A warm welcome to Darin Olson, new assistant bands director!

Are you a Badger fan? If so, you’ll want to read all about one of our newest faculty members, Darin Olson. Darin, who is now our Assistant Director of Bands,  comes to us from Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was assistant band director at Rider High School and oversaw all percussion activities, assisted with the concert ensembles, co-directed the jazz band, and taught class piano. He has also held teaching engagements in Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

Darin Olson
Darin Olson

Darin replaces Justin Stolarik, who left during the summer to take a tenure-track position as Director of Athletic Bands and Associate Director of Bands at the University of Oklahoma. Justin had worked at UW for four years.

Darin, who holds a DMA from Ohio State University as well as a master’s in music from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s in music ed from South Dakota State University, is active in the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and is a reviewer for Percussive Notes, the official publication of PAS.

We asked Darin a few questions to help us become better acquainted.

Where did you grow up, and were you involved with bands as a youngster? How so?
I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD. My interest in music was sparked at an early age watching my father play drum set in a country/western band. I eventually joined band as a percussionist in the 5th grade and never looked back.

Do you play instruments (I kind of assume so) and which are your favorites? Do you perform now?
One of the best parts of being a percussionist is that I do not have to pick a favorite! Any instrument or object that makes an inspiring sound could be my new favorite of that moment.

Yes, I still perform. Most recently I performed a series of concerts with Dr. Gregory Lyons, Assistant Band Director/Director of Percussion at Louisiana Tech University. Greg and I are both interested in multi-disciplinary collaboration. For these concerts we commissioned Matthew Bain, a layout artist for DreamWorks, to create a real-time, computer realization to accompany one of the works on our program. It turned out to be an audience favorite!

How long were you in Texas? Can you tell us a little about your family?
My family and I lived in Texas for two years. My wife, Samantha, is originally from Fort Worth and has a lot of family in that area. We both grew up in pet-friendly households and continue that tradition ourselves. We currently have two dogs and a cat. I keep reminding my wife that we have a full house, but she always wants to bring more home!

Had you ever seen the UW Marching Band before? 
Yes, through televised events. I have always had a great deal of respect for the traditions of Big 10 marching bands. While pursuing my doctorate at Ohio State University I heard a lot about the unique aspects and approaches of all the bands in the conference.

What do you think you offer that will be of particular use to the program? 
In addition to my work ethic and a positive attitude, I think I will offer an un-biased perspective on a lot of items. Since I have not been around the program, I will draw on my previous experiences to contribute to the program. Mike Leckrone has established a great deal of traditions and history with the band. I am very excited to be working with him!

What does Wisconsin offer that was attractive to you? Have you seen the team in the Rose Bowl? What other teams or ensembles will you direct?
I was attracted to Wisonsin for several reasons. The opportunity to work with highly respected and accomplished faculty members, the visible and active athletic band program, the energetic and driven students, and a wonderful city! I am a huge sports fan, so yes I have seen the team in the Rose Bowl.

I will be directing the University Band, Volleyball Band, and the Women’s Basketball Band.

What are you most excited about? Can we cop a few free Rose Bowl tickets from you?
To be very general, I am extremely excited to be here. I love teaching, so I am really excited for the year to begin! We have had some productive drumline clinics this summer, now I am ready for regular rehearsals.

As for the Rose Bowl tickets, we will have to see how the football team does!

From Wisconsin to Vienna and back: soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn to teach at UW this year

Written by Tina Hunter, Academic Department Manager, UW-Madison School of Music

Autumn colors and family time are among the things that Vienna-based dramatic soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn is looking forward to enjoying upon her return to Wisconsin. A native of Milwaukee, Hagedorn will be replacing soprano Julia Faulkner on the voice faculty while Faulkner spends the coming year teaching at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  With siblings in Waterloo, Cedarburg, and Madison (brother Henry is a retired entomologist who runs UW-Madison’s Journal of Insect Science), Hagedorn will have the opportunity to catch up with family as well as to enjoy the trees turning color this year. Hagedorn says that in addition to her family, she has missed what she calls, “the typical fall panorama (that) is a phenomenon of Northern America.”

Elizabeth Hagedorn
Elizabeth Hagedorn

Hagedorn will spend a year as the Visiting Associate Professor of Voice, a sweet homecoming for her.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and English summa cum laude from UW-Stevens Point before heading to the University of Colorado to earn a Master’s degree in Music and Voice Pedagogy cum laude.  Hagedorn notes that, “The most exciting thing about coming to Madison is being a part of an environment in which exactly those things I’ve learned and experienced are what can make a difference for the students ready to take a step toward becoming an artist.  I love the feeling of coming full circle, back to my home state, back to education, and returning energy to the same kind of system that made my unlikely life as an opera singer a reality.”

Thanks to her father’s love of song, Hagedorn spent her childhood steeped in music.  While her father was a Milwaukee postal service employee by day, in his free time he, too, was a very active musician.  Mr. Hagedorn sang in the chorus of the Florentine Opera, conducted church choirs, created a Mail Chorus with his postal colleagues, and sang with the Cream City Four Barbershop Quartet.  Many rehearsals occurred in the family living room, with young Elizabeth soaking it all in.

Fast forward a couple of decades and a few thousand miles, and we find Hagedorn now in her twenty-fourth year as an opera singer in Europe. Hagedorn has performed over fifty leading roles, debuting as a lyric-coloratura  (Violetta, Konstanze, Elvira), and developing through the heavier lyric roles (Mimi, Rusalka, Suor Angelica, Don Carlo Elisabetta) to spinto and jugendlich-dramatic repertoire (Salome, Ariadne, Elsa, Ellen Orford, Tosca, Fidelio Leonore, Senta, Wozzeck Marie).  Various world and European premieres of contemporary operas included the first Austrian performance of Michael Nyman’s “The Man who mistook his Wife for a Hat,” and a world premiere recording of Veerhoff’s “Desiderata” at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.

SInce 2010, Hagedorn and her husband, the conductor Andreas Stoehr, have lived in Vienna. She established “Wien.Oper.Intensiv”  performance workshops in Vienna, and has taught master classes at UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point, University of Colorado – Boulder, and the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Hagedorn has spent the summer teaching as a member of the voice faculty at the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, the program through which she initially made her way to Europe. She has voice students eagerly awaiting her arrival with the beginning of the school year, and her first public performance is scheduled.  On September 26, she will join pianist Martha Fischer to perform songs by composer Gustav Mahler for a performance during SoundWaves, the interdisciplinary music and scientific talk series curated by UW professor of horn, Daniel Grabois. By then the leaves should be changing color and her siblings should be well-visited.  Welcome home, Elizabeth Hagedorn!

Meet Eugene Purdue, visiting assistant professor of violin

The SOM is pleased to announce the appointment of violinist Eugene Purdue as visiting assistant professor of violin for the 2013-14 academic year. Gene, as he is known, is a well-known violin teacher in the Madison area, having trained dozens of the area’s most successful young students. Now, with the retirement of Professor Tyrone Greive, Gene will absorb many of Prof. Greive’s former university students into a new studio in the music building.

A graduate of Indiana University, Mr. Purdue has studied with Tadeusz Wronski, Josef Gingold, Franco Gulli and Daniel Guilet with summer studies with Dorothy Delay. He has served on the faculties of the Music Institute of Chicago and Midwest Young Artists of Ft. Sheridan, Illinois.

Eugene Purdue.
Eugene Purdue. Photograph by Thomas Stringfellow.

Gene is the former first violinist of the Thouvenel String Quartet of Midland, Texas, which he formed in 1974 with his wife, Sally Chisholm, violist with the Pro Arte Quartet. The Thouvenel String Quartet performed regularly for many years, travelling around the country and the world, from New York to Washington, D.C. and on to Vienna, Amsterdam, and even Tibet. The ensemble was especially interested in contemporary music, commissioning works from the likes of Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt. In 1983, they received a warm review from the New York Times. “The Thouvenel Quartet’s sound seemed the product of one elegant impulse divided equally among four individuals,” wrote reviewer Tim Page.

NYT review of the Thouvenel Quartet

In 1991, after Sally was offered the position of violist with the Pro Arte Quartet, the couple moved to Madison where Gene founded his private violin studio (nicknamed “the Buddy Conservatory of Music,” in honor of his cat). Since then, his methods have apparently worked well: many of his high school students have won major classical competitions before enrolling in music school, some at UW-Madison, others at conservatories around the country. Those competitions include the local Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Bolz Young Artist competition as well as larger ones in Naumberg (New York), Klein (San Francisco), Johannsen (Washington DC), Lukas Foss (New York), Fischoff (Notre Dame), the St Paul String Quartet Competition, and the Walgreens National Concerto Competition (Chicago).

Considered a thoughtful teacher, Gene offered his views on teaching and competitions in a 2011 interview in The Well-Tempered Ear, a blog written by former Capital Times arts editor Jake Stockinger.

Eugene Purdue interview in the Well-Tempered Ear

In that interview, Gene offered his view of how to manage nerves as a performer: “Another important point is breathing. To be in control, you must use abdominal breathing. If not, you can spiral out of control. Also, your technique needs to be solid and of course, you need to know your piece really well. My basic feeling about nerves is that nerves don’t cause problems; they reveal problems.”

Recently, Gene answered a few questions about his plans for teaching older students at UW.

I’m curious to know how teaching at UW will differ from what you do privately.

I have always tried to teach the same information to everyone. The difference is how fast they move. For instance, if someone is more committed and practices more, then they move faster. I am anticipating that my UW students will be very committed.

How do you view this opportunity?

I am very excited to be involved generally in the UW music community. Also, to be a colleague of such outstanding musicians and teachers as Felicia Moye and David Perry is a real honor.

What is your view of the UW SOM?

I view the UW School of Music as a top school. The combination of great faculty and students in a great atmosphere is hard to beat. That is why I have referred so many of my students to UW. Without exception, they have told me that I advised them well.

What do you think you can offer UW students that might derive from your years of teaching privately, having had so many successful students? Are there any specifics that might prove especially helpful?

Having been out in the “real world,” I think I have a perspective on private teaching as a good career possibility.

Can you tell us where some of your successful students are now, what they are doing? Many of them did not attend UW-Madison following high school study.

One is in a leading Canadian string quartet, one is part of the avant garde music scene in New York and recently received an Annenberg Fellowship, another is in New York subbing in the New York Phil, another is in the New World Symphony, several have become private or Suzuki teachers and some have thrown in the towel and become Ph.D’s or doctors.

What are your plans to start the year? Do you know how many students you will have? Will this put a crimp in your private teaching?

My class is still taking shape but I am hired on a 2/3 basis and I anticipate a full load. This year I had enough graduating seniors that I have not had to drop anyone from my private class.

Catch School of Music talent at MAYCO & Four Seasons Theater this weekend

This weekend’s events showcase talent at the School of Music in two very different ways: One is a concert organized and conducted by an ambitious  undergraduate violist who has ventured into serious conducting. The other, a musical theater performance produced by veterans from the school who have created a remarkable company with deep community ties.

Mikko Utevsky
Mikko Utevsky
Photo by Steve Rankin

The first, the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO), was founded in 2011 by Mikko Utevsky, then a junior at East High School. Mikko is now a viola student at the SOM, studying with Sally Chisholm, professor of viola and member of the Pro Arte Quartet.  Mikko played with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and is now a member of the UW Symphony Orchestra, and was long interested in conducting; you can read more about him in a previous post on Jake’s The Well-Tempered Ear. (Thanks, Jake!) Last winter, Mikko received the “1st Chair Award” are given by CBS affiliate WISC-TV Channel 3 and the Madison Area Music Association, awarded to a “a musician who used music to give back to their community, or used music to overcome an obstacle and is between 5 and 18 years old.”

MAYCO will present a single concert, “New Horizons,” on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Music Hall. Tickets are $5 for adults; students by donation. Mikko writes: “Its centerpieces are two masterworks of the Classical period, written only a few years apart – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 and Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat. These two pieces, alongside a fantastic new work from Jerry Hui commissioned for the orchestra, form the justification for the title “New Horizons” – each is a first in its own way. Rounding out the program is a short double concerto in B flat major by Antonio Vivaldi, transcribed for trumpet but written originally for oboe, violin, and string orchestra with basso continuo.”

Composer Jerry Hui received both his BA and DMA degree in music composition/choral conducting (AND computer science!) from the SOM, with a MS in between at the University of Oregon.  Some may remember Jerry as the composer of Wired for Love, a “comic chamber opera” that premiered last winter. For this performance, Jerry has written a piece he calls “Glacies.”

Jerry Hui
Jerry Hui
Photo by Ryan Brandenberg

Jerry writes:  “‘Glacies’ is an orchestral tone-poem is commissioned by Mikko Utevsky and written for MAYCO. Mikko was a former composition student of mine, studying counterpoint and harmony with the support of the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), and I’m glad to compose a piece for his wonderful ensemble. Glacies is the Latin word for ice, signifying my original inspiration for the work. As a Madisonite living near the lake for the past 5 years, I have become fascinated by the serene mystery of morning mist rising from the large frozen body of water, as well as the first spring day when the ice breaks–which sometimes can become an exciting and violent event known as an ice quake. Glacies does not attempt to tell a narrative; rather, I try to convey an impression of it through various sound and color of the orchestra.”

Performers on the program include Ansel Norris on the Haydn Trumpet Concerto. Ansel, also an East High School grad now at Northwestern University majoring in trumpet performance, was a finalist in the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Bolz “Final Forté” Competition in 2009,  is a two-time first prize winner at the National Trumpet Competition and was a gold award winner in the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts’ YoungArts competition.  Ansel will team up with brother Alex, a violinist and SOM graduate now in graduate school at Texas Tech, to perform the Vivaldi.  Other orchestral members of the SOM include Erika Andersen, Amanda Fry, Meirah Williamson (an incoming freshman), Sam Moon, Josh Rosing, Tiffany Yeh, and Dan Cross.

Alex and Ansel Norris Photo by Terry Talbot
Alex and Ansel Norris
Photo by Terry Talbot

August 9 will also feature the inaugural performance of a very special show,  “Le Miserables,” by local musical theater company Four Seasons Theatre. (Getting to this point was not a simple matter, apparently; it took the company seven years to be granted the rights  to produce the full length, adult cast version, which wound up replacing the show originally programmed!)

Four Seasons, which has mounted impressive shows in the past (witness West Side Story in 2006– wow!) was founded in 2005 by SOM alumni Sarah Marty, Jamie Pitt,  Amanda Poulson and  Andrew Abrams  (who is also the conductor for the current show) and two others not from the SOM, Erin Burke and Chris Lange.

Other SOM alumni in the current show include voice student and actor Alannah Spencer and Rachel Eve Holmes (Cosette) an incoming doctoral student in voice.  The orchestra includes School Music staff members Patrick Coughlin and Professor Les Thimmig. Current students and alums in the orchestra include Allison Maher, Christy Schwarz, Paul Litterio, Wes Luke, Matt Dahm, Carol Carlson, Michael Koszewski, and Julie Cao.

Les Miz postcard front

Here’s the official news release:

Four Seasons Theatre

August 9-18, 2013
The Mitby Theater at Madison College (MATC-Truax campus) Discover a nation in the grip of revolution, where convict Jean Valjean is on the run. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert for breaking his parole, he must leave his past behind and keep his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette. With revolution in the air and Javert closing in, Jean Valjean has no choice but to fight for his life and sacrifice everything to protect the people he loves.

Performances are Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, August 9-18 at The Mitby Theater at Madison College (MATC, 3550 Anderson Street).  Event parking is free.

Tickets ($35, $30, $25 by location) are available now through the FST website at  http://www.fourseasonstheatre.com and The Mitby Box Office at (608) 243-4000. Handling fees are only $1 per ticket for all sales (phone, in person, and online). We recommend buying tickets online and printing them at home so you can avoid long lines at Will Call on the day of the show. 


Introducing Susan C. Cook, the new director of the UW-Madison School of Music

The UW-Madison School of Music enters a new era this month with the appointment of Professor Susan C. Cook as its new director. Cook, a musicologist and previously the academic associate dean for the Arts and Humanities in the Graduate School, replaces Professor John Stevens, who will retire next spring after a distinguished 29-year career as UW-Madison professor of tuba. Directors are elected for a five-year term, but Stevens, who also held the position from 1991 to 1996, decided to retire at the end of this academic year.

Prof. Cook, who began her musical studies as a harpsichordist, will be only the second woman to serve as director of the school of music.  She is also the former executive director of the UW-Madison Arts Institute and briefly served as interim director of the University Press. She joined UW-Madison in 1991 after earning a Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Michigan and teaching at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Susan C. Cook
Susan C. Cook
Photograph by Michael R. Anderson

Among Cook’s areas of interest are American music and dance, issues of gender and music, and women in the arts. She has served on the boards of the American Musicological Society, the Society of American Music, the Society of Dance History Scholars and the Madison Cultural Arts District. She co-edited the award-winning collection Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music (1993, University of Illinois Press) and most recently Bodies of Sound: Studies Across Popular Music and Dance (2013, Ashgate). She is the author of Opera for a New Republic (1988, University of Rochester Press), an exploration of the 1920s Zeitoper (topical opera) and its primary exponents, Ernst Krenek, Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith.  Her essay “Watching Our Step: Embodying Research, Telling Stories,” on the gendered and racialized meanings of ragtime social dance won the Lippincott Prize from the Society for Dance History Scholars. She has also held the Walt Whitman Chair in American Culture Studies as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Program in the Netherlands.

Cook can sometimes also be heard giving pre-concert lectures prior to performances of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Susan agreed to answer a few questions about her life, her interests and her appointment as School of Music director.

Do you own an iPod, and if so, what’s on it?

“Funny you should ask.  Even with my research and teaching interests in contemporary music and music and recorded sound, I only got an iPod last semester in order to better teach my class on Music and Ethnicity in Wisconsin.  So, mostly what’s on it are materials for that course—everything from various kinds of polka, to field recordings of British Isles ballads to contemporary powwow and klezmer.

“Before a recent airline flight I did load up a number of discs of Ravel’s piano works and music by the Québécois band “Le Vent du Nord,” who played recently at the Fête de Marquette festival on the east side of Madison.

What instruments do you play?

 “As a fulltime musicologist here, I perform in the classroom, in public lectures and on paper through my scholarship.  As a child, I started with piano and violin, but in college switched my keyboard interests to the harpsichord, studying with Max Yount at Beloit College.  I continued harpsichord study in graduate school with Edward Parmentier and taught harpsichord as part of my first job at Middlebury College.  Since coming to Wisconsin, I’ve played for my own enjoyment.  I just purchased a new violin so I can start learning fiddle tunes—I’m trying to learn by ear to improve my skills to play for contra dances.

As a musicologist and music historian, what are your particular musical interests?

“I just co-edited a volume of essays on popular music and dance with a dance historian at Temple University, Sherril Dodds.  Many of the contributions focus on international contemporary dance and music practices.  My contribution is one of the few historical ones, examining an aspect of ragtime dance c. 1910 and its relationship to the emergence of the recorded sound technology.  Ragtime dance has preoccupied me for some time, and I’m currently working on a book about it that examines why it was considered a dangerous activity, especially for women, and how women literally used the dance floor to negotiate new social roles for themselves.  I’m utilizing lots of archival sources here at the University, which makes the work especially interesting as I explore how faculty and administrators confronted student leisure behaviors they found ‘eccentric’ and even ‘disgusting.’

What do you want to do as director?

“I know it sounds like a cliché, but I want to help insure that the School of Music can maximize all its resources so it continues to be the best 21st century institution it can be.  I want the School to be part of larger University-wide conversations about the important roles music study and the arts in general play in a public institution like ours; we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be where we want to be five, ten, 15 years from now.  In the short term, I want to make sure our new dean of the College of Letters & Sciences and our new chancellor, know how well we fulfill the University’s educational mission and how beautifully we embody the Wisconsin Idea of contributing to the state, nation and world.

Why did you want this job?

“I actually enjoy the challenges of administrative work.  For the past six plus years I’ve been the academic associate dean in the Graduate School for the arts and humanities.  I oversaw critically important research competitions for faculty and staff and had an active role in shaping processes related to funding opportunities for graduate students and other aspects of the graduate education.  That work gave me a big picture of the university especially as I worked side by side my fellow associate deans who represent the social, biological and physical sciences.  They had different ways of doing their teaching and scholarship yet we all shared a common goal of research and educational excellence.  I’ve learned a lot about how departments large and small carry out their work and how they function both separately and as part of a larger whole.  I was also able to take part in nationwide conversations about the role of public higher education and the changes and challenges facing graduate education across the board.  I was ready for a change, and when John Stevens decided to step down early, it seemed like an appropriate time to take my administrative experience back to the place I love most.

What do you think the SoM brings to the University and State?

“I’m especially proud of the quality of teaching we have here and the high level of professionalism demonstrated by our faculty and staff in all they do.  Everyone works very hard and is deeply committed.  It’s become standard now in Universities to call for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to what we do—I want to communicate with the University and others how the SoM has been a model of that kind of “mixed methods” approach for decades through its combination of studio and classroom instruction.  We approach the study of this activity and thing we call “music” from lots of different ways, learning through performance, research and study.  Music students learn the value of daily practice, something they can bring to all parts of their life, as well as learning how the experience of music has shaped past practices and beliefs and continues to shape ideas and relationships in the present time.  We’ve increasingly taken a global approach to the musical experience as well, which I hope to foster as music is an especially powerful way to engage with other cultures.  We provide our audiences, which of course includes the citizens of our state, with powerful experiences of pleasure and opportunities to better understand what it means to be human.

What are your favorite courses to teach?

 “I love teaching and especially enjoy having a balance of music majors and non-majors as well as graduates and undergraduates.  I especially enjoy teaching my American Music survey because there are so many ways I can relate aspects of the course to what students have experienced.  It gives me the opportunity to put the US into a larger dialogue with the rest of the world.  It’s also a course that changes every time I teach it in response to new things I’ve uncovered in my own research and new things that have happened, such as who’s won a Pulitzer prize or what new ensemble or individual is of particular interest to the students.”