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School of Music pioneers new course on Japanese music

November 21, 2017

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706

Scroll down to see a partial list of additional second-semester courses (including String Literature, West African Dance & Music, and Electro-Acoustic Ensemble) offered at the School of Music. 

An Exploration of Japanese Music, from Traditional to Avante-Garde

Having taught one year already at the School of Music, musicology instructor Matthew Richardson (Ph. D, Northwestern University, 2016) isn’t brand new here. But we’d like to introduce you to him nonetheless, especially as he’s developed an innovative class in Japanese music history musicology that is now open to enrollment.

“Music in Japan”   (Music 660-402, Music Cultures of the World: Asia) will offer students an overview of the stylistic and historical depth of music in Japan, including traditional genres like classical court culture, kabuki, and geisha performance, as well as modern J-pop, film music, and anime music. A major theme will be to position Japanese music culture within global trends from China, Korea, the US, and beyond.  The class will meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:55 to 10:45 in Room 2441, Humanities. For music majors, the class will fulfill a world music requirement. For non-majors, the class will fulfill a distribution requirement.

We asked Matt to tell us the story behind his interest in Japanese music.

I got into Japanese music in a sort of round-about way. I had studied Japanese as a hobby during a gap year before graduate school. After I started grad school, I was writing a paper on some German synthpop* and came across a Japanese group called Perfume. They put together a lot of retro synthpop sounds with the really pop-y choreography that’s popular in Japan, and once I started trying to figure out what to make of them it snowballed into a dissertation on Japanese pop. One thing that drew me to the subject was that a lot of groups like Perfume work on many levels at once. On the surface level, they’re just really fun synthpop, but when you dig deeper there are references to obscure synthpop from the ‘70s, and sometimes even when they’re performing on a TV commercial or something, they sort of poke fun at advertising while they’re advertising something. It manages to be really simple but really complex at the same time.

“Japanese pop music has a lot of influence from European and American pop music, but at the same time some music styles mean something different in Japan than they do in Europe and the US. In other words, what Japanese hear in Japanese music is different from what Americans often hear in Japanese music. And when Japanese fans listen to American music, it often means something different to them, too. One good example might be punk rock. In the US, that sort of sound is associated with rebellion and counterculture. But in Japan, a lot of artists use it as simply an energetic, youthful style without intending any of the political and meanings it has in the US.

“Since I wrote the original description I’ve added a unit on Japanese artists who tour in the US, and American artists who tour in Japan, talking about why they do or do not catch on. One of the issues we’ll look at is how a lot of the Japanese singers who do sound more ‘American’ (like Thelma Aoyama and Utada Hikaru) flop in the US because they sound too ‘normal,’  but really eccentric pop groups (like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or Babymetal) often go viral in the US and then only later catch on in Japan.

“There actually aren’t any musicologists that specialize in anime, that I know of. That part of the class will be reading a lot of general things on anime in Japan, and then spitballing some of my ideas about how those ideas apply to how music works in anime. One of the takeaways will be that anime is all about creating these big, sweeping fantasy worlds, and each series or studio usually grabs onto one kind of music that somehow fits with the fantasy, whether it’s jazz or synthesizer music.”


“Sorry, sometimes I forget how much jargon is floating around in my head! Synthpop is a term for pop music that’s mostly played with keyboards and synthesizers, especially when there’s a little bit of a disco-ish beat (like A-ha or Devo back in the 70s/80s).”

Learn more about “Music in Japan” and other music courses available this spring by checking the “Public Search” option at this website.

A smattering of other courses offered next spring include the following. (Please note: check with the instructor as not all classes are open to general students and auditors):

  • MUSIC 416: Survey of Music in the Twentieth Century with Professor Susan C. Cook
  • MUSIC 542: Choral Literature and Performance Practices of Today with Associate Director of Choral Conducting Bruce Gladstone
  • MUSIC 546: String Literature with Artist-in-Residence and Pro Arte Quartet Violinist Suzanne Beia
  • MUSIC 319: Topics in Music and Ethnicity in the United States (Delta Blues) with Professor Charles Dill
  • MUSIC 318: Cultural Cross Currents: West African Dance/Music in the Americas with Associate Professor of Dance Christopher Walker

and a variety of Special Topics courses (all MUSIC 497):

  • Opera Production with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Electro-Acoustic Ensemble with Associate Professor Daniel Grabois
  • Advanced Aural Skills: From the Conservatoire with Professor Marc Vallon
  • Marching Band Techniques with Assistant Director of Bands  Darin Olson
  • Acting for Singers with Assistant Professor David Ronis
  • Jazz Innovators: Armstrong, Ellington and Beyond with Adjunct Professor Matthew Endres
  • Music, Critical Pedagogy = Social Change with Associate Professor Teryl Dobbs

Our Full Concert Calendar


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. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..

You received this newsletter because you either signed up at or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.


Meet New Faculty: Timothy Hagen, flute

New to UW-Madison, Timothy Hagen, adjunct professor of flute, is an internationally acclaimed flutist, praised for his “technical virtuosity and musical sensitivity” (NewMusicBox).

With my friend and colleague, Brandon Rumsey, just before the premiere of Michael Mikulka’s Flute Concerto, written for me.

He has been a prizewinner at multiple major competitions, including the Myrna Brown Artist Competition, Australian International Flute Competition, and Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition. As a soloist, Dr. Hagen has appeared at New York’s 92nd Street Y and Lincoln Center in addition to multiple concerto performances with the Missouri Symphony. He was principal flute of the Missouri Symphony from 2009-2016 and has performed with orchestras across the country, including the Minnesota Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Eugene Symphony, and Dallas Wind Symphony. His experience as a chamber musician includes fellowships at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Atlantic Music Festival, and his compositions are performed by professional musicians throughout the United States.

Before joining the faculty at UW-Madison, Dr. Hagen taught at Oklahoma State University and the University of Texas at Austin, as well as in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lincoln Center Education, and Dallas Symphony. He holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts, in addition to a professional studies certificate from the Colburn School.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.

You are now a member of the Wingra Wind Quintet. What are some of your favorite works for wind quintet, and do you plan to program those pieces soon?

Performing with Wingra is one of the highlights of my job. Each of my four colleagues in the group is a superior musician, as well as a nice person, so everything we play together is a treat. That said, of the warhorses, I love Paul Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24, No. 2. I also love newer quintets by Jennifer Higdon and Andrea Clearfield, which we consider programming in 2018, along with Gyorgy Ligeti’s Ten Pieces (something of a classic by now), and John Harbison’s quintet. Right now, we’re giving our fabulous horn player (Joanna Schulz) a little break and playing Elliott Carter’s Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwind quartet. The music is not only excellently crafted, but it is also captivating and compelling. I’ve wanted to play it for years, and I’m fortunate that my first time is with Wingra.

You’ve composed many works for flute. What is the difference between writing more pedagogical works vs a concert piece?

When I’m composing, my primary focus is to create a work that is successful in expressing what it’s trying to express. That is true whether the work is pedagogical or for the stage. For teaching pieces, like my NarrEtudes (as in “narrated etudes,” each of which is a chapter of a story), I have to be very conscious of the level of student I am targeting. These pieces aim to teach expressivity at the same time young students are still developing technique, so I had to be careful to find the perfect level of technical difficulty—the Goldilocks spot, not too easy or too hard, but just right—to correspond to the expressive demands of the pieces.

To a degree, this is also true of concert works. If I am writing a piece for myself, the process is somewhat easier because I have a strong sense of my strengths and areas where I need to grow, so I will tend to write music that will capitalize on the former and stretch me in service of the latter. If I am writing a piece for someone else, then there tends to be an ongoing conversation about what they want while I am crafting the piece. Drafts get sent back and forth, and the process stays open. This is what happened on my latest piece, In a Yellow Wood for piccolo and piano, which was written for a consortium of students of the late, great Jack Wellbaum, former Solo Piccolo of the Cincinnati Symphony. The lead commissioner, Heather Verbeck, is a beautiful, sensitive player, and we became good friends through this project.

Sometimes, however, the two worlds come together: someone else commissions me AND I am left to my own devices. I was commissioned to write the required work for the Texas Flute Society’s 2017 Myrna Brown Artist Competition, and the contract had two requirements: the work had to use extended techniques (sounds beyond the traditional scope of flute tone), and it had to be sufficiently difficult to help the judges decide who should advance to the final round and ultimately win. This resulted in my piece Pop for solo flute, which was a ton of fun to write. It was the first piece I have ever composed where I was well aware during the process that it was possible, but it would take a LOT of practice to play (even for me, the composer). Because of this, I focused on making the piece fun and catchy, both for audiences and performers. Judging from the feedback after it was performed, I thankfully managed to get the balance right.

What do you offer to your students that is most unique – perhaps an aspect of teaching that came from one of your teachers?

I was fortunate in that my first teacher in college, Philip Dunigan at the North Carolina School of the Arts, was really from a different generation. He freelanced in New York City in the 1950s and 1960s, when you would go to Juilliard until you started getting enough work to quit school (which is exactly what he did, leaving without even a bachelor’s degree). In my lessons with him, he would hold up great musicians of the past as sonic role models, especially singers, like the phenomenal Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé, whose recordings I’ve recently come back to and whose voice was astonishingly beautiful. Dunigan would also strategically assign us copious amounts of listening. In my first year with him, he gave me Arthur Honegger’s solo flute piece Danse de la Chevre to learn, and with it came a list of Honegger’s other works to study, such as the orchestral tone poem Pacific 231, and the double concerto for flute and English horn. Absent from that list was the very piece I was learning, Danse de la Chevre, because his hope was for me to pick up on elements of Honegger’s style, not for me to simply copy professional flutists playing the same piece I was playing.

These two things I got first from Dunigan—sonic beauty and control and stylistic assimilation—came back in various guises through my other major flute teachers, especially Jim Walker and Marianne Gedigian. Walker would never, ever settle for anything less than my best sound all the time, and Gedigian has possibly the uncanniest ear for style of anyone I have ever met (and certainly of any flutist).

It’s no wonder that I view these same two things as the hallmarks of my teaching. Ask my students how much time we spend on sound in their lessons! (Answer: A LOT!) My philosophy is that for any musician to develop a voice worth listening to, they have to develop total control over their sound so that they have endless options to express what the composer is trying to express. This means doing a lot of listening—to singers, to violinists, to pianists, and occasionally, yes, to flutists—to build up huge sonic imaginations and a lot of practicing and experimenting to channel those imaginations through the flute.

As much as I have to say about sound, however, it, like all other aspects of musical execution, is subservient to style. I insist that my students spend a great deal of time researching, studying, and thinking about these aspects of music, because they determine how we proceed with everything else. Style is why the sound I use for Bach is different from the sound I use for Mozart, and why both are different from my sound for Brahms, for Varése, for Copland, and so on.

One final point I try to impart to my students that I learned from Jim Walker: being the best musician you can be is not a guarantee of success. There is nothing wrong with capitalizing on every skill you have. This mindset has not only led me to career success in areas outside playing and teaching the flute, such as community outreach, composing, and curriculum design, but it also has enriched my artistic life and my personal life.

What is one of your most memorable musical experiences? Most embarrassing?

One of my most magical memories comes from 2008, when my dear friend Greg Milliren (now associate principal flute of the Minnesota Orchestra) and I were each serving as co-principal flute in the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. Our gala concert that year featured the iconic film music of John Williams, conducted by the composer himself. The opportunity to play a whole program of this stunning music with wonderful friends and musicians, under Mr. Williams’ baton, was exciting beyond words.

As for embarrassing, I’d point to the 2006 Pasadena Showcase House Instrumental Competition, a major competition in Southern California. I had advanced to the final round and decided to up the stakes by playing some of my program from memory. Big risk sometimes equals big reward, but I fell hard that night. Even worse was learning after the fact that the jury anticipated that I would win after the semifinal round, when I did not play from memory. Needless to say, that did not happen. I am still mortified when I think about that experience. Memory does not equal artistry; and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Timothy Hagen will perform a recital on March 18, 2 PM in Mills Hall.

For information or a sample lesson, contact:

See Prof. Hagen’s personal website:

Meet New Faculty: Double bassist David Scholl

The bass section of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. L-R: Carl Davick, Zachary Betz, Robert Rickman, Mike Hennessy, David Scholl, Brian Melk, August Jirovec, and Jeff Takaki. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

Double bassist David Scholl, a native of Bellevue, Washington, is new to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently serves as principal bass of the Madison, Quad City, and Dubuque Symphonies; is a frequent substitute in the Elgin, Rockford, and South Bend Symphonies; and was once a member of the Illinois Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He’s performed as a guest artist on Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series, University of Chicago’s Contempo series, and with the Spektral Quartet. In addition to maintaining a bass studio, he is on faculty at UW-Madison’s Summer Clinic, and presents in public schools. David received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University, where he studied bass with Bruce Bransby.

Interview conducted by Kyle Johnson, a dissertator in piano performance.

Do you vary your approach to music change based on the style, genre, or setting?

To be honest, for the most part my overall approach does not change. As a bass player my role is often harmonic, so understanding the form and melody is important in any style. Depending on context I will vary my articulation or volume, but the fundamental concerns are the same across genres.

Tell us your most memorable and embarrassing musical moments.

Most memorable: While I was in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago we gave a conductorless performance of Beethoven 6. The concert was the brainchild of Yo Yo Ma, and it felt a lot like chamber music, we made a lot of our own musical decisions, and there was a heightened energy in the hall that one doesn’t experience everyday.

Most embarrassing: While playing out of tune or coming in at the wrong time is still embarrassing to this day, the memory that comes to mind is playing bass on “I Hope You Dance” with my high school’s all-girl choir. The music was not to my taste and the girls teased me about my floppy hair in all the rehearsals. I was painfully shy. Come to think of it, this may have been what pushed me into becoming a more strictly classical player.

What ensembles are you currently playing with and what upcoming performances can locals plan to attend?

I am principal bass of the Madison, Quad City, and Dubuque Symphonies. I also sub frequently with other ensembles such as Elgin, Rockford, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Locals can see me in most Madison Symphony concerts, also I am playing with WCO for its Nutcracker run in December. Additionally I am giving a solo recital in Morphy Hall on January 29th.

What it’s like to be in a “freeway orchestra” member (a musician who travels from city to city to perform)?

Some orchestras such as Milwaukee or Chicago give concerts every week and the musicians are employed full-time in one city, but for those of us that play in groups that perform less frequently, we have to travel around from town to town playing with many different groups to have a full schedule. Some musicians affectionately call it the “Freeway Philharmonic” as there is a substantial commute, and you will see many of the same faces in each group. Commuting takes a toll on us physically and mentally. The hardest aspect for me is the food: hotel rooms don’t have a kitchen and you will be lucky if it has a fridge, so there is a lot of eating out which is expensive and not the most health conscious. There are some real benefits to freelancing however. You have more freedom to pursue other projects, you get a variety of groups to perform with, and it a great way to get to know some other towns.

You’ve described Madison as “crunchy.” Define “crunchy.”

“Crunchy” is a term that comes from the type of health-conscious people who eat lots of granola, and the connotations that are associated with granola consumers, such as being environmentally conscious and having a more do-it-yourself lifestyle. Madison has a lot of great health food with all of its great restaurants, co-ops, and farmers markets; and with the thriving bike and artistic culture here the word seemed to fit. I meant it as a term of endearment, as I myself strive to be crunchier everyday.

David Scholl offers sample lessons to all college and pre-college string bass students.  Contact him at

On Monday, January 29, David Scholl will present a solo recital of works by Gliere, Faure, and Brahms. Morphy Hall, 8 PM.

Student Recitals – Alumni News – Steve Miller Jets In – Kudos for Recent Concerts – Hunt Quartet in Stoughton – EARS goes to the Science Festival

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706

Student Recitals November & December

Our calendar is brimming with free student recitals, and the public is always welcome. Just click our calendar link and type “recital” in the search box for November and December. Bottom: Poster for senior Eleni Katz’s bassoon recital with pianist Kangwoo Jin, Friday, November 3 at 6:30 PM in Morphy Hall.

Steve Miller jets into Mills Hall

Our recent “Careers in Music” session with rocker Steve Miller – who also guest conducted the UW Marching Band at the Homecoming game on October 21 – drew about 40 young engaged music students, a few old-timers, and a few young wannabe rock stars, too. Miller described his unique path to stardom – starting in his parents’ Milwaukee living room visiting with famed guitarist and family friend Les Paul – fielded questions about music streaming, and exhorted students to be independent and to own their own work.

Praise for performances

Recent productions of the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra, UW Strings with David Kim, University Opera’s “Kurt Weill” Cabaret, and the Pro Arte Quartet & Wingra Wind Quintet collaboration each garnered enthusiasm from local writers. Scroll down to read excerpts and click on full reviews.

New faculty conductor Chad Hutchinson makes an impressive and promising debut with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. “The ambitious program that Hutchinson put together says a lot about his priorities and instincts, and about his confidence in himself and the abilities of his student players, who performed superbly.”   Read the review in The Well-Tempered Ear, a classical music blog.

Hear the UW Symphony this Saturday, November 4, performing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

David Kim Bares His Heart and Soul (Musically and Otherwise). “The UW players exhibited tremendous alertness and shading of phrasing. Principal cellist James Waldo had numerous passages of delicate interplay with Kim, and particularly in the “Spring” concerto, first-chair first and second violinists Kaleigh Acord and Thalia Coombs respectively, also flourished in some brief spotlight moments.” We thank the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund for supporting Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim’s visit. Read the review in What Greg Says, a classical music blog.

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University Opera stages “compelling and engaging” production of Kurt Weill songs. “Throughout the evening I was unaware of the passage of time, which is one of my acid tests for a good performance. Likewise, I felt fully engaged.” Read the review on The Well-Tempered Ear.

Next up for University Opera, in February: Puccini’s La Bohème in the Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall.

Sarah Kendall in Le Train du Ciel from A KURT WEILL CABARET. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

The UW Pro Arte Quartet and Wingra Wind Quintet prove exceptional partners in a joint all-Schubert concert. They performed Schubert’s Octet with faculty bassist David Scholl.  Faculty flutist Timothy Hagen opened the program with variations for flute and piano, D. 802, on Schubert’s song, Trockne Blumen. Read the review on The Well-Tempered Ear.

Next Pro Arte Quartet concert: November 5, Noon, Chazen Museum.

See the Wingra Wind Quintet: November 5, 3 PM, Mills Hall.

Our Full Concert Calendar


Alumni News

J. Griffith Rollefson. Photograph by Kathleen Karn.

In alumni news, musicology PhD J. Griffith Rollefson saw his book, “Flip the Script,” published by the University of Chicago Press. He writes, “Hip hop is unique both in its directness and in the depth of its contradictions. We simultaneously laud hip hop as the ultimate politically conscious music and decry it as the most vapid commercial expression of materialism, sexism, homophobia, and violence. Something’s gotta give with this contradiction – and I think I offer some good, and potentially illuminating answers in the book.” Read our interview with Griff here.

Hunt Quartet to perform in Stoughton Opera House

The Hunt Quartet, UW-Madison’s graduate string quartet, performs nearly every week or more at area schools and venues. Next Monday, November 6,  see them at the Stoughton Opera House as part of their Music Appreciation Series. 3:00 PM.  The Hunt Quartet is funded by the School of Music and the Madison Symphony Orchestra as part of their “Up Close and Musical” outreach program.

The Hunt Quartet, 2017-2018. L-R: Kyle Price, cello.; Vinicius “Vinny” Sant’Ana, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Chang-En Lu, violin. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

Play a Theremin and a Moog Synthesizer at the Wisconsin Science Festival

Associate professor Daniel Grabois will make electro-magnetic waves this Friday from 6 to 8PM at the Discovery Building Atrium, 330 North Orchard Street, as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival. The new Electro-Acoustic Research Space, Room 2401, will also be open on Saturday, November 4 from 4PM to 5:30. Bring an instrument to play!

To read news coverage of the new EARS studio, check our Media page.

Below: Students experiment with a theremin at the inauguration of the EARS open house on September 15.

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. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..

You received this newsletter because you either signed up at or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

Violinist David Kim & UW-Madison Strings; Alumni News; Images from Concert Hall Construction; Brass Quintet embarks on Big Ten Tour

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
October 10, 2017

“From Prodigy to Professional – A Life in Music” Talk & Concert with David Kim

From oboist to organist, whether one performs pop or Prokofiev,  every musician has a story of an intricate and sometimes unsettling pathway to a professional career.

Violinist David Kim, who will visit the School of Music on October 16 and 17, is no different. Since 1999, Kim has been the concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

On October 17 at 7: 30 PM in Mills Hall, Kim will offer a talk, “From Prodigy to Professionalism – A Life in Music.” He’ll describe his experiences and struggles to reach the pinnacle of his career. interspersed with performances of some of Mr. Kim’s favorite works. It will be a humorous, sometimes jarring, and often poignant story not to be missed.

Kim’s talk will be followed by a concert with UW-Madison strings and pianist Thomas Kasdorf. The program will include Sonatensatz by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897); Banjo and Fiddle by William Kroll (1901-1980); Meditation from Thais by Jules Massenet (1842-1912); and The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741).

“I’ve always shared anecdotes about my crazy upbringing,”  Kim wrote in an email. “From the beginning, my story seemed to resonate, especially with parents. After all, who doesn’t have a story of an overzealous parent from some stage of life! Now I share my story numerous times each season and have been urged by many to write a book – a la the widely-read book, ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom.’ But that will probably never happen as I prefer speaking during my concerts and love seeing the audience react in person.”

Join us for our “Conversation & Concert” with David Kim, our strings players and pianist Thomas Kasdorf. Only $15  adults, $5 students, except Mead Witter music majors, who receive free admission. Buy tickets here. They will also be sold at the door, starting at 6:30 PM.

Additional Events:
Violin Master Class: Monday, October 16, 7 PM, Morphy Hall
Strings Orchestral Excerpts Master Class: Tuesday, October 17, 11 AM, Morphy Hall
Both classes are free and open to the public.

Learn more here:

Alumni Updates

Flutist Reunion was August 2017

L-R: Kathy (Cook) Moss (MM ’82, DMA ’91); Peggy Vagts (MM ’78); Cathy (Collinge) Herrera (MM ’84); Leslie Goldman Maaser (MM’85); and Wendy Mehne (DMA ’92).








A group of five flutists who studied under Robert Cole performed in August at the 45th Annual National Flute Association Convention held in Minneapolis. Peggy Vagts (MM ’78), Kathy (Cook) Moss (MM ’82, DMA ’91), Cathy (Collinge) Herrera (MM ’84), Leslie Goldman Maaser (MM’85) and Wendy Mehne (DMA ’92) played as part of the annual Flutopia Initiative-NFA “Play It Forward” charitable concert.

Educator John Kuehn just can’t retire

John Kuehn earned both his bachelor’s of music education in 1964 and master’s of music in 1972 at UW, studying with Glenn Bowen. He has taught instrumental music at every level from kindergarten through master’s degrees and loves it all. John retired in 2014, but was wooed back onto the stage.

Read more and view images at this link:

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. L-R: Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Mark Hetzler, trombone; Tom Curry, tuba; Daniel Grabois, horn; Alex Noppe, trumpet. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet on Tour

This month, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet embarks on a Big Ten Tour! If you live in Illinois, Michigan, or Indiana, you’ll have an opportunity to see the WBQ in concerts and master classes, starting Oct. 17. Additionally, at selected locations, trombonist Mark Hetzler will offer lectures & demos on electroacoustic music, and hornist Daniel Grabois will present horn technique master classes. They’ll return for a final concert in Madison on Nov. 15.

Learn more here:

VIEW: The Hamel Music Center Under Construction, March – October 2017

Our Full Concert Calendar


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. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..

You received this newsletter because you either signed up at or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

University Opera turns to music and theater of the mid-20th century with A KURT WEILL CABARET

September 27, 2017


Katherine Esposito 263-5615
David Ronis

This fall, University Opera takes a short break from strictly operatic offerings as it turns to the music of Kurt Weill (1900-1950). A KURT WEILL CABARET, a pastiche of 21 solos and ensembles from Weill’s many diverse works, will be presented at Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus on October 27 at 7:30pm, October 29 at 3:00pm and October 31 at 7:30pm. University Opera Director David Ronis will direct the show. Chad Hutchinson, adjunct professor of orchestras, will conduct. Musical preparation will be by UW-Madison vocal coach, Daniel Fung.

Born in Germany, Weill achieved early fame through works created in partnership with the playwright Berthold Brecht, most notably, Die Dreigroschen Oper (The Threepenny Opera) and Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny). Forced into exile by the rise of Hitler in 1933, Weill spent a few years in Paris before eventually moving to New York. In the United States, he found success on Broadway through collaborations with such lyricists as Ira Gershwin, Langston Hughes, and Ogden Nash on such shows as Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, and the opera Street Scene. Several roles in these productions were premiered by his wife, Lotte Lenya, the singing actress who championed his works even after their divorce and his death.

Kurt Weill image courtesy German Federal Archive.

A KURT WEILL CABARET is a unique production, assembled by Ronis, that contains no one dramatic through-line. Instead, the pieces that comprise the evening, taken out of their usual context, are juxtaposed so as to create multiple mini-narratives. There are no set characters; relationships develop and dissolve as the evening progresses. The show is organized into three sections, each highlighting themes of Weill’s oeuvre. The first of these works its way through a series of dysfunctional yet comic relationships between men and women. The metaphor of travel underscores the second section, which explores themes of longing, disappointment, and finally hope. The characters involved are tough and world weary – their hopes and aspirations often dashed by swift doses of reality. Nevertheless, there is a sense that all is not lost and redemption is possible. The third and final portion of the show returns to lighter fare that affirms that true love and happiness is possible, especially when there’s ice cream involved!

The musical numbers of A KURT WEILL CABARET, sung in English, German, and French, include “The Saga of Jenny,” “Surabaya Johnny,” I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” “Whiskey Bar/Alabama Song,” “J’attends un navire,” “Foolish Heart,” “Youkali,” “Denn wie man sich bettet,” “A Rhyme for Angela,” “It Never Was You,” and “My Ship.”

The cast features one guest artist, Alec Brown, and twelve UW-Madison students: Matthew Chastain, Jake Elfner, Tim Emery, Talia Engstrom, Eliav Goldman, Courtney Kayser, Sarah Kendall, Miranda Kettlewell, Jeffrey Larson, Lauren Shafer, Emily Vandenberg, and Emily Weaver.

The production will be designed by Greg Silver with lighting by Aimee Hanyzewski. Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park will be the costume designers, Laura Meinders the props designer, and the production stage manager will be Shelly Sarauer. Others on the production staff include Thomas Kasdorf, rehearsal pianist; Courtney Kayser, operations manager for University Opera; and Ethan White, lighting board operator.

Following each performance of A KURT WEILL CABARET, audience members will be given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the performance during talk-back sessions with the cast and members of the artistic staff.

Tickets are $25.00 for the general public, $20.00 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 the UW box office. 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 the Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

Click here for parking information.

University Opera is a cultural service of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose mission is to provide comprehensive operatic training and performance opportunities for our students and operatic programming to the community. For more information, please contact Or visit the School of Music’s web site at

Our Full Concert Calendar


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. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor.

You received this newsletter because you either signed up at or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

Concert News: Christopher Taylor offers Beethoven, Corigliano & more–Fourth Brass Fest just around the corner

Upcoming Concerts at the Mead Witter School of Music

For the full calendar (many more events) please see

PIANIST CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR: Saturday, September 23, 8 PM, Mills Hall

On the program:
Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato
Beethoven’s Symphony #7 (arr. Liszt)
Schubert’s Moments Musicaux
Rachmaninoff’s Moments Musicaux

Christopher Taylor’s conceptual program features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, arranged by Franz Liszt. Over 175 years later, NYC-based composer John Corigliano would use Beethoven’s 7th to inspire his Fantasia on an Ostinato.

On the second half of the program, Taylor will feature two takes on the title “Moments Musicaux”: first, Schubert’s version, published in the last year of his life (1828), then he’ll perform Rachmaninoff’s version from the start of his career.

Tickets: $15 adults, $5 non-School of Music students and children. Ticket information here.

BRASS FEST IV: Concerts & master classes, Saturday, September 30 & Sunday, October 1, Mills Hall & classrooms

We invite students of all ages to discover the brass quintet genre and its myriad of musical styles, and offer a chance for young brass players to meet and mingle with other like-minded musicians.

This year’s guests will be the Beaumont Brass Quintet from Michigan State University. They, along with our own fabulous Wisconsin Brass Quintet, will perform a concert on Saturday, September 30 at 8 pm, featuring arrangements (such as a Bach Partita arranged for brass by our own trombone professor, Mark Hetzler) and original brass works. Those will include “Music for Lighthorses” by David Biedenbender; “Quintet for Brass” by Andrew Duncan; and “Night-Shining White” by Zhou Tian. Cost: Free.

On Sunday, October 1, 2:30 PM, our concert will include both quintets and top college students. There will also be a reception afterwards, for all in attendance. On the program: Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” for brass and percussion. Cost: $15 adults, $5 students (MWSOM students free). Ticket information here. 

Download the full program here

For specific master class rooms & times, see posted hallway signs.

Sponsored by


Past Brass Fest guests have included tubist Oystein Baadsvik from Norway, trumpeter Adam Rapa with vocalist Elizabeth Vik, the youthful Axiom Brass from Chicago and the internationally-known Stockholm Chamber Brass on their first United States tour.

Listen to “A Little Russian Circus,” movement 1, composed by Anthony DiLorenzo, performed by Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, and college students at Brass Fest III.

See you in Humanities!

Our Full Concert Calendar


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. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor.

You received this newsletter because you either signed up at or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.