With out-of-state tuition a challenge for many students and families to afford, every contribution from the university makes it more possible that a student will attend. Here’s one more story in our series for Share the Wonderful, about Benjamin Davis, an undergraduate trumpeter in the studio of John Aley, who has taught at UW-Madison for 32 years and is also principal trumpet in the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. For 16 years, John has also taught high school students at theInterlochen Arts Camp.
Ben, a native of Richmond, Virgina, is one of two recipients of the Raymond F. Dvorak Scholarship and also is receiving a four-year School of Music scholarship.
Thank you to all who have given Ben the support that allows him to pursue his dreams. We hope you will enjoy his story!
“My name is Ben Davis and I am a senior trumpeter and composer from Richmond, Virginia studying Music Education here at UW. Being at UW has allowed me to become involved in so many different musical experiences that have been invaluable to my growth as a musician, educator, and student. I have been able to put on so many different hats in my career here between teaching music in practicum, being the Associate Director of the Isthmus Jazz Series with the Wisconsin Union Theater last year, performing with large ensembles and in brass quintet, and working as an ensemble librarian. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the great instrumental, composition, and music education faculty here and collaborate with graduate and undergraduate colleagues.
“Recently, what I have been doing has been an eclectic mix of activities. This summer was the second time I had the pleasure to be a teaching assistant in the brass area at Interlochen Arts Camp where I got to coach chamber music with the high schoolers, conduct the Intermediate Brass Ensemble, play with the Faculty Brass Ensemble and Big Band, help teach the brass component of instrument exploration, and make connections to artists on faculty and staff from all over the country. At UW, I am finishing up my coursework in the final semester before I student teach next semester, so things are very busy in my life currently. Like most semesters, I have the privilege to work with and learn from esteemed trumpet guru John Aley, whose unbelievable sound and great teaching attracted me to UW as a high schooler. I am also enrolled in a number of general education courses. However, this semester’s work also happens to include learning flute, cello, bass, and percussion all of which have been very enjoyable!
“Outside of my courses for school, I study composition with Filippo Santoro, a current DMA candidate, who has been a great mentor and very important to my development as a composer. Over the last few months, I had the great opportunity to collaborate with current artist-in-residence at Kennesaw State University and trumpet extraordinaire Doug Lindsey (DMA ‘12). I wrote a new piece for trumpet and stacked percussion (vibraphone and marimba) for him called Impressions that will be played next semester. Next semester will also bring the premier of the quartet Dig. for Trombone, Vibraphone, Piano, and Cello, written for UW senior and trombonist Ty Peterson. It is influenced by ideas of rhythm and groove in free jazz and is structurally informed by the panels of visual artist Sol LeWitt’s All One-Two-Three and Four Part Combinations of Lines in Four Directions and in Four Colors (1976). I am currently working on a piece for orchestra in four movements called freezes, flows and am in the relatively early stages of analysis of Katharina Rosenberger’s octet parcours III.
“The scholarships I have received from the School of Music and the Raymond F. Dvorak Scholarship have been very important for my family. Because I am not from Wisconsin or Minnesota, I pay out of state tuition for my schooling which is expensive. The financial assistance provided through these scholarships really have been of much use in reducing the net cost of my schooling and that has allowed me to be able to continue experiencing all of these great things that I have been able to do up here at UW, so I am extremely thankful!”
(NOTE: Exclusive interview with Ken Woods: see below!)
In what promises to be the UW Symphony Orchestra’s most significant concert this fall (though “The Rite of Spring” was pretty spectacular, one must admit), School of Music alumnus and Madison native Kenneth Woods returns home from Wales this month to conduct an internationally-known violinist in an all-time-favorite violin concerto plus two other works. The concert will take place Saturday, November 2 at 8 pm in Mills Hall, at the School of Music. Tickets range from $25 to $10 for students with valid identification.
Ken Woods is a Memorial High School graduate and an alumnus of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and also UW, having received a master’s in 1993 under cellist Parry Karp. Now the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, his track record involves scores of conducting assignments, recordings, performances, and writings. His blog, View from the Podium, includes recent articles on comparative listening (what happens to a work when a conductor is not present? Ken has some very thought-provoking ideas) and one on women in the conducting profession (including a challenge to journalists: “Many of my brilliantly gifted female colleagues know all-too-well the frustration of trying to get a critic to come to their concert or trying to get their latest CD reviewed. Find them- pay attention to them! Get out there, dear journalists, and please get beyond the absolute top-tier of major orchestras.”)
The violinist: Chicago native Rachel Barton-Pine, whose recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2003. Pine is a multi-faceted musician: While she cut her teeth on all the classical works and won competitions in her teens, she’s equally at home with rock’n roll. In a recent New York Times article, Pine told of being asked about her musical inspirations by a Juilliard student. She “gestured toward the stickers of heavy metal bands plastered on her violin case. ‘When they’re onstage, they’re getting everyone headbanging,’ she said. ‘Within classical music my goal is to do the same thing, to give 150 percent and get everyone caught up in the emotions.'” Classically, she has performed as a soloist with orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Montreal, Vienna, New Zealand and Budapest, among others. She plays on a “ex-Soldat” violin made in 1742 by Guarneri del Gesu.
Her latest album,Violin Lullabies, was inspired by her daughter’s birth, and contains some of the sweetest classical music ever written.
The concerto? The Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77, a particularly poignant but muscular concerto in three movements composed in 1878 and dedicated to Brahms’ friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. It is considered a technically demanding concerto, performed professionally by top soloists. Of this work, Pine writes: “I have been fascinated with the Brahms Concerto since my earliest violin lessons. I began studying it when I was 14, and it rapidly became a mainstay of my repertoire. It was with the Brahms Concerto that I won several of my international prizes and made many of my debuts in Europe, America, and Israel. It remains one of the most fulfilling works I perform. My teacher in Berlin, Werner Scholz, was a student of Gustav Havemann, who studied with Joachim. I feel fortunate to have gained knowledge about the Brahms Concerto from one so close to the original source. My study of the Brahms was augmented also by reading Joachim’s essay in his Violinschule in which he laid out how he felt the Brahms concerto should be played.”
In this video, Pine performs the final movement of the Brahms.
The date: November 2nd at 8 pm in Mills Hall. This concert is cosponsored by the Wisconsin Union Theater, and is ticketed. Seats are reserved–contrary to a previous post–and can be purchased through the Vilas box office.
Madison blogger Jake Stockinger, a personal friend of Ken Woods, has written extensively about him, and once even invited Ken to write for his blog. You can read all of these columns here.
Here’s an exclusive interview Ken did just this week with SOM concert office assistant Nicole Tuma. She asked some great questions!
Nicole: The opening overture is by a composer who many of the students and audience members haven’t encountered but whom you know personally. Tell us a little bit about your work with Philip Sawyers and about his music. Ken: Philip and I became friends because he coaches the violins of a wonderful youth orchestra I conduct regularly in England. Although he was very prodigiously gifted as a composer when he was a teenager, he chose to join the orchestra at the Royal Opera in his twenties, and had a distinguished career there, playing for all the great conductors. He’s now back to full-time composing, and I just marvel at what he’s writing now. I really think he’s one of the greats of our time. It’s hard to reconcile this very down-to-earth, funny guy with this extraordinary music. I’ve just recorded a CD of his latest orchestral music for Nimbus, and it’s been such an exciting project. “Gale of Life” is a nice, short introduction to his music- the intensity, the virtuosity, and the power of the orchestral writing are all there. Hopefully, it will inspire a few folks to investigate further.
Nicole: Your “Explore the Score” piece on Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony touches on many different aspects of the symphony – its structure of themes and tempi, its use of quotation, its historical context, and its identity as a work that is simultaneously personal and political. Which aspects of the Fifth Symphony do you think are most important for enhancing an audience member’s experience of and appreciation for this music? Ken: Like all great works of art, Shostakovich 5 is a work with many layers of meaning, all of which are worth exploring. If I was to narrow a new listener’s focus to just one piece of the puzzle, it might be to encourage them to think about the extraordinary reactions to the premiere among the listeners who where there. People didn’t just clap and cheer then hop in their cars and go home and pour a Merlot. People who heard that performance, with this huge ovation afterwards, were in tears for hours. There’s the story of a young man walking out of the concert with his wife in silence, their faces stained with tears. Neither of them said a word- they just walked around the city all night before returning to their flat after sunrise. This music literally left them speechless for hours. Why did people respond so strongly? Somehow, for someone new to the piece, I would think that question is a good place to start.
Nicole: You write a lot in your blog about the value of comparative listening. Are there any recordings that you’d recommend looking up before this particular UW-Madison Symphony concert? Ken:For the Brahms, Nathan Milstein is my favorite. He’s almost always my favorite.
Phil’s overture has been recorded beautifully for Nimbus Records by David Lockington and the Grand Rapids Symphony. The CD includes his Music for Brass and Strings, which is a much bigger piece, and his First Symphony, which is an absolute tour de force.
The Shostakovich is too big and too rich for any one recording to do it justice, but I think Barshai’s recording with the WDR is very good, and Mravinksy is important to hear. Stick with the Russians!
Nicole: You’ve had a wonderfully varied musical career as an instrumentalist, conductor, writer, educator, and more. Do you find that the many different activities that you’re involved in nurture each other? Ken: All of the activities you list work rather synergistically for me. For instance, when I took part in the NEA Rural Residency Program many years ago, working to develop a chamber music audience in rural Arkansas, I found that the effort spent figuring out how to help complete novice listeners engage with Shostakovich or Brahms also helped us clarify our own ideas about the music. At the end of the day, this is all about communication, and even though different disciplines have their own specific technical challenges, I’ve always found that learning to communicate musical ideas in different mediums seems to enrich your work no matter what you happen to be doing on a given day.
Nicole: How has this affected your growth as a musician? How so? Do you find studying a score as a cellist and as a conductor to be different experiences? Ken:I think one of the biggest challenges for any instrumentalist is to expand your musical awareness beyond the technical demands of your instrument. I think it’s really unfortunate that we all learn to play from our own little single-line parts when we’re young. If you’re playing in a quartet and you spend 98% of the time just looking at your own part, and only check the score when you’ve got a question about a wrong note, you’re understanding of your role in the music is always going to be limited. In my trio, we spend most of our rehearsal time playing and rehearsing from score. We all aspire to develop great ears, and for me, the key to hearing is understanding. Understanding how the parts fit together, understanding what the notation really means, understanding how the meter works, understanding the harmonic function of a note in a chord. So, I suppose for me, the answer to your question it that I’m trying to make my score study as cellist and conductor more similar as I get more experienced.
Nicole: In a similar vein, did your years as a music student help prepare you for this multi-faceted career? How? Ken:It’s probably the nature of all universities to prepare students for the last generation of jobs rather than the next generation of jobs, because that’s the world that the faculty know. However, I’m a firm believer that higher education should not be mistaken for vocational training. No seminar or workshop could have prepared me for what I do, because I’ve found my own path which is unique to my skill set. What has helped at every turn is the musical foundation I got from my teachers, and the enduring confidence that their belief in my potential gave me.
Nicole: If not, what was missing? Ken:There’s a lot of talk now about teaching music students some basic entrepreneurial skills, but my student years were so busy and so rewarding, I can’t imagine looking back on one of my chamber groups and thinking “I should have been learning how to write a press release instead of rehearsing Bartók.” You’ve got your whole life to build a career and the non-musical skills are not that hard to acquire. I’m glad my music school years were focused squarely on music and on learning everything I could from my teachers.
Alumnus Jeff Snyder, a 2002 School of Music graduate in composition who studied with Professor Steve Dembski, later earned a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University and is now an Associate Research Scholar of Electronic Music at Princeton University with a CV about two miles long. He teaches courses and seminars in sound art, computer music, and sound synthesis, and advises students on their own research projects that range from computational musicology to human/computer interface design.
While at UW as an undergrad, he received a $3,000 Hilldale Award to further his interest in new tuning systems and create a new instrument using a new type of tuning system.
His story is a another excellent example of howyour gifts to UW-Madison and the School of Musicspecifically have made a large difference in the lives of our students. We asked Jeff to talk about what the Hilldale Award meant to him.
“The grant provided the funds needed to buy both books for my research and the materials for the instrument, and also allowed me some time to focus closely on the project. I ended up producing both an instrument and a research paper, and the work was incredibly important in the formation of my current career.
“The instrument I built was called the Anolé, after the color-changing lizard. I wanted to design a stringed instrument that had removable fretboards so that it could perform music written in multiple tuning systems besides equal temperament. I was strongly influenced by Harry Partch’s “Genesis of a Music,” a classic text in the field which was actually written at UW-Madison in 1947. Since my wood and metal-working skills were lacking at the time, I formed a collaboration with Visual Arts MFA student Don Miller (now an Associate Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia). This collaboration taught me woodworking skills that have been incredibly useful in my professional life since. The instrument turned out to be very successful, and I used it in performance for the next two years. There were several problems with its design, however, and searching for solutions to these problems eventually led me down the research path I follow to this day.
“The paper I wrote was related to the same research, but focused on the tuning of bar percussion instruments. It was called “Development of a Useful Scale Based on Inharmonic Bar Partials.” The research for the paper was primarily inspired by ideas presented in the book “Tuning, Timbre and Scale,” by William Sethares, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UW-Madison, and I am still quite proud of the results. My advisor on the whole project, Professor Dembski, was supportive and insightful from the very beginning all the way through the process, and I am incredibly thankful that he gave me the guidance and encouragement I needed to discover my passion that year.
“After graduating from UW-Madison, I applied for doctoral programs in music momposition. I was accepted into almost all the programs I applied for, and I credit the work under that Hilldale research grant as the primary reason I was accepted. I accepted the offer from Columbia University in New York City, and my advisor there at one point told me that arguing to accept me as a student was easy; after they had listened to my musical examples (and read my research paper as a writing example), he pointed at the photograph of the instrument I had made and said “who else has done anything like that?”. In 2011, I received a doctorate with distinction from Columbia, and my dissertation was essentially a logical continuation of the work I had begun at UW-Madison. My dissertation, titled “An Exploration of an Adaptable Just Intonation System”, includes a chapter called “Early Experimentation”, which discusses the things I learned from building the Anolé.
“Now, in addition to teaching and advising at Princeton, I have a thriving performance career in NYC playing the new instruments I continue to imagine and invent. Without the Hilldale Undergraduate Research Grant at UW-Madison, I would not have had the freedom and resources to start myself on this trajectory when I did, and I may not have found my way to the creative and exciting field I work in today.”
Our School of Music is famous for its voice faculty, counting among them luminaries such as baritone Paul Rowe (an organizer of Madison’s nationally-known Early Music Festival); soprano Mimmi Fulmer (former teacher of Broadway star National Stampley); soprano Julia Faulkner (now on leave to Chicago’s Lyric Opera and replaced by Elizabeth Hagedorn, recently returned from many roles in Europe); and James Doing, a tenor who three years ago made a splash with a recital of “Teaching Songs for the Voice Studio,” a recital of songs that Doing assigns to his college students to sing, which taught those in the audience what it is like to be a voice student and would-be students what to expect in Doing’s studio. It also educated listeners about the classical and modern canon in the vocal repertoire.
Local writer Jacob Stockinger has this to say about Doing’s 2010 recital: “It educated the audience. It was kind of like sitting in on Art Song 101. It let us listeners into the studio and allowed us to hear what makes for good repertoire, a good program and a good lesson. It was also great to see a professor sharing the recital stage with his students. To be sure, each will continue, and should continue, to perform his or her own individual solo recitals. But Doing is primarily an opera and oratorio singer so he was much like the students when it came to these first public performances of art songs.
“But sharing the stage lends credibility to the teaching process. It projects a certain solidarity and cohesion. It also projects cordiality, which is no small thing, even as we see different singing and performing styles. (Doing himself, to my ears, excelled especially in the songs by Italian, English and German Baroque composers such as Caccini, Conti, Purcell and Handel, and with French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Faure and an exquisite song by Reynaldo Hahn.) And the results were highly successful — both enjoyable and instructive, the twin ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.”
This Saturday, October 19, at 8 pm in Mills Hall, Professor Doing will present another in what will not only be a series of “Teaching Favorites,” but will be a step toward a book on the same subject. He will be joined by Professor Martha Fischer on piano and student singers CatieLeigh Laszewski, Jenny Marsland, Olivia Pogodzinski, Melanie Traeger, and Sheila Wilhelmi. Songs will include Strike the Viol (Henry Purcell) from Come, ye Sons of Art; Và godendo (G.F. Handel from Serse, Melanie Traeger, soprano); and Mozart’s Giùnse alfin il momento . . . Deh vieni, non tardar (from Le Nozze di Figaro, CatieLeigh Laszewski, soprano). And many more.
Here, Prof. Doing explains the concept behind the next concert.
“Three years ago I presented a Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio recital complete with program notes about vocal technique, diction, and so on, and it was well received.
“On Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 my students and I are going to be singing another Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio in Mills Hall (free admission) and I would love to have many singers and teachers from the community come and share the evening with me and my students. I’ll be performing eighteen songs and five of my female voice students will assist by singing eight selections.
“Historical notes are being provided by Chelsie Propst, a fine young soprano who completed her MM in Voice with Paul Rowe and is now a PhD candidate in Musicology. I add some Performance Notes/Suggestions and Diction pointers. For this concert of 26 songs we will provide the full notes on about 10 songs and I will provide my own translations and International Phonetic Alphabet transcriptions for all of them (except the final set of English songs). This concert is the second in a series of four with number three taking place April 3rd, 2014 in Mills Hall and number four taking place during the 2014-15 school year.
“The goal/plan at this point is to eventually complete a book tentatively entitled “100 Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio.” The book will begin with some chapters on vocal pedagogy, diction, ornamentation, and other issues followed by information about performing each of the 100 songs. Each song will have historical background written by Ms. Propst, followed by performance and diction pointers, translations and IPA.”
You can learn more about Prof. Doing on his websiteand YouTube channel.And we look forward to seeing all of you at his recital, which looks to be a highlight of the fall semester. 8 pm in Mills Hall.
University Opera showcases a timeless classic: Handel’s “Ariodante”
Opera seria in three acts. First performed at Covent Garden, London, on January 8, 1735.
One of George Frideric Handel’s most virtuosic operas takes the stage in University Opera’s fall production of Ariodante. Sung in Italian with English surtitles by Christine Seitz, the work will be given three performances—Friday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, October 27 at 3:00 p.m. and Tuesday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. All shows will be presented at the Carol Rennebohm Auditorium in Music Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
“Although Ariodante has a happy ending it is a complex, dark work,” says director William Farlow. “Stunningly beautiful music accompanies the characters as they search for the truth. It is a captivating story of betrayal and reconciliation.”
Farlow’s cast includes undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, supported by the UW Chamber Orchestra under the direction of James Smith. The role of Ariodante is shared by Lindsay Metzger (October 25 and October 29) and Susanna Beerheide (October 27). The role of Ginevra is also double cast with Anna Whiteway (October 25 and October 29) and Caitlin Ruby Miller (October 27), as is the role of Dalinda, performed by Christina Kay (October 25 and October 29) and Lydia Rose Eiche (October 27). Spencer Schumann (October 25 and October 29) and guest artist Gerrod Pagenkopf (October 27) share the role of Polinesso. Other cast members include Daniel López-Matthews as Lurcanio, Erik Larson as the King, and William Ottow as Odoardo.
Production and music staff includes assistant conductor Kyle Knox, costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park, technical director Greg Silver, lighting designer Steven M. Peterson, set designer and scenic artist Liz Rathke, vocal coach and musical preparation Thomas Kasdorf, and chorus master Susan Goeres.
Tickets are $22.00 for the general public, $18.00 for senior citizens and $10.00 for UW-Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at music.wisc.edu. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00–5:00 p.m. and the Vilas Hall Box Office, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and after 5:30 p.m. on University Theatre performance evenings. Because shows often sell out, advance purchase is recommended. If unsold tickets remain, they may be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.
In an effort to help patrons find parking on campus, the Campus Arts Ticketing office is offering prepaid parking permits for a guaranteed parking spot on the evenings of ticketed UW arts events for $5. Preorder your permit online at http://arts.wisc.edu/map (5 days or more in advance; $1 handling fee) or call (608)-265-ARTS (3 days or more in advance; $1 handling fee).
University Opera is a cultural service of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Its mission is to promote professional training and practical performing experience for student singers, conductors and pianists and, when possible, provide opportunities for student designers, actors and dancers.
For more information, contact Christina Kay, Marketing/Operations Manager, University Opera
As some of you may know, UW-Madison this week began its second “Share the Wonderful” fundraising campaign, designed to raise money to support students and faculty.
At the School of Music, gifts to the School in particular and Letters and Science more generally have provided countless opportunities to our most talented and ambitious students, to help them grow personally, academically and succeed in their fields. We welcome your contributions.
Over the next two months, we’ll periodically update this blog with stories of how donations have had an impact. Take note: you’ll be hearing from these School of Music students in future years, we have no doubt, as they advance through their lives and careers.
First up is Jacob Wolbert, a senior majoring in percussion, who was a guest blogger while working as a Summer Music Clinic counselor this past June. Jacob then traveled to Brazil to study and will return again in January. Here is his story:
“I received two fellowships over the 2012-13 academic year. The first one was a FLAS (Foreign Language & Area Studies) fellowship that went towards an intensive Portuguese program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last summer. With the help of FLAS, I was able to study Brazilian Portuguese and culture in a fascinating environment and meet people from around the rest of the United States and the world.
“The other fellowship, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hilldale Fellowship, will be used to fund my fieldwork (again, in Rio de Janeiro) for my senior honors thesis in ethnomusicology. Given that my work relies so much on the personal experience of and my own interactions with Brazilian samba musicians, this fellowship has essentially made my ethnographic work possible and provided me with the opportunity to broaden my research and strengthen my thesis.
“After graduation, I plan to take a few years off from school to work in music, education, and languages. Thanks to these scholarships, I have been able to further my love of Brazilian music, develop a better understanding of the Portuguese language, and connect with people across the university and country that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to connect with. From the summer trip, I will never forget my evenings running down a seaside boulevard in Copacabana with mountains in front of and behind me, the ocean to my left, and the teeming Rio metropolis to my right, the view from each side fitting in with the other three. The best single experience was attending a concert at one of the most famous samba schools, Salgueiro, and singing along with a song I learned as a UW-Madison freshman.”