Breaking News: Mead Witter Foundation gives $25 million to School of Music

(A lot of) News and Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – December 4, 2015
Gift spurs re-naming of the music school

“Though none of our family studied music at the UW, a fondness for music unites us,” says George W. Mead II, chairman of the foundation. “Everyone needs music. It is an inspiration point for all areas of creativity and learning. This is a way to recognize the connection we’ve enjoyed with the UW and to project that connection into the future.”

The gift will provide major funding for the UW School of Music’s new performance building, sited at the corner of University Avenue and Lake Street and scheduled to begin construction in late 2016. In appreciation of the gift, UW-Madison will name its music school the Mead Witter School of Music, and the large concert hall within the performance building will be known as the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall.

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The music performance center had its beginnings in 2007 when Pam & George Hamel of California pledged $15 million toward Phase I of the project, and in 2014, the UW announced it would name the new building the Hamel Music Center. Read full news release here.


Holiday Notes: Concert Tickets make great gifts! Scroll down to view a list of upcoming concerts, ranging from Fischer & Lutes in January (our third Schubertiade) to a week’s worth of jazz with LA-based saxophonist Bob Sheppard in April.


Student News: Meet Kyle Price, UW-Madison cellist with a grand idea for his boyhood summer home
Kyle Price
Kyle Price

It all started with an idea for summer fun, in the midst of a verdant paradise, at a family home he’d visited every year since he was a wee toddler. Now he was a 19-year-old cellist who wanted his college friends to hang out and play music at his grandma’s lake house. They could play string quartets practically in their sleep. Why not invite a few neighbors to hear them?

Want to read the full story? Click here to read on the School of Music website.


Raves for debut concert of new violin professor, Soh-Hyun Park Altino

“If a perfect debut concert exists, new UW-Madison faculty violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino gave it last Friday night,” wrote local writer Jake Stockinger in his blog, The Well-Tempered Ear. 

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On Nov. 13, Altino teamed with faculty pianist Martha Fischer to present a concert of Bach, Brahms, Ives and Beach. It was on the same night as the Paris attacks, and Altino dedicated a movement of Bach to the residents of Paris. “Let’s start by saying that Park Altino is a complete violinist and has everything: pitch, tone, speed, depth and stage presence. But hers is the quiet and self-effacing kind of virtuosity. There were no show-off works by Paganini or Sarasate on the program,” Stockinger continued.  “It must be also be said that Park Altino had the perfect partner in Martha Fischer, who heads the collaborative piano program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.”

You can read Jake’s full post here.

And you can hear Altino and Fischer perform a Brahms sonata here.


 

‘Tis the season for student ensemble concerts!

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This weekend and next week: Upcoming concerts include the UW-Madison/Madison Schools Jazz Fest (Sat. Dec. 5); Winter Choral Concerts, UW Concert Band & University Bands, and UW Chamber Orchestra, (Sun. Dec 6); Western Percussion Ensemble (Mon Dec 7); UW Wind Ensemble featuring clarinetist Wes Warnhoff, (Fri. Dec. 11); World Percussion Ensemble & UW Choral Union with the UW Symphony; and the UW Horn Choir  (Sat. Dec. 12). Meanwhile, the Wingra Wind Quintet performs on Thurs. Dec. 10. Check our calendar for details.

 

Alumni, Students & Faculty sing in Milwaukee Thanksgiving Concert

On Nov. 22, the Milwaukee ensemble Present Music held its annual Thanksgiving concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, featuring numerous singers from UW-Madison including Chelsie Propst (doctoral student, musicology; MM, voice); Christina Kay (MM, voice); Dan O’Day (DMA, voice), Lee Stovall (BM, music ed/voice) plus voice professor Paul Rowe and Cheryl Bensman-Rowe of the Madison Early Music Festival. “The solo voice of Chelsie Propst, a member of the PM vocal ensemble Hearing Voices, was the highlight of Robert Honstein’s O Lucidissima Apostolorum Turba, a reimagined setting of a 12th-century chant by Hildegard Von Bingen,” the reviewer wrote.

Read the review in Milwaukee Magazine.


Happy Holidays from Us to You!

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May we offer suggestions for holiday gifts: Tickets to concerts at the School of Music! Are you a fan of jazz, of Schubert, of classical piano, or perhaps of world music? Here’s our list of upcoming ticketed concerts. Remember: all students and children are free to these concerts!

Buy tickets through the Union Theater Box Office; click here for a general link.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, MILLS HALL. 8 PM. Choral Union and UW Symphony Orchestra. Presenting “Gloria” of Francis Poulenc and “Symphony of Psalms” by Igor Stravinsky. Tickets: $15 general public, $8 students and seniors.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, MILLS HALL. 8 PM. Our 3rd “Schubertiade,” with Prof. Martha Fischer & husband Bill Lutes on piano, alumna soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine, and friends & students. Tickets $15. Reception to follow.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, MILLS HALL, 7:30 PM. “Symphony Showcase,” a joyous annual concert featuring winners of our concerto competition, soloing with the UW Symphony Orchestra. Tickets $10. Reception to follow.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, MILLS HALL, 8 PM. Pianist Christopher Taylor in solo recital. Tickets $15.

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 7:30 PM, MORPHY HALL: duoJalal brings its mix of classical, Middle Eastern, jazz and Klezmer music to Madison. With Kathryn Lockwood on viola and Yousif Sheronick on percussion. Tickets $15.

FRIDAY-TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 13, 15, MUSIC HALL. University Opera stages Transformations (Conrad Susa/Anne Sexton). Tickets $25/$20/$10.

APRIL 26-29, MILLS & MORPHY HALLS: UW Jazz Festival with Bob Sheppard, LA-based multi-woodwind performer, recording artist, and jazz musician. Adult Tickets: $15 single show/$25 both Thursday and Friday shows.


Alumni News:

Filippo Santoro, Sean Greene. Read about them here.


The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August.


Personalize your calendar view! Click on the “view as” link on the right of our calendar page.

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A summer lark that led to something bigger: Meet UW-Madison cellist Kyle Price

By Katherine Esposito

It all started with an idea for summer fun, in the midst of a verdant paradise, at a family home he’d visited every year since he was a wee toddler. Now he was a 19-year-old cellist who wanted his college friends to hang out and play music at his grandma’s lake house. They could play string quartets practically in their sleep. Why not invite a few neighbors to hear them?

Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.
Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

Paradise was tiny Caroga Lake, New York, a 54-square mile town in the lower Adirondacks that is home to 1,200 permanent residents and booms to 4,000 every summer.  In 2012, the cellist, Kyle Price, asked a group of friends from undergrad at the Cleveland Institute of Music to join him, and they wound up performing Bach and Mendelssohn as an opener for the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Lake Performing Arts Center as well as at two other venues. Not bad for a first stab at a music party.

Kyle dubbed the event the Caroga Lake Music Festival, and an annual tradition was born. In 2015, in its fourth year, the Caroga Lake Music Festival offered four weeks of free concerts at venues ranging from Fulton-­‐Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, the Canada Lake Marina (on floating barges), several churches, a nursing home, on a farm and in New York City.

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Kyle, now a master’s student and Collins Fellow at UW-Madison, studying with professor Uri Vardi, plans a fifth festival for 2016 and has even bigger ideas: he is cultivating support to evolve it into a year-round arts center located on the site of Sherman’s, a long-shuttered amusement park. He’s created an official nonprofit, the Caroga Arts Collective, and established a board of directors sprinkled with names from big companies like L.L. Bean, Borden Dairy and two law firms – all people with summer homes in the area.

Somehow he’s doing this around a full-time schedule as a music student. “It’s tough,” he says, with a laugh. “Recently, I’ve been needing to go back there to present things, meaning I miss class here, but the teachers have been great.” His classes mostly include performance-based classes such as chamber orchestra with conductor James Smith and chamber ensembles with professor Parry Karp, but he’s also enrolled in Jazz Improvisation with saxophone professor Les Thimmig.

It was the Internet that got him hooked on Madison.

Price, who is originally from Columbus, Ohio, knew nothing about the university until he watched a YouTube video about the National Summer Cello Institute, an intensive week-long camp for cellists organized by professor of cello. The camp has been held at UW-Madison since 2010 and offers classes that explore connections between body awareness, musical expression, and injury prevention.  “I was literally sitting with my cello in front of my computer in a practice room, and I came across a video that linked to the NSCI,” he says. “There was this funky word, Feldenkrais, and  a video of Uri explaining Feldenkrais and how it relates to performance. And I decided, I totally have to go to this. It was my main priority, cello-wise, for the summer.” (Feldenkrais is a technique that helps people to increase ease and range of motion.)

By the time he graduated, he also had decided that he wanted to apply for a master’s degree at the UW-Madison School of Music, a behemoth compared to the 350-student Cleveland Institute of Music. “I didn’t know much more about the school, but Uri was someone I wanted to study with.” He’s been impressed with the city and the university. “It was amazing, meeting all these undergrads – some are double or triple majors. Everyone is so smart and the faculty is amazing.”

Of Vardi, Kyle says: “It’s been fantastic. He’s pretty brilliant. He tries to get you out of your habits, so you have options to work with, then you can expand your palette. His teaching goes way beyond the cello in a lot of ways. It made a big impact on my life, and on playing the cello.”

Prof. Vardi has similar praise for Kyle. “He’s a mensch,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye. “He has a good heart and appreciates beauty. He wants to improve life for society. And he’s one of the most musical students I’ve ever worked with.”

All of these, he said, are why Vardi nominated Kyle for the Collins Fellowship, a full graduate scholarship funded by longtime School of Music supporter Paul Collins.

His intuition was accurate.  In 2015, Kyle was a winner in the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition and a finalist in the G. Gershwin International Music Competition. After graduation next spring, he plans to devote himself full-time to growing the Caroga festival, plus freelancing and composing music.

Kyle has high hopes for the future of the festival, now an annual tradition that has captivated those who live in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys of central New York state. It may have begun as a lark, but it’s brought deep pleasure to the small community. “We have a mix of audience: the experienced ones who’ve been to Saratoga and New York City, and people who are completely brand new and who are experiencing classical, jazz, even alternative music for the very first time,” he says.

People like Jim Hinkle, from Johnstown,  who in 2014 penned a letter to editors of the Leader Herald, a local newspaper.  Wrote Hinkle: “My knowledge of music is extremely limited. But now I am hooked on this concert series. It took some time for me to figure out whom they they talking about when they correctly pronounced Debussy. It’s not De Bu Sea like I had been taught. There are still play dates left. I urge you to not watch television but go to the free concert, sit in back and if the music is not right for you, leave during the applause. It’s OK. Please give it a chance, as I did.”