickets here.
Click here to see images of the “Hyperpiano” in development.
And for our third first, faculty bassoonist Marc Vallon has planned a special concert of groundbreaking new works of music from the 17th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Writes Prof. Vallon: “Composers of all periods have continually explored new musical territories, looked for new paths, and tried, through groundbreaking works, to launch new courses of musical expression. This program offers the public pieces that have, in their time, provided a starting point to new musical routes, just as the first stroke of a shovel is the birth of a new building and a new era.” The concert will include music by Michelangelo Rossi, Alexander Scriabin, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Helmut Lachenmann, and Morton Feldman.
The free concert is set for 7 PM on Saturday, October 29, in Mills Hall.
Just announced: Pianist Leon Fleisher to perform at Mills Hall with the Pro Arte Quartet
The Pro Arte Quartet was presented with an offer it could not refuse: Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher was available to perform with them this fall. Were they interested?
The answer was yes. On Thursday, October 6 at noon in Mills Hall, Fleisher will perform Brahms’ F minor Piano Quintet with the Pro Arte Quartet. The concert is free.
“You can’t see music as it passes through the air. You can’t grasp it and hold on to it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. But it has a most powerful effect on most people. And that is a wondrous thing to contemplate.”
As a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, pianist Leon Fleisher was recognized as a “consummate musician whose career is a testament to the life-affirming power of art.” Read his full biography.
Wondering what else is going on in the arts?
The Arts Institute’s fabulous website summarizes and promotes everything arts-related on the UW-Madison Campus. It offers a link to buy tickets and even offers a special ticketing deal called the “campus arts card.” We often don’t admit it, but there is more to see and hear than just music! There’s dance, theater, art, academic research and discussions, film… Check it out! http://arts.wisc.edu/
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.
From the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September 13, 2016
In a marriage of the Baroque and the modern, celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor will debut his much-anticipated new electronic double-keyboard piano this October 28, performing J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”
The “Variations” is an 80-minute work once dubbed a “Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture” that Bach wrote for a double-keyboard harpsichord.
Not by coincidence, Taylor will play Bach’s “Rubik’s cube” on a brand-new piano that could be described in much the same way.
Named the “Hyperpiano” by Taylor, it is actually three instruments – two of them ordinary concert grands, the third a special double-keyboard console designed by Taylor – connected by a riot of sensors and wires, with a mechanism that feels nearly normal for the performer but offers sonic possibilities that are unique.
Taylor developed the piano over several years in a laboratory at the Morgridge Institutes for Research, assisted by many faculty and technicians who trained him to machine new parts using computers and guided him as he designed 60-odd circuit boards that make the instrument run. In addition, Taylor wrote several thousand lines of computer code that manage sensing and communications. In 2014, Taylor received United States patent # 8,664,497 B2 for the “Hyperpiano.”
His inspiration to develop it came from another unusual instrument that he inherited shortly after coming to UW-Madison in 2000, a double-keyboard piano made by Steinway in 1929.
Johann Sebastian Bach was known as a composer who welcomed new concepts in musical instruments. Accordingly, Taylor says, Bach designed the Goldberg Variations for the most deluxe instrument of his day, a double-keyboard harpsichord with a four-and-a-half octave range. Today, musicians often perform the work on a regular piano, but must generally “resort to tricks, compromises, fudging or outright studio chicanery to play all the notes as Bach wrote them,” as writer Tom Huizenga wrote in his blog, “Deceptive Cadence.”
The Hyperpiano will allow Taylor to overcome those obstacles. “I can recreate effects more like what Bach imagined, even while producing at the same time completely novel musical results,” Taylor says.
Taylor was a bronze medal winner in the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, at which he performed the Goldberg Variations, among other works, on a standard single-keyboard Steinway. He also holds a degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
The concert will take place on Friday, October 28, at 8 PM in Mills Hall, Humanities, 455 North Park Street. There will be one intermission.
Tickets for adults are $18; for students, $5. They may be purchased at Campus Arts Ticketingor in person at the Memorial Union Box Office.
Patrons are advised to arrive early. Seating is general admission.
Mills Hall seats 700, of which 100 seats will be reserved on a first-call basis for music students, staff and faculty.
Christopher Taylor’s “Hyperpiano” Creates New Musical Possibilities
By Michael Muckian
“I would never be content as a pianist to play the same half-dozen pieces the same way year in and year out,” Taylor explained. “In piano literature, we have a vast array of great compositions, but we are always questing for new variety.”
Christopher Taylor grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where his father taught physics at the University of Colorado and his mother was a high school English instructor. The family owned a piano and Taylor initially was taught to play by a neighbor down the street.
The casual lessons didn’t last long; by age 10, the young pianist was playing Beethoven. By high school he was composing music.
While music was his first love, Taylor also proved gifted in mathematics, a field that seemed to offer a more stable career path. The young pianist chose to follow that thread, graduating summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard University in 1992.
During those same years, Taylor also studied piano under Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he began to attract the attention of the East Coast classical music community. In 1990, at the end of his sophomore year, Taylor won the University of Maryland’s William Kapell International Piano Competition, and later that same year made his performance debut in Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
However, Taylor’s watershed moment came in 1993 at the age of 23, when he earned a bronze medal at the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, for his performances of works by Beethoven, Boulez and Brahms, as well as Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” now a standard part of his repertoire. For the young mathematician-slash-pianist, the competition win sealed his fate.
“I had sat on the fence between music and mathematics for many years, but the bronze medal made the decision for me,” Taylor said. But while his musical career had become ascendant, he kept up his math and computer studies. “I didn’t want to put the other parts of my brain on ice.”
The newly minted concert pianist, who would go on to earn critical accolades such as “frighteningly talented” (The New York Times) and “a great pianist” (The Los Angeles Times), knew that his mathematics training went far to inform and support his music.
Both disciplines draw on similar mental skill sets, Taylor explained, noting that hours of piano practice can provide the necessary rigor to solve a complex mathematical proof.
“Music performance is more visceral than math, but when I’m performing I am definitely using the logical part of my brain,” he added. “Mentally understanding a piece of music is essential to surviving a performance.”
Following the Van Cliburn competition win, Taylor became a touring musician. His new wife wanted to pursue her doctorate in musicology at the University of Michigan, so the couple moved to Ann Arbor while Taylor spent weeks on the road playing several dozen concerts per year across the U.S. and in Europe.
Life on the road proved strenuous for the young pianist, who became known for his intense, sweat-soaked, highly physical performances. Eventually, Taylor decided he might want to teach. When the University of Wisconsin offered Taylor a faculty position in 2000, his family moved to Madison.
At UW-Madison, Taylor came across a prototype that would prove the foundation for his new invention. And he can credit a little known Hungarian composer for the introduction.
Emánuel Moór, who during his life composed five operas, eight symphonies and other orchestral works, is best remembered today as the inventor of the Moór Pianoforte, a double-keyboard instrument that attempted to replicate the benefits of the harpsichord and organ in the piano format. It boasted a two-tiered keyboard, but space within the cabinet allowed for only 76 keys on the top tier instead of the usual 88. The layout of the 164 keys allowed one hand to stretch across a range of over two octaves at once, creating a richer and fuller sound.
Watch a video of Taylor describing his plan for a new piano.
Moór was a professional colleague of composer Maurice Ravel and cellist Pablo Casals, both of whom championed his work, including his pianoforte. Despite such celebrity support, many musicians considered Moór’s instrument more of a novelty and found it difficult, if not impossible, to play.
European manufacturers produced about 60 pianofortes during the 1920s, including one made in 1929 in Hamburg, Germany, by Steinway. Until very recently, that particular instrument occupied a corner of Taylor’s cramped office in the Mosse Humanities Building.
The Moór pianoforte found its way to UW-Madison after Danish pianist Gunnar Johansen became the university’s artist in residence in 1939. Enthralled with the strange instrument, Johansen lobbied university donors until they broke down and bought it for him on the condition that its ownership revert to the university upon the pianist’s death.
By the time Johansen died in 1991, interest in the pianoforte had waned. It lay in storage for 14 years until Taylor rediscovered it in 2005. He performed on the pianoforte in dozens of concerts across the country, eventually getting a feel for the instrument and gaining notoriety for his performances. In 2007, the New York Times interviewed Taylor and created a video about the piano. In 2010, while he was in Washington, D.C. for a performance, the Kennedy Center created its own version.
“It’s clever as a musical contrivance, but it’s a little unwieldy and feels strange under your fingers,” Taylor said, noting that corresponding keys on both keyboards end up striking the same string. “You have to work very hard to play the keys because of the Rube Goldberg mechanism that connects them with the hammers.”
Around 2009, having studied the levers, rods, and platforms lurking inside the Moór piano, Taylor decided there might be a better way, a way that would take advantage of 21st-century technology. He began to draw up blueprints, discussed his ideas with a number of experts, and eventually received a grant from the UW Arts Institute to pursue them further. In early 2012 he approached George Petry, a prototyping manager at the Morgridge Institute for Research, to talk about his idea, an idea that much later would be named the “Hyperpiano.” Petry thought Taylor was nuts.
“I thought Chris was crazy because I knew this was going to be so much work,” Petry said. “I have a lot of students coming in who have never built anything before who say they want to build a space shuttle. I thought this was Chris’s space shuttle.”
But Petry gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt, and also a corner in the Morgridge Institute’s Advanced Fabrication Laboratory – better known as the “fab lab” — inside the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building on University Avenue, a home where engineers and inventors collaborate to build prototypes of their ideas. And Petry started to teach Taylor how to use all the computer-operated machines.
Another important teacher was Giri Venkataramanan, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who served as a high-level consultant to the project. “His motivation was sky-high and it sounded like he knew what he was doing,” Venkataramanan said.
At first blush, the Hyperpiano’s double-keyboard console – what Taylor calls the “input device” – looks like a contemporary upright piano that is thicker in girth than normal. It features a two-tiered keyboard with 176 keys total along with five pedals. Hidden inside the cabinet, behind the keys, are two sets of standard mass-produced piano hammers.
But that is where similarities to a regular piano end. There are no strings for these hammers to strike, and Taylor admits that their only function is to mimic the feel of playing a normal single-keyboard piano. In fact, in the absence of strings Taylor had to create special foam bars for the hammers to strike, designed to replicate an ordinary instrument’s behavior but create as little “banging” noise as possible.
“Even building a conventional piano that works is a very difficult process in itself,” says Robert Hohf, a professional piano technician who aided Taylor. “The keyboard orientation and the alignment of parts is unbelievably complicated.”
And with the Hyperpiano, the complications only increased.
Designing an instrument that contains twice the normal number of keys and twice as many hammers, aligning everything inside a single wooden frame, took a massive amount of re-engineering, Taylor says. Each of the 176 keys in the Hyperpiano has a unique shape that had to be specially carved by a router, which got its directions from multiple computer programs written by Taylor.
To actually make music, the double-keyboard console contains electronic sensors that read the movement of the keys during each stroke, then send coded electronic impulses via wires to two player-piano mechanisms called “Vorsetzers.” (First developed in the early twentieth century, Vorsetzers were mechanical key-pressing contraptions that could be attached to the keyboards of ordinary pianos.) The Vorsetzers are affixed to any pair of pianos one has handy, which, in theory, could be some distance away. Thus the motions of the pianist’s fingers on one part of the stage are transmitted instantaneously to produce music emanating from two other parts of the stage.
Taylor plays Prokofiev
Timing everything so that the music would sound like music—not a jangle of disparate noises – was another hurdle Taylor had to surmount. Taylor’s new technology solves that problem: it senses a fraction of a millimeter of motion as soon as a key is pressed. The sensors immediately send the data to the Vorsetzers, which move the corresponding key the same amount at exactly the same time.
“It involved a lot of software jujitsu to make this happen,” he said. But in the end, “everything is choreographed to deliver the final notes in real time,” he explained.
The Hyperpiano could afford some novel performance opportunities, says Taylor: “For starters, it will be capable of everything the Moór piano can produce: far-flung chords beyond the grasp of ordinary human hands on ordinary pianos, intricate counterpoint where the hands mingle in the same register (effects that would cause impossible traffic jams on a single keyboard), and, with the aid of an extra fourth pedal, sonorities reinforced by extra tones one octave higher than the keys the pianist is actually pressing.
“But it will offer customized behaviors beyond these,” he continues. “The ability to reinforce the pianist’s keypresses with any number of additional notes, so that the motion of a single finger produces an elaborate harmony; novel hybrid sonorities obtained by combining different pedaling patterns on the two subsidiary pianos; repeated notes faster than what ordinary pianos permit; and the interesting spatial effects that will result when the two subsidiary pianos get rolled to different parts of the stage.”
Taylor is eager to produce new arrangements and compositions that take advantage of these musical novelties. “I’m in discussions with a number of composers about the possibility of their contributing to a new chapter in the piano literature,” he says.
With the end of the project in sight, the pianist says he’s pleased with the outcome of his years of work, even as he adjusts to new variations in sound and performance.
“I’m delighted to find that the final product is matching my initial vision pretty closely,” Taylor says. “There is still some tweaking that needs to take place — software refinements mostly — in order to ensure that as a pianist I have the level of musical control that I need. This work may prove challenging, but as in the past I am very determined to overcome the remaining obstacles.”
Venkataramanan agrees and also is thinking ahead to the piano’s next iteration.
Scientists, unfortunately, are never satisfied.
“As a problem-solving exercise, this has been pretty impressive,” the engineering professor says. “But he still runs wires between his keyboards. The next phase would be to do this on a wireless basis and using Cloud technology.”
Mr. Taylor is eager to acknowledge the invaluable help he received from a large number of collaborators over the past five years. Apart from piano technician Robert Hohf, machinist George Petry, and EE Professor Giri Venkataramanan, these individuals include: Rock Mackie and Kevin Eliceiri, the former and current directors of the Morgridge Institute for Research, who were amazingly welcoming hosts during his four-plus years in the Fab Lab; UW-Madison piano technician Baoli Liu; Justin Anderson at WARF and Callie Bell of Bell Manning LLC, who shepherded the patent application process; Kevin Earley, who built the wooden housing for the input console; Convenience Electronics of Madison (in particular Betsy Vanden Wymelenberg), who custom assembled the instrument’s many wires and cables; Calvin Cherry, Nate Hess, Brian Urso, and Ryan Solberg, whom Taylor employed to solder together circuit boards and who contributed greatly to his EE education; UW-Madison’s Bill Sethares, along with Terence O’Laughlin and Alberto Rodriguez of Madison College, who put Taylor in contact with the aforementioned companies and employees; and the UW Arts Institute, former chancellor John Wiley, and Paul Collins, who provided moral as well as financial support.
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.
Scroll down to read about our 38th Karp Family Concert, Brass Fest 3 including audio of the Stockholm Chamber Brass, new pages on our website, and alumni news!
For a full calendar of events, see
August 30, 2016
Welcome to the beginning of a new year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, and our first issue of A Tempo!
Here’s what happened over the summer:
Music Hall, the home of University Opera and many percussion and jazz concerts, was repainted. It looks terrific.
Our school was renamed, thanks to the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids, who contributed $25 million to the new concert hall.
We remodeled the display cases in Mills Hall lobby. They now contain stunning images of our students, taken by photographers Michael R. Anderson and Bryce Richter.
We bade farewell to faculty members Richard Davis, Stephen Dembski, and Janet Jensen. And we added faculty. Please help us welcome Leo Altino, classical bass instructor; Nick Moran, jazz bass instructor; Louka Patenaude, jazz guitar instructor; Eric Siereveld, jazz trumpet instructor; Aaron Hill, oboe; Amy McCann, clarinet; Gino Deluca, Wisconsin Singers artistic director; Daniel Fung, vocal coach; Jeanette Thompson, voice; and Matthew Richardson, musicology. Learn about them on our faculty page.
On tap for early fall….
The 38th Annual Karp Family Labor Day concert – Monday, Sept. 5, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. This annual treat will feature a tribute to the late UW-Madison pianist Howard Karp, commissioned from composer Joel Hoffman by Howard’s son, Christopher. Free concert.
BRASS FEST III with Stockholm Chamber Brass, making their first United States tour. One of Europe’s greatest quintets, SCB will perform a solo concert on Friday, Sept. 30 and will be joined on Saturday, Oct. 1 by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and selected college and area high school students in a “Festival Brass Concert.” Both concerts will begin at 8 PM and are ticketed. Our third BRASS FEST will also feature displays from Wisconsin vendors of musical instruments and sheet music , T-shirts featuring our brand new logo, and a reception!
Concert Sat, Oct. 1, 8 PM, Mills Hall: Festival Concert with the Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and college/high school students. Meet the musicians at a free reception following the concert. Ticketed: $15 adults; $5 students & children. Buy tickets here.
Hear Stockholm Chamber Brass perform one of the works to be played on September 30: Malcolm Arnold’s “Brass Quintet”:
Introducing our “Meet the Students” webpage
Here’s where newcomers to the School of Music can learn about the varied and fascinating people who call themselves students in our school. It’s not a page for awards (find that here) nor a page for graduates (that is here) but a place where ongoing students describe who they are and why they have chosen to study music. Let them tell us in their own words!
BRASS, BRASS AND MORE BRASS – With No. 3, UW-Madison cements a tradition as a Brass Hub of the Midwest
On September 30 and October 1, the newly renamed Mead Witter School of Music will welcome the internationally acclaimed Stockholm Chamber Brass to campus for a third annual Brass Fest. The quintet’s tour of upstate New York, Michigan and Wisconsin will be their first-ever appearances in the United States.
Brass Fest III will also mark the first time that high school students will play an active role, attending master classes and performing on stage in a final Festival Brass Concert. Area high schools planning to attend include Middleton, Madison East, Madison West, Edgewood, and Memorial.
A number of major instrument makers and music companies, many located in Wisconsin, will also be on hand to display their wares.
The events will include a concert with Stockholm Chamber Brass on Friday, September, 30, at 8 PM, and a second concert on October 1, with the Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, UW-Madison student performers and selected high school students.
“We are expanding the festival because our mission is to perform and to teach,” says Daniel Grabois, assistant professor of horn and member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. “We are motivated by the Wisconsin Idea, and we are making every effort to bring what we do to the population of the state. There are many students in the state who play brass instruments, and we want to include them in our educational mission. We also want to build on the successes of the past two years – many people enthusiastically attended the festival, and we want to make it better, more exciting, and more inclusive.”
Buy a commemorative limited edition t-shirt, and support the School of Music! For more information, send an email to t-shirt sales.
Stockholm Chamber Brass, formed in 1985, consists of some of Scandinavia’s leading brass musicians. Its five members are all prize winners at major international solo competitions, including the ARD-Wettbewerb, CIEM Geneve, Markneukrichen and Toulon. Their international breakthrough came in 1988 when Stockholm Chamber Brass won 1st Prize at “Ville de Narbonne,” the most prestigious international competition for brass quintets.
Stockholm Chamber Brass has performed at Bad Kissingen Sommer, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Niedesächsische Musiktage, International de Musique Sion Valais, the Prague Spring Music Festival, the Budapest International Music Festival, Festival Internacional de Santander, the Soundstream Festival in Toronto, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Umeå International Chamber Music Festival and the Stockholm New Music Festival. The ensemble has also performed at various brass festivals, including the Lieksa Brass Week, the International Trombone Festival in Helsinki, the Melbourne International Festival of Brass, Epsival Limoge and the Blekinge International Brass Academy.
Stockholm Chamber Brass has received glowing reviews for its CDs. A reviewer at American Record Guide writes, “I cannot imagine that a better brass quintet has ever existed.”
The ensemble’s repertoire consists mostly of original compositions and their own arrangements of older and contemporary music. Their interest in new music has resulted in over thirty compositions written specifically for the ensemble. Stockholm Chamber Brass has worked with a long list of leading composers, including Anders Hillborg, Sven-David Sandström, Pär Mårtensson, Britta Byström, Henrik Strindberg Piers Hellawell and Eino Tamberg. The ensemble has also collaborated with leading brass soloists Håkan Hardenberger and Christian Lindberg.
The current members of the Stockholm Chamber Brass are Urban Agnas, trumpet; Tom Poulson, trumpet; Jonas Bylund, trombone; Annamia Larsson, horn; and Sami Al Fakir, tuba.
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, formed in 1972, is one of three faculty chamber ensembles in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music. Deeply committed to the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, the group travels widely to offer its concerts and educational services to students and the public in all corners of the state.
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet includes John Aley, trumpet; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Mark Hetzler, trombone; Tom Curry, tuba; and Daniel Grabois, horn.
We are pleased to present a mid-summer update from Susan C. Cook, Pamela O. Hamel/Music Board of Advisors Director of the Mead Witter School of Music
As many of you may remember, last summer the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids made a gift to the School of Music that allowed us to move forward with simultaneous construction of both our recital hall and our new concert hall. No longer did we need to construct the building in two phases! So, our architects made revisions to accommodate the new timeframe, and we plan to break ground this fall.
As of July 1, the UW-Madison School of Music was no more.
We are now the Mead Witter School of Music. Our website — www.music.wisc.edu — already reflects this change.
The Mead Witter gift was combined with a previous major gift from Pamela O. and George Hamel, longtime friends of the University and School of Music.
In recognition of the Hamel’s gift, this new performance building will be named the Hamel Music Center. The large concert hall will also be designated the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall. It joins the Collins Recital Hall, named for longtime friend and contributor to the building project, Paul Collins and his wife, Carol.
The Mead Witter Foundation has touched the lives of Wisconsinites since 1894, when the company known as Consolidated Water Power Company first began. Current Mead Witter Foundation chairman George Mead II was the fourth-generation leader of the corporation that his great-grandfather J.D. Witter founded, and his grandfather George W. Mead I continued to lead to become a world renowned in coated papermaking. The company and foundation have had ties to the UW-Madison from the 1920s, when George Mead I was a university regent, and have supported scholarships, professorships and the Chazen Museum.
Pamela and George Hamel own Hamel Family Wines of Sonoma, California, and have strong ties to UW-Madison. Pamela is on the School of Music’s board of advisors, and George received his bachelor’s degree in communications arts at UW-Madison. Paul Collins also serves on the board of advisors and graduated from the Business School; his mother, Adele Stoppenbach Collins, received her degree from the School of Music. In 2001, Paul and Carol Collins endowed graduate fellowships and subsequently made a major gift to the new building project as well.
Ground-breaking for the Hamel Music Center is planned for this fall with an expected completion within 24 months, and a year’s celebration of events beginning in Fall 2018.
There will be a chance for you to play a naming role. In order to support our students who will make these new performance spaces come alive, we will provide opportunities to name a chair in one of our new performance spaces. You’ll hear more about that in the coming months.
On behalf of the Mead Witter School of Music, many thanks to all who support our students, programs and mission. We are most grateful.
—Susan C. Cook, Pamela O. Hamel/Music Board of Advisors Director of the Mead Witter School of Music
Gifts from alumni, friends, corporations, and community members help support the School’s goal and mission to provide a student-centered education that promotes the highest levels of professional development while challenging students to achieve their greatest potential.
Please consider making a gift payable to the UW Foundation:
UW Foundation , U.S. Bank Lockbox
P.O. Box 78807
Milwaukee, Wi 53278-0807
For help making a gift, or to discuss other giving opportunities, please contact Rebekah Sherman, Director of Development, University of Wisconsin Foundation
Good afternoon. Our last newsletter of the academic year contains good news. We’ll see you again in August!
David Ronis Appointed as University Opera’s Permanent Director
The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce that David Ronis, interim University Opera director since 2014, has been selected as the program’s permanent director following a nationally competitive search.
“We are delighted to have hired someone with such wide-ranging experience and expertise, as well as a proven commitment to music education in the 21st century,” said Susan C. Cook, director of the school of music, adding that Ronis also plans to collaborate with other programs on campus and beyond.
The position is endowed, and was initiated with a pledge of $500,000 from Dr. Charles Bishop, CEO of Opko Health’s Renal Division of Miami, Florida. The pledge was in memory of his wife, Karen K. Bishop, who died of cancer in January 2015. Karen Bishop was a successful businesswoman who, after her diagnosis, returned to school for a master’s degree in opera and a doctoral degree in voice, both at UW-Madison.
Dr. Bishop’s gift was matched dollar for dollar with John and Tashia Morgridge’s matching gift for faculty support, making the professorship a reality. It was further bolstered by overwhelming support by the community’s opera lovers and friends.
Ronis will become the inaugural Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera and will assume his position in the fall.
David Ronis came to UW-Madison as interim director in 2014 following the retirement of William Farlow. Prior to coming here, Ronis was a faculty member at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College/CUNY, where he directed the opera studio and co-founded the Baroque Opera Workshop, and at Hofstra University, where he taught voice and diction. Four of his productions have won awards in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition, most recently his 2014 UW-Madison staging of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring. This marked the first time that University Opera has won a national award.
Ronis also has taught at La Lingua della Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts. He has presented master classes and workshops across the country, coaching singers on acting and audition skills. As a performer, he has appeared in opera productions in Europe, Asia and the United States, in concert at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and Alice Tully Halls, toured the U.S. with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and worked in film and television commercials.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the fine students and terrific colleagues at UW-Madison, ” Ronis said, adding that his plans include continued emphasis on the theatrical aspects of both traditional and contemporary operatic repertory and exploring additional partnerships with campus and community organizations.
“We are so very grateful to Charles Bishop for helping ensure the future health and stability of our opera program. Karen was a remarkable student, and this professorship recognizes her many talents as well as her commitment to the School of Music and the opera program,” added Professor Cook.
Ronis will be only the third director of University Opera. The program began informally in 1958, with Karlos Moser formally appointed as director in 1961. He served until 1998 and was replaced by William Farlow, who retired in 2014.
News and Events from the School of Music – May 4, 2016. Next issue: stories about our students!
Please join us for Commencement 2016 on Friday, May 13, 2:30-4:30 PM at Music Hall! We’ll hold our commencement, awards and hooding ceremony for all degree recipients: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. Guests will include Susan Zaeske, Associate Academic Dean of the Arts and Humanities; alumna Dr. Yi-Lan Niu, DMA, voice professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere; and retiring associate director, Professor Janet Jensen, who will serve as master of ceremonies. We’ll feature live music from our students and a reception. New this year: Empire Photography will be on hand taking personal photographs of every graduate.
Director Susan C. Cook, and UW Foundation represention Rebekah Sherman.
Commencement 2015.ommencement Ceremony, 2015. Photographs by Michael R. Anderson.
Pianist Jason Kutz and Martha Fischer, professor of collaborative piano.
2015 commencement photographs by Michael R. Anderson.
Despite much-too-chilly weather, Sound Out Loud, a student-led contemporary music ensemble, played its inaugural concert on April 29, performing Steve Reich’s monumental “Music For 18 Musicians.” As of May 4, our post on Facebook had reached 2,240 viewers!
The UW Concert Band (Spring) with Mike Leckrone
Last year’s courtyard UW Concert Band performance was rained out, but this year’s was disrupted only by a few blowing sheets of music! Way to go, Band!
“Performing the Jewish Archive” concert earns respect from audience, reviewer
Madison Magazine’s “Classically Speaking” blogger Greg Hettsmanberger attended Monday’s concert of “Performing the Jewish Archive” at the First Unitarian Society, and writes: “An audience of significant size and extraordinary concentration experienced more than a concert. For as we absorbed—or in some cases were battered by, enraptured or flat-out awed—by the music of Schoenberg (as arranged by Webern), Korngold and Bloch, an overarching thought occurred to me: In focused festival events such as these, particularly in the context of artists who paid the price of exile or with their own lives, audience members come with heightened expectations. And the players come with an even sharper sense of purpose, layered onto, as it were, their own creative passion; when the synergy begins to work in the concert venue, the result transcends far beyond the usual ‘I liked that piece’ or ‘They sure played that one well.'” Read the entire review:Madison Magazine “Classically Speaking” PJA Review There’s two more days of events. Learn more here:http://www.music.wisc.edu/performing-the-jewish-archive-may-2016-events/
Youth musicians on stage at Community Music Lessons recital
CML ended its year with a joyous recital! We thank all our participants, our teachers, and coordinator Samantha Sinai for making this happen. Registration for summer classes starts at the end of May. Learn more here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/cml/