Category Archives: Paul Collins

Christopher Taylor to Debut New Piano

From the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September 13, 2016

In a marriage of the Baroque and the modern, celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor will debut his much-anticipated new electronic double-keyboard piano this October 28, performing J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”

The “Variations” is an 80-minute work once dubbed a “Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture” that Bach wrote for a double-keyboard harpsichord.

Not by coincidence, Taylor will play Bach’s “Rubik’s cube” on a brand-new piano that could be described in much the same way.

Named the “Hyperpiano” by Taylor, it is actually three instruments – two of them ordinary concert grands, the third a special double-keyboard console designed by Taylor – connected by a riot of sensors and wires, with a mechanism that feels nearly normal for the performer but offers sonic possibilities that are unique.

Click here to view images of the “Hyperpiano” in development at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery “fab lab”

Taylor developed the piano over several years in a laboratory at the Morgridge Institutes for Research, assisted by many faculty and technicians who trained him to machine new parts using computers and guided him as he designed 60-odd circuit boards that make the instrument run. In addition, Taylor wrote several thousand lines of computer code that manage sensing and communications. In 2014, Taylor received United States patent # 8,664,497 B2 for the “Hyperpiano.”

Taylor entering the "fab lab" at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.
Taylor entering the “fab lab” at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

His inspiration to develop it came from another unusual instrument that he inherited shortly after coming to UW-Madison in 2000, a double-keyboard piano made by Steinway in 1929.

Johann Sebastian Bach was known as a composer who welcomed new concepts in musical instruments. Accordingly, Taylor says, Bach designed the Goldberg Variations for the most deluxe instrument of his day, a double-keyboard harpsichord with a four-and-a-half octave range. Today, musicians often perform the work on a regular piano, but must generally “resort to tricks, compromises, fudging or outright studio chicanery to play all the notes as Bach wrote them,” as writer Tom Huizenga wrote in his blog, “Deceptive Cadence.”

The Hyperpiano will allow Taylor to overcome those obstacles. “I can recreate effects more like what Bach imagined, even while producing at the same time completely novel musical results,” Taylor says.

Taylor was a bronze medal winner in the 1993 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, at which he performed the Goldberg Variations, among other works, on a standard single-keyboard Steinway. He also holds a degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

The concert will take place on Friday, October 28, at 8 PM in Mills Hall, Humanities, 455 North Park Street. There will be one intermission.

Tickets for adults are $18; for students, $5. They may be purchased at Campus Arts Ticketing or in person at the Memorial Union Box Office.

Patrons are advised to arrive early. Seating is general admission.

Mills Hall seats 700, of which 100 seats will be reserved on a first-call basis for music students, staff and faculty.


Christopher Taylor’s “Hyperpiano” Creates New Musical Possibilities

By Michael Muckian

“I would never be content as a pianist to play the same half-dozen pieces the same way year in and year out,” Taylor explained. “In piano literature, we have a vast array of great compositions, but we are always questing for new variety.”

Christopher Taylor grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where his father taught physics at the University of Colorado and his mother was a high school English instructor. The family owned a piano and Taylor initially was taught to play by a neighbor down the street.

The casual lessons didn’t last long; by age 10, the young pianist was playing Beethoven. By high school he was composing music.

While music was his first love, Taylor also proved gifted in mathematics, a field that seemed to offer a more stable career path. The young pianist chose to follow that thread, graduating summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard University in 1992.

During those same years, Taylor also studied piano under Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he began to attract the attention of the East Coast classical music community. In 1990, at the end of his sophomore year, Taylor won the University of Maryland’s William Kapell International Piano Competition, and later that same year made his performance debut in Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

However, Taylor’s watershed moment came in 1993 at the age of 23, when he earned a bronze medal at the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, for his performances of works by Beethoven, Boulez and Brahms, as well as Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” now a standard part of his repertoire. For the young mathematician-slash-pianist, the competition win sealed his fate.

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

“I had sat on the fence between music and mathematics for many years, but the bronze medal made the decision for me,” Taylor said. But while his musical career had become ascendant, he kept up his math and computer studies. “I didn’t want to put the other parts of my brain on ice.”

The newly minted concert pianist, who would go on to earn critical accolades such as “frighteningly talented” (The New York Times) and “a great pianist” (The Los Angeles Times), knew that his mathematics training went far to inform and support his music.

Both disciplines draw on similar mental skill sets, Taylor explained, noting that hours of piano practice can provide the necessary rigor to solve a complex mathematical proof.

“Music performance is more visceral than math, but when I’m performing I am definitely using the logical part of my brain,” he added. “Mentally understanding a piece of music is essential to surviving a performance.”


Following the Van Cliburn competition win, Taylor became a touring musician. His new wife wanted to pursue her doctorate in musicology at the University of Michigan, so the couple moved to Ann Arbor while Taylor spent weeks on the road playing several dozen concerts per year across the U.S. and in Europe.

Life on the road proved strenuous for the young pianist, who became known for his intense, sweat-soaked, highly physical performances. Eventually, Taylor decided he might want to teach. When the University of Wisconsin offered Taylor a faculty position in 2000, his family moved to Madison.

At UW-Madison, Taylor came across a prototype that would prove the foundation for his new invention. And he can credit a little known Hungarian composer for the introduction.

Emánuel Moór, who during his life composed five operas, eight symphonies and other orchestral works, is best remembered today as the inventor of the Moór Pianoforte, a double-keyboard instrument that attempted to replicate the benefits of the harpsichord and organ in the piano format. It boasted a two-tiered keyboard, but space within the cabinet allowed for only 76 keys on the top tier instead of the usual 88. The layout of the 164 keys allowed one hand to stretch across a range of over two octaves at once, creating a richer and fuller sound.

Watch a video of Taylor describing his plan for a new piano.

Moór was a professional colleague of composer Maurice Ravel and cellist Pablo Casals, both of whom championed his work, including his pianoforte. Despite such celebrity support, many musicians considered Moór’s instrument more of a novelty and found it difficult, if not impossible, to play.

European manufacturers produced about 60 pianofortes during the 1920s, including one made in 1929 in Hamburg, Germany, by Steinway. Until very recently, that particular instrument occupied a corner of Taylor’s cramped office in the Mosse Humanities Building.

The Moór pianoforte found its way to UW-Madison after Danish pianist Gunnar Johansen became the university’s artist in residence in 1939. Enthralled with the strange instrument, Johansen lobbied university donors until they broke down and bought it for him on the condition that its ownership revert to the university upon the pianist’s death.

By the time Johansen died in 1991, interest in the pianoforte had waned. It lay in storage for 14 years until Taylor rediscovered it in 2005. He performed on the pianoforte in dozens of concerts across the country, eventually getting a feel for the instrument and gaining notoriety for his performances. In 2007, the New York Times interviewed Taylor and created a video about the piano. In 2010, while he was in Washington, D.C. for a performance, the Kennedy Center created its own version.

“It’s clever as a musical contrivance, but it’s a little unwieldy and feels strange under your fingers,” Taylor said, noting that corresponding keys on both keyboards end up striking the same string. “You have to work very hard to play the keys because of the Rube Goldberg mechanism that connects them with the hammers.”

Around 2009, having studied the levers, rods, and platforms lurking inside the Moór piano, Taylor decided there might be a better way, a way that would take advantage of 21st-century technology. He began to draw up blueprints, discussed his ideas with a number of experts, and eventually received a grant from the UW Arts Institute to pursue them further. In early 2012 he approached George Petry, a prototyping manager at the Morgridge Institute for Research, to talk about his idea, an idea that much later would be named the “Hyperpiano.” Petry thought Taylor was nuts.

“I thought Chris was crazy because I knew this was going to be so much work,” Petry said. “I have a lot of students coming in who have never built anything before who say they want to build a space shuttle. I thought this was Chris’s space shuttle.”

But Petry gave Taylor the benefit of the doubt, and also a corner in the Morgridge Institute’s Advanced Fabrication Laboratory – better known as the “fab lab” — inside the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building on University Avenue, a home where engineers and inventors collaborate to build prototypes of their ideas. And Petry started to teach Taylor how to use all the computer-operated machines.

Another important teacher was Giri Venkataramanan, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who served as a high-level consultant to the project. “His motivation was sky-high and it sounded like he knew what he was doing,” Venkataramanan said.


At first blush, the Hyperpiano’s double-keyboard console – what Taylor calls the “input device” – looks like a contemporary upright piano that is thicker in girth than normal. It features a two-tiered keyboard with 176 keys total along with five pedals. Hidden inside the cabinet, behind the keys, are two sets of standard mass-produced piano hammers.

But that is where similarities to a regular piano end. There are no strings for these hammers to strike, and Taylor admits that their only function is to mimic the feel of playing a normal single-keyboard piano. In fact, in the absence of strings Taylor had to create special foam bars for the hammers to strike, designed to replicate an ordinary instrument’s behavior but create as little “banging” noise as possible.

“Even building a conventional piano that works is a very difficult process in itself,” says Robert Hohf, a professional piano technician who aided Taylor. “The keyboard orientation and the alignment of parts is unbelievably complicated.”

And with the Hyperpiano, the complications only increased.

Designing an instrument that contains twice the normal number of keys and twice as many hammers, aligning everything inside a single wooden frame, took a massive amount of re-engineering, Taylor says. Each of the 176 keys in the Hyperpiano has a unique shape that had to be specially carved by a router, which got its directions from multiple computer programs written by Taylor.

To actually make music, the double-keyboard console contains electronic sensors that read the movement of the keys during each stroke, then send coded electronic impulses via wires to two player-piano mechanisms called “Vorsetzers.” (First developed in the early twentieth century, Vorsetzers were mechanical key-pressing contraptions that could be attached to the keyboards of ordinary pianos.) The Vorsetzers are affixed to any pair of pianos one has handy, which, in theory, could be some distance away. Thus the motions of the pianist’s fingers on one part of the stage are transmitted instantaneously to produce music emanating from two other parts of the stage.


Taylor plays Prokofiev

Timing everything so that the music would sound like music—not a jangle of disparate noises – was another hurdle Taylor had to surmount. Taylor’s new technology solves that problem: it senses a fraction of a millimeter of motion as soon as a key is pressed. The sensors immediately send the data to the Vorsetzers, which move the corresponding key the same amount at exactly the same time.

“It involved a lot of software jujitsu to make this happen,” he said. But in the end, “everything is choreographed to deliver the final notes in real time,” he explained.


The Hyperpiano could afford some novel performance opportunities, says Taylor: “For starters, it will be capable of everything the Moór piano can produce: far-flung chords beyond the grasp of ordinary human hands on ordinary pianos, intricate counterpoint where the hands mingle in the same register (effects that would cause impossible traffic jams on a single keyboard), and, with the aid of an extra fourth pedal, sonorities reinforced by extra tones one octave higher than the keys the pianist is actually pressing.

“But it will offer customized behaviors beyond these,” he continues. “The ability to reinforce the pianist’s keypresses with any number of additional notes, so that the motion of a single finger produces an elaborate harmony; novel hybrid sonorities obtained by combining different pedaling patterns on the two subsidiary pianos; repeated notes faster than what ordinary pianos permit; and the interesting spatial effects that will result when the two subsidiary pianos get rolled to different parts of the stage.”

Taylor is eager to produce new arrangements and compositions that take advantage of these musical novelties. “I’m in discussions with a number of composers about the possibility of their contributing to a new chapter in the piano literature,” he says.

With the end of the project in sight, the pianist says he’s pleased with the outcome of his years of work, even as he adjusts to new variations in sound and performance.

“I’m delighted to find that the final product is matching my initial vision pretty closely,” Taylor says. “There is still some tweaking that needs to take place — software refinements mostly — in order to ensure that as a pianist I have the level of musical control that I need. This work may prove challenging, but as in the past I am very determined to overcome the remaining obstacles.”

Venkataramanan agrees and also is thinking ahead to the piano’s next iteration.

Scientists, unfortunately, are never satisfied.

“As a problem-solving exercise, this has been pretty impressive,” the engineering professor says. “But he still runs wires between his keyboards. The next phase would be to do this on a wireless basis and using Cloud technology.”

 

Mr. Taylor is eager to acknowledge the invaluable help he received from a large number of collaborators over the past five years. Apart from piano technician Robert Hohf, machinist George Petry, and EE Professor Giri Venkataramanan, these individuals include: Rock Mackie and Kevin Eliceiri, the former and current directors of the Morgridge Institute for Research, who were amazingly welcoming hosts during his four-plus years in the Fab Lab; UW-Madison piano technician Baoli Liu; Justin Anderson at WARF and Callie Bell of Bell Manning LLC, who shepherded the patent application process; Kevin Earley, who built the wooden housing for the input console; Convenience Electronics of Madison (in particular Betsy Vanden Wymelenberg), who custom assembled the instrument’s many wires and cables; Calvin Cherry, Nate Hess, Brian Urso, and Ryan Solberg, whom Taylor employed to solder together circuit boards and who contributed greatly to his EE education; UW-Madison’s Bill Sethares, along with Terence O’Laughlin and Alberto Rodriguez of Madison College, who put Taylor in contact with the aforementioned companies and employees; and the UW Arts Institute, former chancellor John Wiley, and Paul Collins, who provided moral as well as financial support.

 

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.


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News from our Grads & Alumni; Pictures from Percussion in China; Sneak Peek at 2015-16 Guest Artists

Where are they going and where are they now?

Music students forge unique paths

Our final issue of the 2014-2015 academic year contains news about a few new graduates and updates from some already out in the working world. We never fail to be inspired by all of the creative ways that music students both indulge their passions for the art form and their obligation to support themselves. Music may not be a sure ticket to fortune, but for most it is a ticket to personal growth and happiness, provided students are motivated and receive support from teachers, friends and family. We are proud to present these stories about graduates of the UW-Madison School of Music.

Valerie Clare Sanders (B.M., violin performance, 2015). Student of Felicia Moye (now at McGill University) and Leslie Shank.

Valerie Sanders
Valerie Sanders

In September, I will be moving to London, England to study with Simon Fischer at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in their postgraduate Orchestral Artistry program. This program is a partnership with Guildhall, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Barbican Centre, and it involves intensive side-by-side training with members of the London Symphony Orchestra.

I’ve been a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra for three years, have served as acting concertmaster of the Middleton Community Orchestra and was also a member of the Perlman Piano Trio, which is sponsored by longtime School of Music supporter Kato Perlman.

As a violinist I maintain a strong love for performing and continuing to develop my interpretive facility but am also become very passionate about exploring classical music in the context of a larger cultural discourse, joining and starting new conversations about why musicians do what they do, how they can learn to do it in new ways, and exploring the psychological nature of what it means to be a classical musician today. UW has proved to be a great springboard for this sort of inquisitive energy.

Duangkamon Wattanasak (B.M., keyboards, 2015). Student of John Chappell Stowe. 

This fall, Duangkamon will attend the State University of New York at Stony Brook to pursue a master’s degree in harpsichord performance. This past year, she received a Hilldale Undergraduate Faculty Research Fellowship this past academic year to work on a project editing German Baroque music with Prof. Jeanne Swack.  She presented part of her research in the form of a performance of Sebastian Bodinus’s Sonata for Flute and Basso continuo in E minor at the Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 16 in Union South with Mi-Li Chang, Baroque flute and Andrew Briggs, Baroque cello.

Hinano Ishii (B.M., flute performance, 2015). Student of Stephanie Jutt.

Hinano Ishii. Photo by Jeff Miller.
Hinano Ishii. Photo by Jeff Miller.

Four years ago around this time, I was preparing for my concerto debut at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and certain about pursuing a career in music. Now, I’m looking forward to my post-graduation plan: working in operations and education at Bravo! Vail, a summer music festival in Colorado featuring the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony and many other renowned musicians.

My enthusiasm for arts administration, sparked by an Arts Enterprise course taught by my flute professor Stephanie Jutt, quickly led to my election as president of Arts Enterprise at UW-Madison. I produced a series of workshops on topics including grant writing and arts law, and founded an Arts Career Resource Center on campus. From the connections I made through UW, I took on positions as the Programming and Community Engagement Intern at Overture Center and Marketing Assistant for PROJECT Trio. Eager to advance my skills, I also worked at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. as a National Symphony Orchestra Operations Intern. This gave me the opportunity to assist in planning rehearsals, concerts, and events including two nationally broadcasted performances at the U.S. Capitol. In my final year on campus, I was the assistant to Katherine Esposito, the School’s concert manager and publicist, helping to organize festivals and concerts, while also working at the Overture Center as the Development Intern.

Meanwhile, I’ve pursued my flute studies, performing with the symphony orchestra and in solo recitals. In my junior year, I was featured on UW-Madison’s homepage with an article highlighting my accomplishments and performed on a PBS annual science show hosted by UW-Madison’s chemistry professor, Bassam Shakashiri.

It is with mixed emotions to be leaving this wonderful university. I am extremely lucky to have found what I love doing best and having all the resources and connections available in Madison to create opportunities in arts administration. Although I am a music performance major, the environment allowed me to pursue my aspiration while also advancing my flute playing which makes UW-Madison an extraordinary educational experience. I am happy to have taken full advantage as a student and thankful for my mentors, parents and friends who have supported my work for the past four years! On Wisconsin!

Vince Mingils (M.M. 2015, percussion performance). Student of Anthony Di Sanza, Todd Hammes.

Vince Mingils
Vince Mingils

Mingils, a recipient of a Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellowship at the School of Music, will move to Florida to serve as the Director of Percussion Studies and Assistant Director of Bands at Matanzas High School and Indian Trails Middle School in Palm Coast. Mingils also holds a bachelor of music education degree summa cum laude from Stetson University.

In addition to performing with the percussion ensembles at UW-Madison, Vince coached ensembles and occasionally joined UW-Madison’s resident/alumni percussion ensemble, Clocks in Motion. He also traveled with the UW Wind Ensemble to Carnegie Hall and Beijing and Shenyang, China for the studio’s first international tour (see story below). In addition to studying classical percussion, his UW teachers helped foster his burgeoning interests in composition, improvisation, Middle Eastern music, and hand drumming.

Tim Morris (B.M., music performance and political science). Student of Matthew Mireles, John Stevens (emeritus) and Tom Curry.

This fall, Tim will pursue a master’s degree in euphonium performance at the University of Georgia. While in Madison, he played in the Wind Ensemble, Low Brass Ensemble and competed in the Leonard Falcone Euphonium Student Competition and the International Tuba Euphonium Conference’s Young Artist Euphonium Competition. He also spent two years as a legislative intern in the Wisconsin State Senate, leading to a better understanding of the political process and the issues facing the State of Wisconsin.

Tim Morris
Tim Morris

“The School of Music has provided me with countless life-changing experiences,” Tim writes. “I have benefited tremendously from an extremely talented and supportive faculty who have helped me realize many of my musical goals. With their guidance I have been fortunate enough to participate in international music competitions, perform for many people and travel all over the world in the process. I have no doubt that I would not be the same musician I am today without the teachings of my mentors as well as the support of the musicians here that I have the distinct privilege of calling my friends and colleagues.”

Amanda Fry (B.M., music performance, horn). Student of Daniel Grabois.

 

Amanda Fry
Amanda Fry

Next fall, Amanda will attend the University of Maryland at College Park to work toward a master’s degree in horn performance, studying with Gregory Miller. At UW-Madison, she performed with the UW Symphony, the Wind Ensemble, and the UW Horn Choir. As a member of a student brass quintet, she completed a residential clinic at a middle and high school, performing and conducting master classes, and coached small chamber ensembles as they prepared for the state Solo and Ensemble competition. She also spent a semester in Vienna through the Study Abroad program, and feels “incredibly fortunate” to have played on stage this spring at Carnegie Hall with the UW Wind Ensemble.

“Studying in Vienna was incredibly valuable in many ways,” Amanda says. “Not only did I gain confidence from living on my own in a foreign country, but I also met a lot of amazing people and made some awesome friendships. I was incredibly fortunate to explore new places around the world and experience other cultures – albeit for a short amount of time.  As for my experience at UW, I am very happy with my choice to study here. I’ve had opportunities here that have been invaluable to my growth as a global citizen. I couldn’t be happier about my decision to earn a degree from this university.”

Jeremy Kienbaum (B.M., music performance, viola/violin.) Student of David Perry (violin) and Sally Chisholm (viola).

Starting in September, I will be attending The Juilliard School to study viola with Samuel Rhodes, the former violist of the Juilliard String Quartet and chair of the Juilliard Viola Department. I am very honored to work with him, and excited to learn from and be surrounded by exceptional musicians.

Jeremy Kienbaum
Jeremy Kienbaum

I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to have studied with two fantastic professors, Sally Chisholm and David Perry; my musicality and technical facility have developed immensely through their teaching and guidance. Studying chamber music with Pro Arte quartet cellist Parry Karp has also been a rare treat; the devotion and joy he brings to coaching students makes every lesson meaningful, not to mention the wealth of musical knowledge he has shared with me over the last four years. I am truly in debt to all of my professors and colleagues here, who have helped to deepen my love and passion for music. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take in all the arts New York City has to offer, but I’ll miss all of my friends at UW and cheese curds at the Terrace.


Click here to read the stories about our alumni.

Daniel Black (B.M., composition, 2002), received a 2015 Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S.. Former student of Joel Naumann (emeritus, composition); Stephen Dembski (composition) and David Becker (conducting, now at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas).

Sergio Acosta (BM, flute performance, 2011; MM, bassoon performance, 2013) now with The U.S. Army Field Band. Former student of Stephanie Jutt and Marc Vallon.

Jamie-Rose Guarrine (MM in vocal performance, 2002; DMA in vocal performance, 2005), will join the faculty of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst as Assistant Professor of Voice. Former student of James Doing.

Ben Davis (B.M., music education, 2014), now in a master’s composition program at DePaul University and will participate in the Summer Academy for Young Composers at Akademie Schloss Solitude. Former student of John Aley (trumpet); also studied composition with Stephen Dembski and Filippo Santoro, DMA 2014.

Paola Savvidou  (MM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, May 2008; DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, May 2012) is Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Missouri. Former student of Jessica Johnson.

Jonathan Kuuskoski (MM in piano performance & pedagogy, 2009), now Director of Entrepreneurship and Community Programs at the university of Missouri. Former student of Christopher Taylor and Jessica Johnson.

Julia Marion (BM, bassoon performance 2008), was a member of the inaugural class of The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program and now freelances extensively in Europe and the U.S. Former student of Marc Vallon.

Chris Van Hof (DMA, trombone performance, 2013), is the tenure-track Assistant Professor of Trombone and Euphonium at Colorado State University. Former student of Mark Hetzler.


Join us to wish bon voyage to our newest grads!

The School of Music Graduation & Awards Recognition Ceremony will be held in Music Hall on Friday, May 15, 2015 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Please join us to recognize our generous donors and the fortunate and talented student recipients of scholarships and awards, as well as all the graduates of the School of Music who plan to walk at Camp Randall this May, in summer, or in winter of 2015. We’ll follow with a light reception of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

At the 2014 School of Music Awards ceremony: Assistant Director Benjamin Schultz, Director Susan Cook, and graduate XXXXX
At the 2014 School of Music Awards ceremony: Assistant Director Benjamin Schultz, Director Susan Cook, and graduate David Glickstein.

Parking on campus is free starting at noon on Friday until Sunday morning.

Click here for information about the official UW-Madison commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium, Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16.


Cellist wins Yamaha Young Performing Artists Prize

Kyle Price, 22, a first year master’s cello student at UW-Madison and artistic director and founder of the Caroga Lake Music Festival, was recently announced as a prize winner of the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. As a Yamaha Young Artist awardee, he will be invited to attend an all-expense paid weekend at the Music for All Summer Symposium and receive a once in a lifetime performance opportunity in front of thousands. Additional benefits include national press coverage, recording and photos of the live performance, and participation in workshops designed to launch a professional music career. Winners also enjoy many of the privileges of a Yamaha Artist, including services and communication with Yamaha’s Artist Relations department. Among other recent accomplishments, Kyle was also named a finalist in the G. Gershwin International Music Competition 2015 and semifinalist in the Maurice Ravel International Composition Competition (Italy). Kyle Price is a student of Prof. Uri Vardi and a Distinguished Paul Collins Fellow at the UW-Madison.


Percussion Ensemble makes new friends and plays music in China

by Anthony Di Sanza

(Click photos for captions)

On April 4, after a solid year of planning, fundraising and marathon rehearsals, the fourteen members of the UW-Madison Percussion Program–celebrating its 50th year– and its three faculty members traveled to Beijing and Shenyang, China, for their first international concert tour. They were invited by percussion professor Lu Qingshan of the Shenyang Conservatory, whose former student, Zhang Yuqi, is now a master’s candidate at UW-Madison. Faculty members from UW-Madison included Prof. Anthony Di Sanza and instructors Todd Hammes and Tom Ross. Concerts included music of the United States, Brazil, El Salvador, and China, plus a collaboration with Shenyang students on two jazzy percussion works.

While in China, the students also visited Tiananmen Square and the Beijing Olympic Park, and even snuck in some Badgers basketball updates while walking the Great Wall. As they moved from one location to another, they received practical lessons in how to set up and dismantle bulky percussion equipment, how to rehearse in unfamiliar concert halls, and how to create a seamless performance on a tight schedule with musical strangers (who then became friends).

“The best thing was just watching our students interact with the Chinese students,” says Prof. Di Sanza. “They went to lunch together, shopped together, drank together, rehearsed together, gave each others nicknames, and a bunch of us went to a pool hall late one night.” They even took selfies with each other (see above photos).

“We will treasure the relationships we built along the way,” he adds.  “None of this would have been possible without the support of our sponsors in the United States, including the UW China Initiative, The UW-Madison Division of International Studies, Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Graebner and the UW-Madison School of Music. We are forever grateful for their support and confidence.”


UW’s Contemporary Jazz Ensemble wins a first prize in Eau Claire

On April 17, the CJE, directed by Assistant Professor Johannes Wallmann, won first place in the college combo category at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. The group performed compositions by saxophonist Joshua Redman and trumpeter Dave Douglas, and “Bon Voyage – An Ode to Adventure,” a new composition by the ensemble’s saxophonist Geoff McConohy, a UW senior from Menomonie. Because the ensemble finished first in its category, the group performed on the festival’s evening concert for an audience of a thousand at Eau Claire’s State Theater that featured headline artists The New York Voices. Student performers in the ensemble include students from the School of Music, the College of Engineering, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the School of Business. The Eau Claire Jazz Festival, now in its 48th year, is one of the oldest jazz competitions in the country, with participating middle school, high school, and college and university bands from around the Midwest.


University Opera secures Morgridge Grant and private bequests to create endowed directorship
Karen Bishop
Karen Bishop

Karen Bishop returned to school later in life to pursue her love of opera, earning a master’s and DMA from UW-Madison Opera. In January, she died of cancer. Her late husband, Charlie Bishop, has carried out her wish to support the program by providing funds which will be matched by the University’s Morgridge Fund. Donations are still being accepted. Read the full April 21, 2015 news release here.


Make Music this Summer with Summer Band!

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ending of the Civil War and historical Camp Randall with this free annual favorite, the UW–Madison Summer Band conducted by Prof. Scott Teeple.  Community members, teachers, students alike can join in this music-making experience.  Seven rehearsals and a single performance make this ensemble an exciting way to keep your musical chops in working order.  The program will focus on music of the Revolutionary War and that time period to honor the anniversary.  Click here to learn more.


 We are pleased to announce a sneak peek at several guest artist/School of Music events planned for next year: please save these dates!
(Please note: Concerts may be ticketed. More information will be available in late summer.)

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 7:30 PM, MILLS HALL: Brenda Rae,  alumna soprano, sings Reinhold Glière‘s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano (1943) with the UW Symphony Orchestra. Benefit for University Opera. Tickets $25, on sale in July at the Memorial Union Box Office.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 7:30 PM, MILLS HALL: Renowned violist Noboku Imai performs with the Pro Arte Quartet.

OCTOBER 8-11, MILLS HALL: Celebrate Brass 2015! Festival with Axiom Brass and UW faculty & students. Ticketing & event details to come.

NOVEMBER 5-6, MILLS HALL with second venue TBA.  Alumni Composers Festival with Andrew Rindfleisch, Paula Matthusen, Jeffrey Stadelman, Bill Rhoads, and Kevin Ernste. Some of UW-Madison’s most distinguished alumni composers return for colloquia and concerts of their music.  Ticketing & event details to come.

JANUARY 19-24, MILLS & MORPHY HALLS: Student Recital Festival. A full week of free performances by our own talented students! Check back in fall for details.

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 7:30 PM, MORPHY HALL: duoJalal brings its mix of classical, Middle Eastern, jazz and Klezmer music to Madison. With Kathryn Lockwood on viola and Yousif Sheronick on percussion.  Ticketing & event details to come.

APRIL 26-29, MILLS & MORPHY HALLS: UW Jazz Festival with Bob Sheppard, LA-based multi-woodwind performer, recording artist, and jazz musician. Ticketing & event details to come.

AUGUST 30,  2015 & MAY 2-5, 2016: “Performing the Jewish Archive”: The U.S. component of a major international research project led by the University of Leeds, in England, will shine new light on forgotten works by Jewish artists. In Madison, partners include the UW-Madison School of Music (Prof. Teryl Dobbs, chair of music education, faculty lead) as well as the Center for Jewish Studies, the Mayrent Institute, and the Arts Institute at UW-Madison, and Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society. Click here for more information.


Wingra Celebrates 50 Years

The Wingra Woodwind Quintet honored itself with a party and short concert on April 25 at the University Club. Many former members were in attendance. They also bid farewell to hornist Linda Kimball and clarinetist Linda Bartley. Stay tuned for the group’s roster next year!

Front row: Les Thimmig (occasional member), Marc Fink, Douglas Hill, Robert Cole, Nancy Becknell, Glenn Bowen. Back row: Richard Lottridge, Linda Bartley, Kostas Tiliakos, Linda Kimball, Stephanie Jutt. Photo by Hinano Ishii.
Front row: Les Thimmig (occasional member), Marc Fink, Douglas Hill, Robert Cole, Nancy Becknell, Glenn Bowen.
Back row: Richard Lottridge, Linda Bartley, Kostas Tiliakos, Linda Kimball, Stephanie Jutt. Photo by Hinano Ishii.
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Have a wonderful summer– We’ll return with a new issue of A Tempo! in late August!

New graduates and a goodbye—(just for the summer)

Best wishes to all our graduates!

A message from Susan C. Cook, Director of the School of Music

On May 16, as part of the University’s entire Commencement weekend, the School of Music held its inaugural Graduation and Awards Recognition. It was a lively and celebratory event that provided the opportunity to recognize the achievements of our graduates, to honor award recipients and to recognize and, in some cases, to thank personally the many donors who have made those student awards possible. Thus, for many of us, the 2013-14 academic year has ended, and so this is the last Fanfare blog post you’ll receive from us until August.

Susan C. Cook
Susan C. Cook
Photograph by Michael R. Anderson

However, the School of Music, as I’ve learned, never truly goes silent. Our facilities in the Mosse Humanities Building and in Music Hall will continue to thrum with activity of all kinds—from summer classes, ensembles and Community Music Lessons to special events like the National Summer Cello Institute (now in session), the Summer Music Clinic and the Madison Early Music Festival. Over the summer, music study continues, both in more leisurely and more intensive ways. We’re also planning to carry out some much needed renovations, ones that will benefit both our classroom teaching and our on-stage performances.

Looking back over the year I continue to be struck by how much we do and how well we do it. Primary in my mind are the high quality performances by our students as they’ve worked alone and collaboratively in our libraries, practice rooms, offices, studios, classrooms and, on stage and off. The creativity, energy and commitment they display towards their creative work never ceases to amaze me; it makes my job as director enormously rewarding.

I look forward to welcoming you back to campus, even if only virtually, in August. We have a lot of exciting things planned for next year as we continue to be a music school on the move, living out the Wisconsin Idea within our state and the world.

Thank you for your support throughout the past year. I always welcome hearing from our alums and friends, so feel free to stop by my office or drop me an email message at director@music.wisc.edu

On, Wisconsin and the summer!

Susan C. Cook
Director

Scroll down for photos from the May 16 ceremony at Music Hall. For a list of all graduates, click here.

UW pianist Yeaji Kim profiled in Wisconsin State Journal

Yeaji Kim, a visually disabled pianist and brand-new DMA in piano performance and pedagogy, developed a dissertation project that has the potential to not only change the way blind musicians learn to play music, but help blind and sighted musicians and teachers to collaborate and learn more easily.

Kim ‘s story was featured in a May 18 front-page story by reporter Gayle Worland in the Wisconsin State Journal as well as in a four-minute video made by the university.

Jessica Johnson, professor of piano pedagogy, calls Kim’s work, which involves a three-dimensional staff and notes that both sighted and sight-impaired people can understand, “revolutionary.” Read the full (very interesting) story here.  More information is available at this blog. 

 

Composer Filippo Santoro uses architecture as metaphor to create new works

Santoro, a native of Italy who just received his DMA in composition from UW-Madison, describes his composing process in a recent blog post.  “A good architect will begin by observing the architectural style of the surrounding buildings, the nature of the soils at the building site, how the space is currently used and the building’s proposed purpose. Similarly, a piece of music always develops from a small idea, like a seed, that you may want to take care of even long before it becomes a piece,” he writes. Read more here.

Collins Fellow Philip Bergman earns spot in Japanese training orchestra

Bergman, who received his master’s degree this spring, studied with cello professor Uri Vardi and received a fellowship provided by longtime donor Paul Collins. “I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Collins this past fall when I performed with a quintet at a banquet. I thanked Mr. Collins not only for his support of my education, but for his role in creating some of the finest positions available to student musicians in this country,” he writes.  Read more here.

Photographs from 2014 Awards and Graduation Ceremony

All photos by Michael R. Anderson. Click for captions.

 

Doctoral trombonist wins the 2014 Esther Taylor Graduate Arts Fellowship

Alan Carr
Alan Carr

Alan Carr, a DMA candidate in bass trombone and a Paul Collins Distinguished Fellow at the School of Music, has received the Esther Taylor Graduate MFA Fellowship, designed to support and encourage graduate students in the visual and performing arts by supporting public presentation of their work in conjunction with their degree program. The fellowship carries a grant of $1,500.

The fellowship will help Carr to complete his dissertation that will culminate in a solo CD project called The Elephant in the Room. The CD will feature previously unrecorded works for bass trombone and also offers two new pieces, including a new sonata by UW-Madison tuba professor (retired as of this semester) John Stevens. Carr assembled a consortium of 12 leading bass trombone players from around the world to commission the Stevens sonata.The consortium includes bass trombonists from the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Malaysia Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, National Symphony, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and several others.

This new work will be a substantial contribution to the bass trombone repertoire and will be dedicated to the late Edward Kleinhammer of the Chicago Symphony, who passed away in November 2013.

In addition to his graduate studies, Carr is also adjunct professor of low brass at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon and an active performer, having appeared with the Baltimore, Dubuque, and Hartford Symphony Orchestras, and with Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie Hall in New York City. For seven years, he was the bass trombonist in the King’s Brass, performing nearly 1,000 concerts and recording six CDs during that time. Carr has performed throughout the world, including concerts in Austria, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, China, Korea, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as all 48 continental US states. In March, Carr gave a solo performance at the 2014 Eastern Trombone Workshop in Washington, D.C. Carr received his Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He also holds an Artist Diploma from Yale University. Carr can be heard on Summit, Naxos, and Albany record labels, and is an Edwards Instrument performing artist.

Doctoral musicologist receives three fellowships to further her research

Isidora Miranda
Isidora Miranda

Isidora Miranda, a PhD candidate in historical musicology who studies with musicology professor Pamela Potter, has been awarded a Summer Fellowship at the Institute of Philippine Culture at the Ateneo de Manila University, a UW-Madison Center for Southeast Asian Studies Fellowship, and a UW-Madison Center for Southeast Asian Studies Field Research Award. Isidora earned her undergraduate degree in music at the University of the Philippines and her master’s degree in Violin Performance and Musicology at Western Illinois University. She writes: “The research work I am planning to do this summer is scour through the Raymundo Bañas Collection at the National Library in Manila. The collection comprises of original manuscripts, printed sheet music, prints, anthologies, silent movie scores, religious music for the local Roman Catholic churches, music programs from local concerts and musical events, and mimeographs of other music historical sources. In 1924, Raymundo Bañas (1894-1962) published The Music and Theater of the Filipino People, a compendium of music and musicians from the late-nineteenth century up to the time of his publication. As preliminary questions, I would like to know how much of Bañas’s musical archive informed his writing, and perhaps more importantly, what was the impetus for building a repository and authoring a narrative that sought to represent a “national” conception of music that is Filipino? This is particularly interesting in light of the growing push towards a Philippine self-government and a re-assertion of Spanish colonial identities in opposition to American influences at the time when Bañas was amassing his library.”

Senior composition major wins University Bookstore’s Academic Excellence Award

Daria Tennikova, the winning composer in this year's concerto competition. Photo by Katherine Esposito.
Daria Tennikova, the winning composer in this year’s concerto competition. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

Daria Tennikova, whose work, “Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra” was a winner of the school’s annual concerto competition, has been awarded a 2014 University Book Store Academic Excellence Award in the amount of $1,000. The awards are made to undergraduate students who best exemplify the principle that excellence can be achieved through independent study. This summer, Daria will attend the summer music festival, New Music on the Point. based in Lake Dunmore, Vermont.

 

 

Horn alumnus wins Lawrence University’s “Outstanding Teacher” Award

Eric Anderson (B.M. Music Education, 1998), music department chairman and band director at Verona Area High School, was honored Sunday, May 4 with Lawrence University’s 2014 Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award, along with Lynette Schultz, an English teacher at Williams Bay Jr./Sr. High School. Eric is now band director at Verona Area High School and also sits on the board of directors of the UW-Madison School of Music Alumni Association. He also frequently conducts the orchestras for Children’s Theater of Madison and Four Seasons Theater.

Eric Anderson
Eric Anderson

The recipients are nominated by Lawrence seniors and selected on their abilities to communicate effectively, create a sense of excitement in the classroom, motivate their students to pursue academic excellence while showing a genuine concern for them in and outside the classroom. Since launching the award program in 1985, Lawrence has recognized 62 high school teachers.

Anderson has directed the concert band, wind ensemble and symphonic band while also teaching AP music theory at Verona High School since 2006. Additionally, he directs pep band, oversees rehearsals for school musicals and organizes tours around the country for all of the band students.

Note: Eric is the son of the School’s very generous volunteer photographer, Mike Anderson!

UW’s Pro Arte Quartet surmounts travel difficulties to successfully complete its planned tour of Belgium

The Pro Arte Quartet. L-R: Cellist Parry Karp; Violinist Suzanne Beia; Violist Sally Chisholm; Violinist David Perry.
The Pro Arte Quartet. L-R: Cellist Parry Karp; Violinist Suzanne Beia; Violist Sally Chisholm; Violinist David Perry.

String quartet members aren’t generally known as lawbreakers, but due to new federal regulations about international shipments of ivory (intended to protect endangered African elephants), the Pro Arte’s Sally Chisholm and Parry Karp, who each own old instruments with tiny amounts of ivory in them from long-deceased elephants, found themselves briefly detained at the Brussels airport at the beginning of their Belgium tour in late May. The tour was intended to commemorate the quartet’s 100th birthday and origination in Belgium. (Read earlier Fanfare post here.)

Tour manager Sarah Schaffer explained to Belgian authorities that the quartet had received special permission to travel with their instruments, obtained through the intervention of Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, but it took a few hours before Chisholm and Karp were allowed to leave, instruments in hand.

They had a concert scheduled for that very night, so their release was just in time.

Prior to their departure, Madison music blogger Jake Stockinger (“The Well-Tempered Ear”) asked Schaffer and the musicians to write blog posts about every step of the tour, which was well-received. The tour is now over, but the stories live on and can be found here:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 4.5 Day 5 Day 6

To learn more about the ivory ban, read here: League of American Orchestras

Faculty win awards

Chelcy Bowles, professor of music, Van Hise Outreach Teaching Award

Bowles is one of ten to receive this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards, an honor given since 1953 to recognize the university’s finest educators. Chancellor Rebecca Blank will present the awards at a ceremony to be held in conjunction with the Teaching and Learning Symposium from 4:30 to 6 p.m. May 19 at Union South in Varsity Hall. The event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of the Faculty.

Bowles is nationally and internationally renowned as one of the foremost experts on lifelong learning and engagement in music and the arts. She has developed and taught a variety of non-credit courses for adult learners and has been instrumental in the founding of music outreach programs at the state, national and international levels. Among the many initiatives she has spearheaded is the Madison Early Music Festival, now in its 15th year, which is approaching its 15th year and draws artists from around the world to showcase medieval and Renaissance music.

Professor Anthony Di Sanza, School of Music, Kellett Mid-Career Award

This award is intended to recognize and support mid-career faculty, seven to twenty years past their first promotion to a tenured position. The Kellett Mid-Career Awards were created to provide needed support and encouragement to faculty at a critical stage of their careers and are made possible by the research efforts of UW-Madison faculty and staff. Technology arising from faculty and staff research is licensed to industry by the patent management organization, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund (WARF). Income from successful licenses is returned to the Graduate School to fund a variety of research activities throughout the divisions on campus.

Professor Laura Schwendinger, School of Music, Vilas Associate Award

The Vilas Associate Award Program is made possible by the generosity of the Vilas Trustees. The award provides summer salary support and a flexible research fund for two years to non-tenured and tenured faculty.

Schwendinger will also be in residence at three festivals this summer, at Yaddo Artists Retreat in Saratoga Springs NY,  the Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus in Schwandorf, Bavaria and at Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France. In addition she will be a faculty composer at the Bennington Chamber Music Conference.  Alumnus composer Thomas Lang (MM ’07, DMA ’11) will be the composer fellow.

Professor Jessica Johnson wins American Music Teacher Article of the Year Award

MTNA’s American Music Teacher Article of the Year Award is presented to the author of an outstanding feature article written expressly for the AMT. This year’s award is presented to Jessica Johnson, NCTM, for her article “Feeling The Sound: Reflections On Claiming One’s Own Musical Voice.” The article was published in the August/September 2013 issue of American Music Teacher magazine, the official journal of the Music Teachers National Association.

This article investigates how multi-sensory learning and use of whole-brain processes may enhance our practicing and teaching, leading us to a more artistic, authentic experience. It explores how the use of imagery, metaphor, fantasy, intuition, imagination and instinct nurtures the discovery of one’s own musical voice.  Read the article: “Feeling the Sound.”

 

Last April, a unique concert, “Fusions,” devoted to an amalgam of Jewish and Arab art music with musicians and collaborators Uri Vardi (cello), Taiseer Elias (oud) and Menachem Wiesenberg (piano) was held in Mills Hall. The concert was recorded; a video is below.  Videography and editing by Robert Lughai.

Collins Fellow Philip Bergman earns spot in Japanese training orchestra

It is an annual ritual at the School of Music: sending our talented students off into the wider world to pursue their dreams as they are able.  We will begin with a story written by Philip Bergman, a cellist graduating with a master’s in music performance. We congratulate Philip and wish him many successes!

“I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, which I describe to Madisonians as a kind of mini-Madison: a Big-Ten college town with an enormous culture-to-population ratio. Iowa City was a spectacular place to grow up, especially for someone with hopes of becoming a classical musician. I began studying cello at the age of five after seeing my pediatric dentist play acoustic bass with his bluegrass band (it’s a long story). I studied for several years with a local Suzuki teacher, and then with a neighbor, a talented cellist and teacher. Later I studied with Amos Yang, the cellist in the Maia String Quartet (who is now a member of the San Francisco Symphony), and then with his successor in that position, Hannah Holman, who is now a member of the New York City Ballet Orchestra.

Philip Bergman performs Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto, Op. 129, A minor, as a winner of the 2012-13 concerto competition.

“I began my bachelors degree in 2008 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I studied with Brandon Vamos of the Pacifica String Quartet (now in residence at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University-Bloomington). I am so grateful for the time I spent at Illinois working with Brandon and the many other incredible musicians on faculty, as well as the friends and colleagues I had there, and the many performing opportunities I had available to me. When I was assembling my list for grad schools, I had the opportunity to study with Professor Steven Doane from the Eastman School of Music for several weeks at a summer festival. I asked Professor Doane for some suggestions of schools to consider and he said, “You must look up my friend Uri Vardi at the University of Wisconsin.” With little more information than that, I took a lesson with Professor Vardi, and was immediately struck by his warmth, creativity, and musicianship.

“I applied to several other schools, but chose to come to UW to study with Professor Vardi in part because I was lucky enough to be offered a Paul Collins Distinguished Wisconsin Fellowship. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Collins this past fall when I performed with a quintet at a banquet. I thanked Mr. Collins not only for his support of my education, but for his role in creating some of the finest positions available to student musicians in this country. The last two years have been two of the best years of my life. Living in Madison is spectacular, and working with Professor Vardi has been a life-changing experience for me: truly some of the most inspirational work I have ever had the opportunity to do. I’ve found the whole faculty here to be incredibly supportive, seeking to create a nurturing environment in an effort to encourage students to become not only fine musicians, but fantastic human beings. I will take the lessons I’ve learned in Madison with me for the many years ahead.

“This September, I begin a new adventure. Following an application process, and a live audition in Chicago, I was offered a position as a Core Member of the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra (HPAC), a resident orchestra affiliated with Hyogo Performing Arts Center, which was built after the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995 (special note: cellist and SOM alumna Andrea Kleesattel (DMA, 2012) is currently performing with the orchestra). The position is offered on a year-by-year basis for up to three years. HPAC is located in Nishinomiya, Japan, just between Osaka and Kobe, about 300 miles west of Tokyo. The organization was founded in 2005, and in many ways resembles the New World Symphony in Miami. Members are paid a salary and housed by the orchestra. They perform a full season of subscription concerts, chamber orchestra concerts, and masterworks concerts with the orchestra, as they would with a professional symphony, but are also provided opportunities to work with guest artists and perform chamber music recitals, often with those guest artists. HPAC is also dedicated to community outreach, performing educational concerts, as well as a variety of concerts throughout the area. I currently speak no Japanese, but I am excited to begin learning useful phrases, and hopefully when my time in Nishinomiya is over I will have learned enough to do more than figure out where I am and how to eat (speaking of which, I have always loved seafood, especially sushi, so I think I’ll be fairly happy with the food in my new home).

“I’m certain that the freedom and inspiration I gained during my time in Madison was a large reason why I was able to gain such an exciting position. I am so thankful for my time here, and I’m ready to move forward and begin my journey as a professional cellist.”

UW alumna singer records with Grammy winner Roomful of Teeth; Brass and Woodwind Quintets to play at a town near you; Piano lovers’ heaven this Sat. at UW

UW alumna singer making a mark as vocalist

UW alumna Sarah Brailey after a recording session with the Grammy- winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth. From left: Merrill's sound engineer, Cameron Beauchamp, Merrill Garbus, Brad Wells, Taylor Ward, Virginia Warnken, Esteli Gomez, Sarah Brailey, Caroline Shaw, Eric Dudley, Dashon Burton.
UW alumna Sarah Brailey after a recording session with the Grammy- winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth. From left: Merrill’s sound engineer (in blue), and singers Cameron Beauchamp, Merrill Garbus, Brad Wells, Taylor Ward, Virginia Warnken, Esteli Gomez, Sarah Brailey, Caroline Shaw, Eric Dudley and Dashon Burton.

A round of applause for Sarah Brailey, a 2007 master’s graduate who studied with vocal professor Paul Rowe and received the School’s prestigious Collins Fellowship, who has been lately appearing on stages from continent to continent, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Barbican in London, and Electric Lady in Greenwich Village. Sarah is a full-time member of the Choir of Trinity Church on Wall Street and has been a part-time writer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (“who are totally supportive of my singing and are willing to let me have a very flexible schedule”). Nowadays, though, singing is taking the biggest role in her life.

Sarah, who received a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, is originally from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. While in Madison, she played the role of Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with University Opera.

Here’s what Sarah says about her work these days: “I’ve been on tour with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and The English Concert, doing Handel’s Theodora. Among the incredible soloists are David Daniels, Dorothea Röschmann, and Sarah Connolly. We have been to Sonoma and Costa Mesa, California, Chapel Hill, and will have concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican in London, Town Hall in Birmingham (England), and the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris.

“This season, I had the immense pleasure of performing Britten’s Les Illuminations for the first time with Novus NY. Read a review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/arts/music/handels-messiah-at-trinity-church.html

“I have recently started working with legendary composer John Zorn. This past summer, we premiered his “Madrigals” at the Guggenheim Museum.” Wrote the New York Times’s Steve Smith: “Those singers and three more — the sopranos Lisa Bielawa and Sarah Brailey, and the mezzo-soprano Abby Fischer — brought the same exactitude and luster to “Madrigals,” for which Mr. Zorn assembled phrases inspired by reading Percy Bysshe Shelley. Harmonically consonant, often unambiguously melodic and rhythmically effervescent, these half-dozen songs could easily slip into standard repertory.”

(L to R): Aulikki Eerola, Pertti Eerola, and
Three revered musicians from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland will be in Madison and Milwaukee for a one-week residency March 2 – 8 to talk about Finland’s music education system, hold master classes, and perform a concert on March 8 at Luther Memorial Church. Click image to learn more.

“We also sang his piece, ‘Holy Visions,’ based on the writings of Hildegard von Bingen, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of an entire day dedicated to his works that were performed throughout the museum. We traveled to Huddersfield, England to perform both pieces in the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and will be recording Holy Visions this spring.

“I have also worked on and off this season with the Grammy-winning contemporary a cappella vocal group, Roomful of Teeth. The photograph is from a recording session we did in August with Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs at Electric Lady in Greenwich Village. Electric Lady was originally built by Jimi Hendrix and has been used by artists such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Kiss, Daft Punk, and AC/DC.

In March, Sarah will perform Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” down in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Big Ears Festival and also recording with the Grammy-nominated vocal octet, New York Polyphony. In May, she’ll perform with the Trinity Choir and Bang on a Can All-Stars for the New York premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields,” part of the New York Philharmonic’s Biennial Celebration.

National alumni, take note! Sarah’s other upcoming performances include:

Feb 26, 5pm, CUNY Grad Center: I’m performing a song cycle by André Brégégère with text by French-Carribean poet Édouard Glissant on CUNY’s Composers Now Festival.
March 4, 8pm, Alice Tully Hall: I’m soloing with The American Classical Orchestra in Handel’s Samson under the direction of Nicholas McGegan.
March 14 in Aiken, S. Carolina; March 16 in Morrow, GA; March 17 at Alice Tully in NYC: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Juilliard 415.
March 29-30: I’m performing Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN.
April 18: I’m performing Josep Sanz’s King Lear with Ekmeles at the MATA Festival in NYC.

Wingra Woodwind Quintet and Wisconsin Brass Quintet on tour to northern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota


The Wisconsin Idea is alive and well in the School of Music. This week, two of our four ensembles-in-residence will be on the road, offering a wonderful opportunity for classical music aficionados who don’t live in Madison (and we know there are many!) to hear some beautiful music.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet:

  • Tuesday, February 25, UW-Barron County – Fine Arts Auditorium, Rice Lake, WI. 7:00 pm. Wisconsin Brass Quintet, with the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble. Free.
  • Thursday, February 27, Owatonna High School, Owatonna, Minnesota. 7:00 pm. Wisconsin Brass Quintet, with the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble. Free.
  • Future outstate concerts, please see http://artsoutreach.wisc.edu/wis_brass.html
  • In Madison, you can see the quintet perform on March 29, at 8 Pm in Mills Hall.

 Wingra Woodwind Quintet:

  • This Wednesday in Madison, the  Wingra Woodwind Quintet will perform at a new location, Capital Lakes Retirement Community, 333 West Main Street, 7:30 pm. The quintet will also perform at a special dinner concert at the University Club on May 8.
  • In Ashland on February 28, United Presbyterian- Congregational Church, 7:30 pm. Tickets $15.00. http://www.ashlandchambermusic.org/concerts.html
  • In Three Lakes on March 1, at Three Lakes Elementary School, 6930 West School St. The concert begins at 7:30 pm. Tickets $10.00.
  • More information: http://artsoutreach.wisc.edu/wingra.html

Meanwhile, here in Madison we have a few special events on the docket for this weekend and next week….including the Pro Arte Quartet’s world premiere of String Quartet No. 3 by Belgian composer Benoit Mernier (read this week’s story by local blogger Jake Stockingerand a residency by three musicians of the Sibelius Academy, in Helsinki, Finland. That residency begins with a master class for singers and collaborative pianist on March 2. Read more, including the complete schedule, here.

Piano Extravaganza! to feature well-known pianists as well as rising stars

Hear the UW’s best collegiate pianists, faculty and high school talents at an all-day festival this Saturday at UW-Madison. Masterclasses, workshops and performances hosted by UW-Madison faculty and students. This year’s Piano Extravaganza will feature piano works influenced by jazz and blues. Here is the schedule of events:

Friday, February 28, 2014

8:00 PM: Mills Concert Hall: Christopher Taylor, Faculty Concert Series

Saturday, March 1, 2014

8:30-11:00 AM: Piano Extravaganza Competition

11:00 AM-12:00 PM: Professor Johannes Wallmann, Jazz Improvisation Workshop

1:30-3:30 PM: Masterclass and Q&A with UW Piano Faculty

3:45-6:30 PM: Jazz and Blues in Classical Music  (Performed by UW-Madison Piano Majors)

Download the full schedule here:  PIANO EXTRAVAGANZA

Bartsch Sisters make beautiful music together, thanks to donor support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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