Category Archives: Classical

Take your pick: School of Music overflowing all April with beautiful noise

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

For this issue, we’ve prepared a special e-blast of selected final concerts at the School of Music. Many more, including student recitals and small ensemble concerts, can be found on our events calendar.

We hope you will make time to attend at least one!  (Click links to read musician biographies and learn about concert programs.)

The Perlman Trio holds its annual recital

Saturday, April 8, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall. Free event.
The trio, comprised of Chan Mi Jean, piano; Adam Dorn, violin; and Micah Cheng, cello, is sponsored by longtime donor Kato Perlman. The ensemble is chosen carefully to blend personalities and styles, and each spring concert is a treat for audiences. This year’s trio will present works of Haydn, Dvorak, and Brahms. There will be a reception after the concert.

The 2016-2017 Perlman Trio: Micah Cheng, viola; Chan Mi Jean, piano; and Adam Dorn, violin. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

32nd Annual Beethoven Piano Competition winners recital

2017 Beethoven Competition winners Kangwoo Jin, Leah Kang, and Alberto Peña-Cortes. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

Sunday, April 9, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall. Free event.
This long-running event is sponsored by former UW-Madison chancellor Irving Shain. The 2017 winners are Kangwoo Jin, Leah Kang, and Alberto Peña-Cortes. The program will include Beethoven’s Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”) (Kangwoo Jin); the Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 (Leah Kang); and the Sonata in A Major, Op. 101 (Alberto Peña-Cortes).


UW Symphony Orchestra Farewell Concert with Conductor James Smith

James Smith rehearses the UW Symphony for its final concert with him as conductor. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

Sunday, April 9, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. Free event.

Professor James Smith, conductor of the UW Symphony and University Opera, came to UW-Madison in 1984 to conduct the Wind and Symphonic Ensembles and assumed orchestral conducting duties following the departure of David Becker. He has also served as longtime conductor of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra and will retire from that post as well.
Smith was a professional clarinetist prior to becoming a conductor.


The Hunt Quartet presents a spring concert

The Hunt Quartet, 2016-2017. L-R: Kyle Price, cello.; Vinicius “Vinny” Sant’Ana, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Chang-En Lu, violin. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

Tuesday, April 11, 8:30 PM, Morphy Hall. Free event.
The Hunt Quartet is the graduate string quartet at the School of Music, co-sponsored by Kato Perlman and the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The Quartet is an integral part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s “Up Close and Musical” program, visiting area schools to teach students about fundamentals of music and the string quartet. This year’s members are Kyle Price, cello; Vinicius “Vinny” Sant’Ana, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; and Chang-En Lu, violin.


Stephanie Jutt: Final Faculty Recital

Stephanie Jutt. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

Thursday, April 13, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. Free event.

Flutist Stephanie Jutt bids farewell after 27 years
While at UW-Madison, Professor Stephanie Jutt founded Bach Dancing & Dynamite, a summer chamber music festival; UW-Madison’s Arts Venture Challenge; and shepherded many flutists through undergraduate and graduate work. She plans to continue as principal flutist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and as artistic director of Bach Dancing & Dynamite.


Emery Stephens: African-American Songs and Spirituals

(Rescheduled from March 13)
Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 PM, Music Hall.  Free event.
Emery Stephens, baritone, is assistant professor of voice at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Stephens will coach student singers and pianists in African-American songs and spirituals. Students will perform in a recital with Stephens and collaborative pianist professor Martha Fischer in a concert.


Pro Arte Quartet with guest artist Jazimina Macneil, mezzo-soprano

Wednesday, April 19, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall. Free event.

The Pro Arte’s  final concert of the academic year will feature a rising star singer and a world premiere by composer John Harbison.

String Quartet in E Major, Op. 54 No. 3 (1788)
Joseph Haydn

The Cross of Snow for Contralto and String Quartet (2016)
John Harbison
World Premiere of Version for Voice and String Quartet

String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 16 (1874)
Antonín Dvořák


Annual Varsity Band Concerts with Mike Leckrone

Mike Leckrone at the Cotton Bowl, January 2017. Photograph by Gary Smith.

April 20, 21 and 22, Kohl Center, 601 Dayton Street. All shows 7 PM. $23. Buy tickets.
Help us welcome Mike Leckrone back from his recent surgery! Learn more here.


UW Wind Ensemble

Scott Teeple, conductor.
Wednesday, April 26, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.   Free event.

Scott Teeple. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

The Wind Ensemble offers a Wisconsin premiere of a work by Japanese composer Jun Nagao, and the Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble by Igor Stravinsky with Christopher Taylor on piano.

Guest bassist Linda Oh performs with Jazz Orchestra and UW High School Honors Jazz Band

Friday, April 28, 8 PM, Music Hall.

$15 adults/$5 students. Buy tickets online; also sold at door.
Additional events Tuesday -Thursday in Morphy Hall; click here for more information.
Johannes Wallmann, director

Our annual spring Jazz Fest features talented high school jazz musicians, who rehearse with the UW Jazz Orchestra and a guest. This year, our guest is bassist Linda Oh from New York City, who is featured on the cover of April’s Jazz Times magazine. Oh has played with many top musicians; she’ll appear with Pat Metheny at Ravinia on June 14. The week’s events include two free concerts and a ticketed concert on Friday night.

 


UW Concert Choir with cellist Matt Haimovitz

Friday, April 28, 8 PM, Mills Hall.

$15 adults/$5 students. Buy tickets online; also sold at door.

Presenting “Après moi, le deluge” by composer Luna Pearl Woolf
and “for Paris,” a world premiere for solo viola and choir by UW-Madison composer Laura Schwendinger.

With the Concert Choir and Sally Chisholm, violist of the Pro Arte Quartet.

Beverly Taylor, conductor

“Ferociously talented” (New York Times) cellist Matt Haimovitz, known for his renditions of the Bach Cello Suites as well as Radiohead, will return to Madison on April 28 to perform a work that he premiered here 11 years ago with the UW Concert Choir, one of UW-Madison’s most advanced choirs.

Read full news release here.

Watch: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O’Riley: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, 2015


UW Choral Union & UW Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, April 29 (8 PM) and Sunday, April 30 (7:30 PM), Mills Hall.

$15 adults/$8 students. Buy tickets online; also sold at door.

Beverly Taylor, conductor

Presenting Paul Hindemith’s When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d (text by Walt Whitman).

A rarely done work because of its difficulty, this is an outstanding setting of Walt Whitman’s poem written about the death of Abraham Lincoln, and the train that carried his body to Springfield, Illinois. The work was commissioned by Robert Shaw in memory of Franklin Roosevelt, whose funeral train carried his dead body from Georgia back to Washington. The work is in memory of “those we loved.”

Below: The New York Philharmonic performed this work in 1946.


Our Full Concert Calendar

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.


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

“Symphony Showcase” concerto winners Feb 12; UW Opera Announces Spring Show; Schwendinger’s “Artemisia” Premieres in NYC

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music – February 2, 2017

For Valentine’s Day: “Love Story, Steinway Version”

A treasured 1927 Steinway Baby Grand Piano, Model M, finds a new home at the Mead Witter School of Music. Click to read the story and view images behind the School’s newest donation, inspired by love.

mom_dadcrop


“Symphony Showcase” Concerto winners recital returns to delight and thrill

Watching a young musician solo on stage is always a treat, and every year we’re happy to show you some of our most talented, many already professionals. Please join us on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 PM in Mills Hall to hear and congratulate our students. Adult tickets are $10; children and all students are free. Tickets will be sold at the door. New this year: A reception at the University Club following the concert. The reception is included in the ticket price.

L-R: Shuk-Ki Wong; Matthew Lee; Anna Polum; Matthew Onstad; Biffa Kwok. Photograph by Hannah Olson.
L-R: Shuk-Ki Wong; Matthew Lee; Anna Polum; Matthew Onstad; Biffa Kwok. Not pictured: Nathan Froebe, composer. Photograph by Hannah Olson.

2016-2017 winners are:

  • Violinist Shing Fung (Biffa) Kwok, a doctoral student of Prof. David Perry and recipient of a Collins Fellowship. He will perform Tzigane by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Biffa is from Hong Kong.
  • Violinist Matthew Lee is an undergraduate senior, graduate of the Madison Memorial High School and alumnus of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. Matthew studies with Prof. Soh-Hyun Altino. He will perform the cadenza from the Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, opus 77 of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).
  • Trumpeter Matthew Onstad, a native of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Matt is a master’s student of Prof. John Aley. He’ll perform the Trumpet Concerto in F Minor, Op. 18 by Oskar Böhme (1870-1938). Read about Matt in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen: Beaver Dam native soars as trumpet player in Madison.
  • Soprano Anna Polum will sing “Amour, ranime mon courage,” written by Charles Gounod (1818-1893) for his opera adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Anna studies with Professor James Doing and hails from Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Pianist Shuk-Ki Wong, will perform the first movement of the Piano Concerto in G Major by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Shuk-ki studies with Professors Jessica Johnson and Christopher Taylor.
  • Composer Nathan Froebe, a doctoral student of Prof. Laura Schwendinger. The orchestra will perform the premiere of his Portrait d’une Femme, written for his friend and colleague, mezzo-soprano Jessica Kasinski.

University Opera to stage Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” in March

Fresh from winning two major awards in the 2015-16 National Opera Association Competition, University Opera will present Benjamin Britten’s gothic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, to round out its season.  In this, Britten’s last chamber opera, based on the Henry James novella of the same title, terror takes unexpected forms.  Premiered in 1954, The Turn of the Screw tells of a young governess who is hired to care for two children in an isolated country house in late 19th century England.  She soon realizes that the children are haunted by secrets and spirits that harm them in very real ways and she takes it upon herself to defend them.  In so doing, she is forced to confront the demons she perceives as threats, as well as her own internal ones.

Benjamin Britten in the mid-1960s (photograph by Hans Wild).
Benjamin Britten in the mid-1960s (photograph by Hans Wild).

The Turn of the Screw will be presented in English for three performances, all with projected supertitles.  March 3 at 7:30 PM, March 5 at 3:00 PM, and March 7 at 7:30 PM at Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus.  David Ronis, inaugural Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera, will direct and graduate conducting assistant Kyle Knox will conduct the 13-member chamber orchestra.  Musical preparation will be by University Opera’s new vocal coach, Daniel Fung.

Click to read full news release.

Schwendinger opera “Artemisia” receives New York premiere

Next performance: Spring 2018, in San Francisco with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

On January 7, UW-Madison composer Laura Schwendinger unveiled Artemisia, a major new opera, at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City as part of its Time’s Arrow Festival.  The opera is a story of passion, betrayal and art in 17th century Italy based on the life of Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. With a libretto by Ginger Strand, author of The Brothers Vonnegut, Artemisia is a recipient of a National Opera Center Discovery grant.

Real-life drama: Schwendinger’s “Artemisia” opera will premiere in New York City: Isthmus, 1.5.17

Preview in Broadway World, 1.7.17

Click to watch video of Artemisia’s premiere


Selected upcoming concerts and events:

Pro Arte Quartet, Saturday, Feb 4. With guest pianist Jee-Won Oh.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet, Final concert with retiring trumpeter John Aley, Sunday, Feb 26

Student Recitals: All semester.

Music Master Classes: Opportunities to observe guest musicians as they instruct and engage with college students.

Our Full Concert Calendar

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.


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

Two More Opera Awards; Jazz Program Highlighted; Student Spotlight; Opportunities for Community Members

Happy New Year from the Mead Witter School of Music! And welcome to the first issue of A Tempo! for 2017

Two More Awards for UW-Madison University Opera

University Opera scores again with national recognition

Awards for two shows in 2015-2016

UW-Madison’s University Opera is on a roll. Both shows from last year, Transformations and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, have won awards in the National Opera Association’s (NOA) Opera Production Competition for 2015-2016. It is the second year in a row that UW-Madison has garnered an award from NOA, and the first time that each production was separately recognized. University Opera produces only two operas each year.

William Ottow and Rebecca Buechel in Transformations. Image by Michael R. Anderson.
William Ottow and Rebecca Buechel in Transformations. Image by Michael R. Anderson.

October 2015’s Le nozze di Figaro, with orchestra conducted by James Smith, placed second in Division IV, and March 2016’s Transformations, conducted by graduate assistant conductor Kyle Knox, garnered a first place award in Division III.

Both productions were directed by David Ronis, inaugural Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, who is now a six-time winner of the competition. His previous awards occurred while he worked at Queens College in New York.

Read the full news release.

UW-Madison Jazz Program highlighted- twice!

In December, Madison’s weekly newspaper Isthmus devoted a cover story to our burgeoning jazz program and its director, Johannes Wallmann

“By bringing more jazz to the university and beyond, Wallmann hopes to promote the notion that jazz isn’t just about the past, with its storied history and legendary names. It’s now also about highly trained musicians pushing the boundaries of the genre,” wrote author Jane Burns in her story, “Making a Scene.”

“ ‘Look up any end-of-the-year Top 10 list on NPR, Downbeat or The New York Times, and listen to what this generation of 20- and 30-somethings are up to, it’ll blow your mind,’ ” Wallmann says. “ ‘We want to prepare our students to be part of that.’ ”

…meanwhile, Wisconsin Public TV spotlights the jazz program as part of its “Young Performers” Initiative

For over a year, a dedicated crew from WPT – including alumna Megan Aley, who served as a producer – filmed Wallmann and his staff as they shepherded high school students through auditions for the UW High School Honors Jazz Band. The videos are intended to help aspiring musicians prepare for professional careers and college auditions.

New videos from Making Jazz web series will be released each Monday through Feb. 6. Learn more about the Young Performers Initiative and sign up for weekly releases of the jazz videos.

Meet our students: Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo, bassoonist

Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo came from the country of Colombia to study bassoon performance with Marc Vallon, professor of bassoon.  We asked her how she became involved in music, with the bassoon, and why she chose Wisconsin.

Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo
Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo

“I did my undergrad in music performance in the University El Bosque in Bogotá. I studied with Leonardo Guevara, the principal bassoonist of the National Symphony Orchestra. I learned very much while at school and I was able to play with many chamber ensembles when I was still in school. My first job as a bassoonist was in the Symphonic Band of Cundinamarca, and I worked there for a year during my last year of school. It was challenging, but I learned very much from this experience.

“In 2010, I received a master’s in bassoon performance with Saxton Rose at the University of North Carolina-School of the Arts. As I started to look into going back to school, I talked him, and he recommended that I applied to study with Marc Vallon at UW-Madison. I think it is one of the best decisions I have made in my life!”

Read Juliana’s story here, and click the arrow to learn about more of our students.

Two Community Opportunities – Deadlines Included

Sing with Choral Union this spring! Drop-in auditions will be held on January 18 for community members interested in singing a rare work: Paul Hindemith’s When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d. A rarely done work because of its difficulty, this is an outstanding setting of Walt Whitman’s poem written about the death of Abraham Lincoln, and the train that carried his body to Springfield, Illinois.  The work was commissioned by Robert Shaw in memory of Franklin Roosevelt, whose funeral train carried his dead body from Georgia back to Washington.  The work is in memory of “those we loved.”  Two concerts, April 29 & 30. Learn more here. 

Inviting high school pianists to take part in Pathways to Artistry: From the Practice Room to the Stage. A free, day-long event featuring workshops, masterclasses and performances hosted by UW-Madison’s keyboard faculty. High school pianists are encouraged to participate in the master classes and an honors recital.  More information and registration is at the link below. The deadline to register is January 31.

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/pathways-to-artistry-uw-madison-keyboard-day/

pathways-to-artistry-graphic

Two Concerts – Seats Available

Sunday, January 22, 4 PM, Mills Hall

Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Violinist Soh-Hyun Altino and pianist Christopher Taylor, both faculty artists, perform the Sonata for Violin and Piano by John Corigliano (1963) and the Sonata in A Major by Gabriel Fauré (1875-76). Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for non-UW music students.  Learn more here.

Sunday, January 29, 3 PM, Mills Hall

Our Annual Schubertiade: “Circle of Friends”

This year’s Schubertiade with pianists Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes will feature acclaimed alumna soprano Emily Birsan.  The concert will be followed by a reception (included in the ticket cost) at the University Club. Tickets are $15 per adult and $5 for non-UW music students. The concert is sponsored by Madison resident Ann Boyer, an admirer of Franz Schubert’s music and the musical talents of Fischer and Lutes. Learn more here.

Emily Birsan
Emily Birsan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alumni News

We want to hear from you- please click the link to read about our graduates and send your news!

Our Full Concert Calendar

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.


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

Christopher Taylor to Debut New Piano

From the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September 13, 2016

In a marriage of the Baroque and the modern, celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor will debut his much-anticipated new electronic double-keyboard piano this October 28, performing J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”

The “Variations” is an 80-minute work once dubbed a “Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture” that Bach wrote for a double-keyboard harpsichord.

Not by coincidence, Taylor will play Bach’s “Rubik’s cube” on a brand-new piano that could be described in much the same way.

Named the “Hyperpiano” by Taylor, it is actually three instruments – two of them ordinary concert grands, the third a special double-keyboard console designed by Taylor – connected by a riot of sensors and wires, with a mechanism that feels nearly normal for the performer but offers sonic possibilities that are unique.

Click here to view images of the “Hyperpiano” in development at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery “fab lab”

Taylor developed the piano over several years in a laboratory at the Morgridge Institutes for Research, assisted by many faculty and technicians who trained him to machine new parts using computers and guided him as he designed 60-odd circuit boards that make the instrument run. In addition, Taylor wrote several thousand lines of computer code that manage sensing and communications. In 2014, Taylor received United States patent # 8,664,497 B2 for the “Hyperpiano.”

Taylor entering the "fab lab" at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
Taylor entering the “fab lab” at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

His inspiration to develop it came from another unusual instrument that he inherited shortly after coming to UW-Madison in 2000, a double-keyboard piano made by Steinway in 1929.

Johann Sebastian Bach was known as a composer who welcomed new concepts in musical instruments. Accordingly, Taylor says, Bach designed the Goldberg Variations for the most deluxe instrument of his day, a double-keyboard harpsichord with a four-and-a-half octave range. Today, musicians often perform the work on a regular piano, but must generally “resort to tricks, compromises, fudging or outright studio chicanery to play all the notes as Bach wrote them,” as writer Tom Huizenga wrote in his blog, “Deceptive Cadence.”

The Hyperpiano will allow Taylor to overcome those obstacles. “I can recreate effects more like what Bach imagined, even while producing at the same time completely novel musical results,” Taylor says.

Taylor was a bronze medal winner in the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, at which he performed the Goldberg Variations, among other works, on a standard single-keyboard Steinway. He also holds a degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

The concert will take place on Friday, October 28, at 8 PM in Mills Hall, Humanities, 455 North Park Street. There will be one intermission.

Tickets for adults are $18; for students, $5. They may be purchased at Campus Arts Ticketing or in person at the Memorial Union Box Office.

Patrons are advised to arrive early. Seating is general admission.

Mills Hall seats 700, of which 100 seats will be reserved on a first-call basis for music students, staff and faculty.


Christopher Taylor’s “Hyperpiano” Creates New Musical Possibilities

By Michael Muckian

“I would never be content as a pianist to play the same half-dozen pieces the same way year in and year out,” Taylor explained. “In piano literature, we have a vast array of great compositions, but we are always questing for new variety.”

Christopher Taylor grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where his father taught physics at the University of Colorado and his mother was a high school English instructor. The family owned a piano and Taylor initially was taught to play by a neighbor down the street.

The casual lessons didn’t last long; by age 10, the young pianist was playing Beethoven. By high school he was composing music.

While music was his first love, Taylor also proved gifted in mathematics, a field that seemed to offer a more stable career path. The young pianist chose to follow that thread, graduating summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard University in 1992.

During those same years, Taylor also studied piano under Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he began to attract the attention of the East Coast classical music community. In 1990, at the end of his sophomore year, Taylor won the University of Maryland’s William Kapell International Piano Competition, and later that same year made his performance debut in Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

However, Taylor’s watershed moment came in 1993 at the age of 23, when he earned a bronze medal at the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, for his performances of works by Beethoven, Boulez and Brahms, as well as Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” now a standard part of his repertoire. For the young mathematician-slash-pianist, the competition win sealed his fate.

Christopher Taylor performing in Mills Hall, Feb. 2015. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.
Christopher Taylor performing in Mills Hall, Feb. 2015. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

“I had sat on the fence between music and mathematics for many years, but the bronze medal made the decision for me,” Taylor said. But while his musical career had become ascendant, he kept up his math and computer studies. “I didn’t want to put the other parts of my brain on ice.”

The newly minted concert pianist, who would go on to earn critical accolades such as “frighteningly talented” (The New York Times) and “a great pianist” (The Los Angeles Times), knew that his mathematics training went far to inform and support his music.

Both disciplines draw on similar mental skill sets, Taylor explained, noting that hours of piano practice can provide the necessary rigor to solve a complex mathematical proof.

“Music performance is more visceral than math, but when I’m performing I am definitely using the logical part of my brain,” he added. “Mentally understanding a piece of music is essential to surviving a performance.”


Following the Van Cliburn competition win, Taylor became a touring musician. His new wife wanted to pursue her doctorate in musicology at the University of Michigan, so the couple moved to Ann Arbor while Taylor spent weeks on the road playing several dozen concerts per year across the U.S. and in Europe.

Life on the road proved strenuous for the young pianist, who became known for his intense, sweat-soaked, highly physical performances. Eventually, Taylor decided he might want to teach. When the University of Wisconsin offered Taylor a faculty position in 2000, his family moved to Madison.

At UW-Madison, Taylor came across a prototype that would prove the foundation for his new invention. And he can credit a little known Hungarian composer for the introduction.

Emánuel Moór, who during his life composed five operas, eight symphonies and other orchestral works, is best remembered today as the inventor of the Moór Pianoforte, a double-keyboard instrument that attempted to replicate the benefits of the harpsichord and organ in the piano format. It boasted a two-tiered keyboard, but space within the cabinet allowed for only 76 keys on the top tier instead of the usual 88. The layout of the 164 keys allowed one hand to stretch across a range of over two octaves at once, creating a richer and fuller sound.

Watch a video of Taylor describing his plan for a new piano.

Moór was a professional colleague of composer Maurice Ravel and cellist Pablo Casals, both of whom championed his work, including his pianoforte. Despite such celebrity support, many musicians considered Moór’s instrument more of a novelty and found it difficult, if not impossible, to play.

European manufacturers produced about 60 pianofortes during the 1920s, including one made in 1929 in Hamburg, Germany, by Steinway. Until very recently, that particular instrument occupied a corner of Taylor’s cramped office in the Mosse Humanities Building.

The Moór pianoforte found its way to UW-Madison after Danish pianist Gunnar Johansen became the university’s artist in residence in 1939. Enthralled with the strange instrument, Johansen lobbied university donors until they broke down and bought it for him on the condition that its ownership revert to the university upon the pianist’s death.

By the time Johansen died in 1991, interest in the pianoforte had waned. It lay in storage for 14 years until Taylor rediscovered it in 2005. He performed on the pianoforte in dozens of concerts across the country, eventually getting a feel for the instrument and gaining notoriety for his performances. In 2007, the New York Times interviewed Taylor and created a video about the piano. In 2010, while he was in Washington, D.C. for a performance, the Kennedy Center created its own version.

“It’s clever as a musical contrivance, but it’s a little unwieldy and feels strange under your fingers,” Taylor said, noting that corresponding keys on both keyboards end up striking the same string. “You have to work very hard to play the keys because of the Rube Goldberg mechanism that connects them with the hammers.”

Around 2009, having studied the levers, rods, and platforms lurking inside the Moór piano, Taylor decided there might be a better way, a way that would take advantage of 21st-century technology. He began to draw up blueprints, discussed his ideas with a number of experts, and eventually received a grant from the UW Arts Institute to pursue them further. In early 2012 he approached George Petry, a prototyping manager at the Morgridge Institute for Research, to talk about his idea, an idea that much later would be named the “Hyperpiano.” Petry thought Taylor was nuts.

“I thought Chris was crazy because I knew this was going to be so much work,” Petry said. “I have a lot of students coming in who have never built anything before who say they want to build a space shuttle. I thought this was Chris’s space shuttle.”

But Petry gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt, and also a corner in the Morgridge Institute’s Advanced Fabrication Laboratory – better known as the “fab lab” — inside the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building on University Avenue, a home where engineers and inventors collaborate to build prototypes of their ideas. And Petry started to teach Taylor how to use all the computer-operated machines.

Another important teacher was Giri Venkataramanan, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who served as a high-level consultant to the project. “His motivation was sky-high and it sounded like he knew what he was doing,” Venkataramanan said.


At first blush, the Hyperpiano’s double-keyboard console – what Taylor calls the “input device” – looks like a contemporary upright piano that is thicker in girth than normal. It features a two-tiered keyboard with 176 keys total along with five pedals. Hidden inside the cabinet, behind the keys, are two sets of standard mass-produced piano hammers.

But that is where similarities to a regular piano end. There are no strings for these hammers to strike, and Taylor admits that their only function is to mimic the feel of playing a normal single-keyboard piano. In fact, in the absence of strings Taylor had to create special foam bars for the hammers to strike, designed to replicate an ordinary instrument’s behavior but create as little “banging” noise as possible.

“Even building a conventional piano that works is a very difficult process in itself,” says Robert Hohf, a professional piano technician who aided Taylor. “The keyboard orientation and the alignment of parts is unbelievably complicated.”

And with the Hyperpiano, the complications only increased.

Designing an instrument that contains twice the normal number of keys and twice as many hammers, aligning everything inside a single wooden frame, took a massive amount of re-engineering, Taylor says. Each of the 176 keys in the Hyperpiano has a unique shape that had to be specially carved by a router, which got its directions from multiple computer programs written by Taylor.

To actually make music, the double-keyboard console contains electronic sensors that read the movement of the keys during each stroke, then send coded electronic impulses via wires to two player-piano mechanisms called “Vorsetzers.” (First developed in the early twentieth century, Vorsetzers were mechanical key-pressing contraptions that could be attached to the keyboards of ordinary pianos.) The Vorsetzers are affixed to any pair of pianos one has handy, which, in theory, could be some distance away. Thus the motions of the pianist’s fingers on one part of the stage are transmitted instantaneously to produce music emanating from two other parts of the stage.


Taylor plays Prokofiev

Timing everything so that the music would sound like music—not a jangle of disparate noises – was another hurdle Taylor had to surmount. Taylor’s new technology solves that problem: it senses a fraction of a millimeter of motion as soon as a key is pressed. The sensors immediately send the data to the Vorsetzers, which move the corresponding key the same amount at exactly the same time.

“It involved a lot of software jujitsu to make this happen,” he said. But in the end, “everything is choreographed to deliver the final notes in real time,” he explained.


The Hyperpiano could afford some novel performance opportunities, says Taylor: “For starters, it will be capable of everything the Moór piano can produce: far-flung chords beyond the grasp of ordinary human hands on ordinary pianos, intricate counterpoint where the hands mingle in the same register (effects that would cause impossible traffic jams on a single keyboard), and, with the aid of an extra fourth pedal, sonorities reinforced by extra tones one octave higher than the keys the pianist is actually pressing.

“But it will offer customized behaviors beyond these,” he continues. “The ability to reinforce the pianist’s keypresses with any number of additional notes, so that the motion of a single finger produces an elaborate harmony; novel hybrid sonorities obtained by combining different pedaling patterns on the two subsidiary pianos; repeated notes faster than what ordinary pianos permit; and the interesting spatial effects that will result when the two subsidiary pianos get rolled to different parts of the stage.”

Taylor is eager to produce new arrangements and compositions that take advantage of these musical novelties. “I’m in discussions with a number of composers about the possibility of their contributing to a new chapter in the piano literature,” he says.

With the end of the project in sight, the pianist says he’s pleased with the outcome of his years of work, even as he adjusts to new variations in sound and performance.

“I’m delighted to find that the final product is matching my initial vision pretty closely,” Taylor says. “There is still some tweaking that needs to take place — software refinements mostly — in order to ensure that as a pianist I have the level of musical control that I need. This work may prove challenging, but as in the past I am very determined to overcome the remaining obstacles.”

Venkataramanan agrees and also is thinking ahead to the piano’s next iteration.

Scientists, unfortunately, are never satisfied.

“As a problem-solving exercise, this has been pretty impressive,” the engineering professor says. “But he still runs wires between his keyboards. The next phase would be to do this on a wireless basis and using Cloud technology.”

 

Mr. Taylor is eager to acknowledge the invaluable help he received from a large number of collaborators over the past five years. Apart from piano technician Robert Hohf, machinist George Petry, and EE Professor Giri Venkataramanan, these individuals include: Rock Mackie and Kevin Eliceiri, the former and current directors of the Morgridge Institute for Research, who were amazingly welcoming hosts during his four-plus years in the Fab Lab; UW-Madison piano technician Baoli Liu; Justin Anderson at WARF and Callie Bell of Bell Manning LLC, who shepherded the patent application process; Kevin Earley, who built the wooden housing for the input console; Convenience Electronics of Madison (in particular Betsy Vanden Wymelenberg), who custom assembled the instrument’s many wires and cables; Calvin Cherry, Nate Hess, Brian Urso, and Ryan Solberg, whom Taylor employed to solder together circuit boards and who contributed greatly to his EE education; UW-Madison’s Bill Sethares, along with Terence O’Laughlin and Alberto Rodriguez of Madison College, who put Taylor in contact with the aforementioned companies and employees; and the UW Arts Institute, former chancellor John Wiley, and Paul Collins, who provided moral as well as financial support.

 

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.


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

38th Karp Family Concert; Music Hall shines with new paint; Brass Fest 3 opens up to area high schools

Scroll down to read about our 38th Karp Family Concert, Brass Fest 3 including audio of the Stockholm Chamber Brass, new pages on our website, and alumni news!
For a full calendar of events, see
http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/
August 30, 2016
Welcome to the beginning of a new year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, and our first issue of A Tempo!
painters
Over the summer, the interior of Music Hall was spruced up with fresh paint. What a welcome improvement! The hall is used by University Opera as well as percussion and jazz groups. Many thanks to UW-Madison painters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what happened over the summer:

  • Music Hall, the home of University Opera and many percussion and jazz concerts, was repainted. It looks terrific.
  • Our school was renamed, thanks to the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids, who contributed $25 million to the new concert hall.
  • We remodeled the display cases in Mills Hall lobby. They now  contain stunning images of our students, taken by photographers Michael R. Anderson and Bryce Richter.

We bade farewell to faculty members Richard Davis, Stephen Dembski, and Janet Jensen. And we added faculty. Please help us welcome Leo Altino, classical bass instructor; Nick Moran, jazz bass instructor; Louka Patenaude, jazz guitar instructor; Eric Siereveld, jazz trumpet instructor; Aaron Hill, oboe;  Amy McCann, clarinet; Gino Deluca, Wisconsin Singers artistic director; Daniel Fung, vocal coach; Jeanette Thompson, voice; and Matthew Richardson, musicology. Learn about them on our faculty page.

On tap for early fall….

The 38th Annual Karp Family Labor Day concert Monday, Sept. 5, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.  This annual treat will feature a tribute to the late UW-Madison pianist Howard Karp, commissioned from composer Joel Hoffman by Howard’s son, Christopher. Free concert.

Brass Fest3 Poster2016_HO

BRASS FEST III with Stockholm Chamber Brass, making their first United States tour. One of Europe’s greatest quintets, SCB will perform a solo concert on Friday, Sept. 30 and will be joined on Saturday, Oct. 1 by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and selected college and area high school students in a “Festival Brass Concert.”  Both concerts will begin at 8 PM and are ticketed. Our third BRASS FEST will also feature displays from Wisconsin vendors of musical instruments and sheet music , T-shirts featuring our brand new logo, and a reception!

Concert, Fri,  Sept. 30, 8 PM, Mills Hall: The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Ticketed: $20 adults; $5 students & children.    Buy tickets here.

Concert Sat, Oct. 1, 8 PM, Mills Hall: Festival Concert with the Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and college/high school students. Meet the musicians at a free reception following the concert. Ticketed: $15 adults; $5 students & children. Buy tickets here.

Hear Stockholm Chamber Brass perform one of the works to be played on September 30: Malcolm Arnold’s “Brass Quintet”:

Introducing our “Meet the Students” webpage

Here’s where newcomers to the School of Music can learn about the varied and fascinating people who call themselves students in our school. It’s not a page for awards (find that here) nor a page for graduates (that is here) but a place where ongoing students describe who they are and why they have chosen to study music. Let them tell us in their own words!

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On Sept. 25, doctoral candidate Sarah Richardson will premiere a song cycle of letters from Nellie Kedzie Jones, a Wisconsin farm woman. Click the image to learn more.

Bookmark it! http://www.music.wisc.edu/student-profiles/


Alumni News: 

William Rhoads, Kimberly Dunn Adams, Merrin Guice, Christina Kay, Paul Bhasin, Matthew Mireles, Claire Hellweg.

 

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.


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

Third UW-Madison Brass Fest to feature renowned Stockholm Chamber Brass – Sept. 30 & Oct. 1

BRASS, BRASS AND MORE BRASS – With No. 3, UW-Madison cements a tradition as a Brass Hub of the Midwest

On September 30 and October 1, the newly renamed Mead Witter School of Music will welcome the internationally acclaimed Stockholm Chamber Brass to campus for a third annual Brass Fest.  The quintet’s tour of upstate New York, Michigan and Wisconsin will be their first-ever appearances in the United States.

The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.
The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.

Brass Fest III will also mark the first time that high school students will play an active role, attending master classes and performing on stage in a final Festival Brass Concert. Area high schools planning to attend include Middleton, Madison East, Madison West, Edgewood, and Memorial.

A number of major instrument makers and music companies, many located in Wisconsin, will also be on hand to display their wares.

The events will include a concert with Stockholm Chamber Brass on Friday, September, 30, at 8 PM, and a second concert on October 1, with the Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, UW-Madison student performers and selected high school students.

Brass-Fest-III-social-media

Tickets: $20 for Friday’s concert ($5.00 non-music students); $15 for Saturday’s concert ($5.00 non-music students). Buy tickets here or at the door.

“We are expanding the festival because our mission is to perform and to teach,” says Daniel Grabois, assistant professor of horn and member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. “We are motivated by the Wisconsin Idea, and we are making every effort to bring what we do to the population of the state. There are many students in the state who play brass instruments, and we want to include them in our educational mission. We also want to build on the successes of the past two years – many people enthusiastically attended the festival, and we want to make it better, more exciting, and more inclusive.”

Buy a commemorative limited edition t-shirt, and support the School of Music! For more information, send an email to t-shirt sales.

Stockholm Chamber Brass, formed in 1985, consists of some of Scandinavia’s leading brass musicians. Its five members are all prize winners at major international solo competitions, including the ARD-Wettbewerb, CIEM Geneve, Markneukrichen and Toulon. Their international breakthrough came in 1988 when Stockholm Chamber Brass won 1st Prize at “Ville de Narbonne,” the most prestigious international competition for brass quintets.

Stockholm Chamber Brass has performed at Bad Kissingen Sommer, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Niedesächsische Musiktage, International de Musique Sion Valais, the Prague Spring Music Festival, the Budapest International Music Festival, Festival Internacional de Santander, the Soundstream Festival in Toronto, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Umeå International Chamber Music Festival and the Stockholm New Music Festival. The ensemble has also performed at various brass festivals, including the Lieksa Brass Week, the International Trombone Festival in Helsinki, the Melbourne International Festival of Brass, Epsival Limoge and the Blekinge International Brass Academy.

Stockholm Chamber Brass has received glowing reviews for its CDs. A reviewer at American Record Guide writes, “I cannot imagine that a better brass quintet has ever existed.”

The ensemble’s repertoire consists mostly of original compositions and their own arrangements of older and contemporary music. Their interest in new music has resulted in over thirty compositions written specifically for the ensemble. Stockholm Chamber Brass has worked with a long list of leading composers, including Anders Hillborg, Sven-David Sandström, Pär Mårtensson, Britta Byström, Henrik Strindberg Piers Hellawell and Eino Tamberg. The ensemble has also collaborated with leading brass soloists Håkan Hardenberger and Christian Lindberg.

The current members of the Stockholm Chamber Brass are Urban Agnas, trumpet; Tom Poulson, trumpet; Jonas Bylund, trombone; Annamia Larsson, horn; and Sami Al Fakir, tuba.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, formed in 1972,  is one of three faculty chamber ensembles in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music. Deeply committed to the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, the group travels widely to offer its concerts and educational services to students and the public in all corners of the state.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet includes John Aley, trumpet; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Mark Hetzler, trombone; Tom Curry, tuba; and Daniel Grabois, horn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Concerts: UW Choral Union, UW Symphony, Jazz; Jewish Archive; and more!

April 18, 2016
Greetings from the School of Music!  We’re overflowing with concerts the next two weeks; here are just a few highlights. Click here to see the entire calendar.
Choral Union presents Joseph Haydn’s “The Creation”

Beverly Taylor, conductor

Mills Hall, Sunday, April 24, 3:30 PM

Poster design by Tonka Raycheva

Haydn’s “The Creation,” written between 1797 and 1798, is considered one of the great masterworks of western music and civilization.  It has beautiful and exciting choral writing, demanding, intricate and soaring solos, and some of the most inventive orchestral writing of its time, both in the opening depiction of Chaos—the pre-creation state, and in the pictorial writing about animals, water, and light, all at their beginning stages.  Part I depicts the stages of creation, Part II a celebration of that creation, and Part III the new love between Adam and Eve.

“The Creation” debuted in London and was sung in English.  Our production uses the Robert Shaw version of the English text, which clears up some of the original strange grammar which resulted from the Haydn’s libretto going through a German translation and back to English. The libretto mixes Biblical language with new language for the soloists.

Our soloists include alumna Jamie-Rose Guarrine, as angels Gabriel and Eve; Voice Professor James Doing as angel Uriel; alumnus  Benjamin Schultz as angel Raphael; and current student Benjamin Li as Adam.

Tickets: $15 general public, $8 students. Buy online here or in person at the Memorial Union Box Office or at the door.

UW Symphony Orchestra with Guest Conductor Andreas Stoehr

Mills Hall, Friday, April 22, 8:00 PM- Free concert

Andreas Stoehr rehearses the UW Symphony Orchestra. Photograph by Hannah Olson.
Andreas Stoehr rehearses the UW Symphony Orchestra. Photograph by Hannah Olson.

Vienna native Andreas Stoehr will lead the university orchestra in performances of Overture to Der Freischütz (Carl Maria von Weber), Wesendonck Lieder (Richard Wagner), and Symphony No. 6 (Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). With soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn.

“At first glance our program appears to be a nice bouquet of romantic pieces, but as I believe that music and philosophy share the same spiritual source, one can see that each composer tries to answer the main question: ‘Where is the exit from the burden of life?’ ” says Prof. Stoehr.

“Carl Maria von Weber’s answer: ‘There is God, there is hope, therefore good wins over evil.’ Wagner leads us to ‘unbewusst, höchste Lust’ (unaware, sublime desire; the last lines of Tristan and Isolde ) expressing his belief in uncontrollable, germinating power of love. The poetry by Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner’s muse, reflects their profound, but impossible relationship and inspired him to Tristan and Isolde as his unique philosophy of escaping the world through an idealized love. Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ Symphony No. 6  does not try at all to answer the question. We sense in his music his personal struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness. Like the most famous literary works of his time by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece comes to us as a drama, but without words. When life is over – it’s over.”

Hear Andreas Stoehr on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Midday” with Norman Gilliland, noon on Wednesday, April 20.

Jazz Week with LA saxophonist Bob Sheppard

Nine area high schools to participate in final concert

April 26, 28, 29 – Various times and locations

The Jazz Studies program, led by Professor Johannes Wallmann, will present a weeklong residency with LA-based Bob Sheppard, worldwide multi-woodwind performer, recording artist, and jazz musician.

Bob Sheppard. Photograph by Suzuki K.
Bob Sheppard. Photograph by Suzuki K.

The three-day event includes master classes and two concerts. It will feature the UW Jazz Ensembles, the UW Jazz Orchestra, the UW High School Honors Jazz Band, and the Johannes Wallmann Quartet.  The 2016 Honors Jazz Band, directed by UW Director of Jazz Studies Johannes Wallmann and co-conductor Eric Siereveld, is a twenty-member big band that includes top jazz students from Edgewood, James Madison Memorial, Madison East, Madison West, Middleton, New Glarus, Portage, Sun Prairie, and Waunakee High Schools.

Events:
Free Master Class/Concert Tue, April 26, 8 PM, Morphy Hall (with the Composers Septet & Contemporary Jazz Ensemble)
Concert Thur, April 28, 8 PM, Morphy Hall (with the Johannes Wallmann Quartet) Ticketed $15 single
Concert Fri, April 29, 8 PM, Music Hall (with the UW Jazz Orchestra & High School Honors Jazz Band) Ticketed $15 single

$25 both Thursday and Friday shows. Students of all ages free!

Buy tickets to Thursday’s show.

Buy tickets to Friday’s show.

Buy tickets to both shows.


 

U.S. Air Force “Freedom Winds” percussion/wind quintet to perform April 21 – Free concert

Music Hall, Thursday, April 21, 7:30 PM

FWindslogo

The School of Music is honored to present the Freedom Winds, a visiting ensemble from the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America. Composed of six virtuoso Airman Musicians, the group adds percussion to the traditional woodwind quintet instrumentation to enhance standard literature and increase their musical capabilities. Repertoire includes jazz and ragtime classics along with popular themes from Broadway’s hit shows to Hollywood’s greatest films.  Please join us for what promises to be a fun and memorable concert!

“Out of the Shadows” Rediscovering Jewish Music, Literature and Theater

May 1-5, 2016, Madison, various locations and times

“Piecing together lost generations of creativity”: that’s how the Wisconsin State Journal’s Gayle Worland phrased it in her news story last summer. Generations of Jewish creativity lost due to the Holocaust and the diaspora, now placed front and center in a worldwide effort to discover those that were lost, reclaim those that are forgotten, and perform those that have been neglected.

From May 1 through May 5, that creativity will be on display in Madison as part of “Out of the Shadows,” coordinated by music education professor Teryl Dobbs and faculty at the University of Leeds, England. Over five days, events ranging from cabaret to ethnomusicology discussions to chamber music to theater will be presented at various locations in Madison. Ticket prices range from $5 to $10.00. Buy tickets here.

PJA-2016-flyer

The three-year “Performing the Jewish Archive” project involves a large number of partners, exploring archives, delivering community and educational projects, holding at least two international conferences and a series of symposia at the British National Library, as well as mounting five international performance festivals––in the United States (Madison, WI), the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Download the full schedule here (PDF)

Or check our online link: http://www.music.wisc.edu/performing-the-jewish-archive-may-2016-events/


Faculty News: Parry Karp

Student News: Claire Powling, Grace Subat



PHOTO GALLERY     A Day in the Life of a Music School: A master class with composer and cellist Paul Desenne, April 11, 2016. Images by Michael R. Anderson.


 

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.


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