Category Archives: Jacob Wolbert

Pro Arte goes on tour; new faculty hires; di Sanza receives award

Pro Arte Quartet Rehearsal with composer Benoit Mernier
Benoit Mernier rehearsed with the Pro Arte Quartet in March. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Pro Arte Quartet Plans Belgium Concert Tour

The UW Pro Arte Quartet will return to its roots in May with a concert tour of Belgium, where the group was first formed in 1912.

The trip is the capstone of the Pro Arte’s centennial season and is believed to be the quartet’s first return to its homeland since being stranded in the U.S. when Nazi forces invaded Belgium, and UW responded by creating a residency for the group. The tour will feature the European premiere of the quartet’s latest commission, String Quartet No. 3 by Belgian composer Benoît Mernier.

Mernier’s composition received its world premiere by the Pro Arte on March 1 at Mills Concert Hall in the Mosse Humanities Building on the UW-Madison campus. The European premiere is scheduled for May 26 at the Brussels Conservatory, where the Pro Arte itself originated. Read a review of the Madison concert here.

The Pro Arte will kick off the weeklong tour on May 22 with a performance in Studio 1 of the Flagey Building, home to Belgium’s broadcast industry. The program will include compositions by Mozart, César Franck and Randall Thompson. Studio 1 has historic significance for the Pro Arte, too. An earlier iteration of the quartet recorded a Beethoven cycle there in 1938.

On May 23, the Pro Arte will perform an afternoon concert in the Arthur de Greef Auditorium of the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. The library series features works important to the library’s collections, and Pro Arte will present a program featuring works by Bartok and Haydn, since the library holds first editions of these composers. Know any Dutch? If so, you may read the announcement here: http://www.kbr.be/actualites/concerts/programme/23_05_nl.html

On May 24, the Pro Arte will travel to Dolhain Limburg, birthplace of the quartet’s founding violinist Alphonse Onnou for a reception, dinner and performance at Kursaal Dolhain. The evening program will include compositions by Mozart, Franck, Haydn and Alexander Glazunov. The Mernier European premiere at the Brussels Conservatory follows on May 26, along with compositions by Mozart, Thompson and Samuel Barber.

The final performance of the tour on May 27 will take place at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. In addition to the Mernier work, the performance would include works by Mozart and Barber. In addition, the audience will view a 1975 documentary film about the Pro Arte by Pierre Bartholomée that includes interviews with composers Darius Milhaud, Igor Stravinsky and others.

Final arrangements for the trip are in the works pending the resolution of some current restrictions regarding international travel.

The Pro Arte Quartet issued a commemorative CD last year. Read about the CD here. To purchase it, click here.

Wisconsin Public Television filmed the quartet in concert last year. Watch the video here.

New faculty hired for next year

The School of Music will add three visiting professors next year. One, David Ronis of New York City, will replace retiring opera director William Farlow. A second, Tom Curry, will replace retiring tuba professor John Stevens, And a third, Leslie Shank, will replace violin professor Felicia Moye, who has accepted a position at McGill University in Montreal.

The School has issued separate news releases for all new faculty.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra violinist Leslie Shank to join UW

School of Music appoints alumnus Tom Curry as visiting assistant professor of tuba

School of Music announces David Ronis as visiting director of opera

 

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Percussion professor wins Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award

Nominated by one of his students

Anthony Di Sanza
Percussion Professor Anthony Di Sanza working with students. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Anthony Di Sanza, professor of percussion in the School of Music, has received the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, nominated by percussion student Jacob Wolbert (who was published in this space last summer), who was himself inducted into the society on April 12. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society and honors undergraduates for outstanding scholarly achievement. Students elected into Phi Beta Kappa are asked to nominate a deserving faculty whose teaching is exemplary and who encouraged their love of learning. Wolbert nominated di Sanza.

“Professor DiSanza found a way to transfer my musical skills into my non-musical ones and has encouraged my endeavors, providing wisdom and guidance even when they are unrelated to music,” says Wolbert. “Overall, he recognizes the value of music in an interdisciplinary education, a crucial tenet of what it means to receive an undergraduate liberal arts education here at UW-Madison.”

“I am deeply honored by this award and even more so by the fact that Jacob Wolbert, this engaged, talented and thought-provoking student, would think highly enough of my efforts to nominate me,” says di Sanza. Read the full press release here.

Speaking of choral: Sing this Summer! Auditions are now open for Madison Summer Choir

The Madison Summer Choir is an approximately 80-voice, auditioned choir performing a cappella, piano-accompanied, and choral-orchestral works, conducted by alumnus Ben Luedcke. We are supported by singers, the larger Madison community, and UW-Madison School of Music. 2014 will be our sixth year keeping summer choral arts alive – please join us on stage or in the audience! Rehearsals start in room 1351 Humanities, Monday May 19th, 5:15-7:15 pm, and are open to all current UW choral singers, as well as the community. The final concert is June 27, 7:30 pm, at First Congregational United Church of Christ. On the program: Schicksalslied, Op. 54, of Johannes Brahms, and Te Deum, by Georges Bizet.

Graduate wins Elliott Carter Rome Prize for music composition

Paula Matthusen, a 2001 graduate in composition who studied with professor Stephen Dembski and is now Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University has received the Elliot Carter Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. The prize is awarded annually to about thirty people “who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities,” according to the academy’s website.  Winners receive a fellowship and are invited to live in Rome for up to two years. Read a 2009 review of Paula’s work here.

Selected upcoming concerts at the School of Music

(For a full list, please see http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar )

Saturday, April 26: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” or “All-Night Vigil” performed by Choral Union

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The Choral Union in rehearsal. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

On Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW-Madison Choral Union will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” or “All-Night Vigil,” composed in 1915, consisting of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. Read about this work in Madison’s blog, The Well-Tempered Ear.

Tickets: $10/Adults & General Public, Free/Students and Seniors. Call (608) 265-ARTS (2787) for ticket info or buy online (surcharge applies; no surcharge if purchased at box office).

Thursday, May 1: Brian Lynch, the UW Jazz Orchestra and the High School Honors Jazz Band

Lynch to offer master classes on Wednesday, April 30 and Thursday, May 1 – see http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar for details

Grammy-award winning jazz trumpeter Brian Lynch will perform May 1 as a guest of the UW Jazz Orchestra. Lynch, a native of Milwaukee who now makes his home in New York City, will appear in concert with the orchestra and the High School Honors Jazz Band, an auditioned ensemble comprised of the best jazz musicians that Madison-area schools have to offer.  Student tickets $5/general public $10. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/Season13-14/Brian-Lynch.html

Read an earlier post here.

Read an interview with Brian Lynch in the blog, The Cultural Oyster.

Student recitals in full swing; Thimmig & Friends present rarely-heard Morton Feldman work; Perlman Trio + 2 on April 12

Spring means recitals at the School of Music

For musicians in college music programs, spring often means a hectic gathering of resources to produce the ultimate in personal statements: the solo recital. In the next five weeks, we will present dozens of them, offering a smorgasbord ranging from Beethoven to Brazilian.  Most recitals are listed on our calendar; click on “show student recitals” to find them. Selected examples include:

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Mikko Utevsky, conducting the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra in summer 2013. Photograph by Mike Anderson.

Thursday, March 27, 7:30 PM, Capitol Lakes Retirement Community
Mikko Utevsky, viola
Haydn/Piatigorsky,  Divertimento in D major; Bloch, Suite Hebraïque; Milhaud, Viola Sonata No. 1 (“On anonymous, unpublished 18th-century themes”); Brahms, Sonata for Viola (Clarinet) and Piano in E flat major, Op. 120 No.2. Utevsky also directs the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, which is now preparing for summer concerts.

Nicole Tuma
Nicole Tuma. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Saturday, March 29, 1:30 PM, Morphy Hall
Nicole Tuma, flute, with Steve Radtke, piano, Rachel Bottner, cello, Allison Kelley, oboe, Rosemary Jones, clarinet, Ross Duncan, bassoon, and Sarah Gillespie, horn.
“Of Flutes and Fauna: Music Inspired by the Animal Kingdom”
Malagigi the Sorcerer, Efrain Amaya; “Goldfinch” Concerto, Antonio Vivaldi; Opus No. Zoo, Luciano Berio; Solo de Pajarillo, Omar Acosta; and Vox Balaenae, George Crumb.

Oxana Khramova.
Oxana Khramova.

Saturday, April 5, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Oxana Khramova, piano
A DMA solo recital featuring Beethoven’s Sonata op. 10, No. 3 in D Major and Ravel’s Miroirs.

Saturday, April 19, 3:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Quadrivium Saxophone Quartet, performing transcriptions of works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Grieg, and more.

Jacob Wolbert
Jacob Wolbert
Photograph by Mike Anderson

Saturday, April 26, 1:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Jacob Wolbert, percussion. Featuring marimba, multiple percussion and Brazilian music, with special guests!
Many more recitals to be found at this link! http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar  [click “show student recitals]

Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2) presents annual concert

The Perlman Piano Trio + 2.
The 2013-14 Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2). L-R: Madlen Breckbill, violin; Alice Bartsch, violin; Daniel Ma, cello; SeungWha Baek, piano; Jeremy Kienbaum, viola. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

The free annual performance of the student ensemble, the Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2) will take place on Saturday, April 12, at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall in Humanities. The original ensemble, formed as a piano trio in 2007, is funded by Dr. Kato Perlman, a retired research scientist who was inspired by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, who is also heavily involved with the school of music through his support of several competitions. (One of these, the Beethoven Piano Competition, will hold its annual winners’ recital on April 6 at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall. Winners have not yet been announced.)

As students graduate, new musicians audition to replace them. This year’s ensemble consists of Madlen Breckbill, violin; Alice Bartsch, violin; Daniel Ma, cello; SeungWha Baek, piano; and Jeremy Kienbaum, viola. Both Madlen Breckbill and SeungWha Baek were previously featured this year as winners of the school’s annual concerto competition, the Symphony Showcase, while Alice Bartsch was a winner two years ago.

The April program will include the 40-minute long Trio No. 1 in B-flat major for piano, violin, and cello, D. 898, written by Franz Schubert (click here to hear audio) and finished in 1828, just before he died.  It will also include the adagio of the piano trio in E flat major, Hoboken XV:22, by Joseph Haydn, written in 1794, as well as the piano quintet op. 81 in A major by Antonín Dvořák, composed in 1887. A public reception will follow the performance.

Thimmig, Hedstrom and Kleve to perform final work in Morton Feldman trilogy

Russian-Jewish experimental composer (1926-1987) from New York City wrote music that was “glacially slow and snowily soft”

On March 30, at 5 PM in Mills Hall, UW professor Les Thimmig (on flute), pianist Jennifer Hedstrom, and percussionist Sean Kleve (the last two both members of Clocks in Motion, UW-Madison’s new resident percussion ensemble), will perform the final work of three trios, “For Philip Guston,” dedicated to Philip Guston, who was a painter and Feldman’s closest friend, who died in 1980. This final installment is a Wisconsin premiere, according to Thimmig, and is four hours long.

American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was first noted for his inclusion in the “Cage School”; in addition to John Cage, the group included Earle Brown and Christian Wolff. Their approach of “letting the sounds speak for themselves” stood in marked distinction to the structuralist side of the early 1950’s avant garde, a group including Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Milton Babbitt, among others. Feldman’s music served as an important influence and guide in the development of the minimalist school of the 1960’s, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. A prominent influence on Feldman’s musical development was the work of the painters of the New York school of Abstract Expressionism: Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko, among others.

Thimmig3

Thimmig and Feldman were acquaintances in New York, Thimmig says. “We sat on bar stools together, we ate dinner together.” Feldman’s music is not often heard, he adds: “It’s important for this to get out. As the years go by, this kind of music goes into the music history dustbin.”

In 2006, writer Alex Ross of The New Yorker published a lengthy analysis of Feldman; you can read it here.

Ross wrote: “The often noted paradox is that this immense, verbose man wrote music that seldom rose above a whisper. In the noisiest century in history, Feldman chose to be glacially slow and snowily soft. Chords arrive one after another, in seemingly haphazard sequence, interspersed with silences. Harmonies hover in a no man’s land between consonance and dissonance, paradise and oblivion. Rhythms are irregular and overlapping, so that the music floats above the beat. Simple figures repeat for a long time, then disappear. There is no exposition or development of themes, no clear formal structure. Certain later works unfold over extraordinarily lengthy spans of time, straining the capabilities of performers to play them and audiences to hear them. More than a dozen pieces last between one and two hours, and “For Philip Guston” and “String Quartet (II)” go on for much longer. In its ritual stillness, this body of work abandons the syntax of Western music, and performers must set aside their training to do it justice.”

Percussionist Sean Kleve says the the trios “are unlike any performance experience I’ve ever had.”

“I’ve had to work on new ways to experience the music in which I allow myself to concentrate in the moment and not permit my mind to think about what is to come and what I have already played,” he added. “At a certain point in rehearsals, I don’t even feel like the music takes that long to play. Rather, it feels like a series of related or unrelated moments which are happening to me. My major role as the performer is to fit in and allow the music to unfold in its natural pace and patient manner.”

“The Annals of Accompanying”: UW pianist Martha Fischer describes the unique skills needed to be a collaborative pianist

Blogger Jake Stockinger presents a two-part series on his website, “The Well-Tempered Ear,” in which he interviewed UW pianist Martha Fischer and UW baritone Paul Rowe about their upcoming concerts (Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch, which they will perform with alumna Julia Foster, who earned a BA in 2003) as well as the qualities required to become a truly good collaborative pianist.

 

Paul Rowe, Martha Fischer, and alumna Julia Foster.
Paul Rowe, Martha Fischer, and alumna Julia Foster.

“No longer are they called ‘accompanists’; today these performances are understood to be much more,” Fischer says. “If we, as pianists, think of it as “just accompanying” — as a lesser experience — then we are perpetuating the stereotype that accompanists are good sight-readers who should stay in the background and be nothing more than pretty wallpaper to the soloist’s great artistry. If we as pianists bring all we have to offer to the table and are as prepared (or more so) than our partners, then we play in a way that demands respect. And that’s where it should all begin.”

Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.

Concerts:

TONIGHT: Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday, March 26, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.

Vermilion, South Dakota, Friday, March 28, 9AM, University of South Dakota (as part of the National Association of Teachers of Singing regional meeting and competition. The three will then serve as judges the following day.) Click here for more info.

 

Musicologists to gather at UW for the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, April 11 & 12

The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (MGMC) is a joint venture organized by graduate students from Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. MGMC encourages the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Conferences are held annually on a rotating basis, at Madison, Chicago, or Evanston.

The eighteenth annual MGMC meeting will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will include paper sessions, a new music concert, and a keynote address delivered by Tamara Levitz. MGMC 2014 is generously funded by the UW-Madison School of Music and the UW-Madison Lectures Committee. For the full program, click here: https://sites.google.com/site/mgmc2014/program

Friday, April 11, 4PM, Room 2650 Humanities: “Riot at the Rite: Racial Exclusion and the Foundations of Musical Modernism,” a talk by Tamara Leivitz, UCLA. Abstract: “The premiere of Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet Rite of Spring in Paris on May 29, 1913 had received much attention in scholarly works for the infamous riot that confronted its first performance. The lecture aims to deconstruct the myth of the riot, with the goal of exposing the process of racial exclusion in modernist listening practices that emphasized the work’s newness over its strangeness. Through the proliferation of this myth, Prof. Levitz will show how concert organizers, musicologists, and journalists cemented the practices of racial exclusion that define listening cultures of modern music to the present day.”
Saturday, April 12, 1 PM. New Music Concert at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave, featuring new works for Clocks in Motion and the woodwind quintet, Black Marigold. 

Faculty oboist Kostas Tiliakos to perform Greece-inspired program with Christopher Taylor and Stephanie Jutt

Pianist Christopher Taylor and flutist Stephanie Jutt will accompany Kostas Tiliakos on oboe and English horn in his only solo recital this year, April 7 at 7:30 PM in Morphy Hall. His program will consist by composers Minas Alexiadis, Anastassis Philippakopoulos, Theodore Antoniou, Jurgis Juozapaitis, and Thea Musgrave. Tiliakos, a visiting assistant professor of oboe, replaced retiring faculty oboist Marc Fink last fall. “The idea was to play music either written by Greek composers or music inspired by Greece and its history and mythology,” Tiliakos says. Three of the pieces were written and premiered by Tiliakos: Alexiadis’ Folk Cadenza No.5 (premiered at the International Double Reed Conference 2013, at University of Redlands, California); and Philippakopoulos’ Syrna and Antoniou’s Trio Lyrico for oboe, flute, and piano. The last two were premiered by Tiliakos in Athens in 2000 and 2008, respectively.

 

Kostas Tiliakos.
Kostas Tiliakos.

New trombone ensemble holds first concert; Mark Hetzler to solo

The Madison Area Trombone Ensemble will present its inaugural concert at 3pm on Sunday, March 30th, at First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave. Founded by School of Music alumnus and Madison freelance trombonist Kevan Feyzi (BM, 2012), MATE is an all-volunteer group is comprised of some of the top trombonists in the community. The program will feature Mark Hetzler, associate professor of trombone, performing David P. Jones’ Bone Moan, a composition for solo trombone with six-part trombone choir and the title track on Hetzler’s eponymous album, released in December on Summit Records. The program also includes compositions by local trombonist Rich Woolworth plus Randall Thompson, Haydn, Duke Ellington, and arrangements by members of the group.

Trombonist Mark Hetzler.
Trombonist Mark Hetzler. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

“Share the Wonderful” begins second annual fund drive

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As some of you may know, UW-Madison this week began its second “Share the Wonderful”  fundraising campaign, designed to raise money to support students and faculty.
At the School of Music, gifts to the School in particular and Letters and Science more generally have provided countless opportunities to our most talented and ambitious students, to help them grow personally, academically and succeed in their fields. We welcome your contributions.
Over the next two months, we’ll periodically update this blog with stories of how donations have had an impact. Take note: you’ll be hearing from these School of Music students in future years, we have no doubt, as they advance through their lives and careers.
First up is Jacob Wolbert, a senior majoring in percussion, who was a guest blogger while working as a Summer Music Clinic counselor this past June. Jacob then traveled to Brazil to study and will return again in January. Here is his story:
“I received two fellowships over the 2012-13 academic year. The first one was a FLAS (Foreign Language & Area Studies) fellowship that went towards an intensive Portuguese program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last summer. With the help of FLAS, I was able to study Brazilian Portuguese and culture in a fascinating environment and meet people from around the rest of the United States and the world.
“The other fellowship, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hilldale Fellowship, will be used to fund my fieldwork (again, in Rio de Janeiro) for my senior honors thesis in ethnomusicology. Given that my work relies so much on the personal experience of and my own interactions with Brazilian samba musicians, this fellowship has essentially made my ethnographic work possible and provided me with the opportunity to broaden my research and strengthen my thesis.
“After graduation, I plan to take a few years off from school to work in music, education, and languages. Thanks to these scholarships, I have been able to further my love of Brazilian music, develop a better understanding of the Portuguese language, and connect with people across the university and country that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to connect with. From the summer trip, I will never forget my evenings running down a seaside boulevard in Copacabana with mountains in front of and behind me, the ocean to my left, and the teeming Rio metropolis to my right, the view from each side fitting in with the other three. The best single experience was attending a concert at one of the most famous samba schools, Salgueiro, and singing along with a song I learned as a UW-Madison freshman.”

Jacob Wolbert
Jacob Wolbert at an overlook in Brazil

UW’s Summer Music Clinic: A memorable two weeks

For the final two weeks in June, UW-Madison was host to a horde of teenage music enthusiasts at the annual Summer Music Clinic who honed their music chops during lessons, rehearsals and concerts while forming friendships and cultivating new ideas. Camp counselor Jacob Wolbert, an incoming senior in percussion who was one of last spring’s Concerto Competition winners, offered to chronicle events and, while doing so, found himself considering just how much the camp means to him personally. Jacob’s now in Rio de Janeiro, studying Brazilian culture and music in preparation for writing a thesis on samba music. Fanfare wishes to thank Jacob for all his thoughtful commentary.

Chalk art at at the Summer Music Clinic. All photos by Mike Anderson.
Sidewalk art at the Summer Music Clinic. All photos by Mike Anderson.

“Today, I had the privilege of hearing Peter Deneen, a band teacher from Traverse City, inspire his Michigan Band students before their final concert at Summer Music Clinic. Deneen drew from two relentless pursuers of excellence: Vince Lombardi and Ludwig van Beethoven. At one point, Lombardi told his Green Bay Packers, the best football team of the era, “…we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.” Meanwhile, Beethoven once said that “Power is the moral principle of those who excel…” As Deneen shared these two quotes, I watched as the middle schoolers sat with their eyes wide open, their mouths closed, completely enraptured, in the cavernous rehearsal room. Subsequently, the campers, after playing together as a band for only ten hours of their lives, proceeded to Mills Hall to astonish the audience. Their parents, family, and friends gave a vigorous standing ovation, bringing Deneen back on stage twice.

“Pete Deneen represents just one of the many world-class music educators making up the faculty of the UW Summer Music Clinic, but his credo transcends to the entire program. SMC excels symbiotically, in the sense that every contingent of the camp helps one another in striving for excellence. Some of this help is more evident, such as the instruction of campers by teachers, or the properties staff providing instruments, chairs, and music for every class. The campers, although in a lower position of authority, help everyone else just by enthusiastically making music, learning, and having fun. As an ensemble assistant, I have grown from the help of these campers, whether they know it or not. In helping eager, young percussionists, I see their mental gears turning as they adjust their posture in playing bass drum or their stick height for the snare drum. This, in turn, informs me on how others learn and how I can teach.

Richard Davis
Richard Davis, UW professor of bass, teaching at the 2013 Summer Music Clinic. Davis was just named a “Jazz Master” by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“What makes these kids special is that they honestly want to learn more during this week, a week that for many of them is one of the first of their summer. Many campers that I have talked to during meals or free time tell me how they can’t wait to play or sing in their ensembles, but also relate their excitement for non-performance classes, such as Jazz Legends, Music Theory, or Yoga for Musicians. The soon-to-be eighth graders I worked with approached music with a maturity beyond their years. Although they sometimes showed their young age during free time, one could barely tell when they executed such difficult repertoire as Eric Whitacre’s The Seal Lullaby or Frank Ticheli’s Abracadabra. Whether listening to Pete Deneen share his wisdom on how to perform well (“People come to see concerts, not to hear them”) or to counselors telling them the procedure for checking out (“Don’t forget to fold your comforters and put them at the foot of your bed”), the campers listened, and this was reflected in their excellence over the week.

“One of the yearly traditions of SMC, the student recital, offers the campers both the opportunity of dazzling their peers with their talents, as well as learning concert etiquette as a means of expressing respect and friendship. Jacob Rose, an eighth-grade trumpet player from Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove, Minnesota, spoke with me on the experience of playing in this recital. It took Jacob about four months to prepare G. F. Handel’s Aria con Variazione, and even after this time, he was very nervous to play in front of three hundred fellow middle school musicians. However, he highly valued the experience and used his years singing in a choir to combat the natural stage fright. (For the record, Jacob’s performance sent chills down my spine.) For this brilliant young musician with such high potential, the most irksome part of Jacob’s experience was having to wait in the vestibule as other students performed. He plans to continue playing trumpet all of his life and emphasized that he trusts his private teacher with helping to achieve his goals.

“Jacob Rose’s seemingly innocuous comment on trust sheds light on one of the main pillars in achieving the excellence that Pete Deneen was referring to when talking to the Michigan Band. For the collective whole of the UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic to excel, every contingent has to trust each other and work together. In doing so, the campers, counselors, staff, and faculty all reach a heightened sense of what is important in life, and express the power of music to the utmost extent.

“If the junior session of SMC achieves excellence, then the senior session raises the stakes. Although the age difference between the weeks can be as small as one year, the maturity witnessed of the high schoolers really leaves a lasting impression. This year, I encountered some returning campers for whom it was their first time attending the second week; I had been their counselor last year when they were about to enter high school. Apart from being taller and visibly older, the kids’ ability level ascended dramatically, making them able to tackle such gargantuan repertoire as Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony or Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino. Assisting in the Georgia Orchestra with Michael Alexander, I greatly enjoyed watching the progression of the orchestra from stumbling through note accuracy and rhythms on the first day (although not nearly as sloppily as the first-week campers) to acing the tricky violin runs and brass bombardments on the day of the concert. By Friday, the group honestly sounded like a world-class youth orchestra that had played together for many months. Mr. Alexander encouraged this level of musicianship, stressing on the first day that note accuracy would come naturally, but the mature communication required of seasoned orchestras was a skill that had to be actively cultivated in order to excel. Again, one should detect the pattern of excellence among the exceptional conductors who attend this camp.

“During the high school week student recital, I had the chance to talk to Anne Aley. The director of SMC, Anne’s hard work (along with that of her co-director, Julie Welbourne) has provided tens of thousands of kids (myself included) with the most memorable week of their summers, year after year. Watching the masterful performances (some of these kids, although not old enough to drive or vote, would fit right in in collegiate music studios), Anne turned to me and remarked how amazing the change was between the first and second week, but not necessarily in terms of musicianship. Along with having more years at their instruments, the kids have also fomented a stage presence, a professional demeanor, and a captivating sense of communicating the importance in their music to the audience. This concert also sent chills down my spine, but for different reasons.

Julie Welbourne and Anne Aley.
Longtime co-directors of the Summer Music Clinic, Julie Welbourne and Anne Aley.

“This musical communication, while potentially the most visible change between the two weeks, is also what makes the counseling staff such a cohesive, caring unit. Ben and Allison Jaeger, the dorm supervisors and heads of the counseling staff, stress that we open ourselves up to each other, to the kids, and to the camp, sharing what makes us special and extraordinary human beings. While this level of communication may be easy for some of the virtuosic musician counselors to achieve in playing and performing, it can be very hard to bare your soul to those around you on an interpersonal level. Our supervisors trust us to reveal as much of ourselves as we see fit, and this results in counselors helping the kids and each other as we traverse the uncertainties of the world. For many counselors, college has just started, just ended or will be ending soon, and the transitional statuses can make it difficult to cement an identity. Luckily, our belief in each other, and especially in the campers, carries us through our own self-doubt and makes us strong, helping us put aside any negativity in our own lives to just be there for the campers. Over the past two weeks, our staff formed a strong bond, one that left a lasting impact on everyone involved. The kids could see this too, and many of those eligible filed prospective counselor forms for next summer.

“In a world of doubt, turmoil, and anxiety-inducing events occurring almost daily, the UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic represents a breath of fresh air. For the students who attend, this means that they can finally have an open musical dialogue with their kindred spirits, free of judgment or prejudice. For the staff, this means that for two weeks, they can build a family and learn valuable life lessons in selflessness. For everyone, excellence is the result of total communication and we are able to say the most powerful things in the world. I hope to continue communicating with you through music next year at the 2014 UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic.”