Category Archives: Student recitals

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

Spring means recitals at the School of Music

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

MIKKO_uwmusic-mayco-080713-4542
Mikko Utevsky, conducting the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra in summer 2013. Photograph by Mike Anderson.

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Haydn/Piatigorsky,  Divertimento in D major; Bloch, Suite Hebraïque; Milhaud, Viola Sonata No. 1 (“On anonymous, unpublished 18th-century themes”); Brahms, Sonata for Viola (Clarinet) and Piano in E flat major, Op. 120 No.2.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

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

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

Oxana Khramova.
Oxana Khramova.

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

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

Jacob Wolbert
Jacob Wolbert
Photograph by Mike Anderson

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

Perlman Piano Trio (+ 2) presents annual concert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thimmig3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.

Concerts:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kostas Tiliakos.
Kostas Tiliakos.

New trombone ensemble holds first concert; Mark Hetzler to solo

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

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

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!”

STW_email_ad_600x100

Oct. 19: Tenor Jim Doing presents more of his favorites to sing–and to teach

Our School of Music is famous for its voice faculty, counting among them luminaries such as baritone Paul Rowe (an organizer of Madison’s nationally-known Early Music Festival); soprano Mimmi Fulmer (former teacher of Broadway star National Stampley); soprano Julia Faulkner (now on leave to Chicago’s Lyric Opera and replaced by Elizabeth Hagedorn, recently returned from many roles in Europe); and James Doing, a tenor who three years ago made a splash with a recital of “Teaching Songs for the Voice Studio,” a recital of songs that Doing assigns to his college students to sing, which taught those in the audience what it is like to be a voice student and would-be students what to expect in Doing’s studio. It also educated listeners about the classical and modern canon in the vocal repertoire.

James Doing
James Doing

Local writer Jacob Stockinger has this to say about Doing’s 2010 recital:  “It educated the audience. It was kind of like sitting in on Art Song 101. It let us listeners into the studio and allowed us to hear what makes for good repertoire, a good program and a good lesson. It was also great to see a professor sharing the recital stage with his students. To be sure, each will continue, and should continue, to perform his or her own individual solo recitals. But Doing is primarily an opera and oratorio singer so he was much like the students when it came to these first public performances of art songs.

“But sharing the stage lends credibility to the teaching process. It projects a certain solidarity and cohesion. It also projects cordiality, which is no small thing, even as we see different singing and performing styles. (Doing himself, to my ears, excelled especially in the songs by Italian, English and German Baroque composers such as Caccini, Conti, Purcell and Handel, and with French composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Faure and an exquisite song by Reynaldo Hahn.) And the results were highly successful — both enjoyable and instructive, the twin ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.”

This Saturday, October 19, at 8 pm in Mills Hall, Professor Doing will present another in what will not only be a series of “Teaching Favorites,” but will be a step toward a book on the same subject.  He will be joined by Professor Martha Fischer on piano and student singers CatieLeigh Laszewski, Jenny Marsland, Olivia Pogodzinski, Melanie Traeger, and Sheila Wilhelmi. Songs will include Strike the Viol (Henry Purcell)  from Come, ye Sons of Art; Và godendo (G.F. Handel from Serse, Melanie Traeger, soprano);  and Mozart’s Giùnse alfin il momento . . . Deh vieni, non tardar (from Le Nozze di Figaro, CatieLeigh Laszewski, soprano). And many more.             

Here, Prof. Doing explains the concept behind the next concert.

“Three years ago I presented a Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio recital complete with program notes about vocal technique, diction, and so on, and it was well received.

“On Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 my students and I are going to be singing another Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio in Mills Hall (free admission) and I would love to have many singers and teachers from the community come and share the evening with me and my students. I’ll be performing eighteen songs and five of my female voice students will assist by singing eight selections.

“Historical notes  are being provided by Chelsie Propst, a fine young soprano who completed her MM in Voice with Paul Rowe and is now a PhD candidate in Musicology. I add some Performance Notes/Suggestions and Diction pointers. For this concert of 26 songs we will provide the full notes on about 10 songs and I will provide my own translations and International Phonetic Alphabet transcriptions for all of them (except the final set of English songs). This concert is the second in a series of four with number three taking place April 3rd, 2014 in Mills Hall and number four taking place during the 2014-15 school year.

“The goal/plan at this point is to eventually complete a book tentatively entitled “100 Teaching Favorites for the Voice Studio.” The book will begin with some chapters on vocal pedagogy, diction, ornamentation, and other issues followed by information about performing each of the 100 songs. Each song will have historical  background written by Ms. Propst, followed by performance and diction pointers, translations and IPA.”

You can learn more about Prof. Doing on his website and YouTube channel. And we look forward to seeing all of you at his recital, which looks to be a highlight of the fall semester. 8 pm in Mills Hall.

STW_email_ad_600x100

Isthmus Vocal Ensemble in concert: Aug. 2 and 4

With August nearly here, the music school has quieted down considerably. A few ensembles are smart, however, to schedule their performances for this interim period when the competition for audiences is scant.

First up is the Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (IVE), which received attention today from Well-Tempered Ear blogger Jake Stockinger, who acknowledged the heavy UW-Madison School of Music influences in the ensemble. The IVE’s concerts are Friday, August 2 at 7:30 pm (Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue) and Sunday, August 4 at 3 pm. Covenant Presbyterian Church, 326 South Segoe Road.  Tickets are $15 adults/$10 students and seniors. On the program: masterworks by Bach, Brahms, Mahler, Sweelinck, and Britten.

Jake interviewed founder Scott MacPherson, a former faculty member at our school who now resides in Ohio as director of choral activities at Kent State University and returns to Madison every summer to rehearse with the group. Jake writes:  “This summer’s concerts, mostly a cappella although some pieces have organ accompaniment, are coming up this weekend on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Especially noteworthy is how the group emphasizes talent with local and regional ties -– the singers, the conductor, even the instrumentals and the composers. Many are alumni of the University of Wisconsin-School of Music.” One of those alumna is alto Linda Kachelmeier,  a member of the Minneapolis-based Rose Ensemble, a 2005 recipient of the Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and first prize winner in both sacred and secular music categories at the 2012 Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain.

Conductor Scott MacPherson
Conductor Scott MacPherson
photo by Jim Pippitt

You can read much more about the IVE in Jake’s post:

Well-Tempered Ear on IVE: July 29, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, we received an email from a friend who sings in the ensemble who is particularly excited about the upcoming performances:

” Just been reviewing our  music for this seasons Isthmus Vocal Ensemble (rehearsals start tomorrow).  My god, this is fabulous stuff.  Some Brahms that is absolutely sublime in its subtle nature of melody and chordal harmony.  Ich lasse dich nicht by Bach is a wonderful double chorus thing.  Very exciting.  And an early music piece by the Flemish Sweelinck is just so much fun (in two choruses), in French!  Got some Mahler in there and a couple of modern things too.   This chorus – lauded by the critics of this town – is a direct result of the Fountain program at the UW.  The conductor and music director (Scott McPherson) coming out of that tradition and the choral members being a core of singers from that era.  You should meet him.  I think that you would take pleasure in our concert this year, first weekend in August.  So, two weeks of immersion chorus and we are there!”

Next up: Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, another seasonal group comprised of local students, assembled and conducted by UWSOM violist Mikko Utevsky. The concert will  feature a brand-new composition by UW-SOM graduate Jerry Hui plus the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, performed by Ansel Norris, two-time first prize winner at the National Trumpet Competition and now a student at Northwestern University. Also on the program will be Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto for Violin and Oboe (transcribed for trumpet, performed by Norris and his brother, UW-SOM graduate Alexander Norris) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. One performance, Friday, August 9, 7:30 pm, at Music Hall.

MAYCO2013

UW’s Summer Music Clinic: A memorable two weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pianist Kit Taylor Dazzles New York City

Reviews don’t get any better than this. No wonder students clamor to study with Christopher “Kit” Taylor, professor of piano at UW-Madison.

On May 11 at Columbia University’s Miller Theater in New York City, Taylor presented a concert of Bach’s “Clavier-­‐Übung” (“Keyboard Practice”) with Frederick Rzewski’s virtuosic and politically charged variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!”

Christopher Taylor,
Christopher Taylor, UW professor of piano.

The program was designed to explore the music of Bach from different perspectives, 250 years apart. From the official news release:

“Whether tackling Bach’s Goldberg Variations on a dual-­‐manual piano or playing a Messiaen magnum opus from memory, Christopher Taylor has consistently wowed Miller Theatre audiences with his smart, bold performances.”

His concert was VERY well-received.

The New York Times, in a review by Zachary Woolfe, called him “a dazzlingly virtuosic and thoughtful musician,” adding “…the passionate precision of Mr. Taylor’s playing, its almost vibrating sheen, also unified the concert, from the glinting, pulsing energy of the fourth duet, in A Minor, to the lush overlapping lines of the French Overture’s opening and the almost violent quality of its Gigue.”

Read the full review here:

NYT review of Christopher Taylor

Meanwhile, one of Taylor’s graduate students, Yana Groves, will present a concert of Bach, Debussy, and Schubert this Saturday, May 18 at noon at Grace Episcopal Church, 116 West Washington Avenue, in a series called “Grace Presents.” The series is just perfect for Farmers’ Market strollers looking for a quiet interlude. Lunches are welcome!

Learn more here:

“Grace Presents” website

Also, read about Yana in Jake Stockinger’s blog, “The Well-Tempered Ear.”

The Well-Tempered Ear

This morning, Groves received some airplay from Rich Samuels of WORT radio, 89.9 FM, who makes a point of featuring many UW and other local musicians on his 7 am show. You can check out his radio show listings here: Rich Samuels”s page on WORT radio

When Yana was a senior at SUNY-Plattsburgh, she was videotaped rehearsing Mozart’s 23rd piano concerto. You can hear her here: