Category Archives: Eleanor Bartsch

Percussion Ensemble Celebrates 50 Years; UW Rallies to Help Stricken Student; Opera to Stage Magic Flute; Photo Gallery

 UW-MADISON PERCUSSION PROGRAM CELEBRATES 50 YEARS WITH A MARCH 20 CONCERT AND TRIP TO CHINA

“Fifty years is not a long time in the world of classical music, but it’s a very long time in the world of formal percussion studies. In the 1960s and before, the very notion of teaching percussion beyond the basic orchestral instruments caused music educators to simply shake their heads in disbelief.” So what happened? Read the full story on our main website here.


The University of Wisconsin Madison World Percussion Ensemble performs the Olodum classic A Visa La (May 2013). The arrangement was created by Nininho and A. Di Sanza.

Concert: March 20, 8 PM Mills Hall. Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office and in Mills on day of show. Adults $10, all-age students free. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

HEAR THE MUSIC OF BRITISH COMPOSER CECILIA McDOWALL AND MEET THE COMPOSER, TOO

Heard any new choral music lately? You’ll get your chance this week when Cecilia McDowall, winner of the 2014 British Composer Award for her choral work, Night Flight, comes to Madison.

Please note: On Wednesday the 18th at noon, McDowall will be featured live on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Midday show with host Norman Gilliland (88.7 FM). On Thursday on WORT Radio (89.9 FM), host Rich Samuels plans a half-hour special on McDowall that he pre-recorded with organizer John Aley. At 7:15 AM.

Cecilia McDowall
Cecilia McDowall

Thursday, noon, Mills Hall: Colloquium with the composer. How does she impart those whispery Antarctic sounds into her music? Come to ask and find out how!

Friday, 8 PM, Mills Hall: We’ll feast on McDowall’s choral and instrumental music for ensembles and soloists, including her work about the ill-fated expedition of polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Selected faculty and student performers will include pianist Christopher Taylor, tenor James Doing, the UW Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn.  Mike Duvernois of UW-Madison’s IceCube Antarctic research project will update us on the state of polar research today (hint: they don’t need sled dogs anymore). Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office and in Mills on day of show. Adults $20, all-age students free. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

Saturday, 8 PM, Mills Hall: A concert devoted to smaller ensembles, including a trio with violinist Eleanor Bartsch, cellist Kyle Price, and pianist SeungWha Baek. They’ll perform “The Colour of Blossoms,” a meditation by McDowall after a 13th century Japanese story. Free concert. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/cecilia-mcdowall/colour-of-blossoms

Sunday, 9:15 and 10:30 AM, Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue. Forum (9:15) and Church Service (10:30) featuring McDowall’s music, with the composer present.

WINNERS OF SHAIN WOODWIND-PIANO DUO COMPETITION ANNOUNCED

Our 2015 winners are Kai-Ju Ho, clarinet and SeungWha Baek, piano, and Iva Ugrcic, flute and Thomas Kasdorf, piano. Pedro Garcia, clarinet and Chan Mi Jean, piano, received honorable mention.

The competition is sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain. The winners will perform this Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall. A reception will follow.

BENEFIT FOR STRICKEN TROMBONIST BRITTANY SPERBERG: MARCH 18


The Dairyland Jazz Band, with Sperberg on trombone, plays Ory’s Creole Trombone.

Undergraduate trombonist Brittany Sperberg, who performed in the UW’s Dairyland Jazz Band and many other ensembles, is now having serious medical problems and has withdrawn from school. Sperberg was featured in this blog in the fall of 2013.  Her teacher, trombonist Mark Hetzler, has organized a benefit concert on Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 PM to raise donations to assist her family with unmet expenses. Please join us to help wish Brittany a speedy recovery!  Donations may also be made at YouCaring.org. Learn much more at our website: http://www.music.wisc.edu/2015/02/07/sperberg_benefit/

STELLAR SINGING EXPECTED AT UNIVERSITY OPERA’S NEXT SHOW: MOZART’S THE MAGIC FLUTE
On Oct. 14, 2011, costume designers Sydney Krieger (right) and Hyewon Park (left) work on the fit of a costume worn by University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate Caitlin Miller (center) for the upcoming UW Opera performance of "La Boheme." Also pictured is undergraduate Katherine Peck (center left). (Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison)
In 2011, UW costume designers Sydney Krieger (right) and Hyewon Park (left) worked on a costume for La Boheme. Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison.

University costumers are already busy sewing Victorian bustle skirts and the classic South Asian attire known as the shalwar kameez for next month’s University Opera production of The Magic Flute.  It’s all a product of visiting opera director David Ronis‘s imagined East-west setting for the show. Read the complete news release on our website.

New this spring: four performances, not just three, allowing for even double casting of all lead roles. The show dates are Friday, March 13, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 15, 3:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office. Adults $22, seniors $18, $10 UW-Madison students. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

PRICELESS MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPT NOW ACCESSIBLE AFTER A LAPSE OF 800 YEARS

For the first time in history, a formerly inaccessible manuscript of the medieval composer Guillaume de Machaut will become widely available for study, thanks to a new hardbound facsimile version just released by the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) in Oxford, England. The publication of The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript, one of six such illuminated manuscripts and long unavailable to scholars, renders complete the source material for the 14th Century French composer many consider to be the greatest musical and poetic influence of his day, according to Lawrence Earp, professor of musicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the world’s foremost scholar of Machaut’s manuscripts. Read the complete story on our website. 

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SCHOOL OF MUSIC PHOTO EXHIBIT STARTS MARCH 1, LOWELL CENTER

Our friendly helpful photographer Mike Anderson has enlarged and framed about 25 images of student musicians to be placed on display in the Lowell Center Gallery, 610 Langdon Street. The exhibit runs from March 1 to April 30, and there will be a small reception on March 8. Read more here.

Below are a few of Mike’s images taken at our concerto winners concert (“Symphony Showcase”) that was held on February 8. (More information here.) Please check back this fall for our next winners recital date, and join us; it is always a joyous event!

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Bartsch Sisters make beautiful music together, thanks to donor support

For some years now, UW-Madison has been home to the two Bartsch sisters, Eleanor and Alice, of Bloomington, Minnesota, both violinists who have excelled at the School of Music and beyond. Eleanor, 24, is now a first-year master’s degree candidate in the studios of Felicia Moye and David Perry. Alice, 21, is a senior in the studio of Felicia Moye.  Both young women are violinists with the Madison Symphony Orchestra; both have won the UW-Madison Concerto Competition; both were in the Perlman Piano Trio (Alice is still a member); and now, both will perform on November 8 with Samuel Hutchison, the organist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall. The concert will include J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor. (Listen to Alice and Eleanor Bartsch discuss their budding careers this Thursday morning, Nov. 7 at 7:08 am, on WORT 89.9 FM radio. The show is “Anything Goes,” with host Rich Samuels.)

Alice and Eleanor Bartsch.
Alice and Eleanor Bartsch.
Photo supplied by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

But this isn’t just a story about their upcoming performance. It is also a way to give thanks to Kato Perlman and Paul Collins, both longtime contributors to the School of Music, who together have supported dozens of the school’s most talented performers. In 2007, Katherine “Kato” Perlman, PhD, a distinguished service emerita and senior scientist, founded the Perlman Piano Trio, which provides a yearly grant to an undergraduate pianist, violinist and cellist and concludes with a concert in the spring. This year, Dr. Perlman is also sponsoring the Bartsch sisters in their Nov. 8 concert with Samuel Hutchison. (Other sponsors include Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore, with additional funds from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.)

Meanwhile, Paul Collins, a retired executive with Citigroup and an ex-officio member of the UW Foundation, has not only endowed two professors (violinist David Perry and pianist Christopher Taylor) at the School of Music, but has funded many graduate students in music and who supports Eleanor today in her master’s degree program.  The Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellowships were established in honor of his mother, Adele Stoppenbach Collins, a 1929 School of Music graduate. Collins Fellows receive two years of support at the masters level and three years at the doctoral level. For 2013-14, ten students are receiving fellowships.

Another major donor, former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, provides funds to support the school’s annual Beethoven Piano Competition and Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition.

The School of Music wishes to extend its gratitude to Kato Perlman, Paul Collins and Irving Shain for past and future support. You, too, can become part of the School of Music family through a contribution to Share the Wonderful, UW-Madison’s ongoing annual fund. Your gift can provide a scholarship; help renovate our lounge; finance a student’s music festival participation; and more! 

We asked Eleanor Bartsch a few questions about her time at UW-Madison, and how the Collins Fellowship has made a difference in her life.

I believe you are from a musical family. Can you describe that a bit?
“Alice and I grew up in a very musical family. Our mother is a professional violinist and violin teacher and our father is a pianist and organist. There was always music going on in the house whether it be practicing or rehearsals. Our father works with a lot of opera singers so that was something we heard a lot of. It was definitely loud, but it led to Alice and I both having a love of opera.
With whom do you study at UW as an undergrad, and do you still study with him/her?
“In my undergraduate degree, I studied with David Perry. He is an amazing teacher and player. Now I am actually doing my studies with both Felicia Moye and David Perry. Although I still felt that I had a lot of things to learn from David, studying with Felicia has given me a different perspective on a lot of things in my playing. I feel so lucky to be working with two of the best teachers in the country in the great city of Madison.

I know you play with the MSO. Tell me about what that’s been like. What other groups do you perform with? Do you prefer a particular style/genre of music?
“The Madison Symphony has been a wonderful opportunity. I joined the orchestra in my sophomore year of college and have learned so much from playing with the group since then. When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I also won a position with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. I love playing in orchestra, and I feel lucky to get to do it almost every week. Juggling school and work can be difficult at times, but in the end I remember that I’m doing what I love. I have also done a lot work in Madison’s rich baroque music scene, playing with the Madison Bach Musicians and Wisconsin Baroque ensembles. I enjoy working with local non-classical artists as well and have been experimenting and recording with some local rock and hip hop groups. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the strict classical music world, and I look forward to more opportunities like this.
How important is the Collins grant to your career? 
“The Collins Fellowship has been an amazing opportunity for me. Because of it, I am able to focus solely on my music career and on decisions about the future. After my undergraduate degree, I worked several different non-musical jobs. Although I have to admit that the stability was nice, I really looked forward to getting back to the music. The Collins has allowed me to make that transition with ease.

Budding violinists in Minnesota: Eleanor, left, and Alice, right.
Budding violinists in Minnesota:
Eleanor, left, and Alice, right.

“While taking a couple of years off from school, I really discovered a love of teaching. Having a master’s degree will give me more opportunities to teach at a higher level. Thanks to the Collins, I am also completing a certificate in Business Entrepreneurship from the UW Business School. This is teaching me what I need to know if I ever wanted to run or start my own music school or musical group.  It is difficult to make a career in music, and to do it, one has to be more and more enterprising. I think that it is important for all of us as musicians to branch out and diversify within our field and beyond. The Collins Fellowship is the reason I am able to do this.

What’s it like to perform with your sister? Do you think you will continue?
“Performing with Alice is great. We have this sort of ‘psychic’ sister vibe about timing and musical phrasing that makes it easy, fun, and rewarding. We both have very busy performing and school schedules, so it’s also just great to get to see her (and hear her–she is an incredible player)! We are very close and I am so happy to have her here in Madison. When we aren’t rehearsing or in school, we are always texting each other, sending videos, emailing, tweeting and face-booking each other, etc!”

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No “girly music” here: UW’s Schwendinger releases new CD on Centaur label

“Talent to burn.” That’s how Barnaby Rayfield referred to UW’s Laura Schwendinger, composer of contemporary classical music, in his January 2013 feature story about her in Fanfare, the classical music magazine. And that was before her new CD had come out.

Centaur Cover 2 for mini cover

Now, with its debut on Centaur Records, the advance reviews are in, and very positive.  While Rayfield had referred to Schwendinger’s music as “not girly music” (meant as a compliment),  Fanfare’s Colin Clarke said: “I would go further and add an emphatic this is ‘so not girly music.’ Punchy, imaginative, subtle, stirring, evocative … all these terms apply. She studied with John Adams, which doesn’t seem to have harmed her much. Schwendinger’s music is worth more than anything Adams has churned out so far.”

Schwendinger’s CD, “High Wire Acts,” is comprised of a five-movement chamber work of the same name performed by the Oklahoma-based ensemble Brightmusic, as well as “Nonet,” performed by the Chicago Chamber Musicians;“Sonata for Solo Violin,” played by Katie Wolfe; and “Two Little Whos,” performed  by husband and wife team Beth Ilana Schneider-Gould and Matt Gould. “High Wire Acts” was composed in 2002, and also has been performed by eighth blackbird, the Grammy-winning new music ensemble, among many other groups.

In his Fanfare review, Rayfield offered his views of why “High Wire Acts” works so well.  “…It is her unusual pairing of instruments that intrigues; flute and cello, violin and guitar. Poise, structure, lyricism. ‘Nonet’ is a riot of colorful trills, with Schwendinger’s demonstrating a wonderful ear for clarity of texture and balance. The second movement (suitably tagged ‘Tenderly’) is an assured and poised work of beauty and color that really ought to be better known.”

In a review of eighth blackbird’s performance, Chicago Tribune music critic JohnVon Rhein wrote: ” ‘High Wire Acts’ achieved more by attempting less. Inspired by the wire circus figures of sculptor Alexander Calder, the four character portraits, with their high twitterings, undulating arpeggios and rippling figurations, evinced an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft. The piece was beautifully played by eighth blackbird.”

The Washington Post’s Joe Banno also enjoyed “High Wire Acts,” performed in Washington D.C. at a Kennedy Center concert of the Left Bank Concert Society.  He wrote, “[Schwendinger’s] harmonically free-ranging, tintinnabulary scoring — with its canny use of violin harmonics and flute phrases played directly into the open piano, to suggest aerialists in flight — evokes Stravinsky’s early ballets.”

Schwendinger, who came to UW from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2005, is savoring this moment, which dates to 2002 when she first wrote High Wire Act. “It’s taken ten long years but it has left me with a sense of accomplishment. I’m proud and honored to be in such company.” she says. Over the years, she’s won many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy in Berlin Prize (she was the first composer ever awarded the prize), and a Romnes Faculty Fellowship from UW-Madison. In 2010, her music colleagues nominated her for a Pulitzer Prize in composition.

Many iconoclastic chamber groups have performed Schwendinger’s music, including the Europe-based Arditti Quartet, which premiered a string quartet in 2003, and now the “alt-classical” JACK Quartet out of New York City, frequent performers at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village.  With JACK, she’s now recording two quartets, financed by two grants from NewMusicUsA and Ditson.

At UW, Schwendinger directs the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, which offers UW musicians opportunities to play newer music; at last spring’s concert, the program included a performance of Schwendinger’s “The Violinists in My Life” by Eleanor Bartsch, a 2011 SOM grad and current member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, to whom the first movement was dedicated. Bartsch will return to UW this fall as a Collins Fellow, working toward her master’s degree.

Laura Schwendinger and Eleanor Bartsch, following Eleanor's performance of "The Violinists in My Life," composed by Laura, at Mills Hall last spring.
Laura Schwendinger and Eleanor Bartsch, following Eleanor’s performance of “The Violinists in My Life,” composed by Laura, at Mills Hall last spring. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

It’s not the first time UW-Madison has been featured prominently. Last year, Albany Records released “Three Works,” a CD of three concertos for, separately, cello, violin, and flute, performed by a student and faculty Sinfonietta and the UW-Madison Chamber Orchestra conducted by James Smith.  The soloists were Matt Haimovitz on cello, Curtis Macomber on violin, and Christina Jennings on flute.

Future UW collaborations include a recording of “Song for Andrew” (a quartet performed in 2010 by the New Juilliard Ensemble and premiered by UW’s Sally Chisholm and Young Nam Kim in Minnesota) with professor/pianist Christopher Taylor, plus a recording of the song “Sudden Light” with the JACK quartet and soprano alumna Jamie Van Eyck.

Schwendinger also sponsors visits by other notable performers of contemporary classical music; for this next year, those will include two appearances by musicians from the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa as well as Michael Norsworthy, clarinet professor at the Boston Conservatory and another champion of new music. (The CNM is scheduled to perform at Mills on September 21 and April 11;  Norsworthy on October 20.)

Working on “The Violinists in My Life” was an “amazing experience,” says Eleanor Bartsch. “I feel a special connection to the piece, not only because the first movement was written for me, but also because through Laura’s unique musical language, I feel I am easily able to express my own personal voice.”

Learn more about Laura at her website:  http://www.lauraschwendinger.com/

Listen to clips of her music: https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/lschwendinge/web/soundfiles4.html

In 2008, a profile of Laura was published in Isthmus. “Composer at Work” by David Medaris, Isthmus, 2008.

In this YouTube video about the American Composers Orchestra, Schwendinger contributes her thoughts on new music and the “reinvention” of the orchestra.