Meet the mystery composer behind “Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra,” to receive its premiere Feb. 8
We’re happy to finally present Daria Tennikova, the Russian-born composer at the School of Music whose new work will be premiered (with sax soloist Erika Anderson) on February 8, 7 pm in Mills Concert Hall, along with the other winners of the annual concerto competition. This year’s recital has a name, Symphony Showcase, and will be followed by a ticketed reception at at the Memorial Union’s Tripp Commons for all students, parents, faculty, alumni, board members, and the community. Please help us celebrate the fine work of our students and join us for both! Proceeds will help fund student scholarships. Buy your tickets here:http://www.arts.wisc.edu/
“Daria’s an unusual woman,” says composition professor Stephen Dembski. “She came up through the Russian conservatory system, and has gradually adapted to the American system while keeping a fierce intensity in her work, which is quite striking.”
Here’s Daria’s bio, from an earlier announcement:
“Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1989. She began taking composition lessons from Natalia Karsh of the Composers Union of Saint Petersburg, but initially chose to focus on piano rather than pursuing a career in composition, receiving an associate degree in piano performance and pedagogy from St. Petersburg’s Mussorgsky College of Music in 2008. Her work received its first public performance at the college when her “Three Lilies” for soprano and piano was played as part of a final accompaniment exam. Daria moved to the United States in 2009 and began devoting more time to composition. In 2010 she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in composition at UW-Madison, studying with professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski. Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra is Ms. Tennikova’s most recent composition, and her very first work for orchestra. She says, ‘I began thinking about writing a piece for soloist and orchestra last spring. Originally I wanted it to be for a piano soloist, and I wrote the main theme with something “Russian” in mind. Later in the spring of 2013, I heard Erika Anderson play Anthony Caulkins’ saxophone piece at a concert. I was moved by her wonderful performance to write my piece for saxophone soloist. I wanted Erika to play it, so I asked her if she would be interested in collaborating and, being both a wonderful person and a great musician, she agreed to play without even hearing the music! I am very grateful to her for giving my piece a beautiful performance!”
March residency to feature singers and music from Finland
Three revered Finnish musicians from the faculty of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, will be in residency at the School of Music during the first week of March to present master classes, workshops, and discussions on Finnish music education. The week will be capped by a concert at Luther Memorial Church on Saturday, March 8th, at 1 pm. All events are free and open to the public. Read more here.
Clocks in Motion profiled in the Wisconsin State Journal
New work to be premiered this Saturday, Feb. 1
UW-Madison’s newest resident musical ensemble was profiled in last Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal. “The UW-Madison-based percussion ensemble is breaking ground by reviving rarely performed works, commissioning new music and even inventing its own instruments,” wrote reporter Gayle Worland. “Self-run, ambitious and highly talented, Clocks in Motion is also a group in motion, with a schedule that in the next four months includes seven performances in Madison and a Midwestern tour. ‘What this group is doing is something that’s quite inspiring, and tremendously unique,’ said UW percussion professor Anthony Di Sanza, who is teaching or has taught each of the young musicians who make up Clocks in Motion.” Read the full story here.
On Sunday at 7:30 pm in Mills Hall, the group will present “Earth and the Great Weather,” a collaborative multi-media performance depicting the Arctic landscapes of Northern Alaska, to include percussion, strings, chorus, digital delay patterns, spoken texts, and pre-recorded nature sounds. The work was composed by John Luther Adams. Performers will include Chelsie Propst, Sarah Richardson, Cheryl Rowe, and Paul Rowe will comprise the vocal chorus, and Carol Carlson, Max Fisher, Spencer Hobbs, and Mikko Utevsky will serve as the string quartet. Steve Gotcher, audio engineer for Audio for the Arts, will control the complex electronic component of the performance. Matthew Schlomer will conduct.
Alumnus Elias Goldstein to solo at Carnegie Hall
Viola professor Sally Chisholm informs us that her former student Elias Goldstein, a former Collins Fellow, will perform works of Haydn, Mozart, Boccherini, Paganini, and others at a recital on February 19 at Carnegie Hall.He will be accompanied by Ieva Jokubaviciute on piano and Roxana Pavel Goldstein on violin. Goldstein received his DMA in 2011 from the School of Music and is now professor of viola at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Pianist Christopher Taylor profiled in Madison Magazine
Writer Greg Hettsmanberger interviewed UW’s globetrotting pianist Christopher Taylor in a story published in the January issue of Madison Magazine.
What do you tell your students is the most important thing about being a pianist—especially not a professional performer? “I rarely try to boil this craft down to one overriding principle, but obviously I consider it a basic prerequisite for a student to be motivated by love of the art and curiosity about understanding its multifaceted glories. Provided those ingredients are present, then the student will thrive musically, regardless of his or her professional ambitions or prospects,” Taylor answered.Read the full story here. And catch Christopher Taylor in his only Madison appearance this year, performing Prokofieff’s Sonata No. 6 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat, as arranged by Franz Liszt, at Mills Hall on February 28, 8 pm.
Tuba prof John Stevens kicks off a pre-retirement semester of concerts
(L to R): Aulikki Eerola, Pertti Eerola, and Eija Jarvela.
Three revered Finnish musicians from the faculty of the Sibelius Academyin Helsinki, Finland, will be in residency at the School of Music during the first week of March to present master classes, workshops, and discussions on Finnish music education. The week will be capped by a concert at Luther Memorial Church on Saturday, March 8th, at 1 pm. All events are free and open to the public.
This residency is designed to provide American singers and educators with a connection to Nordic repertoire and to the world-renowned Finnish music education system. The musicians, two singers and one coach/pianist/organist/choral conductor/composer, will work with individual singers from around the state, giving presentations on Finnish diction at the language diction class, Finnish song literature at the graduate song repertoire seminar, and the music education in Finland at a music education class. They will also be in residency at UW-Milwaukee for three days, presenting similar classes.
SCHEDULE UPDATE FOR MADISON, posted Feb. 19:
Sunday, March 2 2:00-5:00 Master Class for singers and collaborative pianists (Music Hall)
Monday, March 3 11:00-11:50 Presentation on Finnish song repertoire (2531 Humanities)
Tuesday, March 4 11:00-11:50 Presentation on Finnish diction (2451 Humanities)
1:10-2:25 Presentation on Finnish music education system (2411 Humanities)
Saturday, March 8 1:00 concert at Luther Memorial Church (1021 University Avenue), including a world premiere of a work for two voice and organ
followed by gathering in church basement to talk with audience
Aulikki Eerola is Professor of Voice at the Sibelius Academy, and has had a distinguished career in opera, concert, and recording, including singing Pamina at Savonlinna, and winning awards in the Robert Schumann Competition and the Hugo Wolf Competition in Salzburg. Her studies include two years at the Vienna Academy of Music and the Vienna Conservatory, where she worked with legendary pianist and coach Erik Werba. She has presented concerts of lieder in Europe, Canada, the United States and Russia. She has performed live and for radio recordings on the BBC as well as the Austrian, French, German, Danish, Polish and Swedish radios. Her discography includes thirty recordings (Finlandia, Fuga, APJH).
Pertti Eerola is music director of Johannes Church in Helsinki, where he serves as organist and conductor of the chamber choir and orchestra. He has performed in lieder recitals with artists including Martti Talvela and Jorma Hynninen. He has been the official competition pianist for the Lappeenranta Singing Competition, the Timothy Black Rock competition, and the Hugo Wolf Competition. He has performed in concert as a piano soloist, organist and chamber musician throughout Europe, the US, China and Singapore. Pertti Eerola is featured on more than 30 CD recordings with artists including Martti Talvela, Soile Isokoski, Jouko Heikkilä and Aulikki Eerola. He has worked in recordings as a pianist, organist and conductor. He has served as coach of the Finnish National Opera and the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and has been on the faculty of the Sibelius Academy since 1984.
Eija Jarvela is on the faculty in Vocal Arts and Vocal Pedagogy at the Sibelius Academy. She received her musical training at the Sibelius Academy, graduating with diplomas in Voice Performance and Vocal Pedagogy, Doctor of Music in Performing Arts. She studied German Lied in Vienna with Erik Werba, and completed her studies in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has appeared as soloist with the Finnish National Opera and other companies around Finland and also in recitals in Finland, many European countries, Brazil and México. Teaching engagements include master classes, lectures and workshops in Finland and also in Brazil, México and France. During her doctoral studies she broadened her knowledge to acoustical aspects of the singing voice leading to a paper, “Conveyed Intention, A study of some acoustic aspects as related to production and perception of certain sung vowels.” Her interest in pedagogical research has led her into collaborative work with colleagues representing various instruments and aspects of teaching.
The residency of three members of the Sibelius Academy faculty in March is the latest part of voice professor Mimmi Fulmer’s research and performance of Nordic song repertoire. The granddaughter of immigrants from Finland and Sweden, Professor Fulmer has received grants from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the Finlandia Foundation, and the UW-Madison Graduate School to pursue her work on classical, sacred, traditional, folk, and children’s songs in Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian. Her CD, “Voyage Home: Songs of Finland, Sweden and Norway” was released on Centaur Records earlier this year. She is editing a two-volume anthology of songs in Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, including phonetics and recordings of the spoken texts, to be published by Subito Music in 2014.
The March 8th concert at Luther Memorial Church will be followed by a gathering in the church basement to talk with audience, organists, church music directors, singers, and others. The repertoire will feature Finnish music for voice, piano, and organ.
Finnish music strongly reflects the seasons, as life is shaped by the long winter and the longing for spring. Quiet, loneliness, and isolation are frequent themes, and the deep tradition of folk music is a beloved touchstone of cultural and musical identity. Music has also been shaped by history and wars, during which traditions, land and even the language has been taken over by other countries. With the comprehensive music education and community involvement in music-making in Finland, the boundaries between classical and popular music are much more porous than in the United States.
The roots of Nordic music are found in folk music. After centuries of political turbulence, music was a key element in forging a strong national identity for Finland during the late 19th century. Songs allowed music-lovers to enjoy music in their homes, and strengthen ties created by poetry and music that reflected national sensibilities. Thus songs illuminate the hard-won cultural, language, and political identities for these countries. The Kalevala(a book and epic poem set to music) helped inspire the national awakening that let to Finland’s independence from Russia in 1917. The composer Jean Sibelius’s “Finlandia” (1899) played a role in the drive for independence as well.
From around 1200 until 1809 Finland was a part of Sweden. In the second half of the 19th century, Finnish was recognized as the official language in Finland and the Finnish-language secondary-school system was founded. Today Swedish remains the second official language of Finland.
The Kalevala is a keystone to Finnish culture and identity. Held to be the national epic of Finland, it consists of 22,795 verses. It was usually sung to tunes built on 5 notes, with lines consisting of 5 beats. Despite the vast geographical distances separating the individual singers, the poetry was always sung in the same meter, with 8 syllables per line (Kalevala meter). The most famous example of the Kalevala’s influence upon another author is J.R.R. Tolkien, who claimed the Kalevala as a source for writings which became the Silmarillion. It has inspired many musicians, ranging from composer Jean Sibelius to Finnish rock and metal bands.
In contemporary Finland, there are strong traditions of historically significant music as well as rock music and the tango. In fact, Finland is divided between the north (devoted to the tango) and south (producing numerous rock bands). Hundreds of music and song festivals take place throughout the country, especially during the summer, when well-attended concerts take place in churches and other venues, from the smallest village to the largest cities.
18: the number of feet a note must travel from tuba mouthpiece to the bell
29: the number of years John Stevens has invested in the School of Music as teacher, composer, administrator, and conductor.
50: the number of compositions Stevens has written
1951: the year Stevens was born in Buffalo, NY.
2000: the year the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered Stevens’s concerto, “Journey”
A semester-long series of events marks the retirement of music professor John Stevens, a man known for his grace as a teacher, performer, administrator, and composer. (Scroll down for complete schedule, or download it here: Spring2014_Stevens_concerts )
Stevens the teacher enjoys getting to know his students over the period of years and watching them grow. They move on to perform in quartets, bands, and orchestras, and many have landed college level teaching gigs. Beyond learning about the craft of playing the instrument, he expects them to grow in their musical thinking and in their ability to conduct business as a professional.
Stevens the performer feeds his appetite for chamber music by performing with theWisconsin Brass Quintet. Playing in a professional ensemble of like-minded and excellent musicians is “as good as it gets,” he says.
Stevens the administrator has enjoyed representing the School of Music to the larger University community, and doing what he can to advance its mission.
And for the past 20 years Stevens the composer has written works for tuba, euphonium, trumpet, trombone, oboe, brass quintet, and woodwind quintet. On March 9 the University Orchestra will perform “Journey,” his concerto for tuba and orchestra, featuring Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny, a concert co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Theater. (Read more here.)
From High School to The Big Time
Stevens’s parents were not musicians. His musical ambitions were whetted while playing in his high school’s nationally renowned band program. The director arranged for many inspiring guest musicians to perform with the award-winning ensemble, and before long Stevens realized music was the only career that interested him. He went on to attend the Eastman School of Music, graduating in 1973, and the Yale University School of Music, completing a master’s in 1975.
Then New York City called. For years Stevens made a reasonably good living as a free lancer, performing often with his Eastman colleague Chuck Mangione, riding on the popularity of the album “Chase The Clouds Away” and the pop hit “Feels So Good.” Stevens also performed in the New York Tuba Quartet and the American Brass Quintet, and under the batons of James Levine, Leonard Slatkin, and Zubin Mehta.
Then he found himself on Broadway, where he paid the bills with 500 performances as a tuba player in the musical “Barnum”. In 1980, the show made it all the way to the Tony Awards at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York, where Stevens entertained the crowd in the audience with a uniformed march down the aisle, wrapped in a sousaphone. (Click here for the video; advance to 4:50 minutes to see Stevens.) (For the record, “Evita” won “Best Musical” that year; “Barnum” won in several other categories.)
Over the years, Stevens learned that being self-employed demands quick thinking, versatility, and the willingness to jump in to the hot seat. He recalls a Friday night when the New York City Opera called to ask him to substitute for a sick tubist. They wanted him to play Tosca on Saturday and La Boheme on Sunday. And they wanted him to play on a strange instrument, to boot: an E flat cimbasso. Without benefit of rehearsal.
Many musicians would have quailed. For his part, Stevens had never performed in either opera and had no experience with an E flat instrument, never mind a cimbasso. “I had never before done any aspect of that job,” he says. “But I said, ‘Yes absolutely. I’ll be there and do it.’”
So he got to the theatre early and introduced himself to the cimbasso, only to discover it was out of tune. Then he had to start figuring out transpositions. Then the conductor raised the baton. John wisely took advantage of the tacet sections (the places where he didn’t need to play) to decipher whatever was coming next. He realized that if he did even a passable job, they’d be happy. And if a did a really good job, they’ll be thrilled. He was right.
It was the kind of challenge he likes. “And all the time, you’re playing incredibly beautiful music with a fine orchestra.”
That was one of many freelance assignments he found satisfying and exciting, but too many were “just for the money,” he says. He imagined himself as a freelancer ten years in the future: having to accept any and every job offer, whether satisfying or forgettable. He was living in a studio apartment with his wife and considering a family. New York just wouldn’t do. So he began looking for more stability, a job with benefits. When a faculty position opened at the University of Miami, he applied.
He speaks fondly of his years at Miami. But one important thing was missing: the opportunity to play chamber music. After several years there a position opened at the UW-Madison, and it included a seat in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.
That’s all it took. The WBQ, as it’s called, already had a national reputation for its musicianship and the quality of its repertoire. Stevens came, and he thrived. In the WBQ each player contributes 20 percent of the creativity. “You get good at presenting your ideas in a collegial manner. It’s like a marriage among five people,” he jokes.
Composing creates bonds
As much as he loves performing, Stevens considers composing equally important. He loves developing and nurturing the personal relationships that result from collaborating, and writes many of his pieces for people he knows. Far from being an isolating activity, composing creates bonds he finds intimate and satisfying.
Among others, Stevens has composed for tubist Roger Bobo, trumpeter John Aley, oboist Marc Fink, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, the Oakwood Chamber Players, the International Trumpet Guild, the Wisconsin School Music Association (“Fanfare for an Uncommon Man,” in honor of the late Marvin Rabin), Germany’s Melton Tuba Quartett, and the New York Tuba Quartet. Many of his more than 50 original compositions and 22 arrangements are available on the CD labels Naxos, Albany, Mark, Centaur, and Summit. Perhaps his most notable composition is Journey, a concerto for tuba and orchestra.
In the late 1990s, Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny asked Stevens to submit works for consideration in a new competition. Stevens was honored. The Chicago Symphony’s brass section has traditionally accounted for much of the orchestra’s worldwide fame, and concertos had already been commissioned for its trumpets and trombones, but not for a tuba. Because Stevens had not composed for a full orchestra, he submitted examples of his chamber music and tuba pieces. Then he forgot all about it, until several months later, when Pokorny called to tell Stevens he had won the commission.
“I had to sit down,” he says. “For a composer, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, to write for the Chicago Symphony.”
He began his homework, asking Pokorny about his favorite composers and about his hopes for the piece. He studied scores by Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss. “I was trying to get a feel for what to do, given this huge palette, of having one of the world’s great symphony orchestras to work with.” The piece was premiered in 2000 and will be performed here March 9 with Pokorny as soloist.
Stevens is now writing a multi-movement piece for bass trombone, commissioned by a dozen players who perform in ensembles ranging from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to the San Francisco Symphony. Trombonist and UW-Madison school of music doctoral student Alan Carr, who arranged for the commission, says he expects the piece will become a substantial contribution to the instrument’s repertory. Carr credits Stevens with writing music that’s accessible to an audience and also interesting for the performers, something relatively few composers can manage.
Teacher, Administrator, and Judge
Sitting in his studio in the Mosse Humanities Building on a cold winter morning, Stevens talks about his pride in his current and former students. Graduates of the UW-Madison tuba/euphonium program are known for excelling as musicians and as teachers. Stevens says that’s because they work hard at developing the craft of playing their instruments, the art of making music with that craft, the skills necessary to share those abilities with others in a productive way, and the necessary knowledge of the business of music.
Former students play professionally, in the Jacksonville Symphony, the U.S. Marine Band, the Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet, and the Youngblood Brass Band. Some teach in public schools and in college, includng the University of Alabama, Baylor, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi, Northern Colorado, Illinois State, Emporia State, UW-Whitewater, UW-Platteville, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Stevens has also served as a judge or panelist at many competitions: Michigan’s annual Leonard Falcone solo competition, International Tuba and Euphonium Association competitions, and Finland’s Lieksa Brass Festival. He serves on the music panel of the National YoungArts Foundation, a national competition for America’s most talented high school young artists. Over the years, he says, one develops a reputation for not only having the musical expertise to judge such competitions, but the sort of personality and approach to the task that makes one a desirable member of competition juries.
He has enjoyed those experiences, as well as his two stints as director of the School of Music. The job requires juggling a lot of balls in the air, he says, and one gets pulled in a lot of directions. But you just try to do what’s best for the school, operating within the way the university works. Colleague and pianist Martha Fischer has accompanied Stevens for countless concerts, recording sessions, and road trips. She says Stevens was an effective director “because he’s a sane human being. He’s good at seeing the big picture. He sees the world in an incredibly positive way.”
As Stevens reflects on his three decades at Madison he notes the quality and nature of the students and faculty. He appreciates the institutional encouragement and support to engage in meaningful and rewarding work. For him, that means performance, composition, and conducting.
Retirement will offer a little more time to enjoy his personal CD collection. Most often, he expects to pull out something by Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall, or Edith Piaf. “They sing with such passion and such commitment,” he says. “And I’m a singer at heart.”
Spring 2014 concerts featuring John Stevens, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet,
current and former tuba/euphonium students, School of Music faculty, and the UW Symphony Orchestra
Tuesday February 11: Faculty Concert Series
Mozart, Horn Quintet. Horn Quintet in E-flat major, K. 407 (386c)
(composed c. 1782 and scored for violin, 2 violas, cello and horn)
III. Rondo. Allegro
Mahler, Songs of a Wayfarer, 1883–1885
Brahms, Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40, 1865
II. Scherzo (Allegro)
III. Adagio mesto
IV. Allegro con brio
Notes. John Stevens presents arrangements for tuba. Guest artists include David Perry, Sally Chisholm, Katrin Talbot, Parry Karp, Martha Fischer.
Notes: A chamber music concert featuring six Stevens compositions.
Performers include a tuba/euphonium quartet of former students, members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, and the Sotto Voce Quartet. Sotto Voce is one of the world’s foremost brass chamber ensembles. Its members are former UW-Madison students.
Viva Voce! (2003) was composed for the Sotto Voce Quartet (Demondrae Thurman and Mark Carlson – Euphoniums, Nat McIntosh and Michael Forbes – Tubas).
Diversions (1978) Sotto Voce Quartet. (Thurman and Forbes go their MMs here, Carlson got his MM and DMA and McIntosh was an undergraduate here). Diversions was composed for the New York Tuba Quartet, of which Stevens was a member.
Tournament (1999) John Aley and Jessica Jensen – Trumpets
Triangles (1978) Dan Grabois – Horn, Mark Hetzler – Trombone, John Stevens – Tuba
Music 4 Tubas (1974) Performed by four former students. Donald Deal and Griffin James – Euphoniums, John Bottomley and David Spies – Tubas. Whitewater native Griffin James is Stevens’s son-in-law; Don Deal, Griffin’s former high school band director, received his DMA in Trombone at UW-Madison. Deal’s son, Robert Wiley-Deal, is a current member of the tuba/euphonium ensemble.
Hodesanna (2012) The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. This work was composed in memory of former MM and DMA student Jeff Hodapp, who died of a heart attack at age 52 in 2009. The WBQ premiered the work in the fall of 2012.
Fanfare for a Friend (1991)
Five Dances (1988) Tylman Susato, composer; arr. John Stevens
Anna Magdalena Suite. J.S. Bach, composer, arr. John Stevens
Dances (1975) Performed by the Sotto Voce Quartet
A large tuba/euphonium ensemble made up of current group members and alumni, including Stevens’s older daughter Katie and son-in-law Griffin James). Stevens conducts a program of his own compositions and arrangements.
Distant Voices (David Sampson)
The Gershwins and Harold (J. Stevens)
The Brass Calendar (Peter Schickele)
Contrapunctus 1 (J.S. Bach)
Notes: This marks Stevens’s final on-campus concert with the WBQ .
Distant Voices is a 4-movement, contemporary work inspired by people who were big influences on the composer as a person and musician.
The Gershwins and Harold features 4 songs by the Gershwins (3 composed by George and one by Harold Arlen, but all lyrics by Ira). The “accompaniment” is arranged for brass quintet. Guest vocalist Abby Nichols is a leading lady of Madison’s musical theater scene and is Stevens’s younger daughter.
Stevens calls The Brass Calendar “a delightful trip through the 12 months of the year by America’s foremost composer/music humorist.”
About J.S. Bach’s Contrapunctus Stevens says, “I can think of no composer more appropriate to end my brass quintet career performing.”
Saturday April 19: Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble.
Notes: This brass chamber music extravaganza will feature several student brass ensembles, trumpets and horns.
Welcome to the New Year! We hope you enjoy the new look of Fanfare!, our news blog. We plan to feature more news and shorter announcements, allowing room for much more information. We hope you like it!
UW-Madison piano studio sponsors Young Pianists Competition for high school students
The piano department at UW-Madison invites entries for its “Piano Extravaganza” competition for talented high school pianists aged 15-19, Feb 28 through March 1. The three-day event will feature masterclasses and performance by graduate students and faculty members, including Prof. Christopher Taylor (Feb. 28, 8 pm, Mills Concert Hall) and Prof. Johannes Wallmann (workshop and concert, Sat., March 1, noon (Morphy Hall).
The UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza Competition was established to encourage emerging regional pianists to participate in a competition and attend masterclasses, workshops and performances hosted by UW faculty and students. This year’s Piano Extravaganza will feature piano works influenced by jazz and blues. Full details are available here.
Application materials must be received no later than 5:00 pm Friday, January 31, 2014. More information and the application can be downloaded here: Piano Extravaganza form
Hornist to spend a semester in Vienna
Amanda Fry, a junior hornist studying with Prof. Daniel Grabois, will soak up Viennese culture this spring as part of the IES Abroad (Institute for the International Education of Students) program, a Chicago-based organization that facilitates study abroad. While there, she will take classes in music theory and history, lessons with a prominent hornist, attend concerts and operas, and travel around Europe. Two previous School of Music students have previously participated in IES Abroad, flutist Elspeth Hayden and trumpeter Louis Menchaca. “The level of horn playing in the city is incredibly high, and I am going to soak up as many new ideas as I can during my semester abroad,” Fry says. “The Vienna Philharmonic hornists play a different kind of instrument known, not surprisingly, as the Vienna horn. This horn produces the distinctly sylvan sound associated with the music of Brahms and Mahler. My task is to learn how to make that sound. I can’t wait to plunge into this incredible experience!”
Voice grad student wins campuswide TA award
Jordan Wilson, a doctoral student in voice who studies with Prof. Mimmi Fulmer, has received the “Early Excellence in Teaching” award from UW-Madison. The $500 award “recognizes outstanding and inspirational performance on the part of TAs with fewer than four semesters of teaching experience.” Says Prof. Fulmer: “Jordan has been an outstanding TA for the voice program since fall 2012, when he began his DMA at UW-Madison. There was a surge of interest in the 143 voice class for non-majors for both spring and fall 2013, reflecting the reputation among students about Jordan’s teaching. The students from his class who have chosen to continue with individual voice lessons show high levels of motivation, comprehension of basic musical skills, and sensitivity to musical phrasing and interpretation.” Congratulations, Jordan!
Fischer and Lutes to celebrate the music of Franz Schubert with a “Shubertiade,” January 31
The husband-and-wife team of pianists Prof. Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes, emeritus professor of piano, have planned an all-Schubert program for January 31, 8 pm, using the stage of Mills Hall as a makeshift living room adorned with rugs, lamps and period furniture. The program will include songs, vocal ensembles, and instrumental works, featuring the Fantasie in F Minor for piano four-hands and the gorgeous piano trio Notturno. Fischer and Lutes will be joined by faculty members Mimmi Fulmer, Elizabeth Hagedorn, James Doing, Paul Rowe, and Parry Karp, as well as graduate students Jordan Wilson, Tom Leighton, and Sarah Richardson, and undergrad violinist Alice Bartsch.
Stephanie Jutt to perform concert of Spanish and Latin American music
This concert is part of a recording project of Latin American and Spanish masterpieces for flute and piano, works that Prof. Jutt researched during a 2010 sabbatical to Argentina. The recording will take place in New York next August with pianists Elena Abend of Venezuela, on faculty at UW-Milwaukee, and Pablo Zinger, a Grammy award-winning pianist and arranger from Uruguay. The project is funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).
Prof. Jutt is the co-founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, a summer chamber music festival in Wisconsin. Kasdorf graduated from UW-Madison in piano performance, studying with Prof. Christopher Taylor.
“Symphony Showcase” on Feb. 8 presents solo performances by School of Music concerto winners, as well as the premiere of Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra by composition winner Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova
We hope to see you at our special concert and reception honoring the winners of our annual Concerto Competition, which also will feature pianists Sung Ho Yang and Seungwha Baek, flutist Mi-li Chang, clarinetist Kai-Ju Ho, and violinist Madlen Breckbill. To read our recent post,click here.
Works on the program include Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto; Jacque Ibert’s Flute Concerto, movements 2 & 3; Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb Major and Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major (movement 1) as well as the first movement of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto.
The post-concert reception will include a cash bar and appetizers. Tickets are $10, and must be purchased in advance. You can buy them here (click “box office”).
The concert begins at 7 pm at Mills Concert Hall, in the Humanities Building. The reception will be in Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union, following the concert.
Trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth to offer a master class at the School of Music
Trumpeter Tine (pronounced “Tina”) Thing Helseth, in town in mid-February to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, will share her talents with School of Music students and the community in a master class on February 13, at 1:30 pm in Mills Concert Hall. Read more here.
The Norwegian native is a seasoned soloist with dozens of orchestral engagements under her belt from around the world. This eclectic musician is also a jazz trumpeter and leader of an all-female brass band.
The UW-Madison Piano Program announces a piano competition for emerging regional pianists, to be held at the School of Music, Feb. 28 to March 1, 2014. In addition to a competition, the event will include masterclasses, workshops and performances hosted by UW faculty and students. This year’s Piano Extravaganza will feature piano works influenced by jazz and blues.
Include your name and the tag #Piano Extravaganza in the subject line.
Technically poor recordings will be rejected. The submission should consist of an unedited recording of two contrasting works from different historical/style periods. Please label recording with your name and titles of compositions/composer/estimated timing.
Each pianist will submit an unedited recording of two memorized, contrasting pieces from different historical/style periods. Four judges will evaluate the recordings and choose 10 finalists. Competitors will be notified by e-mail and letter no later than February 14, 2014.
Each pianist will perform two memorized, contrasting works from different historical/style periods. Each contestant will be allotted a maximum of 10 minutes of performance time. The final round of the competition will be open to the public and take place on Saturday, March 1, 2014, 8:00 -11:00 a.m., at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, Morphy Recital Hall, during the UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza, (George Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St.) before a panel of four judges.
All finalists must provide two copies of the works to be performed at the competition finals. Photocopies are not acceptable.
The prizes will be presented at the end of Prof. Johannes Wallmann’s Jazz Improvisation Workshop, 12:00 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall. Winners of the competition will be invited to perform in a masterclass led by UW Piano Faculty. All students are invited to attend all Piano Extravaganza Events.
Contestants will be responsible for their own travel and food expenses.
All finalists are invited to attend all other Piano Extravaganza Events.
For more information, contact Sara Giusti at email@example.com.
UW School of Music Piano Faculty:
Collaborative Piano and Piano Pedagogy: Prof. Martha Fischer
Professor of Piano and Collaborative Piano: Prof. Jessica Johnson
Professor of Piano: Christopher Taylor
Director of Jazz Studies: Assistant Professor Johannes Wallmann
Professor of Piano, Director of Graduate Studies, Keyboard Area Chair: Prof. Todd Welbourne.
Join us for a post-concert reception at Tripp Commons! Seating limited: Tickets $10 per person. Buy them here.
Written by Nicole Tuma, graduate flutist and concert assistant, UW-Madison School of Music
For most UW-Madison students, winter break is a time for new beginnings. A time to put away that heavy textbook you’re so sick of lugging to the library and replacing it with another – hopefully lighter – one. A time to take one last glance at the comments your professor made on your term paper and start gathering your energies before researching the next. For pianists Sung Ho Yang and Seungwha Baek, flutist Mi-li Chang, clarinetist Kai-Ju Ho, and violinist Madlen Breckbill, however, this is not the case. These five School of Music students will be spending part of their break preparing for the “Symphony Showcase,” a concert that presents some of UW’s finest young musicians in solo performances with the UW Symphony Orchestra. For most, this process began over the summer, when they chose their repertoire for October’s Concerto Competition preliminaries.
On Saturday, February 8th, at 7 pm in Mills Concert Hall (note: this concert was originally scheduled for 8 pm) all five winners will be featured in performances with maestro James Smith with graduate conductor Kyle Knox and the UW Symphony Orchestra in an exciting evening of stylistically diverse concertos propelled by these students’ talent and energy. A sixth winner, composition undergraduate student Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova, will have her winning work, Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra, performed by the symphony and saxophone soloist Erika Anderson.
The concert is free and will be followed by a celebratory ticketed reception at Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union, featuring hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Tickets will be $10 per person. (Space will be limited! Reserve your spot early atthis site.)
For Kai-Ju Ho, a clarinetist from Taiwan, performing with the symphony will be a dream come true, she says. “I remember the first time I heard this concerto was on a recording when I was a freshman. I swore that one day I’d play it!”
Concertos, with their exhilarating combination of soloistic pyrotechnics and dedicated ensemble playing, are some of the jewels of the orchestral repertoire, and the opportunity to perform a concerto with an orchestra is an experience that musicians truly savor. For woodwind lovers, this year’s Symphony Showcase concert will be a real treat, as it will include two of the most popular woodwind concertos: Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto(1948) and Jacque Ibert’s Flute Concerto (1934). The Copland was written for and premiered by Benny Goodman and has an irrepressibly jazzy second movement, while the Ibert is a crowd-pleasing work that alternates dreamy, languid passages with a bubbly, lighthearted finale infused with Spanish dance rhythms and a hint of jazz. There will also be two piano concertos on February’s program, Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb Major(mid-1800s) and Sergei Prokofiev’sPiano Concerto No. 3 in C Major (1921). Both are technically brilliant works that marry their composers’ mature styles with youthful themes composed years earlier, when Liszt and Prokofiev were students. Finally, there will be a performance of the first movement of Samuel Barber’s beloved Violin Concerto, a lyrical masterpiece that violinists and audiences have loved since its 1941 premiere.
All five solo pieces are incredibly beautiful but incredibly difficult; how will these performers prepare? All are experienced in performing many kinds of repertoire, in solo recitals, small chamber groups, large bands and orchestras, even jazz combos, but all agree that preparing a concerto—another beast altogether – requires a distinct approach. In the first place, the sheer volume of sound needed to project over a large orchestra is daunting, compared with what’s needed to play with a single piano, according to Mi-li Chang, a doctoral candidate and UW Collins Fellow from Taiwan.
Merely playing louder isn’t enough to ensure that the soloist soars over the orchestra, however; clear musical ideas are needed as well. A cohesive performance happens only when the soloist, conductor, and orchestra hear the music in the same way, but there’s no time in rehearsal for a soloist to explain her thoughts. Therefore, says clarinetist Kai-Ju Ho, a fellow graduate of the Taipei National University of the Arts, she must perform so clearly and convincingly that the orchestra understands and can follow her interpretation.
Lastly, because of the sheer number of people and instruments in an orchestra–for this concert, about 85–and the vast array of pitches, sounds, and colors in a complicated piece of music, concerto soloists need to spend a great deal of time studying the full score, says Kai-Ju. They must know what’s happening in the orchestra at every moment in a piece so that he or she can adjust note lengths, volume, and phrasing to fit in with the orchestra’s sound.
For solo pianists, who more often perform unaccompanied, concertos pose a particular challenge. Instead of simply playing and hoping the orchestra will catch them, soloists need to actively collaborate with the orchestra , says SeungWha Baek, who is currently a doctoral student in collaborative piano and a member of the Perlman Trio, a student string trio funded by UW benefactor Kato Perlman. Brilliant technique is not enough: “This piece won’t happen without respecting [the] ensemble,” she says.
Preparing a concerto for performance requires a great deal of energy, which for these performers is not acquired in the practice room, but outside of it. And each has his or her own style. Madlen Breckbill, an undergraduate violinist from Madison, derives hers from interesting conversations, eating delicious food, seeing beautiful sights, and watching theater. Meanwhile, Kai-Ju enjoys cooking food from Taiwan and hiking in national parks (she has visited nine of them in the three years she’s been in the United States). “I like the peaceful moments and the amazing scenery,” she says. Mi-li spends time running or walking around Madison’s lakes, and Sung Ho, who formerly practiced piano eight hours a day, is now a member of the Hoofers Sailing Club and the UW cycling team. The extra hours once spent at the piano are now taken up reading scores, running and bicycling, windsurfing. He thinks all this has helped him to avoid injury. “My life has changed because of it. I lost twenty pounds; in every day, I feel more happiness.”
The students know they’ll forever treasure their time on stage as soloists with the UW Symphony; many musicians are never fortunate enough to experience it. And if the audience responds with smiles or tears, as happened once as Sung Ho rehearsed with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, the hard work of preparation is fully compensated.
About the Performers:
A native of Seoul, Korea, pianist SeungWha Baek is currently in the doctoral program in collaborative piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studies with Martha Fischer and is a teaching assistant. As of this fall, SuengWha is the pianist in the advanced student ensemble, the Perlman Trio, at UW-Madison.
Ms. Baek has a masters degree in accompaniment from Northern Illinois University where she studied with William Goldenberg and also received a certificate in performance. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music from SookMyung Women’s University in Seoul and a master’s in piano performance at the same university, where she studied with MiJeung Park. While at Northern Illinois University, she performed in many recitals for instrument and voice and served as accompanist for a production of “Little Women” with the NIU Opera Workshop. In 2007, SeungWha was a winner of the Northern Illinois University concerto competition and was an accompanist at the 2007 V.O.I.C. Experience program (led by Mr. Sherrill Milnes in Orlando, Florida) and the 2009 Quartet Program (directed by Charles Castleman at SUNY-Fridonia).
Pianist Sung Ho Yang was born in Seoul, Korea and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the School of Music with Christopher Taylor. Mr. Yang graduated from Sun-Hwa Arts School in Seoul and attended Seoul National University. In 2004, he transferred to New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with his professor, Wha Kyung Byun, and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as a graduate diploma, from NEC. Mr. Yang has performed in master classes for Russell Sherman, Klaus Hellwig, Sergei Dorensky, and Vladimir Feltsman. He has also attended the Contemporary Music Festival in New Paltz, New York: New Music Mannes at New York, and the International Summer Academy at the Mozarteum, Salzburg.
Sung Ho Yang has won top prizes at the Florestano Rossomandi International Competition in Italy and at the Johann Nepomuk Hummel International Piano Competition in Slovakia. He is also a winner of the Beethoven Piano Competition at the UW-Madison School of Music, sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain. In his native Korea, he won the Segye-Times Piano Competition and the Eum Youn Competition, and was sponsored by the Kum Ho Cultural Foundation for two solo recitals in Seoul in 2002 and 2003. As a concerto soloist, Mr. Yang debuted with the St. Petersburg Radio Symphony Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia, performing Liszt’s Totentanz and with the Slovak Philharmonic orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3. Mr. Yang’s repertoire ranges from Rachmaninoff’s Six Moments Musicaux to Boulez’s Second Piano Sonata, and includes all of Liszt’s piano concerti. Mr. Yang currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where he has joined the UW cycling team and the Hoofer Sailing Club.
Madlen Breckbill, a senior at UW Madison, began playing the violin at age four with Suzuki Strings of Madison. In her early years, Madlen participated in Sonora Strings of Madison, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, WYSO chamber ensembles and the WYSO Ambassadors. In middle school, Madlen studied with School of Music artist-in-residence and Pro Arte Quartet violinist Suzanne Beia; in high school she studied with Gene Purdue (now School of Music visiting assistant professor of violin). In 2011, Madlen attended the Madeline Island Music Camp, leading to an invitation to perform with her quartet at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. In the summer of 2012, Madlen and her quartet members were winners of the Meadowmount School of Music quartet competition. This past summer, Madlen served as concertmaster for the Kent/Blossom Music Festival chamber orchestra, under the baton of James Feddeck, for a performance at the Blossom Music Center, followed by a side-by-side performance with the Cleveland Orchestra.
At UW-Madison, Madlen performs with different chamber groups each year, including the Perlman Trio in spring 2013 for a performance of the Brahms Piano Quintet. Madlen studies with Pro Arte violinist David Perry and receives coachings and lessons from the many talented and kind music professors at UW-Madison.
Mili Chang is a doctoral student in flute performance and a Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellow, studying with Stephanie Jutt. She has won a number of competitions, including the Irving Shain Woodwind/Piano Duo Competition with pianist Kirstin Ihde in 2012 and the Taipei National University of the Arts Soloist Competition Concert in 2010 at Taipei, Taiwan. In Madison, Mili performs in many ensembles, including UW’s Collegium Musicum, the Helios Quintet and the UW orchestras. A committed music educator, Mili is a frequent coach with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra chamber program, and has coached band and orchestra sectionals and a wind quintet at Daan Junior High School in Taipei. A native of Taiwan, Mili holds a master’s degree from Taipei National University of the Arts and a bachelor’s from National Taiwan Normal University. Mili’s flute teachers have included Jinny Hwei-Jin Liu from the Manhattan School of Music and Li-Man Sung from the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Brussels.
Kai-Ju Ho is a native of Taipei, Taiwan and holds a bachelor’s degree from Taipei National University of the Arts in Taipei, Taiwan, where she studied with Wei-Leng Chen, principal clarinetist of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. She then received a master’s degree in clarinet performance from the University of Texas-Austin where she studied with Nathan Williams. She is now pursuing her doctoral degree in clarinet performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying with Linda Bartley.
Kai-Ju Ho is an avid performer in recital and solo appearances, orchestra playing and chamber music. She has received numerous awards, including first prize in the 2012 International Clarinet Association Young Artist competition, the 2007 Taiwan Clarinet Competition, and the 2006 Taipei Symphony Orchestra Young Artist concerto Competition. In 2010, Kai-Ju Ho joined the Chimei Philharmonic Orchestra and performed in China (Beijing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Guangzhou). In 2006, she was a member of the Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Kai-Ju Ho has played in many master classes, including those with Florent Heau, Lei Fan, Paul Meyer, Kenneth Grant, Hakan Rosengren and Mark Nuccio.
Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She began taking composition lessons from Natalia Karsh of the Composers Union of Saint Petersburg, but initially chose to focus on piano rather than pursuing a career in composition, receiving an associate degree in piano performance and pedagogy from St. Petersburg’s Mussorgsky College of Music in 2008. Her work received its first public performance at the college when her “Three Lilies” for soprano and piano was played as part of a final accompaniment exam. Daria moved to the United States in 2009 and began devoting more time to composition. In 2010 she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in composition at UW-Madison, studying with professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski.
Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra is Ms. Tennikova’s most recent composition, and her very first work for orchestra. She says, “I began thinking
about writing a piece for soloist and orchestra last spring. Originally I wanted it to be for a piano soloist, and I wrote the main theme with something “Russian” in mind. Later in the spring of 2013, I heard Erika Anderson play Anthony Caulkins’ saxophone piece at a concert. I was moved by her wonderful performance to write my piece for saxophone soloist. I wanted Erika to play it, so I asked her if she would be interested in collaborating and, being both a wonderful person and a great musician, she agreed to play without even hearing the music! I am very grateful to her for giving my piece a beautiful performance!”