Category Archives: Electro-acoustic music

Welcome back, everyone!

Welcome to the 2017-2018 academic year at the Mead Witter School of Music!

We hope you had an enjoyable, relaxing and productive summer.  We’re ready to begin the fall semester with plenty of news and events.

New faculty

Introducing Alicia Lee, assistant professor of clarinet; Alex Noppe, adjunct professor of trumpet; Matthew Endres, adjunct professor of jazz drums & jazz history; Timothy Hagen, adjunct professor of flute; David Scholl, instructor of double bass; and Chad Hutchinson, adjunct professor of instrumental conducting, director of orchestras and conductor of University Opera.  Read their biographies here.

New digital music studio

This fall, the Mead Witter School of Music will add a new studio to Humanities: the Electro-Acoustic Research Space (EARS). Located in a former classroom, EARS will be stuffed with the latest electronic music equipment, and will be available to faculty, students, and collaborators within the School of Music and in other departments. Read the announcement here.

Grand opening: Friday, September 15, 7:30 PM, Room 2401 (street level), Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street.

Prof. Dan Grabois in the new EARS studio, being interviewed by a writer from the local weekly, Isthmus.

Ten Years of the Perlman Piano Trio!

Last spring marked the tenth year of the Perlman Piano Trio, a student ensemble founded and supported by Kato Perlman. Learn more about the history of the trio with this special slideshow.

https://spark.adobe.com/page-embed.jsTen Years of the Perlman Piano Trio

New book about the Pro Arte Quartet

Local historian emeritus and classical music reviewer John W. Barker has penned an authoritative biography of the Pro Arte Quartet, with a comprehensive look at the members and the music.  Titled “The Pro Arte Quartet: A Century of Musical Adventure on Two Continents,” it is the first full biography of the quartet, which is comprised of members David Perry, Suzanne Beia, Sally Chisholm, and Parry Karp. The 353-paged book, published by Boydell & Brewer, Limited, will be available for purchase on November 15th. The book was commissioned in 2011 by the School of Music. Learn more here.

Music Education program scores high in online magazine

College Magazine, an online publication founded as a print magazine in 2007 by a student at the University of Maryland, placed UW-Madison above such luminaries as Johns Hopkins and Berklee.

The Madison approach to music ed emphasizes community outreach, research, and social justice, says Associate Professor Teryl Dobbs, chair of the music education program. “We recently created an entire revision of the entire undergraduate music ed degree and teacher licensure program… for 21st century students and the diverse students that our own students will teach,”  Dobbs said.  The story was sponsored by the National Association of Music Merchants.  Read the story here.

Over the past several years, Prof. Dobbs has traveled the world presenting her research into the Holocaust and music education as part of the “Performing the Jewish Archive” project. In Vienna last spring, she joined with former visiting professor Elizabeth Hagedorn to present ideas on curriculum revisions to develop deeper understandings of music outside the usual university canon.

On Sept. 17, hear Prof. Dobbs along with Prof. Rachel Brenner of the Center for Jewish Studies and Jessica Kasinski, recent DMA graduate, in a “University of the Air” program with Emily Auerbach and Norman Gilliland. “Why Teach the Holocaust?” will air from 4 to 5 PM on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public radio. It will be archived at https://www.wpr.org/programs/university-air

This September, Prof. Dobbs will travel to South Africa for more presentations and eventsRead about “Performing the Jewish Archive” here.

New classes offered this fall

The School of Music will offer two new classes this fall. Please contact the instructor (click the name below) to learn if you may register or possibly audit. Non-majors are welcome.

Music 497 – Jazz History

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 AM- 12:15 PM, room 2411 Humanities. With Matthew Endres, adjunct professor of jazz history & drums
This course focuses on cultural influences on the western development of jazz. By exploring historical and ethnographic works by scholars in ethnomusicology, history, anthropology, and communication, this course examines cultural aspects that influenced traditional and contemporary genres of jazz. Along with learning about the music that has influenced today’s popular genres through interactive participation and conversation, you’ll also develop tools to create case & field studies to study music through culture, and vice versa. Limit: 30 students.

Music 268, Lab 3 – Drumming the World Ensemble

Wednesdays, 1:20 to 3:15 PM, room 1321 Humanities.  Open to all  students; required for music education majors.

With Todd Hammes, percussion instructor. Drumming the World Ensemble is a structured drum circle wherein the music will be created by the class based on the study and application of drumming traditions from around the world. Instruments provided and will include Djembe, Conga, Dumbek, Darabuka, Bells, Rattles, and found objects. Limit: 15 students.

Upcoming concerts – September only

For future listings, please click here for our concert calendar. Our semesters are very full!

Concerts are free admission unless otherwise indicated.

Canceled: Annual Labor Day Karp Family concert

Faculty Recital: Mimmi Fulmer, voice, with guest pianist Craig Randal Johnson. September 10 @ 1:30 pm. Music celebrating Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence.

Faculty Recital: Paul Rowe, voice; Martha Fischer, piano. September 15 @ 8:00 pm.  A program of German art songs, in partnership with the German Department.

Faculty Recital: Jeanette Thompson, soprano, with guests Thomas Kasdorf, piano; and Paul Rowe, baritone. September 22 @ 7:00 pm. Lieder and spirituals.

Faculty Recital: Christopher Taylor, piano. September 23 @ 8:00 pm. $5 – $15. SOM students and faculty free admission.

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

Pro Arte Quartet – September 24 @ 7:30 pm.  David Perry and Suzanne Beia, violin; Sally Chisholm, viola; and Parry Karp, cello.
An all-Mozart program with guest cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau
and guest clarinetist Alicia Lee.

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 24-page newsletter/calendar that is printed and mailed every August. To receive a copy, click here to send us your postal address in an email.


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.

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Violinist debut this Friday; Alumni composers return, in photos; An All-Holiday holiday concert

News and Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – November 9, 2015
Soh-Hyun Park Altino, new faculty violinist, performs first Madison concert Nov. 13

Hearing solo Bach in concert is a rare treat, and next Friday, at 8 PM in Mills Hall, Madison will get a chance to do just that when our new assistant professor of violin, Soh-Hyun Park Altino, performs for the first time in town.  Her full program includes J.S. Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in C major for solo violin, Brahm’s second violin sonata, the Romance by Amy Beach, and the Sonata No. 2 by Charles Ives, accompanied by Martha Fischer, professor of piano. While she is a stellar violinist, Prof. Altino is a dedicated teacher, deeply committed to her students. “My greatest joy as a teacher is the up-close witness of the journey that each student takes throughout the course of his or her study,” she said in an interview last summer. “As we discuss and explore countless ways to communicate a story through the sound of a violin, sooner or later students face challenges that would push them beyond the familiar and the manageable. I love seeing my students grow to the point of taking steps of courage and giving generously from their hearts in spite of the difficulties presented in their pieces. The confidence gained by these experiences remains with them for the long haul.”

In an article in Isthmus, Prof. Altino’s former teachers commented on her teaching style. Read it here.

Freshman violinist Lydia Schweitzer in a lesson with Soh-Hyun Park Altino, assistant professor of violin. Photograph by Michael. R. Anderson.
Freshman violinist Lydia Schweitzer in a lesson with Soh-Hyun Park Altino, assistant professor of violin. Photograph by Michael. R. Anderson.

Adult tickets are $12; students of all ages are free. You can buy ahead of time or at the door the night of the show.

Violinist Soh-Hyun Altino rehearses with pianist Martha Fischer at a recent "Music in Performance" class, held every Weds & Fri in Mills Hall.
Violinist Soh-Hyun Altino rehearses with pianist Martha Fischer at a recent “Music in Performance” class, held every Weds & Fri in Mills Hall. “MIP” is a one-credit class that introduces non-majors to classical, jazz, percussion and all kinds of contemporary music. Many older attendees enjoy the class as well.


A “family reunion” feel to Alumni Composers Celebration, Nov. 5-6

Last week’s two-day Alumni Composers Celebration shined a light of our long-standing composition program, reuniting alumni who hadn’t seen each other in decades. It also gave our audience a taste of their unique compositional styles and introduced a lot of contemporary music. Not only did alumni meet with current composition students, they also met with high school students at Memorial and East in Madison.  Separate sessions on marketing and publishing music were held by an alumnus, Bill Rhoads, who is now the vice president of marketing and communications at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City.

The Thursday concert featured alumna Paula Matthusen‘s of whole movements and migrations, a work for oboe, percussion, clarinet, piano, and computer that was premiered in 2013 by the Glass Farm Ensemble at Symphony Space in New York City. Paula writes: “of whole movements and migrations explores the resonance of instruments and how they may be manipulated to create variances in the perception of an acoustic space. Two tam-tams located at the front of stage create reverberations of the acoustical sounds, which are then amplified and fed back into the piano.”

“Numina” by alumnus Kevin Ernste also featured electronics, with flute, viola and harp, and “is an allegory for the authoritative abuses of Rome’s current divine authority, the Vatican,” Ernste writes. Nothing Personal was a premiere, a five-movement work of duos paying homage to composer Bill Rhoads‘ mentors at UW-Madison and elsewhere. In the Zone is a two-movement  work, written by alumnus Andrew Rindfleisch, for brass quintet that recalls Renaissance counterpoint, imitation, and polyphony found in early canzones. Lastly, Enticements (Canons), by alumnus Jeff Stadelman, is a “pre-atonal song for voice and piano from Arnold Schoenberg’s decadent period, featuring a cartoonish cat-and-mouse tale.”

Musicians included the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and many faculty, friends and students. A second concert of new music took place on Friday night with the UW Wind Ensemble.

A “Musical Homecoming” – Review in Isthmus

New music is best heard in person, to more fully appreciate the unusual pairings of instruments and creative sounds emanating from them. In a review of the first night’s concert for the weekly paper Isthmus, Jay Rath wrote: “Music — live music — is always performance art. That’s why we go to concerts, after all. The performers’ movements, their manners —in many ways they satisfy as much as the music. When we go to concerts, we bring our eyes as well as our ears. The UW’s professor Stephen Dembski should be congratulated for helping to organize the composers’ visits. Hopefully, we can look forward to similar events in the future.” Read the review here.

Says Bill Rhoads, of his experience last week: “Returning to Madison… gave me an opportunity to reflect on individuals here at the University who played an important role in my personal and professional development, and who helped chart my trajectory over the past two decades through their support, teaching, and inspiration. Equally inspiring was experiencing the compelling, beautiful, and extremely diverse work of fellow alumni, working with the current music students and faculty at UW, and sharing my music with kids at Memorial High School. It was an experience I will cherish and I hope my presence and contributions during my residency in some small way allowed me to give back to those individuals who were (and are still) responsible in many ways for defining who I am and how I view the world around me.”
Photographs by Katherine Esposito.


Upcoming “Light in the Piazza” play peppered with School of Music student/alumni performers and artistic staff

Alumna Sarah Marty writes: “Four Seasons Theatre is excited to collaborate with Director David Ronis (our visiting opera director, who recently directed UW-Madison’s Marriage of Figaro) on our upcoming production of The Light in the Piazza at The Playhouse at Overture. The show runs from Dec. 4-13.

“Featured in the cast are current UW-Madison School of Music voice students Kenneth Lyons (Fabrizio Naccarelli) and Dennis Gotkowski (ensemble), voice professor Paul Rowe & Cheryl Bensman Rowe (co-artistic directors of the Madison Early Music Festival), and School of Music graduates Tamara Brognano (Margaret Johnson) and Christina Kay (ensemble). School of Music alums Sarah Marty (Producer, FST Producing Artistic Director) and Thomas Kasdorf (Music Director) join David Ronis in leading the production.”


‘Tis the Season for Student Recitals!

Cello, trombone, piano, saxophone, percussion, horn, and many more. Please check our calendar for times and dates. Free concerts.


“It’s a Jolly Holiday” Concert ushers in an-all holiday spirit
Bruce Gladstone and choir.
Bruce Gladstone and choir. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

On November 21, at 8 PM in Mills Hall, the UW Chorale will present a concert of holiday music. All kinds!  They’ll celebrate President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Earth Day and so on, with a variety of great music that will leave you wondering why you only think about hearing a choir sing at Christmas. Free concert. Read more.


 

Faculty News

James H. Latimer, Emeritus Professor of Music (1968-1999) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be granted the distinction of honorary doctor of Humane Letters from Florida A & M University, to be awarded at their December 11, 2015 fall commencement. Read more here.

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


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

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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.

On tap next two weeks: “Marriage of Figaro”; Alumni Composers Return; Symphony Strings; student recitals

News and Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – October 20, 2015

Greetings all!
This is what our calendar looks like right now.

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We hope you will join us for all of them.
Not possible? Well, take your pick!

University Opera: The Marriage of Figaro, Oct. 23/24/25/27.

A well-loved opera with a double cast, directed by David Ronis, music conducted by James Smith and assistance by many more. Read our entire announcement.  Our cast includes Joel Rathmann and alumnus Benjamin Schultz, who will split performances as Figaro; Erin Bryan and Anna Whiteway as Susanna; Brian Schneider and Gavin Waid as Count Almaviva; and Anna Polum and Yanzelmalee Rivera as the Countess. The role of Cherubino will be split between Alaina Carlson and Kirsten Larson. In supporting roles, the production will feature Tia Cleveland and Meghan Hilker as Marcellina, alum Thomas Weis as Bartolo, Dennis Gotkowski and Fabian Qamar as Basilio, Kyle Connors and Mikko Utevsky as Antonio, Emi Chen and Emily Weaver as Barbarina, Todd Keller and Jiabao Zhang as Don Curzio. Tickets are $25.00 for the general public, $20.00 for senior citizens and $10.00 for UW-Madison students. Buy tickets here.


Welcoming Five Alumni Composers back to campus for two concerts of their music

In early November, the UW-Madison School of Music will welcome back five graduates of the composition studio who have developed creative,  multi-dimensional careers in a range of fields: acoustic and electronic composition, musicology, theory, audio production, conducting, education, concert management and administration, performance, and other fields as well. The two-day event on Nov. 5 & 6 will feature concerts of chamber music and Wind Ensemble music.

The composers include Jeffrey Stadelman (BM, 1983; MM, 1985), now associate professor of music composition at the University at Buffalo;  Paula Matthusen (BM, 2001), assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University; William Rhoads (BM, 1996), vice president of marketing & communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City; Andrew Rindfleisch (BM, 1987), professor of composition at Cleveland State University; and Kevin Ernste (BM, 1997), professor of composition at Cornell University.

Music will be performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, the UW Wind Ensemble, and other faculty and students. The works being performed by both faculty and students range from standard instrumentations (woodwind and brass quintets) to unusual combinations (piano, percussion, clarinet, and oboe) to solo works performed by some of our most accomplished students.

Thursday, Nov. 5, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall, free concert. 

Friday, Nov. 6, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall, free concert.

All five composers grew up in Wisconsin or Minnesota, and they provide a variety of career models, in both industry and academia, in both live and electronic music, for our student composers and performers. This may be the first time that a university music school has brought together the alumni of an academic composition program, from a period of several decades, for concerts of their music, workshops with current students, and public informational events.

Click here for biographies of these composers. 


SoundCloudBrenda Rae & UW Symphony now on SoundCloud

Our SoundCloud channel contains tracks from many of our ensembles, soloists, and faculty, and now the UW Symphony Concert with Brenda Rae. It was a spectacular concert; if you missed it, here’s your chance! https://soundcloud.com/uw-madisonsom

At the reception following Brenda's concert on Sept. 27: L-R: Voice professor Mimmi Fulmer; Charles Bishop, founder of the Karen K. Bishop Fund for Voice & Opera; Brenda Rae, soprano; and Susan C. Cook, director of the School of Music. Photo by Jim Klinkert.
At the reception following Brenda’s concert on Sept. 27: L-R: Voice professor Mimmi Fulmer; Charles Bishop, founder of the Karen K. Bishop Fund for Voice & Opera; Brenda Rae, soprano; and Susan C. Cook, director of the School of Music. Photo by Jim Klinkert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Student Recitals are on our Calendar

We’ve modernized our workflow so that all student recitals taking place in our halls are now always listed (and obvious!) on our website. They include performances on all instruments and in many different genres. We encourage you to support our talented singers, composers and musicians. Check the calendar here.


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SoundWaves: The Roaring 20s
Upcoming Concerts

Upcoming concerts include the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, Oct. 22; SoundWaves: The Roaring 20s, Oct. 24; Symphony Strings with graduate conductor Kyle Knox, Oct. 28; Blue Note & Jazz Standards Ensemble, Oct. 29; Cellist Parry Karp & pianist Eli Kalman, Oct. 30.


Trombonist Mark Hetzler brings his electronic sound to Mills Hall, Nov. 3

UW-Madison professor of trombone Mark Hetzler continues his forward movement in the electronic music department with premieres of four new works, one by alumnus Ben Davis entitled $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, for quartet and electronics. With Anthony DiSanza, drums/percussion; Vincent Fuh, piano; Ben Ferris, bass; Tom Ross, percussion; and Garrett Mendelow, percussion. Mills Hall, Nov. 3, 7:30 PM.   Read the program here.

Video: Mark Hetzler performs instrumental music with electronics. With Vincent Fuh, piano; Nick Moran, acoustic and electric bass; and Todd Hammes, drums/percussion.


Faculty News

News from Susan C. Cook, Anthony Di Sanza and more.  Click here to read.

Alumni News

Bass-baritone Benjamin Schultz, DMA 2012, has published a book on Polish Diction. Ben serves as the Assistant Director of the School of Music.  Click here to read.

Benjamin Schultz
Benjamin Schultz

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

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

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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.

 

 

Richard Davis on WORT Radio; Wind Ensemble and Brass Quintet on tour; NYC violinist plugs in to perform; Pro Arte premiere

Richard Davis to speak on WORT radio about the Black Music Ensemble, his work on racism and music relevant to black history

On Thursday, February 13 from 9 to 10 am, bass professor Richard Davis, recently dubbed a “Jazz Master” by the National Endowment for the Arts, will be a guest on WORT radio’s  “Diaspora” show with host Terry O’Laughlin, who describes his show as “a weekly journey across the musical spectrum.” Davis is the founder of the Institute for the Healing of Racism, which offers a ten-week series of Thursday evening classes to address issues of racism and allow discussion and solutions to heal it. (Click here for class info.)   That evening, Feb. 13 at 8:30 PM in Morphy Hall,  Davis’s Black Music Ensemble will present a concert of jazz, soul, and blues, and songs by artists such as Sam Cooke, John Legend, Snarky Puppy and Nat King Cole. Says BME member Ellen Breen: “There’s no a better way to celebrate Black History month than by coming out to the concert and enjoying the gifts black artists have given to the musical world!”

Meanwhile, registration is now open for Davis’s 21st annual Foundation for Young Bassists conference, to be held April 18-19 in Madison at the Pyle Center. Learn more here: http://www.richarddavisfoundation.org/

The Hunt Quartet,
The Hunt Quartet, the graduate quartet of the UW-Madison School of Music. Left to right: Ju Dee Ang, viola; Elspeth Stalter, violin; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and Lindsey Crabb, cello.
Please join us for the Hunt’s annual concert, Sunday, February 23, at 3:30 pm in Morphy Hall.
The program includes Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet, Op. 76/4; Bartók’s String Quartet #1; and Brahms c minor Quartet, Op. 51/1. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

UW-Madison Wind Ensemble and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet to tour western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota

Do you live near Bloomer, Wisconsin, or Mankato, Minnestota? If so, you’ll have an opportunity to watch the UW Wind Ensemble and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet in live performances in late February, as the two groups wend their ways on a chartered bus through western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota in order to showcase the School of Music’s band program while livening up the winter with a bit of brassy cheer. Not only do the tours spread Wisconsin Badger pride, they are also an important illustration of the Wisconsin Idea: that the boundaries of the campus are the boundaries of the state (stretching the boundary a bit, though, in this case).

Mi-Li
Flutist Mi-Li Chang and an unidentified high school student, on tour last spring with the UW Wind Ensemble.

The tour, the Wind Ensemble’s fifth, is scheduled for February 25 through the 28th; specific stops include high schools in Cameron and Bloomer, Wisconsin, plus five small cities in Minnesota: Mankato, Rosemount, Watertown, Owatonna, and Edina. At each stop, the two groups will offer an evening concert, with afternoon workshops in some locations.  All events are free. The program will include Amazing Grace (Traditional/Himes), Lincolnshire Posy (Percy Grainger/Fennell), First Suite in E-flat for Military Band (Gustav Holst), March from “Symphonic Metamorphosis” (Paul Hindemith) and Shadowcatcher, for brass quintet and wind ensemble (Eric Ewazen).

In Madison, the Wind Ensemble will perform on February 22 in Mills Hall, presenting music of Karl Husa, Roger Zare (Wisconsin premiere) and Steven Byrant.

The Wind Ensemble, conducted by Professor Scott Teeple, is a 41-member group of wind and percussion players, both undergraduate and graduate students. Entrance is by audition. For more information about the tour, contact Barb Douglas at the School of Music, bldouglas@wisc.edu.

Violinist Todd Reynolds and laptop in concert February 19

Think of great composer-performers of the past. Think of great singer-songwriters of the present. Now, meet violinist Todd Reynolds. A virtuoso performer, Todd writes much of the music he performs. He has collaborated with countless other musicians, but his most frequent partner in his solo work is the electronics software on his computer.

Todd will be in at UW-Madison February 19-21, performing and leading masterclasses and workshops. His recital on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 PM in Mills Hall will include some of his own music and some works written for him, all played on violin with electronics. He will be holding a variety of other events during his visit that will reach many School of Music students and community members. These will include:

  • A violin masterclass: Friday, Feb. 21, 2:30-3:30PM , Morphy Hall.
  • “How I Did It: A Career Workshop”: Thursday, Feb. 20, 12:00-1:00PM, 1321 Humanities.
  • “Performing with Electronics” workshop: Thursday, Feb. 20, 6:00-7:30PM, Eastman Recital Hall, Humanities.

The violinist of choice for Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, and Bang on a Can who has also performed with electronic cellist Zoe Keating, Todd Reynolds’ compositional and performance style is a hybrid of old and new technology, multi-disciplinary aesthetic and pan-genre composition and improvisation. He has released a double CD of solo works on Innova Records which was rated best of classical by Amazon. His music is soulful but edgy and filled with brilliant violin playing.

Todd is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the New School Mannes College of Music, and was a frequent collaborator with School of Music horn professor Daniel Grabois, who was based in New York City for many years.

Horn professor presents concert of UW-Madison composed music

Speaking of Dan Grabois: On Wednesday, February 12 at 7:30 pm, Dan and and piano professor Jessica Johnson will offer a faculty recital comprised of all-UW-Madison-composed music, some only recently. Dan writes:

“John Stevens wrote his ‘Sonata’ in 2008. Like much of his music, it is written in a lyrical style that has a jazz influence lurking under the surface.

“Les Thimmig’s ‘Four Ballads,’ from 2000, are pure emotional song.

“My own ‘Antilogy’ was written last week. It alternates sections of driving Bulgarian style odd-meter rhythms with sections of slow lyrical writing.

“And the final piece was written by Alex Charland, who is a sophomore sax major here at the SOM. He is a Stamps Scholar, and as such a member of a group of six undergraduate high-achieving musicians whom I advise. Alex is an extremely talented player and composer. He offered to write this piece, ‘War Suite,’ for this recital – an offer that was gladly accepted. The piece was completed over winter break this year.”

Download the program here.

Mernier Composition Brings Pro Arte Quartet Full Circle

New Chamber Work to Premiere in Madison March 1, 2014

Mernier’s String Quartet No. 3 will receive its world premiere by the Pro Arte on Saturday, March 1, at Mills Concert Hall in the Mosse Humanities Building on the UW-Madison campus. The 8:00 p.m. event is free and open to the public, with no tickets required.

The March 1 concert will be preceded on Thurs, Feb. 27, by an open rehearsal from 9 a.m. to noon, also at Mills Hall, during which the composer will coach the Pro Arte as they prepare for the premiere of the work, composed in honor of the quartet’s Belgian heritage.

Click here for the full story. 

The UW-Madison School of Music offers a smorgasbord of mostly free concerts and events during the academic years. Click here for the full calendar. And bookmark it to plan your next visit!

A Hilldale Award helps a student design an instrument — and a career

Alumnus Jeff Snyder, a 2002 School of Music graduate in composition who studied with Professor Steve Dembski, later earned a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University and is now an Associate Research Scholar of Electronic Music at Princeton University with a CV about two miles long. He teaches courses and seminars in sound art, computer music, and sound synthesis, and advises students on their own research projects that range from computational musicology to human/computer interface design.

Jeff Snyder
Jeff Snyder

While at UW as an undergrad, he received a $3,000 Hilldale Award to further his interest in new tuning systems and create a new instrument using a new type of tuning system.

His story is a another excellent example of how your gifts to UW-Madison and the School of Music specifically have made a large difference in the lives of our students. We asked Jeff to talk about what the Hilldale Award meant to him.

“The grant provided the funds needed to buy both books for my research and the materials for the instrument, and also allowed me some time to focus closely on the project. I ended up producing both an instrument and a research paper, and the work was incredibly important in the formation of my current career.

The "anole," an instrument designed by SOM alumnus Jeff Snyder.
The “anole,” an instrument designed
by SOM alumnus Jeff Snyder.

“The instrument I built was called the Anolé, after the color-changing lizard. I wanted to design a stringed instrument that had removable fretboards so that it could perform music written in multiple tuning systems besides equal temperament. I was strongly influenced by Harry Partch’s “Genesis of a Music,” a classic text in the field which was actually written at UW-Madison in 1947. Since my wood and metal-working skills were lacking at the time, I formed a collaboration with Visual Arts MFA student Don Miller (now an Associate Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia). This collaboration taught me woodworking skills that have been incredibly useful in my professional life since. The instrument turned out to be very successful, and I used it in performance for the next two years. There were several problems with its design, however, and searching for solutions to these problems eventually led me down the research path I follow to this day.

“The paper I wrote was related to the same research, but focused on the tuning of bar percussion instruments. It was called “Development of a Useful Scale Based on Inharmonic Bar Partials.” The research for the paper was primarily inspired by ideas presented in the book “Tuning, Timbre and Scale,” by William Sethares, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UW-Madison, and I am still quite proud of the results. My advisor on the whole project, Professor Dembski, was supportive and insightful from the very beginning all the way through the process, and I am incredibly thankful that he gave me the guidance and encouragement I needed to discover my passion that year.

“After graduating from UW-Madison, I applied for doctoral programs in music momposition. I was accepted into almost all the programs I applied for, and I credit the work under that Hilldale research grant as the primary reason I was accepted. I accepted the offer from Columbia University in New York City, and my advisor there at one point told me that arguing to accept me as a student was easy; after they had listened to my musical examples (and read my research paper as a writing example), he pointed at the photograph of the instrument I had made and said “who else has done anything like that?”. In 2011, I received a doctorate with distinction from Columbia, and my dissertation was essentially a logical continuation of the work I had begun at UW-Madison. My dissertation, titled “An Exploration of an Adaptable Just Intonation System”, includes a chapter called “Early Experimentation”, which discusses the things I learned from building the Anolé.

“Now, in addition to teaching and advising at Princeton, I have a thriving performance career in NYC playing the new instruments I continue to imagine and invent. Without the Hilldale Undergraduate Research Grant at UW-Madison, I would not have had the freedom and resources to start myself on this trajectory when I did, and I may not have found my way to the creative and exciting field I work in today.”

UW-Madison’s fall fund drive, “Share the Wonderful,” is now underway. Your donation matters. Please contribute today!

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May 10 at SoundWaves: Trombonist Mark Hetzler brings the “electric aesthetic” to his music

Mark Hetzler, XXX and Vince Fuh, three of four members in "Sinister Resonce,' at a gig in St. Paul in April.
Mark Hetzler, composer Mark Engebretson, and Vince Fuh, at a St. Paul gig in April.

UW-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler describes himself as a “bit of a geek,” which may help to explain he’s more often now found onstage with laptops, guitar pedals, a mixing board and surround sound instead of a symphony orchestra.

He’s done that, too, of course, having served for a time as the principal trombonist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra as well as playing with other orchestras around the country. He was a fellow at the New World Symphony and Tanglewood and for 14 years was one-fifth of the internationally-known Empire Brass Quintet. He still is the trombonist in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, which just celebrated its 40th year (and, while not quite ready to bring laptops on stage, still plays some pretty cool new music).

But somehow he got from there to here, where “here” is “Sinister Resonance,” an experimental ensemble offering an amalgam of musical genres mixed with electronics. Sinister Resonance performed in St. Paul and Madison clubs last month and will finish out the semester with a few pieces at the upcoming “SoundWaves” presentation on May 10, at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. (See previous blog post for info on SoundWaves.) Mark will also speak for ten minutes on “The Electric Aesthetic,” about how he incorporates electronic technology into his music.

Mark Hetzler
Mark Hetzler

Last year, Mark received an H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, an unrestricted grant awarded to newly tenured faculty members who show “exceptional promise.” The grant has allowed him to expand his experimental efforts exponentially: to commission composers, buy sophisticated technology, record and perform all over the country, and compose new pieces himself. Mark recently answered a few questions about this style of music and why it appeals to him.

When did you first become interested in electro-acoustic music?

I became interested in this music when I was a sophomore in college- I was exploring in the library and discovered recordings of computer music from the 1950’s and 60’s.  At that time I didn’t have a computer, there was no internet and the means of making “electronic” music for me was simply playing along with a tape (a reel to reel tape back then- today we use sound files in a variety of digital formats).

One of the first electronic pieces I discovered was “Deserts,” by Edgar Varese. I was making my way through Varese’s music and was floored by Deserts.  I was struck by the concept of pre-recorded sounds being inserted into the sonic fabric of live players- this music really opened my ears up. I then came across a composition by Roger Reynolds titled “From Behind the Unreasoning Mask.” This piece was for 4-channel tape (surround sound), trombone and two percussionists. When I purchased the score, the publisher sent me a 4-channel reel to reel tape. I had no machine on which to play it and had to take it to a studio in Boston (where I was going to school at the time) and have an engineer convert it into another format. It’s kind of hilarious in a way, because when I left that studio, my new tape was now playable on a machine that would be obsolete within 2-3 years.

What do you like about this kind of music; what inspires you?  Are there any particular musicians whom you admire?

I’m a bit of a geek, so I’ll admit that I like the complexity of it. I like the fact that pieces I work on these days tend to require an enormous amount of preparation and technological involvement- from getting specific pieces of equipment to link and talk to each other, to software patches that need to be learned and tweaked. This music requires a level of focus and brain power that I find intellectually stimulating. Of course, I also marvel at the many ways one can express themselves with this kind of music. If I am working to shape a phrase, color my tone on the trombone or create a musical state that is either calm or excited, I find that technology can help me to get into places that are quite unexpected with regard to sound, intellect and emotion. I love making acoustic music- the feel of it and the sound of it. My approach when using technology is the same, but with digital and analog tools I feel like my musical reach multiplies- that is hard not to like.

There is nothing like spending ten to twelve hours in a studio working with sound. I love that time- it goes by WAY too fast. If I’m working on a new piece or trying to get just the right sound with my gear, or even improvising and working out a musical idea with an effects processor, I am in heaven.

Who are your musico-technological heroes?

Pat Metheny, David Tom, Nels Cline, Javier Alvarez, Terrence Blanchard–too many folks to mention all of them.

What logistics are involved in setting up for a concert?

Imagine a ton of wires and all kinds of equipment running together, machines depending on each other. It can take me up to two hours to set it up sometimes, so my pre-concert vibe can become anxious, but that is part of the thrill of this music. The logistics don’t stop there- I usually have a host of things to remember in concert as well (beyond just playing the trombone)- which fader to raise or lower, which program to turn on, which microphone to open, which effect to turn on or off. Playing this kind of music is like doing a complicated dance, in many ways similar to what percussionists do all the time.

Sinister Resonance is comprised of Mark Hetzler (trombone and electronics), Vincent Fuh (piano), Nick Moran (doublebass) and Todd Hammes (drums/percussion). On May 10, 7 p.m. at SoundWaves, in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the four will present a program of novel music that will follow a series of short talks on the theme of tools. Mark’s tools? By now, we know.

On the program:
“They Said…” by Mark Engebretson, professor of composition at UNC-Greensboro.
“Mark composed a powerful work that uses spoken word and interactive computer technology.  The piece is based on a poem that was inspired by the Abu Ghraib atrocities.”

“Murmuration,” composed by Mark Hetzler. This piece uses an 8-channel pre-recorded sound file, creating by playing the trombone through effects units.  The musicians improvise with each other and the surround-sound recorded part.  This work was inspired by the spontaneous formations of starlings, known as murmurations.