Stephanie Frye, female tubist in a (previously) man’s world

Stephanie FryeAs a pre-college student, Stephanie Frye couldn’t help but notice that the world of tuba players (a/k/a tubists) was a predominantly male one. As a grown woman and professional tubist, she noticed a paucity of female composers as well. Now, as she prepares to leave UW-Madison to become a lecturer in tuba at East Tennessee State University, she’s not only made inroads in the first area but in the second one as well.

Stephanie, a student of tuba professor and music school director John Stevens, who is also a composer, will receive her DMA this spring. As part of her dissertation project, she not only recorded seven works for the tuba by female composers, and commissioned two new works, by composers Asha Srinivasan and Inez S. McComas.

Her time in Wisconsin involved a range of activities, including performing (she is a member of the trombone-tuba duo Bell(e) Collective, the Sweet Thunder Tuba-Euphonium Quartet, and is the regular tubist with the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra), plus teaching at Concordia University, UW-Platteville, and UW-Madison, UW’s Summer Music Clinic, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, and more.

On Friday, May 3, she’ll give a talk about her personal experience in commissioning new works of music, including finding and selecting composers, working with the composers, and funding the commission. On Saturday, May 4, Stephanie will present a recital of many of the works on her new CD.

We asked Stephanie to fill us in on a few areas of interest.

Tell us more about your upcoming CD of music.

“The CD isn’t officially named, but the recital I’m giving is called “A Celebration of Women Composers.”  I’ve received a contract from Mark Records and am planning on releasing the CD with them.  The works on the CD include Libby Larsen’s “URSA” (for tuba and wind band, reduction for tuba and piano), Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Lamento” (tuba and piano), Elizabeth Raum’s “Sweet Dances” (tuba alone), Asha Srinivasan’s “Dyadic Affinities” (tuba and electronic accompaniment), Barbara York’s “Through the Tunnel” (tuba and piano), Elena Firsova’s “Euphonisms” (tuba and piano), and Inez S. McComas’s “The Middle Pigeons” (tuba, trombone, and recorded sound).  The two pieces I commissioned for the CD from the previous list is Srinivasan’s “Dyadic Affinities” and McComas’s “The Middle Pigeons.”

What will you say about the commissioning process?

I’ll speak on different funding options for a commission and personal, collaborative relationship I’ve established with one composer in particular. Commissioning new works of music has been one of the most rewarding collaborative processes I’ve experienced.  The composer-performer relationship is a unique one in the music world, where performers have the chance to assist in the creation of a new work of art.

You’ve been a student of John Stevens, our tuba professor, music school director, and long-time composer. Tell us more about working with John.

The first time I met John I was at a tuba workshop at Interlochen.  I was a high school student and somehow had the great fortune of getting a lesson with this “tuba god” (as my mother would say) in all places but a stairwell of one of the buildings.  That hour, even in a boomy, noisy stairwell, made an incredible impact on my excitement towards the instrument and music.  So much so, that a number of years later, I knew the right place for me for my masters degree was at UW-Madison, with John.  Then when I began considering doctoral programs, I knew I had lots left to learn and stayed.  As a teacher and performer, John emphasizes not just being a great tuba player, but a great musician.  From the very beginning John gave me permission to take musical risks, try new things, and break boundaries, not only increasing my ability on the instrument, but also my confidence as a musician and person.  I wouldn’t be the performer and teacher I am today without his incredible influence.

Meet Stephanie this week at her talk or  recital, or both. 

Lecture, Friday, May 3 at 12:30PM (Room 1321, Mosse Humanities Building): “The Commissioning Process: A Reflection.”

Recital: Saturday, May 4, 6:30 pm, Morphy Recital Hall. 

Fink Farewell: A whole lot of oboists in one room

Marc Fink  at Tripps Commons. Photos by Eric Tadsen.
Retiring oboe professor Marc Fink, enjoying a farewell dinner at UW’s Tripp Commons. Photos by Eric Tadsen.
Marc Fink
Marc and many of his former students, assembled at his dinner

It wasn’t exactly an oboe conference, but it could’ve been one, with the assortment of former Fink students who returned to Madison for his farewell concert and dinner on April 14. Fink, who served as UW-Madison oboe professor for forty years, retires this spring.

The concert, which was reviewed in Madison Magazine’s “Classically Speaking” blog, was a real crowd pleaser. An oboe choir made up of these and current students provided musical entertainment for the dinner with a rousing rendition of “On Wisconsin” arranged by Tina Nicholson.

“Marc Fink Offers the Best Kind of Long Goodbyes”

“It was a real pleasure to welcome back so many former students,” says Marc. They included three students from Marc’s first oboe class in 1973: Emily Auerbach, UW-Madison Professor of English; Lois Schmidt O’Keefe of Cedarburg; and Trish Miser Zamora of Brisbane/Milwaukee. Others included:

Andrea Gross Hixon (1994), Appleton
Anna Hendrickson (1992), Potsdam, NY
Carol Stephenson (1977), Washington, DC
Dan Brielmaier (1986), Toronto, Canada
Leah Fink (2010), Paris, France
Hannah Sartori Busse (2006), Madison
Heidi Hess (2009), Sheboygan
Howard Niblock (2000), Appleton
Jill Rupnow (1989), Paris, France
Kathryn Engelhardt (1984), New York, NY
Laura Medisky (2010), Madison
Matt Butterfield (2012), Pittsburgh
Pamela Treisman (2012), Milwaukee
Tina Nicholson (1990), Decatur, IL
William Wielgus (1980), Washington, DC
Kate Albrecht (2009), Milwaukee
Jessica Tritsch (2001), Minneapolis

Marc may be leaving UW, but Madison will still be able to hear his clear tone as principal oboist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, his replacement at UW for next year, Kostas Tiliakos, has an interesting story of his own. Stay tuned….

Tyrone Greive to retire after 34 years as professor of violin

Tyrone Greive

“Music is more than a profession; it is a way of life.”

So says Tyrone Greive after 34 years as professor of violin at UW-Madison. Greive will retire this spring, but the indefatigable musician, well-known to Madison audiences as the former concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, will still teach, perform and indulge his lifelong passion for Polish string literature.

On the teaching side, Greive will still be found in the music building, as he has offered to voluntarily help six current students finish their degree requirements. Meanwhile, his former students can be found teaching, conducting and performing all over the world.

Prof. Greive was also a tireless supporter of the UW’s Summer Music Clinic, an annual month-long event that supports and teaches aspiring musicians in middle and high school.

Says Anne Aley, director of the Summer Music Clinic: “It is hard not to describe Tyrone Greive without a cascade of positive phrases as he has done so much to inspire the students who have attended the UW Madison Summer Music Clinic. Amiable, talented, vitally interested in each and every student, Tyrone invariably took the time to get to know the students as individuals, was unfailingly encouraging as a musical mentor, and enthusiastically admiring of all of their endeavors.”

“[He] consistently brought the house down on faculty recitals with his technically and musically show-stopping (and sometimes tongue-in cheek) performances. He maintained the sense of community that forms at a music camp and corresponded with students throughout the school year and continued to encourage and be delighted with their achievements over years of musical growth and achievements. We will miss him!”

Retirement will also give Prof. Greive more time to indulge in his latest project: a book manuscript tentatively titled “Polish Violin Repertoire, in its historical and cultural context.”  Learning about Polish string music is his lifelong passion, which has resulted in numerous discoveries of previously unknown music scores, multiple journal articles, several research grants and awards.

His performance editions of both Polish and non-Polish violin music, often created from manuscripts found in Polish libraries, have been published by PWM Editions of Kraków, Poland and Masters Music, Hildegaard Publications and International Music in the US. In February of 1998, Greive was named winner of a 1997 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music sponsored by the Polish Music Research Center at the University of Southern California. He also has two CD recording of Polish violin-piano music made with Ellen Burmeister, UW-Madison professor emerita of piano.

Prof. Greive, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, came to UW in 1979 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Morningside College and MS and DMA degrees from Carnegie-Mellon and University of Michigan. He began his tenure at the Madison Symphony Orchestra in 1979 (with his wife, Janet Greive, serving as first stand cellist for the same time period) and together they retired in 2010.

On May 3 at 8 p.m., in a free concert with the UW Symphony Orchestra in Mills Hall, Professor Greive will perform the Concerto No. 2, op. 61 by Karol Szymanowski. The concert will be repeated on May 4 at 7 p.m. in a ticketed performance at the River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac.

Stampley to star as Porgy in Broadway tour

We’re happy to announce that SOM vocal alumnus Nate Stampley (BM 2008) will tour as Porgy in the touring Broadway production of The Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”

Soon on tour: Alicia Hall Moran (Bess) and Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy)

Stampley, who studied with Professor Mimmi Fulmer while here in Madison, also starred as Mufasa in “The Lion King” on Broadway, and played both Robbins and Porgy in American Repertory Theatre’s 2012 “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”  He was in the cast of the Broadway production “The Color Purple,” played Mufasa in West End London in a long-run production of “The Lion King” and toured across the United States in “Ragtime.”

“Twisted Metal” upends the concept of Horn Choir

Newly installed horn professor Dan Grabois knew that an assemblage of horn players (a/k/a French horns, to those of us new to classical music) could offer much more than the standard brass literature.

"Twisted Metal" Horn Choir concert at Memorial Union
“Twisted Metal” in concert at the Memorial Union Rathskeller

(Photograph by Mike Anderson.)

From Dan Grabois, UW Professor of Horn:

“Before I arrived at UW (this is my second year), the Horn Choir used to give its annual Christmas concert at the Chazen museum, then take the second semester off. I wanted to keep going during second semester, but to go in a new direction, where we could learn a new style and increase our level of creativity. To me, this meant turning the Horn Choir into a rock band. This year, we actually did it. I told the students the plan partway through first semester, and was met with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism. My expectations were that we would write pieces together, as an outgrowth of group improvisation, and that the students would arrange rock tunes for the group. I had no interest in performing rock music under the name “UW Madison Horn Choir,” so I changed our name to Twisted Metal.

“A few students came back from winter break with arrangements they had done, and we started working on them. It’s funny that a style of music that is so integral to the lives of the students can be very difficult to reproduce on our instruments, but we worked long and hard at playing the music in the right style. We also improvised, coming up with our tune TM Funk Machine in our very first rehearsal (it got its name at the last possible moment, when I was typing up our concert program). Another improvisation became a section of an arrangement one of the students did. During the course of the semester, more and more of the students’ arrangements were completed and quickly learned.

“We had two scheduled concerts: one at the Rathskeller (at the Memorial Union) and one in the School of Music in Mills Hall. Performing our debut in front of people who were drinking beer was the perfect introduction to rock stardom for my students. We had found a drummer, the final missing piece to kick the band into shape, and we played a bang-up set. Everyone was primed for our Mills concert, and the outfit purchasing and makeup application moved into high gear. This concert was a real culmination for Twisted Metal: we created an identity, learned a style, moved our performance energy up several notches, and had a great time to boot. Twisted Metal is here to stay.

“Twisted Metal performed the music of Queen, Boston, Alanis Morissette, The XX, Nena, Rush, and Twisted Metal. Two students sang, and everybody rocked.”