Category Archives: John Stevens

“Sounding Beckett” with Cygnus Ensemble; Jazz at UW 50th Birthday; Wind Ensemble Concert April 7 to be livestreamed

March 15, 2018

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/

“Sounding Beckett” – The Intersection of Music and Drama, featuring the Cygnus Ensemble

Friday, March 23, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.

An event focused on music inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Samuel Beckett. Featuring a concert by New York’s Cygnus Ensemble, instrumental master classes, a lecture and panel discussion with Patricia Boyette, UW-Madison professor of theatre & drama and Laura Schwendinger, UW-Madison faculty composer and professor of composition.

Samuel Beckett


With its pairs of plucked strings, bowed strings and woodwinds, Cygnus has a precedent in the Elizabethan “broken consort.”
  The members –Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Robert Ingliss, oboe; William Anderson and Oren Fader, classical and electric guitars/mandolin/banjo; Calvin Wiersma, violin; Susannah Chapman, violoncello–are all virtuoso players with a great wealth of experience with some of our most cherished musical institutions, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Players.

Read more here.


Celebrating a milestone with students, faculty and special guest, trumpeter Marquis Hill

This April, UW-Madison’s annual Jazz Week will celebrate the 50th anniversary season of the UW Jazz Orchestra, the first jazz ensemble at UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.

Jazz Week 2018 will feature performances by the UW Jazz Orchestra, the UW Jazz Composers Group, the UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, the UW High School Honors Jazz Band, and a faculty jazz quartet, all to be joined by special guest trumpet soloist Marquis Hill, the winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition.

Hill is a Chicago native who now makes his home in New York City. “His music crystallizes the hard-hitting, hard-swinging spirit of Chicago jazz,” writes Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune. “Hill commands a nimble technique, a fluid way of improvising and a pervasively lyrical manner.”


Marquis Hill

UW’s Jazz Week 2018 features three concerts:

  • Tuesday, April 24: Marquis Hill with the UW Jazz Composers Group and the UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble. Morphy Hall, 7:30 PM. Free concert.
  • Thursday, April 26: Marquis Hill with a faculty jazz quartet led by pianist and Director of Jazz Studies Johannes Wallmann with Les Thimmig, saxophones; Nick Moran, bass; and Matt Endres, drums. Morphy Hall, 8:00 PM. Ticketed concert: $15 adults, $5 non-music majors.
  • Friday, April 27: Marquis Hill with the UW Jazz Orchestra and the UW High School Honors Jazz Band. Music Hall, 8:00 PM. Ticketed concert: $15 adults, $5 non-music majors.

The UW High School Honors Jazz Band is an auditioned 18-member big band for high school students from about a dozen Madison-region schools who are looking for an additional opportunity to perform advanced jazz repertoire.

To buy online, click this link.

You may also purchase in person or at the door. For more information about ticketing and parking options, click here.


“We don’t want THAT word uttered in OUR school”: Listen to our audio stories on SoundCloud about the history of jazz at UW-Madison and at American colleges. With university saxophonist and professor Les Thimmig, who arrived at UW-Madison in 1971, just as the jazz program was getting started. To listen, click the icon below.

Speaking of jazz:

Alumnus trumpeter Eric Siereveld releases debut CD

In 2015, trumpeter Eric Siereveld was wooed from New York City to become the instructor of jazz trumpet and director of the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble at the School of Music. In 2017, with a brand-new DMA under his arm, he returned to New York City to pursue a multi-pronged career, including performing with his Organic Quintet, working as a private instructor at the United Nations International School in Manhattan, gigs on and off Broadway, and playing in many small groups and big bands.

He’s just released his debut CD, titled “Walk the Walk,” on Shifting Paradigm Records.

Eric writes: “As a DMA student at UW-Madison, I was provided the opportunity to pursue the musical endeavors that I felt a personal connection to. Under the guidance of tremendous professors like Johannes Wallmann and John Aley, they taught me to focus my energy toward musical pursuits that were both professionally and artistically fulfilling. It’s with that spirit that I approached this debut recording. This album reflects the creative spirit and artistic integrity at UW. The compositions on “Walk the Walk” are deeply rooted in the musical process I was going through while completing my DMA. I am particularly proud that this album was recorded, mixed and mastered in Madison and Milwaukee. Without the support of my professors and colleagues at UW and Madison, I do not believe this recording would have been as successful. I hope my teachers, mentors and colleagues at UW-Madison enjoy this recording and that the university shares this album with incoming DMA students. “Walk the Walk” is an example of the type of creative thinking that the DMA program at the Mead Witter School of Music allows its candidates to pursue.”


April 7 Wind Ensemble concert to be livestreamed on YouTube

The UW Wind Ensemble. Photograph by Megan Aley.

Livestreaming in the Humanities building has always been a challenge, but new technology has made this a bit easier. So, on April 7, set your dials (a/k/a your browser URLs) to the School of Music’s YouTube page. There, you’ll find the UW Wind Ensemble with conductor Scott Teeple overseeing a concert of music by emeritus composer John Stevens, Francis Poulenc, Cindy McTee, Gustav Holst and Gerard Schwartz.  Livestream Link Here

Click now, and set a reminder for April 7!


Our Full Concert Calendar

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The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..


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British Choral Composer to visit UW; Wind Ensemble travels to Carnegie; John Stevens trombone premiere; more!

AWARD-WINNING CHORAL COMPOSER TO VISIT UW-MADISON Feb. 19-21

British composer Cecilia McDowall, a recent winner of the British Composer Award for her work, Night Flight, for choir and solo cello, will jump the pond in late February for a three-day residency at the School of Music. The residency–McDowall’s first in the U.S.– will include two concerts, one featuring the U.S. premiere of her work, Seventy Degrees Below Zero, commissioned in 2012 to honor the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

McDowallWEB

The classical magazine Gramophone describes McDowall as having “a piquant musical vocabulary, underpinned by moments of pure lyricism.” In 2008, the Phoenix Chorale won a Grammy Award for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” for its Chandos CD, “Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary,” which included a work, Three Latin Motets, by Cecilia McDowall.

Visit our website to learn details of her residency: http://www.music.wisc.edu/cecilia-mcdowall/

Hear her music at this site: https://soundcloud.com/cecilia-mcdowall
Please join us for one or more of our events!

  • COLLOQUIUM Thursday Feb. 19, noon, Mills Hall: Meet the composer! McDowall will describes how she creates music based on real or imagined events. Free.
  • CONCERT Friday Feb. 20, 8PM, Mills Hall: Featuring the U.S. premiere of Seventy Degrees Below Zero. With UW Madrigal Singers and Concert Choir (Bruce Gladstone, conductor) and a faculty/student chamber orchestra conducted by James Smith.  Michael DuVernois of the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center will offer a slideshow describing the past and the present in polar research.  Free reception to follow!
    Tickets: $20 adults, free for students. Buy online (click link) ; in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door.
  • CONCERT Saturday, Feb 21, 8 PM, Mills Hall: The Chamber Music of Cecilia McDowall. Free.

Learn much more at our website: http://www.music.wisc.edu/cecilia-mcdowall/

News flash: Our Spring 2015 event brochure is now available in an interactive format! Click this link to view: http://www.music.wisc.edu/flipbook/

UW WIND ENSEMBLE TO PERFORM AT CARNEGIE HALL IN MARCH-Catch their send-off concert on Feb. 24
The UW Wind Ensemble. Photograph by Megan Aley.
The UW Wind Ensemble. Photograph by Megan Aley.

The Wind Ensemble and its conductor, Scott Teeple, plans a trip too, not across the ocean but across half the country: a performance on March 9 at Carnegie Hall. You can hear them perform prior to their New York concert on Feb. 24, a ticketed fundraiser and preview concert,  will include works by Vaughan Williams, Kathryn Salfelder, Percy Grainger, and others. Tickets: $10 adults, free for students. Buy online (click link); in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door. Read more here.

Many thanks to Lau and Bea Christenson and the UW-Madison School of Music for supporting this trip.

DOCTORAL TROMBONIST COMMISSIONS AND PERFORMS A JOHN STEVENS PREMIERE

How do new classical works get funded these days? Sometimes, it’s the product of “consortia,” a group of universities and orchestras interested in new works. Such is the case with the Kleinhammer Sonata for bass trombone,  named for the former bass trombonist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and newly written by former tuba professor and composer John Stevens. As part of his doctoral dissertation, Alan Carr, a trombonist in the studio of Prof. Mark Hetzler, secured underwriting from UW-Madison and many others, including the Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Detroit symphonies and the Metropolitan Opera. The new sonata will be part of a new CD that features works for bass trombone, none previously recorded.  Come hear Carr will perform the new sonata on March 3 in Mills Hall at 7:30 PM, along with pianist Vincent Fuh. Composer John Stevens is expected to attend. Read more here.

ALUMNA SOPRANO EMILY BIRSAN PROFILED IN CLASSICAL SINGER MAGAZINE
Emily Birsan (3)
Emily Birsan

“[UW provided] a small hall and a safe environment,” Emily Birsan says of her experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “But that situation really boosted my confidence that I could take on these pretty big leading ladies and make them my own.” Birsan is featured on the front cover of February’s Classical Singer magazine. Read the full article here. 

MUSICOLOGY DISSERTATOR RECEIVES OPERA AWARD

Robert Torre, a PhD candidate in musicology studying with Professor Jeanne Swack, recently received the Leland Fox Scholarly Paper Award from the National Opera Association for his essay “Cultural Translatio and Arne’s Artaxerxes (1762).” The paper is part of a broader project that examines the role of translation in the composition and reception of Italian opera in eighteenth-century London. Robert is currently visiting faculty at Emory University in Atlanta.

HOMAGE TO RAMEAU CONTINUES THIS SPRING

Prof. Charles Dill‘s massive effort to pull together a series of events to commemorate the work of Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau will continue this spring, with events on Feb. 5 (Chazen Museum); March 11 (Chemistry Building–yes, you read that right);  April 18 (Morphy Hall) and April 17 & 18 (performance of Pygmalion by the Madison Bach Musicians, at the First Unitarian Society Church). Why in Chemistry, you ask? Because chemistry professor Rod Schreiner knows a bit about the principles of string vibration and sound propagation that influenced Rameau. Even today, 250 years after his death, Rameau’s work is considered seminal, so please join us to learn more! Full information can be found here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/rameau/ All events are free.

WISCONSIN BRASS QUINTET COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. L-R: Mark Hetzler; Daniel Grabois; John Aley; Tom Curry; Jessica Jensen. Photograph by Megan Aley.
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. L-R: Mark Hetzler; Daniel Grabois; John Aley; Tom Curry; Jessica Jensen. Photograph by Megan Aley.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet will travel around Wisconsin this spring with an all-new program of works written or arranged for brass, including compositions by Cecilia McDowall (who will travel from England in late February for our residency), Malcolm Arnold, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Vladimir Cosma, and William Mathias. Towns will include Ashland, Richland Center, Kohler, and others. Check this website to find more locations and times.

Meanwhile, UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet and the Wingra Woodwind Quartet will also travel this spring to perform, all in keeping with the Wisconsin Idea of outreach to the state. All their outstate concerts can be found on this website:  http://artsoutreach.wisc.edu/index.html

HEAR OUR CONCERTO WINNERS SOLO WITH ORCHESTRA THIS WEEKEND: SUNDAY, FEB. 8: 7 PM, MILLS HALL
L-R: Keisuke Yamamoto; Ivana Ugrcic; Jason Kutz; and Anna Whiteway. Missing: Composition winner Adam Betz. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
L-R: Keisuke Yamamoto; Ivana Ugrcic; Jason Kutz; and Anna Whiteway. Missing: Composition winner Adam Betz. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Grab a spot this Sunday for our annual “Symphony Showcase” concert featuring our concerto competition winners. Tickets are $10.00 for adults, free to students, and include a reception in Mills lobby immediately following. This event is always joyous; we encourage all to attend! Read more here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/symphony-showcase/

Buy tickets online (click link) or in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door.

RONIS AND TEAM WIN PRIZE AT NATIONAL OPERA ASSOCIATION

We congratulate visiting director of opera David Ronis, whose Queens College-CUNY production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites” recently won third place in Division 4 of the 2013-14 National Opera Association’s Production Competition. Ronis and his team have won twice before, in 2009 and 2011.

David Ronis.
David Ronis

 

 

 

 

 

 

With that in mind, you won’t want to miss this spring’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, also directed by Ronis. There will be four shows, one more than the usual number:  March 13 at 7:30pm; March 14 at 7:30pm; March 15 at 3:00pm; and March 17 at 7:30pm. Buy tickets online (click link) or in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door. More info to come! http://www.music.wisc.edu/opera/

From the Gallery: Scenes from two recent concerts at the School of Music. All photographs by Michael R. Anderson.

HELPFUL LINKS

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Concert Calendar

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

UW-Madison alumnus studied with UW’s John Stevens and Northwestern’s Rex Martin

The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Appleton native Tom Curry as Visiting Assistant Professor of Tuba, replacing Professor of Tuba John Stevens who will retire this spring after 29 years in the position.

Tom Curry
Tom Curry

Curry, a former student of John Stevens’, graduated from UW-Madison in 2009 with a degree in music performance and communication arts and was on the Dean’s List for eight semesters with a 4.00 GPA. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in music performance and literature from Northwestern University, studying with Rex Martin, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in music performance there. He is principal tubist of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Joffrey Ballet, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ars Viva Symphony, and many other orchestras.

Curry maintains a large studio of private low brass students at several Chicago-area high schools and also teaches supplemental tuba and euphonium lessons and master classes at Northwestern. He has served as a low brass instructor at the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Clinic and as a guest tuba and euphonium instructor at Lawrence University.

In addition to teaching the Tuba/Euphonium Studio, Curry will play in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a position he also held during his final semester at UW while John Stevens was on sabbatical.

Tom Curry
Tom Curry

In Chicago, Curry has regularly appeared with several local and national rock and popular acts, including performances with the Grammy-nominated group Foster the People and the local band, Mucca Pazza.

“We’re ecstatic,” says Mark Hetzler, professor of trombone. “There’s an energy about Tom which comes across in how he teaches and plays. And he understands the style of teaching here: the faculty connection with students is extremely important. He’s going to continue that tradition.”

“It’s quite an honor to come back to a place that had such a formative influence on me,” Curry says. “To be in that environment is an incredible opportunity.”

For more information, please contact Mark Hetzler, hetzler@wisc.edu, 608-628-5026.

Tuba meister and composer John Stevens leaves legacy of song

Written by Paul Baker

By The Numbers:
  • 18: the number of feet a note must travel from tuba mouthpiece to the bell
  • 29: the number of years John Stevens has invested in the School of Music as teacher, composer, administrator, and conductor.
  • 50: the number of compositions Stevens has written
  • 1951: the year Stevens was born in Buffalo, NY.
  • 2000: the year the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered Stevens’s concerto, “Journey”

A semester-long series of events marks the retirement of music professor John Stevens, a man known for his grace as a teacher, performer, administrator, and composer. (Scroll down for complete schedule, or download it here:  Spring2014_Stevens_concerts )

John Stevens, 2004.
John Stevens, 2004.

Stevens the teacher enjoys getting to know his students over the period of years and watching them grow. They move on to perform in quartets, bands, and orchestras, and many have landed college level teaching gigs. Beyond learning about the craft of playing the instrument, he expects them to grow in their musical thinking and in their ability to conduct business as a professional.

Stevens the performer feeds his appetite for chamber music by performing with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Playing in a professional ensemble of like-minded and excellent musicians is “as good as it gets,” he says.

Stevens the administrator has enjoyed representing the School of Music to the larger University community, and doing what he can to advance its mission.

And for the past 20 years Stevens the composer has written works for tuba, euphonium, trumpet, trombone, oboe, brass quintet, and woodwind quintet. On March 9 the University Orchestra will perform “Journey,” his concerto for tuba and orchestra, featuring Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny, a concert co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Theater. (Read more here.)

From High School to The Big Time

Stevens’s parents were not musicians. His musical ambitions were whetted while playing in his high school’s nationally renowned band program. The director arranged for many inspiring guest musicians to perform with the award-winning ensemble, and before long Stevens realized music was the only career that interested him. He went on to attend the Eastman School of Music, graduating in 1973, and the Yale University School of Music, completing a master’s in 1975.

Then New York City called. For years Stevens made a reasonably good living as a free lancer,  performing often with his Eastman colleague Chuck Mangione, riding on the popularity of the album “Chase The Clouds Away” and the pop hit “Feels So Good.” Stevens also performed in the New York Tuba Quartet and the American Brass Quintet, and under the batons of James Levine, Leonard Slatkin, and Zubin Mehta.

Then he found himself on Broadway, where he paid the bills with 500 performances as a tuba player in the musical “Barnum” . In 1980,  the show made it all the way to the Tony Awards at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York, where Stevens entertained the crowd in the audience with a uniformed march down the aisle, wrapped in a sousaphone. (Click here for the video; advance to 4:50 minutes to see Stevens.) (For the record, “Evita” won “Best Musical” that year; “Barnum” won in several other categories.)

John Stevens
Yes, that’s John Stevens wearing a bandleader’s hat
and wrapped in a sousaphone. Screenshot from YouTube.

Over the years, Stevens learned that being self-employed demands quick thinking, versatility, and the willingness to jump in to the hot seat. He recalls a Friday night when the New York City Opera called to ask him to substitute for a sick tubist. They wanted him to play Tosca on Saturday and La Boheme on Sunday. And they wanted him to play on a strange instrument, to boot: an E flat cimbasso. Without benefit of rehearsal.

Many musicians would have quailed. For his part, Stevens had never performed in either opera and had no experience with an E flat instrument, never mind a cimbasso. “I had never before done any aspect of that job,” he says. “But I said, ‘Yes absolutely. I’ll be there and do it.’”

So he got to the theatre early and introduced himself to the cimbasso, only to discover it was out of tune. Then he had to start figuring out transpositions. Then the conductor raised the baton.  John wisely took advantage of the tacet sections (the places where he didn’t need to play) to decipher whatever was coming next. He realized that if he did even a passable job, they’d be happy. And if a did a really good job, they’ll be thrilled. He was right.

It was the kind of challenge he likes. “And all the time, you’re playing incredibly beautiful music with a fine orchestra.”

In transition

That was one of many freelance assignments he found satisfying and exciting, but too many were “just for the money,” he says. He imagined himself as a freelancer ten years in the future: having to accept any and every job offer, whether satisfying or forgettable. He was living in a studio apartment with his wife and considering a family. New York just wouldn’t do. So he began looking for more stability, a job with benefits. When a faculty position opened at the University of Miami, he applied.

He speaks fondly of his years at Miami. But one important thing was missing: the opportunity to play chamber music. After several years there a position opened at the UW-Madison, and it included a seat in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.

That’s all it took. The WBQ, as it’s called, already had a national reputation for its musicianship and the quality of its repertoire. Stevens came, and he thrived.  In the WBQ each player contributes 20 percent of the creativity. “You get good at presenting your ideas in a collegial manner. It’s like a marriage among five people,” he jokes.

Composing creates bonds

As much as he loves performing, Stevens considers composing equally important. He loves developing and nurturing the personal relationships that result from collaborating, and writes many of his pieces for people he knows. Far from being an isolating activity, composing creates bonds he finds intimate and satisfying.

Among others, Stevens has composed for tubist Roger Bobo, trumpeter John Aley, oboist Marc Fink, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, the Oakwood Chamber Players, the International Trumpet Guild, the Wisconsin School Music Association (“Fanfare for an Uncommon Man,” in honor of the late Marvin Rabin), Germany’s Melton Tuba Quartett, and the New York Tuba Quartet. Many of his more than 50 original compositions and 22 arrangements are available on the CD labels Naxos, Albany, Mark, Centaur, and Summit. Perhaps his most notable composition is Journey, a concerto for tuba and orchestra.

In the late 1990s, Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny asked Stevens to submit works for consideration in a new competition. Stevens was honored. The Chicago Symphony’s brass section has traditionally accounted for much of the orchestra’s worldwide fame, and concertos had already been commissioned for its trumpets and trombones, but not for a tuba. Because Stevens had not composed for a full orchestra, he submitted examples of his chamber music and tuba pieces. Then he forgot all about it, until several months later, when Pokorny called to tell Stevens he had won the commission.

“I had to sit down,” he says. “For a composer, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, to write for the Chicago Symphony.”

He began his homework, asking Pokorny about his favorite composers and about his hopes for the piece. He studied scores by Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss. “I was trying to get a feel for what to do, given this huge palette, of having one of the world’s great symphony orchestras to work with.” The piece was premiered in 2000 and will be performed here March 9 with Pokorny as soloist.

Stevens is now writing a multi-movement piece for bass trombone, commissioned by a dozen players who perform in ensembles ranging from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to the San Francisco Symphony. Trombonist and UW-Madison school of music doctoral student  Alan Carr, who arranged for the commission, says he expects the piece will become a substantial contribution to the instrument’s repertory. Carr credits Stevens with writing music that’s accessible to an audience and also interesting for the performers, something relatively few composers can manage.

Teacher, Administrator, and Judge

Sitting in his studio in the Mosse Humanities Building on a cold winter morning, Stevens talks about his pride in his current and former students. Graduates of the UW-Madison tuba/euphonium program are known for excelling as musicians and as teachers. Stevens says that’s because they work hard at developing the craft of playing their instruments, the art of making music with that craft, the skills necessary to share those abilities with others in a productive way, and the necessary knowledge of the business of music.

Former students play professionally, in the Jacksonville Symphony, the U.S. Marine Band, the Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet, and the Youngblood Brass Band. Some teach in public schools and in college, includng the University of Alabama, Baylor, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi, Northern Colorado, Illinois State, Emporia State, UW-Whitewater, UW-Platteville, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

Stevens has also served as a judge or panelist at many competitions: Michigan’s annual Leonard Falcone solo competition, International Tuba and Euphonium Association competitions, and Finland’s Lieksa Brass Festival. He serves on the music panel of the National YoungArts Foundation, a national competition for America’s most talented high school young artists. Over the years, he says, one develops a reputation for not only having the musical expertise to judge such competitions, but the sort of personality and approach to the task that makes one a desirable member of competition juries.

He has enjoyed those experiences, as well as his two stints as director of the School of Music. The job requires juggling a lot of balls in the air, he says, and one gets pulled in a lot of directions. But you just try to do what’s best for the school, operating within the way the university works. Colleague and pianist Martha Fischer has accompanied Stevens for countless concerts, recording sessions, and road trips. She says Stevens was an effective director “because he’s a sane human being. He’s good at seeing the big picture. He sees the world in an incredibly positive way.”

As Stevens reflects on his three decades at Madison he notes the quality and nature of the students and faculty. He appreciates the institutional encouragement and support to engage in meaningful and rewarding work. For him, that means performance, composition, and conducting.

Retirement will offer a little more time to enjoy his personal CD collection. Most often, he expects to pull out something by Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall, or Edith Piaf. “They sing with such passion and such commitment,” he says. “And I’m a singer at heart.”

Spring 2014 concerts featuring John Stevens, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet,

current and former tuba/euphonium students, School of Music faculty, and the UW Symphony Orchestra

 

Tuesday February 11: Faculty Concert Series

Program

Mozart, Horn Quintet. Horn Quintet in E-flat major, K. 407 (386c)
(composed c. 1782 and scored for violin, 2 violas, cello and horn)
I.               Allegro
II.              Andante
III.            Rondo. Allegro

Mahler, Songs of a Wayfarer,  1883–1885

Brahms, Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40, 1865
I. Andante
II. Scherzo (Allegro)
III. Adagio mesto
IV. Allegro con brio

Notes. John Stevens presents arrangements for tuba. Guest artists include David Perry, Sally Chisholm, Katrin Talbot, Parry Karp, Martha Fischer.

 

 

Saturday March 8: Faculty Concert Series

Program

Viva Voce! (2003)
Diversions (1978)
Tournament (1999)
Triangles (1978)
Music 4 Tubas (1974)
Hodesanna (2012)

Notes: A chamber music concert featuring six Stevens compositions.
Performers include a tuba/euphonium quartet of former students, members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, and the Sotto Voce Quartet. Sotto Voce is one of the world’s foremost brass chamber ensembles. Its members are former UW-Madison students.

Viva Voce! (2003) was composed for the Sotto Voce Quartet (Demondrae Thurman and Mark Carlson – Euphoniums, Nat McIntosh and Michael Forbes – Tubas).

Diversions (1978) Sotto Voce Quartet. (Thurman and Forbes go their MMs here, Carlson got his MM and DMA and McIntosh was an undergraduate here). Diversions was composed for the New York Tuba Quartet, of which Stevens was a member.

Tournament (1999) John Aley and Jessica Jensen – Trumpets

Triangles (1978)   Dan Grabois – Horn, Mark Hetzler – Trombone, John Stevens – Tuba

Music 4 Tubas (1974) Performed by four former students. Donald Deal and Griffin James – Euphoniums, John Bottomley and David Spies – Tubas.  Whitewater native Griffin James is Stevens’s son-in-law; Don Deal, Griffin’s former high school band director, received his DMA in Trombone at UW-Madison. Deal’s son, Robert Wiley-Deal, is a current member of the tuba/euphonium ensemble.

Hodesanna (2012) The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. This work was composed in memory of former MM and DMA student Jeff Hodapp, who died of a heart attack at age 52 in 2009.  The WBQ premiered the work in the fall of 2012.

Sunday March 9: UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra with guest soloist Gene Pokorny, principal tubist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Program

Journey, a concerto for tuba and orchestra .  Composed by John Stevens as a commission by Gene Pokorny and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, premiered in 2000.


Sunday Mar 9: Tuba/Euphonium Extravaganza.

Program

Fanfare for a Friend (1991)
Five Dances (1988)  Tylman Susato, composer; arr. John Stevens
Adagio (1992)
Power (1974)
Anna Magdalena Suite.                  J.S. Bach, composer, arr. John Stevens
Dances (1975)   Performed by the Sotto Voce Quartet
Moondance (1989)
Benediction (2003)
Notes
A large tuba/euphonium ensemble made up of current group members and alumni, including Stevens’s older daughter Katie and son-in-law Griffin James).  Stevens conducts a program of his own compositions and arrangements.

Saturday March 29Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Program

Distant Voices  (David Sampson)
The Gershwins and Harold (J. Stevens)
The Brass Calendar  (Peter Schickele)
Contrapunctus 1    (J.S. Bach)

Notes: This marks Stevens’s final on-campus concert with the WBQ .

Distant Voices is a 4-movement, contemporary work inspired by people who were big influences on the composer as a person and musician.

The Gershwins and Harold  features 4 songs by the Gershwins (3 composed by George and one by Harold Arlen, but all lyrics by Ira).  The “accompaniment” is arranged for brass quintet. Guest vocalist Abby Nichols is a leading lady of Madison’s musical theater scene and is Stevens’s younger daughter.

Stevens calls The Brass Calendar “a delightful trip through the 12 months of the year by America’s foremost composer/music humorist.”

About J.S. Bach’s Contrapunctus Stevens says, “I can think of no composer more appropriate to end my brass quintet career performing.”

Saturday April 19:  Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble.

Program  TBA

Notes:  This brass chamber music extravaganza will feature several student brass ensembles, trumpets and horns.