Category Archives: Scholarships

Meet Filippo Santoro, composer and new music DMA

Before coming to UW-Madison in 2009 as a recipient of a University Fellowship to study composition with Prof. Stephen Dembski, Filippo Santoro studied with renowned Italian composers Luciano Pelosi and Boris Porena and was inspired by teachers Franco Donatoni and Bruno Maderna. A native of Rome, Santoro received a master’s in composition as well as diplomas in piano performance and chamber music from the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1998 and 2007; holds a master’s degree  in music and semiotics from the University of Bologna (2002); and a master’s degree in composition from the State University of New York, Binghamton (2009).  His work Arioso Mistico for soprano and orchestra was a winner of the 2010 UW-Madison Concerto Competition.

Filippo Santoro
Filippo Santoro

Last week, Filippo received his DMA from UW-Madison, with a dissertation project that included writing a collection of new chamber works that engage nearly every corner of the School of Music.  We asked him to talk a bit about his life, his work, and his plans for the future.

Tell us about your dissertation project.
My dissertation is a collection of five works, one hour of music, that I call Modules. They can be seen as a whole or as independent works.

In these works I explore four different notions of modularity that I refer as “dynamic modularity,” “static modularity,” “interactive modularity,” and “on-stage modularity.” The concept of “dynamic modularity” appears in Per Quattro, my work for flute, clarinet, bassoon and double bass, comprised of sections that performers arrange in a different order each time they perform it. In my two pieces entitled Duplum for two cellos and two percussionists (see video below), I use “static modularity” in that there are also unique sections but these sections are performed in a fixed order that creates the overall form of the piece. “Interactive modularity” appears in Re-mote for solo bassoon and applied technology, in which the order of the sections of the piece is determined by the audience in real time through the aid of interactive web-based technology. Finally, I engage “on-stage modularity” in Cleave, a work for two percussionists, flute, bass clarinet, viola, double bass, trumpet, tuba, harp, mandolin, which combines the concepts of static and dynamic modularity.

What inspired you to become a composer?
Becoming a composer was a slow but natural process for me. I started as a performing pianist and I played a lot of chamber music in Italy. I think I became interested in writing music while I was playing with other musicians.

Tell us about a piece or project you have worked on recently.
I have been fortunate to collaborate with several fantastic performers here in Madison. I have been collaborating with Clocks in Motion, the School of Music alumni percussion ensemble and was one of the first composers to be commissioned by the group. It is beautiful to see how truly devoted they are to performing new music and to promoting new works. The commissioned piece is named Duplum and will be featured on their debut album “Escape Velocity” to be released in June. I also had a terrific experience working with Marc Vallon, professor of bassoon here at UW-Madison. I wrote him a long piece in which the audience participates in the performance through the aid of live technology. I am also writing a work for Kostas Tiliakos, visiting professor of oboe, and I am particularly excited since four other faculty professors will participate in this project.

How do you approach the process of starting or writing a piece?
I like to use a metaphor to describe it: imagine that an architect is commissioned to design a building. 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. I strongly believe that the music I write now reflects a biological process and that it somehow resembles the way plants grow. Sometimes I wait until I feel an urgency to write the piece I have in mind. After that, the most interesting part is the collaboration with the performer in which we determine how to convey musically complicated ideas within the score.

Who have been your influences as a composer and why?
Initially everybody! In my years in Rome at Santa Cecilia Conservatory, I had multiple interests. Of course, late Italian music played a role in my understanding of new music such as that of Berio, Sciarrino, Nono and Maderna. I was lucky to study with teachers who believed that there was no understanding of new music without an understanding of composers like Ravel, Bach and even Monteverdi.

How has your work as a composer influenced other parts of your life or vice versa?
Writing music is what I do and therefore I may have the tendency of seeing and finding music in other parts of my life. I think it is called “professional deformation.”

You are not only a composer but also a composition teacher. What is your approach to teaching composition?
I tailor my approach to the needs of the particular student I’m working with. Regardless of who the student is, however, I believe that clarity and transparency are critical components to teaching composition. This is particularly true for the teaching of young students who are looking for models to begin with. With students who are more advanced, I always think of myself as an active observer, who helps the student to find what he/she is looking for. A renowned Italian teacher, Franco Donatoni, said once that composition cannot be taught and that therefore one should strive only to stimulate in the student an attitude of inventiveness. I embrace this fully and I think that stimulation for a composer often means to search for ideas within the scores of other composers.

What do you see as the most important skills for a composer to have?
I’d say the ability to nurture curiosity in the listener. The role of a composer/artist is always to reveal something beyond what we already know.

What do you want your students to take away?
I want my students to understand, first and foremost, that what they do as composers should express something of who they are as individuals. All the rest should come naturally.

What do you hope to achieve through your music?
Basically, my music reflects the way I see the world, but I hope that it can also reflect and/or enhance the way others see their own.

Why do you think people have difficulty in understanding contemporary music?
This is something that has always sounded paradoxical to me. Understanding contemporary music shouldn’t be more difficult than understanding contemporary painting or architecture. The question for me is how to make new music available to be “explained” in the same way other form of arts are. If more so-called “classical” concerts programmed contemporary works alongside other less recent works, the audience would begin to see contemporary music as the product of a natural musical evolution. Doesn’t that happen to anybody who goes to a museum and walks from one historical island to another? Naturally, this person will begin thinking about connections and relationships between different artistic eras. I think performers and composers have a moral responsibility to encourage such an approach in their audiences. I believe new music should be “by definition” more interesting than any other music since it depicts where we are coming from, who we are in the moment and where we are possibly going in the future.

What are your plans now?
I intend to continue to work with ensembles and performers who are engaged in my music language and I am keen to explore and promote new avenues for composer and audience interaction through technology. Based on the concepts described in my dissertation, I plan to start working on a book that describes the integration of compositional methods and theories of natural systems. I also plan to publish analyses of the late works of Franco Donatoni to further explore the concepts of figura and growth.

 

 

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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

Young trombonist finds community–and inspiration–at the UW-Madison School of Music

Hot on the heels of “Trombone Week” in Madison, which featured three famous trombonists performing in town (Trombone Shorty, Papo Vazquez and our own alum Chris Washburne), we now offer a story about a trombonist at the other end of the career spectrum: Brittany Sperberg, a junior from Shawano. Brittany is a recipient of several School of Music scholarships and has put them to good use, having formed her own Dixieland band which has played several concerts in Madison and around the state. She’s also played with the UW Jazz Orchestra (directed by Prof. Johannes Wallmann), the UW Wind Ensemble (directed by Prof. Scott Teeple), the Trombone Choir (directed by Prof. Mark Hetzler), among others.

Brittany Sperberg
Brittany Sperberg.
Photograph by Tori Rogers.

We asked Brittany to describe her time in Madison, and how scholarships have benefited her education.

“My name is Brittany Sperberg and I am a junior music education major.  One of the things that always inspired and guided my education has been my sense of community.  I am from Shawano, Wisconsin, which is a fairly small town and farming community near Green Bay.  In fact, one of my favorite things to do when I go home is to sit outside my house with a view of my barn and vast numbers of trees, and practice trombone. (Sometimes my grandma even sits in her house which is a farmer’s field apart from mine to listen!)   Because I have been so used to having a supportive and small community encouraging my entire grade school music experience, I knew that when I made the jump to college that it was important to go somewhere where I could recreate that atmosphere.  I truly feel that I have found this family here at UW-Madison!

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The Dairyland Jazz Band. Travis Worth, banjo; Jacob Bicknase, washboard; Gavin Garrett, sousaphone; Brittany Sperberg, trombone; Jacob Riederer, trumpet; and Alex Charland, clarinet.
Photograph by Erika Anderson. Missing: Pat Doty, piano.

“The thing that I am most proud of during my time so far at Madison is making my own Dixieland band, The Dairyland Jazz Band.  The Dairyland Jazz Band was created last semester in part of an independent study I did with my trombone professor, Mark Hetzler, as a way for me to learn more about jazz outside of my involvement with the UW Jazz Orchestra.  The independent study required me to write a research paper, put on a Dixieland recital, and present a lecture to my trombone studio.  I was incredibly lucky to find the six musicians that I did to play with me.  I have learned and been inspired by their incomparable talent, professionalism, and enthusiasm.  Leading and playing in this band has been nothing but a fun and challenging experience. Our recital last April was a huge hit and Morphy was nearly filled!  We also played at a cabaret at the bar  “Plan B” on Williamson Street, where we opened for some singer-dancers from the touring group of Mary Poppins. Because we all love working with each other and playing this kind of music, we have since stayed together. Besides myself, the members of my band  include Travis Worth, banjo; Pat Doty, piano; Gavin Garrett, sousaphone; Alex Charland,  clarinet; Jacob Bicknasse, washboard; and Jacob Riederer, trumpet.  Creating this band has taught me to become a better musician and strengthen my leadership and organizational skills.

“In September, my band traveled to Shawano to play two shows in two days.  Our first show was a concert that my former boss hosted at her reception hall, “The Gathering.” The concert went really well and we had nearly 90 people there to simply listen to our music–impressive for a small town!  I was really happy to have such a great turnout because I had been in charge of all the planning of the event from ticket sales, making posters, putting them up, finding repertoire, rehearsing the band, and playing myself.  The next day, my band played at my church’s annual Church in the Barn, which we host in my family’s barn.  Because this type of live music is not often heard there, some people were so strongly affected by the music that they had tears in their eyes.  One person even sent a letter to the Shawano newspaper about our gig and the personal connection he felt with the music.  Recently, the band also played at the Collage Concert.

“Last year I played trombone in the pit for “Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier” (a musical written and directed by School of Music students Nicholas Connors) and can be heard in the album that will be released soon!  I have also played in the touring group, Kids From Wisconsin, for the past two summers.  This group was an amazing opportunity and gave me the chance to perform for audiences as big as 4,000 people!  I also have been a guest college clinician at the Shawano Jazz Festival where this will be my third year performing with such musicians as Wayne Bergeron, Eric Marienthal, and Gordon Goodwin.  My current involvement includes: UWJO (3 years), Wind Ensemble (2 years), Trombone Choir (3 years), substitute trombonist with the Ladies Must Swing (3 years), Dairyland Jazz Band (1 year), and Brass Quintet (1 year), among others.

“I have received various scholarships from the School of Music and the awards ceremony.  At the 2012 awards convocation, I was awarded the Jeanette Ginzl Scholarship . In 2013, I received the Edda Valborg Ofstie Scholarship, Raymond F. Dvorak Music Education Award, and Full Compass Foundation Scholarship. I also receive another scholarship through the School of Music.   I have been truly, truly blessed to have such positive support and encouragement from my school.  If it were not for these scholarships, I am not sure I would have been able to stay at UW-Madison. These scholarships have not only helped me financially, but have also served as a tool to encourage me to follow my musical aspirations.  I am touched by the generosity others have shown me and want to impact others through my music, just as others have influenced me.

“My college experience has been incredible.  I have an endless amount of appreciation and respect for my studio professor, Mark Hetzler.  I think what is so amazing about the School of Music is that we have some of the best teachers and resources.  Professor Hetzler has been an incredible mentor and I am inspired by his dedication and creativity as a performer and teacher.  I really get excited about my lessons every week, and it is great that Professor Hetzler encourages me to explore a variety of genres and musical outlets in my studies with him.  Also, how many people can say that their studio teacher has his or her own metal band, “Sinister Resonance”?  Any prospective students should know how lucky they would be to study under the teachers found here at UW-Madison!

“I am not sure what the future holds for me, but I am excited to see the directions that music will continue to take me!   I would love to go to grad school and get my masters in trombone performance.  After that, I would like to have a career as both a music educator and performer, as I am very passionate about both aspects of music.”

We hope Brittany’s story will inspire others to contribute to scholarships at the UW-MadisonSchool of Music. Click the link to donate!

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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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Scholarships help out-of-state trumpeter make UW possible

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At Interlochen Arts Academy, summer 2013.
Left to right: Ben Davis with faculty Ken Larson, Michael Davison, Vincent DiMartino, and Rob Smith.

With out-of-state tuition a challenge for many students and families to afford, every contribution from the university makes it more possible that a student will attend. Here’s one more story in our series for Share the Wonderful, about Benjamin Davis, an undergraduate trumpeter in the studio of John Aley, who has taught at UW-Madison for 32 years and is also principal trumpet in the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. For 16 years, John has also taught high school students at the Interlochen Arts Camp.

Ben, a native of Richmond, Virgina, is one of two recipients of the Raymond F. Dvorak Scholarship and also is receiving a four-year School of Music scholarship.

Thank you to all who have given Ben the support that allows him to pursue his dreams. We hope you will enjoy his story!

“My name is Ben Davis and I am a senior trumpeter and composer from Richmond, Virginia studying Music Education here at UW. Being at UW has allowed me to become involved in so many different musical experiences that have been invaluable to my growth as a musician, educator, and student. I have been able to put on so many different hats in my career here between teaching music in practicum, being the Associate Director of the Isthmus Jazz Series with the Wisconsin Union Theater last year, performing with large ensembles and in brass quintet, and working as an ensemble librarian. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the great instrumental, composition, and music education faculty here and collaborate with graduate and undergraduate colleagues.

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Jessica Jensen, John Aley, and Mark Hetzler of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.
Photograph by Jon Harlow.

“Recently, what I have been doing has been an eclectic mix of activities. This summer was the second time I had the pleasure to be a teaching assistant in the brass area at Interlochen Arts Camp where I got to coach chamber music with the high schoolers, conduct the Intermediate Brass Ensemble, play with the Faculty Brass Ensemble and Big Band, help teach the brass component of instrument exploration, and make connections to artists on faculty and staff from all over the country. At UW, I am finishing up my coursework in the final semester before I student teach next semester, so things are very busy in my life currently. Like most semesters, I have the privilege to work with and learn from esteemed trumpet guru John Aley, whose unbelievable sound and great teaching attracted me to UW as a high schooler. I am also enrolled in a number of general education courses. However, this semester’s work also happens to include learning flute, cello, bass, and percussion all of which have been very enjoyable!

“Outside of my courses for school, I study composition with Filippo Santoro, a current DMA candidate, who has been a great mentor and very important to my development as a composer. Over the last few months, I had the great opportunity to collaborate with current artist-in-residence at Kennesaw State University and trumpet extraordinaire Doug Lindsey (DMA ‘12). I wrote a new piece for trumpet and stacked percussion (vibraphone and marimba) for him called Impressions that will be played next semester. Next semester will also bring the premier of the quartet Dig. for Trombone, Vibraphone, Piano, and Cello, written for UW senior and trombonist Ty Peterson. It is influenced by ideas of rhythm and groove in free jazz and is structurally informed by the panels of visual artist Sol LeWitt’s All One-Two-Three and Four Part Combinations of Lines in Four Directions and in Four Colors (1976). I am currently working on a piece for orchestra in four movements called freezes, flows and am in the relatively early stages of analysis of Katharina Rosenberger’s octet parcours III.

“The scholarships I have received from the School of Music and the Raymond F. Dvorak Scholarship have been very important for my family. Because I am not from Wisconsin or Minnesota, I pay out of state tuition for my schooling which is expensive. The financial assistance provided through these scholarships really have been of much use in reducing the net cost of my schooling and that has allowed me to be able to continue experiencing all of these great things that I have been able to do up here at UW, so I am extremely thankful!”

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