Category Archives: Les Thimmig

“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

calendar

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


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.

Advertisements

Concerto Winners on stage March 18; Meet Satoko Hayami from “Sound Out Loud”; Jazz Orchestra 50th anniversary podcast

March 2, 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/


“Symphony Showcase” Coming Soon!

Sunday,  March 18, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall

We’ve announced this before, but here’s a reminder: Our annual concerto winners solo recital (a/k/a Symphony Showcase”) takes place at 7:30 PM on March 18 in Mills Hall.

Our 2018 winners are Kaleigh Acord, violin (Beethoven, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, first movement); Aaron Gochberg, percussion (Keiko Abe, Prism Rhapsody); Eleni Katz, bassoon (Mozart, Bassoon Concerto in B flat major); Eric Tran, piano (Bach, Concerto No. 4 in A Major); and Mengmeng Wang, composer (premiere: “Blooming”).

Tickets are only $10 for adults, free to students, and there’s a free reception after the show in Mills Hall. Buy tickets here or at the door.


Meet Satoko Hayami, graduate pianist

Satoko, a doctoral student in Professor Martha Fischer‘s studio,  is a member of Sound Out Loud, a recent winner of The American Prize.  Here’s an excerpt from our recent Q&A with Satoko:
“The idea of starting a contemporary chamber music ensemble came to me in searching for ways to better connect with more diverse audiences. I felt that the diverse musical language in contemporary repertoire might have as much or even more potential to be relevant to the different kinds of audiences including young people and non-classical music fans than older repertoire, if presented in appropriate ways. I wanted to team up with people who are open to different, sometimes unconventional ways to present music, and was lucky to find people who share the similar interests, openness and enthusiasm right away.”

Read more here.
Satoko Hayami


James Latimer wins award

Emeritus Professor of Percussion James Latimer won a Lifetime Achievement Award at annual Wisconsin Days of Percussion event, January 27, 2018 in Milwaukee. While at UW-Madison, Latimer spearheaded a Duke Ellington Festival, started the Madison Marimba Quartet, initiated the first of 300 Young Audience Concerts held in public schools from 1969 to 1984, and hosted the Wisconsin Percussive Arts Society “Days of Percussion.”


Shain Woodwind/Piano Duo winners concert

3:30 pm, Sunday, March 4,  Morphy Hall

A competition and recital sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain
Winners were announced on Tuesday, February 27. They include: Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo, bassoon and Satoko Hayami, piano;
Anna Fisher-Roberts, flute and Eric Tran, piano.

Read more here.

Local arts reviewers loved “La Boheme”

University Opera’s production of LA BOHEME. Foreground, left to right: Claire Powling (Musetta), Michael Kelley (Waiter), Jake Elfner (Alcindoro) Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
“University Opera’s “La Bohème” proves a complete success on all counts – from the staging and the costumes to the singing and the orchestra”
Larry Wells, The Well-Tempered Ear, Feb. 27.

“Ronis’ able hand was evident in the players’ acting. The cast was consistently believable, and consequently I was drawn into their world and suffered along with their despair over love’s inconsistencies and death’s sting. Using my acid test for a performance’s success, I never glanced at my watch either night. I was fully engaged.

“The orchestra was a marvel. Conductor Chad Hutchinson let it soar when it was appropriate, but the orchestra never overshadowed the singers. In fact, the key term that kept occurring to me both evenings was balance. The acting, the back-and-forth between the singers, and the interplay between the orchestra and the singers were consistently evenhanded.

“As for the singers, the primary roles were double cast. Friday’s Mimi was Shaddai Solidum whose first aria “Mi chiamano Mimi” was a lesson in the mastery of legato. Saturday’s Mimi was Yanzelmalee Rivera who possesses a bell-like voice of remarkable agility.”

Read the entire review here.
Yanzelmalee Rivera as Mimi in University Opera’s production of LA BOHEME. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
University Opera Offers a Gem in a Bejewelled Setting
Greg Hettsmanberger, What Greg Says, 2.27.18

“Again we have been given much to look forward to; certainly it is unrealistic to see University Opera in Shannon Hall every season, but we can hope that it becomes a semi-regular occurrence. The greater lesson from Sunday’s performance however is this: wherever Ronis and his “kids” show up, the audience is in store for some memorable opera. The national awards and recognition that the program are consistently earning are richly deserved, and our town is clearly the richer for what these folks are giving us.”

Read the full review here.

Johannes Wallmann and Jazz at UW-Madison

“Bucky’s Jazz Savior,”  Madison Magazine, February 2018

“It was that combination of vision, leadership and expertise as a pianist and composer that quickly pushed him to the top of UW–Madison’s list of candidates for director of jazz studies. During [Director of Jazz Studies Johannes] Wallmann’s first year of teaching here, in 2012-2013, he sought out and performed with many local jazz musicians as a means of building relationships and moving the music program forward.

“In less than five years, Wallmann took the Jazz Studies undergraduate program from zero enrollees to 17. It’s an important part of the efforts to revitalize Madison’s jazz community.”

Read the story here.

Announcement: The UW Jazz Orchestra is turning 50! April’s annual Jazz Fest will celebrate this anniversary with three concerts featuring guest trumpeter Marquis Hill, winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition. Learn about the history of the Jazz Orchestra with our new six-episode podcasts with Les Thimmig, longtime composer and saxophonist. Listen to Episode 1 on our SoundCloud channel.


The American Prize first-place vocal winner coming to Madison on March 19 & 20

Vocalist Kristina Bachrach, recent winner of The American Prize in Vocal Performance and the Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award, will perform a concert on March 20 at 7:00 PM in Music Hall. Accompanied by faculty pianist Daniel Fung, she’ll sing selections from “The Recovered Voices Initiative,” started by James Conlon and Los Angeles Opera, which focuses on musical works and musicians that were either suppressed or killed by the Nazi regime in World War II.

Kristina Bachrach
Read about Kristina, the Initiative, and The American Prize at this link.

Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

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


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.

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:

MIKKO_uwmusic-mayco-080713-4542
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.

UW concerto winners to strut their stuff at “Symphony Showcase” on Feb. 8

Join us for a post-concert reception at Tripp Commons! Seating limited: Tickets $10 per person. Buy them here. 

Written by Nicole Tuma, graduate flutist and concert assistant, UW-Madison School of Music

For most UW-Madison students, winter break is a time for new beginnings.  A time to put away that heavy textbook you’re so sick of lugging to the library and replacing it with another – hopefully lighter – one.  A time to take one last glance at the comments your professor made on your term paper and start gathering your energies before researching the next.  For pianists Sung Ho Yang and Seungwha Baek, flutist Mi-li Chang, clarinetist Kai-Ju Ho, and violinist Madlen Breckbill, however, this is not the case.  These five School of Music students will be spending part of their break preparing for the “Symphony Showcase,” a concert that presents some of UW’s finest young musicians in solo performances with the UW Symphony Orchestra. For most, this process began over the summer, when they chose their repertoire for October’s Concerto Competition preliminaries.

On Saturday, February 8th, at 7 pm in Mills Concert Hall (note: this concert was originally scheduled for 8 pm) all five winners will be featured in performances with maestro James Smith with graduate conductor Kyle Knox and the UW Symphony Orchestra in an exciting evening of stylistically diverse concertos propelled by these students’ talent and energy. A sixth winner, composition undergraduate student Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova, will have her winning work, Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra, performed by the symphony and saxophone soloist Erika Anderson.

The concert is free and will be followed by a celebratory ticketed reception at Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union, featuring hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Tickets will be $10 per person. (Space will be limited! Reserve your spot early at this site.)

 left to right:  Mi-Li Chang (flute), Madlen Breckbill (violin), SungHo Yang (piano), SeungWha Baek (piano), Kai-Ju Ho (clarinet)
left to right: Mi-Li Chang (flute), Madlen Breckbill (violin),
SungHo Yang (piano), SeungWha Baek (piano), Kai-Ju Ho (clarinet).
Not in photo: Composer Daria Tennikova.
Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

For Kai-Ju Ho, a clarinetist from Taiwan, performing with the symphony will be a dream come true, she says.  “I remember the first time I heard this concerto was on a recording when I was a freshman. I swore that one day I’d play it!”

Concertos, with their exhilarating combination of soloistic pyrotechnics and dedicated ensemble playing, are some of the jewels of the orchestral repertoire, and the opportunity to perform a concerto with an orchestra is an experience that musicians truly savor. For woodwind lovers, this year’s Symphony Showcase concert will be a real treat, as it will include two of the most popular woodwind concertos: Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto (1948) and Jacque Ibert’s Flute Concerto (1934).   The Copland was written for and premiered by Benny Goodman and has an irrepressibly jazzy second movement, while the Ibert is a crowd-pleasing work that alternates dreamy, languid passages with a bubbly, lighthearted finale infused with Spanish dance rhythms and a hint of jazz.  There will also be two piano concertos on February’s program, Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb Major (mid-1800s) and Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major (1921).  Both are technically brilliant works that marry their composers’ mature styles with youthful themes composed years earlier, when Liszt and Prokofiev were students.  Finally, there will be a performance of the first movement of Samuel Barber’s beloved Violin Concerto, a lyrical masterpiece that violinists and audiences have loved since its 1941 premiere.

The concert will open with a performance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s always exciting Russian Easter Festival Overture,  written in 1888-89.

All five solo pieces are incredibly beautiful but incredibly difficult; how will these performers prepare? All are experienced in performing many kinds of repertoire, in solo recitals, small chamber groups, large bands and orchestras, even jazz combos, but all agree that preparing a concerto—another beast altogether – requires a distinct approach.  In the first place, the sheer volume of sound needed to project over a large orchestra is daunting, compared with what’s needed to play with a single piano, according to Mi-li Chang, a doctoral candidate and UW Collins Fellow from Taiwan.

Merely playing louder isn’t enough to ensure that the soloist soars over the orchestra, however; clear musical ideas are needed as well. A cohesive performance happens only when the soloist, conductor, and orchestra hear the music in the same way, but there’s no time in rehearsal for a soloist to explain her thoughts. Therefore, says clarinetist Kai-Ju Ho, a fellow graduate of the Taipei National University of the Arts, she must perform so clearly and convincingly that the orchestra understands and can follow her interpretation.

Lastly, because of the sheer number of people and instruments in an orchestra–for this concert, about 85–and the vast array of pitches, sounds, and colors in a complicated piece of music, concerto soloists need to spend a great deal of time studying the full score, says Kai-Ju. They must know what’s happening in the orchestra at every moment in a piece so that he or she can adjust note lengths, volume, and phrasing to fit in with the orchestra’s sound.

For solo pianists, who more often perform unaccompanied, concertos pose a particular challenge.  Instead of simply playing and hoping the orchestra will catch them, soloists need to actively collaborate with the orchestra , says SeungWha Baek, who is currently a doctoral student in collaborative piano and a member of the Perlman Trio, a student string trio funded by UW benefactor Kato Perlman. Brilliant technique is not enough: “This piece won’t happen without respecting [the] ensemble,” she says.

Preparing a concerto for performance requires a great deal of energy, which for these performers is not acquired in the practice room, but outside of it. And each has his or her own style. Madlen Breckbill, an undergraduate violinist from Madison, derives hers from interesting conversations, eating delicious food, seeing beautiful sights, and watching theater. Meanwhile, Kai-Ju enjoys cooking food from Taiwan and hiking in national parks (she has visited nine of them in the three years she’s been in the United States). “I like the peaceful moments and the amazing scenery,” she says. Mi-li  spends time running or walking around Madison’s lakes, and Sung Ho, who formerly practiced piano eight hours a day, is now a member of the Hoofers Sailing Club and the UW cycling team. The extra hours once spent at the piano are now taken up reading scores, running and bicycling, windsurfing. He thinks all this has helped him to avoid injury. “My life has changed because of it.  I lost twenty pounds; in every day, I feel more happiness.”

The students know they’ll forever treasure their time on stage as soloists with the UW Symphony; many musicians are never fortunate enough to experience it.  And if the audience responds with smiles or tears, as happened once as Sung Ho rehearsed with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, the hard work of preparation is fully compensated.

About the Performers:

A native of Seoul, Korea, pianist SeungWha Baek is currently in the doctoral program in collaborative piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studies with Martha Fischer and is a teaching assistant. As of this fall, SuengWha is the pianist in the advanced student ensemble, the Perlman Trio, at UW-Madison.

Ms. Baek has a masters degree in accompaniment from Northern Illinois University where she studied with William Goldenberg and also received a certificate in performance. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in music from SookMyung Women’s University in Seoul and a master’s in piano performance at the same university, where she studied with MiJeung Park. While at Northern Illinois University, she performed in many recitals for instrument and voice and served as accompanist for a production of “Little Women” with the NIU Opera Workshop. In 2007, SeungWha was a winner of the Northern Illinois University concerto competition and was an accompanist at the 2007 V.O.I.C. Experience program (led by Mr. Sherrill Milnes in Orlando, Florida) and the 2009 Quartet Program (directed by Charles Castleman at SUNY-Fridonia).

Pianist Sung Ho Yang was born in Seoul, Korea and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the School of Music with Christopher Taylor.  Mr. Yang graduated from Sun-Hwa Arts School in Seoul and attended Seoul National University. In 2004, he transferred to New England Conservatory of Music in Boston with his professor, Wha Kyung Byun, and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as a graduate diploma, from NEC. Mr. Yang has performed in master classes for Russell Sherman, Klaus Hellwig, Sergei Dorensky, and Vladimir Feltsman. He has also attended the Contemporary Music Festival in New Paltz, New York: New Music Mannes at New York, and the International Summer Academy at the Mozarteum, Salzburg.

Sung Ho Yang has won top prizes at the Florestano Rossomandi International Competition in Italy and at the Johann Nepomuk Hummel International Piano Competition in Slovakia.  He is also a winner of the Beethoven Piano Competition at the UW-Madison School of Music, sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain.  In his native Korea, he won the Segye-Times Piano Competition and the Eum Youn Competition, and was sponsored by the Kum Ho Cultural Foundation for two solo recitals in Seoul in 2002 and 2003. As a concerto soloist, Mr. Yang debuted with the St. Petersburg Radio Symphony Orchestra in St. Petersburg, Russia, performing Liszt’s Totentanz and with the Slovak Philharmonic orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3. Mr. Yang’s repertoire ranges from Rachmaninoff’s Six Moments Musicaux to  Boulez’s Second Piano Sonata, and includes all of Liszt’s piano concerti.  Mr. Yang currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where he has joined the UW cycling team and the Hoofer Sailing Club.

Madlen Breckbill, a senior at UW Madison, began playing the violin at age four with Suzuki Strings of Madison. In her early years, Madlen participated in Sonora Strings of Madison, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra, WYSO chamber ensembles and the WYSO Ambassadors. In middle school, Madlen studied with School of Music artist-in-residence and Pro Arte Quartet violinist Suzanne Beia; in high school she studied with Gene Purdue (now School of Music visiting assistant professor of violin).  In 2011, Madlen attended the Madeline Island Music Camp, leading to an invitation to perform with her quartet at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. In the summer of 2012, Madlen and her quartet members were winners of the Meadowmount School of Music quartet competition. This past summer, Madlen served as concertmaster for the Kent/Blossom Music Festival chamber orchestra, under the baton of James Feddeck, for a performance at the Blossom Music Center, followed by a side-by-side performance with the Cleveland Orchestra.

At UW-Madison, Madlen performs with different chamber groups each year, including the Perlman Trio in spring 2013 for a performance of the Brahms Piano Quintet. Madlen studies with Pro Arte violinist David Perry and receives coachings and lessons from the many talented and kind music professors at UW-Madison.

Mili Chang is a doctoral student in flute performance and a Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellow, studying with Stephanie Jutt. She has won a number of competitions, including the Irving Shain Woodwind/Piano Duo Competition with pianist Kirstin Ihde in 2012 and the Taipei National University of the Arts Soloist Competition Concert in 2010 at Taipei, Taiwan. In Madison, Mili performs in many ensembles, including UW’s Collegium Musicum, the Helios Quintet and the UW orchestras. A committed music educator, Mili is a frequent coach with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra chamber program, and has coached band and orchestra sectionals and a wind quintet at Daan Junior High School in Taipei. A native of Taiwan, Mili holds a master’s degree from Taipei National University of the Arts and a bachelor’s from National Taiwan Normal University. Mili’s flute teachers have included Jinny Hwei-Jin Liu from the Manhattan School of Music and Li-Man Sung from the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Brussels.

Kai-Ju Ho is a native of Taipei, Taiwan and holds a bachelor’s degree from Taipei National University of the Arts in Taipei, Taiwan, where she studied with Wei-Leng Chen, principal clarinetist of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. She then received a master’s degree in clarinet performance from the University of Texas-Austin where she studied with Nathan Williams. She is now pursuing her doctoral degree in clarinet performance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying with Linda Bartley.

Kai-Ju Ho is an avid performer in recital and solo appearances, orchestra playing and chamber music. She has received numerous awards, including first prize in the 2012 International Clarinet Association Young Artist competition, the 2007 Taiwan Clarinet Competition, and the 2006 Taipei Symphony Orchestra Young Artist concerto Competition.   In 2010, Kai-Ju Ho joined the Chimei Philharmonic Orchestra and performed in China (Beijing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Guangzhou). In 2006, she  was a member of the Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.  Kai-Ju Ho has played in many master classes, including those with Florent Heau, Lei Fan, Paul Meyer, Kenneth Grant, Hakan Rosengren and Mark Nuccio.

Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She began taking composition lessons from Natalia Karsh of the Composers Union of Saint Petersburg, but initially chose to focus on piano rather than pursuing a career in composition, receiving an associate degree in piano performance and pedagogy from St. Petersburg’s Mussorgsky College of Music in 2008.  Her work received its first public performance at the college when her “Three Lilies” for soprano and piano was played as part of a final accompaniment exam. Daria moved to the United States in 2009 and began devoting more time to composition. In 2010 she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in composition at UW-Madison, studying with professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski.
Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra is Ms. Tennikova’s most recent composition, and her very first work for orchestra. She says, “I began thinking
about writing a piece for soloist and orchestra last spring. Originally I wanted it to be for a piano soloist, and I wrote the main theme with something “Russian” in mind. Later in the spring of 2013, I heard Erika Anderson play Anthony Caulkins’ saxophone piece at a concert. I was moved by her wonderful performance to write my piece for saxophone soloist. I wanted Erika to play it, so I asked her if she would be interested in collaborating and, being both a wonderful person and a great musician, she agreed to play without even hearing the music! I am very grateful to her for giving my piece a beautiful performance!”

Seeking an open culture, New York trombonist Chris Washburne found it in Madison

Why did Columbia University jazz trombonist and professor Chris Washburne, here November 15 and 16 to perform with the UW Jazz Orchestra,  choose UW-Madison for his undergraduate education?

Chris Washburne.
Chris Washburne.

He was originally from the small town of Bath, Ohio (pop. 9,635), so it wasn’t because he called Madison home.

He didn’t know any students here.

He wasn’t offered a scholarship.

He attended UW-Madison because he could see it was a place that would allow him to grow. “I was looking for a school of music where I could expand my horizons,” Chris (BM 1986) said in a telephone interview last summer. “Madison had a good philosophy department, a good forestry department. The campus was beautiful, close to farmland and natural spaces. It was also real funky.”

“It didn’t hurt that the day I visited with my mother, there was a huge rally on the mall with a killer reggae band,” he added, chuckling.

That enterprising quality was also evident in the School of Music, where he found faculty who didn’t try to limit his pursuits to strictly classical or strictly jazz.  “Most music programs have a divide: you’re either jazz or you’re ‘legit.’ But (professor of bass) Richard Davis and (professor of composition and saxophone) Les Thimmig helped me. they said you can do both — just go for it.”

Such cross-training proved to be quite valuable. When he was needed for orchestra–as with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, where he served as principal trombone for a time–he was able to read music with the best of them. But when Bjork called to ask him to play on her soundtrack, he was able to do that, too. And he got a paycheck for both.

“Not many people can do both on the same level. But if you can, you’ll get twice as many employment possibilities,” he added.

Next week at several events, Chris will offer a smorgasbord of ideas about artistry, improvisation, and careers, as well as perform with the UW Jazz Orchestra. Here’s the schedule: On Friday, Nov. 15, Chris will be available to talk to students about careers as part of an informal Arts Enterprise Initiative event from 3 to 4 pm at Coffee Bytes, 799 University Avenue, in University Square. That evening, from 6 to 9 pm, he’ll rehearse in Music Hall with the UW Jazz Orchestra. On Saturday, Nov. 16, he’ll head up a master class on Latin Jazz and Salsa from 1 to 3 pm in Morphy Hall, in the Humanities Building. That evening, Nov. 16, he’ll perform with the UW Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Composers’ Septet, directed by professors Johannes Wallmann and Les Thimmig.

In 2008, Washburne delved into the history of salsa music in New York City to write “Sounding Salsa,” published by Temple University Press, “a pioneering study that offers detailed accounts of these musicians grappling with intercultural tensions and commercial pressures.” It was that book that brought him to Madison, said Mark Hetzler, trombone professor at the School of Music. “I offered an independent study course on Latin jazz and Salsa last year for one of my outstanding undergrad students, Ty Psterson,” Mark said in an email.  “We read Chris’s book, ‘Sounding Salsa’ as part of the course and I was hooked.”

“Chris has a wealth of knowledge and experience with one of the most energized forms of music ever,” Mark continued. “I wanted to get him here to Madison to hear his artistry in person. I’m very excited to see what expertise and inspiration he’ll bring to our students.”

Chris’s visit is sponsored by the university’s Vilas Trust. The events are free and open to the public.

Chris agreed to answer a few questions about his life and work. Here are his answers, and we hope to see you on Nov. 15 and 16!

I watched “The Inclusion Show” and heard you talk about growing up in Ohio, down the street from Chrissie Hynde. That’s pretty amazing. How did all those rock and rollers end up in Ohio? What’s the likelihood of that?

“Not really sure, must have been the water!  It is quite striking though, and there is a reason why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland.  When I was growing up, it seemed like every other house on my block had a garage band.  In fact, the first band I ever played in was a Led Zeppelin cover band, although it was a bit difficult to sound like Jimmy Paige on the trombone.  I’m still trying to sound like him today.”

You got into the trombone by accident. Please tell that story.

“When I was in 5th grade, I wanted to play the trumpet, because it was shiny and played high notes. There was a night at the local high school where you could go try out all the band instruments and rent them, and I immediately went to the table with the trumpet on it.  I tried to play, and no sound came out.  My mother asked me skeptically, ‘Do you still want to play trumpet?,’ and I said yes.  But she insisted that I try at least one other instrument before we left.  The trombone happened to be on the table next to the trumpet.  When I blew into it, a sound came out.  So the trombone picked me, I didn’t pick it.  I still have ambivalent feelings about that experience.” 

You got into salsa in grad school, so Madison didn’t do much for you there. What did you get from UW-Madison?

“What I got from UW-Madison was an open mind to all musical styles.  I was immediately able to start studying not only with (retired UW trombone professor) Bill Richardson, but also Richard Davis and Les Thimmig, and none of them ever told me that I had to make a choice between musical styles.  They allowed me to experiment and do exactly what I wanted to do, and that was truly a gift, because when I moved to NY, my dream was to become a studio musician, and the one thing you need to be able to do as a studio musician in NY is play all kinds of music.  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years.  I have been the principal trombone player for the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, a recording orchestra that has made over 50 Classical CD’s, played in jazz groups, recorded for pop bands, hip-hop bands, and all sorts of world music ensembles.  UW-Madison made that possible.”

You got your first salsa gig by accident. It must have taken guts to take on a gig in a genre you weren’t familiar with. Can you talk about that?

“I was practicing late one night at New England Conservatory and there was a knock on the door.  It was a trombonist I barely knew who said he desperately needed a sub that night.  When you’re in college, it doesn’t take guts to accept a gig; a gig is a gig and you accept it.  And as he was walking away, I asked, ‘What kind of music is it?’  He said ‘salsa.’  I said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Just play loud, and they’re going to love you,’ so that’s what I did.  I guess they did love me because I started working with them regularly.  I didn’t steal his gig, though – he ended up quitting the band and joining another one.”

Your first two records: Eddie Palmieri with Barry Rogers from Brooklyn, playing trombone. Was he your icon? What did you learn from him?

“Barry Rogers transformed Latin trombone playing by combining bluesy, gutbucket style playing with the sharp rhythms of Latin music.  Being someone from outside of Latino culture, he really forged the path for others of us to enter into Latin music and make real contributions.  Like me, his background was jazz, blues and rock, and he was able to fit that aesthetic into Latin music.  I was taken by the fact that he was able to lead an entire Latin band with his trombone sound.  He played the lead guitar role in those bands.  And that’s what I wanted to do.”

Richard Davis was recently chosen as a “jazz master” by the National Endowment for the Arts. Your thoughts about Prof. Davis?

“Richard Davis was a true gift to my musical education, and he has touched so many students at UW.  I was delighted when he won the most prestigious award any jazz musician can receive.  Well deserved.”

How important are improvisational skills to a musician? How do you train that?

“The best improvisers in the entire world are two-year-olds.  Improvisation is one of the most fundamental survival skills that all humans possess.  It is through our educational system that those natural abilities become squelched and unused, or taken advantage of.  I view my job as a music educator to try to tap into my students’ innate abilities and refine them, no matter what kind of music they play.  Sure, jazz uses improvisation a bit more than classical music does, but in performance classical musicians must be flexible and adaptable, and make micro-improvisational choices.  These skills are essential for a successful performing career. The teaching process involves a lot of un-learning and correcting the damage that’s been done in prior educational settings, allowing students to explore their improvisational potential.”

Chris Washburne and his band, SYOTOS.
Chris Washburne and his band, SYOTOS.

Your band “Syotos” means “see you on the other side.” What an amazing story. You made it back from a potentially devastating surgery. That’s crazy difficult. Congratulations to you, and tell us a bit about how you managed to recover.

“Six months post-surgery, I decided that I could not accept never playing trombone again, because it was such an essential part of my self-identity.  So I called my surgeon and told him I was going to try to play.  He told me that he didn’t think it was possible because he had removed all the nerves and muscles from one side of my face.  I told him that I didn’t care, that I was going to try.  On my first day, I played for about one minute and could play one of the lowest notes on the horn, and that was it.  I thought if I could play one note today in one minute, I could play two notes tomorrow for two minutes.  And that’s what I did.  Six months later, I played my first gig back from surgery, retraining myself how to play on one side of my face.  The muscles started to grow back, but the nerves don’t regenerate, so I can’t play by feel, I play by sound.  The human body is very resilient, and we need to remind ourselves how adaptable and strong we really are, because we can get through just about anything.”

STW_email_ad_600x100