Everyone says that summer is slower at the UW-Madison School of Music. Don’t believe them. June was the month of the two-week-long Summer Music Clinic. July is the Early Music Festival. Sandwiched in between them was a national award given to bassist Richard Davis, longtime professor of jazz here and director of the Black Music Ensemble, a student group that performs repertoire of black composers. Added to that is an award given just this week to Stephanie Jutt, UW-Madison professor of flute and co-founder of Bach Dancing & Dynamite, the three-week music festival that concluded two week ago. Jutt is also principal flute of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
We’ve already featured the SMC and we’ll offer up a story about Prof. Davis sometime soon. Meanwhile, Prof. Jutt has received the Margaret Rupp Cooper Award from MSO, “presented annually to two orchestra members based upon years of service, commitment to the orchestra, and musicianship.” The other winner is MSO hornist Bill Muir. Congratulations to all!
Back on campus, the 14th edition of the Madison Early Music Festival (“A Festive Celebration of the German Renaissance”) is underway and continues until Friday night. The Festival is based at the UW-Madison School of Music, and orchestrated by our own Chelcy Bowles (recently featured in the Wisconsin State Journal’s “Know Your Madisonian“), a harpist and Professor of Music and Director of Continuing Education in Music; Paul Rowe, baritone, Professor of Voice; and soprano and Grammy award winner Cheryl Bensman-Rowe. Each of the three bring impressive credentials, which you can read here.
The festival has already received extensive press coverage and full houses for its many offerings, which include Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, July 6; Parthenia: A Consort of Viols, July 7; Handel Aria Competition, July 8; The Dark Horse Consort, July 9; MEMF Participant Concert, July 11, 1 pm; Calmus Ensemble Leipzig, July 11, 7:30 pm; and All-Festival Concert, July 12, 7:30 pm. There are also multiple workshops and lectures. Obviously, several have already taken place, but you can still catch the Calmus Ensemble on Thursday night and the All-Festival Concert on Friday.
One of the highlights of the fest was the Handel Aria Competition, the first ever held at MEMF, sponsored by local businessfolk Dean and Carol (“Orange”) Schroeder. The competition was designed to encourage vocalists to explore the music of George Frideric Handel, and offered prizes from $1000 to $500 for first, second, and third places, respectively. Both local newsweekly Isthmus and blogger Jake Stockinger put time into reviewing this event; you can read their thoughts below.
Review by Isthmus writer Marie Loeffler: Young talent abounds at Madison Early Music Festival’s first Handel Aria Competition
Review by Well-Tempered Ear blogger Jake Stockinger: Classical music: The Ear finds himself in Handel Himmel and enjoys the first Handel Aria Competition at the 14th annual Madison Early Music Festival.
In addition, WISC-TV Channel 3 produced a special segment about the festival for their “Live at Five” show. Click the link to watch. “Live at Five”
The SOM congratulates the organizers of and donors to the MEMF for all their efforts, and the competition winners and finalists as well. While School of Music vocal alumna Saira Frank (MM, 2008) was not among the winners, she received a nice compliment from Isthmus reviewer Marie Loeffler, who wrote: “One of the evening’s highlights was soprano Saria Frank’s precise technical work in “A Ruggiero crudel…Ombre Pallide” from Alcina, which featured beautiful intonation on the scales. Frank also commanded complex rhythmic passages, notably the measured dotted eighth notes that appear throughout “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s famous Messiah.” Saira will next appear with the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee during Festa Italiana on the Summerfest grounds, July 19-21.