Category Archives: Uri Vardi

UW-Madison’s Top Musicians to Solo in Annual “Symphony Showcase”

News and Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – January 26, 2016

“Symphony Showcase” brings out the best, literally

They’ve prepared for months and now are ready to show off a bit on the stage of Mills Hall: Our annual Symphony Showcase, a concert featuring the winners of our annual concerto competition in solo performances with the UW Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Smith.  This year’s winners are all graduate students with impressive worldwide resumés; one is a composer whose new work will be premiered by the orchestra. Please join us on Sunday, February 14, at 7:30 PM for our concert and reception in Mills Hall! (Note: Parking is free on Sundays in Grainger Hall.) Concert tickets are $10 but are free for students of all ages. Buy in advance ($4 fee) or in person in Mills lobby.

Concerto winners
L-R:
Kangwoo Jin, piano; Luis Alberto Peña, piano; Garrett Mendelow, percussion; and Paran Amininazari, violin. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
Yunkyung Hong, composer. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
Yunkyung Hong, composer. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Meet the winners and the works they will play, and read full biographies on this webpage.

Violinist Paran Amininazari, doctoral student of Assistant Professor Soh-Hyun Park Altino. Paran is also a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and a founding member of the Willy St. Chamber Players. Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63, one movement.

Yunkyung Hong, a doctoral composer studying with Professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski. “Yun” has won many awards and commissions worldwide and is employed by UW-Madison’s MOOCS (massive online courses) program as a sound designer. Her new work is called Transparency.

Pianist and Collins Fellow Kangwoo Jin, doctoral student of Professors Christopher Taylor and Jessica Johnson. Kangwoo is a winner of many competitions and received his master’s degree from Indiana University. He is also a teacher in the school’s Community Music Lessons program. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18, third movement.

Garrett Mendelow, doctoral percussionist and Collins Fellow studying with Professor Anthony Di Sanza. In 2012, Mendelow won second place in the biennial Tromp Percussion Competition in The Netherlands, and in 2014, he was a semifinalist at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany. Arena Concerto, by Swedish composer Tobias Broström.

Luis Alberto Peña, a doctoral piano student of Professor Christopher Taylor.  Luis has soloed with many orchestras and won awards in Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela and the USA. Richard Strauss’s Burleske in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra.


The Wisconsin Idea at Its Most Audible

Did you know that the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Wood Quintet and the Pro Arte Quartet are our contribution to the Wisconsin Idea? Over decades, the three ensembles have logged thousands of miles giving concerts and master classes in high schools, concert halls and colleges all over Wisconsin. And we want to visit your town!

We’ve given it a new name: the “Music Engagement & Outreach Program,” and we have a new coordinator, Beth Larson,  a violinist who graduated from UW-Madison in 2011 and performs with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Willy Street Chamber Players.  With Beth’s help, the three groups have begun an exciting new partnership with Milwaukee’s High School of the Arts, working not only with bands and orchestra but with literature and science classes as well. Contact Beth to learn more.

ThreeEnsembles-Web2015-16

Find the ensembles in your corner of Wisconsin! Upcoming concerts include:

Pro Arte Quartet (please note: due to injury, the Pro Arte concert for Feb. 3 in Mills Hall has been canceled)
2/23/16 5:30 PM Concert & Clinic | Wisconsin Philharmonic | Waukesha, WI
2/28/16 2:00 PM Concert | Marcus Center for the Performing Arts | Milwaukee, WI
4/5/16 7:00 PM Concert | University of Wisconsin – Platteville | Platteville, WI
4/7/16 7:00 PM Concert | Oakwood Village – University Woods | Madison, WI
4/11/16 7:30 PM Concert | Three Lakes Arts Association | Three Lakes, WI
5/14/16 7:30 PM Concert | Midsummer’s Music | Sister Bay, WI
Wisconsin Brass Quintet
3/4/16 7:30 PM Concert | Concordia University | Mequon, WI
Wingra Wind Quintet
2/11/16 3:30 PM Concert | Coventry Village | Madison, WI
2/18/16 10:00 AM Educational Concert | Edgewood High School | Madison, WI
2/26/16 7:30 PM Concert | Nicolet Live @ Nicolet College | Rhinelander, WI


Music reviewer Greg Hettsmanberger gets his own TV blog

Blogger Greg Hettsmanberger has been writing about classical music for Madison Magazine for several years now, and has now begun a stint on TV as well and started a new personal blog, “What Greg Says,” mostly about music. You can catch his TV segment on occasional Wednesday mornings just after 6:30 AM on WISC-TV/Ch. 3. In his debut appearance, he included our upcoming Schubertiade as one of his recommendations.

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Meanwhile, another faithful classical music critic, Jake Stockinger, just passed the 1.4 million mark in hits to his blog, The Well-Tempered Ear, in continuous publication since 2009. Congratulations, Jake!


Want to burnish those rusty piano or trombone skills? UW-Madison’s Community Music Lessons can help

The CML program was founded in 1968 and is still busy offering lessons to students young and old(er) in our community. Our teachers are graduate students recommended by their major professors, and are available in the areas of instrumental, voice, and even composition. Registration for the spring semester just opened; click here to learn more.
Read biographies of our current teachers.


Faculty News: Laura Schwendinger, Uri Vardi & David Perry.

Alumni News: Violist Elias Goldstein.


Hire a Musician!

Do you seek one or more musicians for your wedding, private party, corporate event, or church service? Our students routinely gig in the community and now there’s an updated place for you to advertise. See this website and send your request to the email listed. Note: All arrangements are made between the students and the employer.


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.


Personalize your calendar view! Click on the “view as” link on the right of our calendar page.
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You received this newsletter because you either signed up at join-somnews@lists.wisc.edu or directly at this blog. You can also follow us on our very active Facebook page and hear our music on our SoundCloud page.

A summer lark that led to something bigger: Meet UW-Madison cellist Kyle Price

By Katherine Esposito

It all started with an idea for summer fun, in the midst of a verdant paradise, at a family home he’d visited every year since he was a wee toddler. Now he was a 19-year-old cellist who wanted his college friends to hang out and play music at his grandma’s lake house. They could play string quartets practically in their sleep. Why not invite a few neighbors to hear them?

Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.
Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

Paradise was tiny Caroga Lake, New York, a 54-square mile town in the lower Adirondacks that is home to 1,200 permanent residents and booms to 4,000 every summer.  In 2012, the cellist, Kyle Price, asked a group of friends from undergrad at the Cleveland Institute of Music to join him, and they wound up performing Bach and Mendelssohn as an opener for the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Lake Performing Arts Center as well as at two other venues. Not bad for a first stab at a music party.

Kyle dubbed the event the Caroga Lake Music Festival, and an annual tradition was born. In 2015, in its fourth year, the Caroga Lake Music Festival offered four weeks of free concerts at venues ranging from Fulton-­‐Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, the Canada Lake Marina (on floating barges), several churches, a nursing home, on a farm and in New York City.

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Kyle, now a master’s student and Collins Fellow at UW-Madison, studying with professor Uri Vardi, plans a fifth festival for 2016 and has even bigger ideas: he is cultivating support to evolve it into a year-round arts center located on the site of Sherman’s, a long-shuttered amusement park. He’s created an official nonprofit, the Caroga Arts Collective, and established a board of directors sprinkled with names from big companies like L.L. Bean, Borden Dairy and two law firms – all people with summer homes in the area.

Somehow he’s doing this around a full-time schedule as a music student. “It’s tough,” he says, with a laugh. “Recently, I’ve been needing to go back there to present things, meaning I miss class here, but the teachers have been great.” His classes mostly include performance-based classes such as chamber orchestra with conductor James Smith and chamber ensembles with professor Parry Karp, but he’s also enrolled in Jazz Improvisation with saxophone professor Les Thimmig.

It was the Internet that got him hooked on Madison.

Price, who is originally from Columbus, Ohio, knew nothing about the university until he watched a YouTube video about the National Summer Cello Institute, an intensive week-long camp for cellists organized by professor of cello. The camp has been held at UW-Madison since 2010 and offers classes that explore connections between body awareness, musical expression, and injury prevention.  “I was literally sitting with my cello in front of my computer in a practice room, and I came across a video that linked to the NSCI,” he says. “There was this funky word, Feldenkrais, and  a video of Uri explaining Feldenkrais and how it relates to performance. And I decided, I totally have to go to this. It was my main priority, cello-wise, for the summer.” (Feldenkrais is a technique that helps people to increase ease and range of motion.)

By the time he graduated, he also had decided that he wanted to apply for a master’s degree at the UW-Madison School of Music, a behemoth compared to the 350-student Cleveland Institute of Music. “I didn’t know much more about the school, but Uri was someone I wanted to study with.” He’s been impressed with the city and the university. “It was amazing, meeting all these undergrads – some are double or triple majors. Everyone is so smart and the faculty is amazing.”

Of Vardi, Kyle says: “It’s been fantastic. He’s pretty brilliant. He tries to get you out of your habits, so you have options to work with, then you can expand your palette. His teaching goes way beyond the cello in a lot of ways. It made a big impact on my life, and on playing the cello.”

Prof. Vardi has similar praise for Kyle. “He’s a mensch,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye. “He has a good heart and appreciates beauty. He wants to improve life for society. And he’s one of the most musical students I’ve ever worked with.”

All of these, he said, are why Vardi nominated Kyle for the Collins Fellowship, a full graduate scholarship funded by longtime School of Music supporter Paul Collins.

His intuition was accurate.  In 2015, Kyle was a winner in the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition and a finalist in the G. Gershwin International Music Competition. After graduation next spring, he plans to devote himself full-time to growing the Caroga festival, plus freelancing and composing music.

Kyle has high hopes for the future of the festival, now an annual tradition that has captivated those who live in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys of central New York state. It may have begun as a lark, but it’s brought deep pleasure to the small community. “We have a mix of audience: the experienced ones who’ve been to Saratoga and New York City, and people who are completely brand new and who are experiencing classical, jazz, even alternative music for the very first time,” he says.

People like Jim Hinkle, from Johnstown,  who in 2014 penned a letter to editors of the Leader Herald, a local newspaper.  Wrote Hinkle: “My knowledge of music is extremely limited. But now I am hooked on this concert series. It took some time for me to figure out whom they they talking about when they correctly pronounced Debussy. It’s not De Bu Sea like I had been taught. There are still play dates left. I urge you to not watch television but go to the free concert, sit in back and if the music is not right for you, leave during the applause. It’s OK. Please give it a chance, as I did.”

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 singers win a first round; pianist Christopher Taylor secures patent for double piano; UW Opera bids farewell to Bill Farlow in April show

NEWS

Madison a cappella choir one of region’s best

It was the colorful chalk drawings that drew Mike Fuller to sing with Fundamentally Sound, advertisements painted on sidewalks near the Humanities building last September. But it was Mike’s voice–and those of 16 others–that allowed them to win first place a few weeks ago in the first round of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), held at the University of Chicago.  The group, open to students who either have “a voice and/or can make noises with your mouth,” according to their website, is an auditioned, all-male a cappella choir founded in 2005 that sings arrangements of Disney songs, rap, hip-hop and more. The group rehearses twice a week, performs regular shows and gigs, and even released a CD in the fall of 2012, “Sounding the Alarm.”

The next competition will be in Normal, Illinois, on April 5. The group will also perform April 25 at the Orpheum Theater on State Street in Madison; buy tickets here.

“It’s a fun escape from homework and studying,”  says Mike, a freshman who sang in choirs at Pacelli High School in Stevens Point before entering college. He is not a music major–in fact his favorite class is Physics 109, the physics of light and sound–but is one of many students who take lessons to have fun and improve their skills. Along the way, they sometimes discover they have more talent than they realized.

Mike Fuller.
Mike Fuller. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

Last fall he enrolled in Music 144, a group voice lesson class open to non-majors that was taught by Jordan Wilson, a graduate student; this semester, he’s taking lessons from Elizabeth Hagedorn, visiting assistant professor of voice.

The voice lessons have given him much better range, he says. And he’s made a bevy of great new friends. “I feel it was one of the best decisions I made this year at UW-Madison.”

Albany music director and SOM alumnus Brian Gurley is really glad winter is over

Brian Gurley, SOM alumnus in choral conducting (M.M., 2011), moved from Wisconsin last summer to take the position of music director of the 162-year-old Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, New York, a church built during the height of the Irish potato famine that served as a refuge for persecuted Irish. Over its century-and-a-half, church activities included welcoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, hosting a “forgiveness ceremony” between Catholics and Jews,  and avoiding demolition in the 1960s. Lately, the church had been undergoing significant restoration that included replacement of deteriorated sandstone with imported stone from England, new granite steps and a unique rolled lead roof. But this past winter (the one we’re all hoping is finally OVER), as Gurley played a Steinway piano for a choir rehearsal, he heard the sound of dripping water. “My stomach kind of went in my mouth and I thought oh my gosh, they spent all this time and money on the restoration and now the roof leaks,” Gurley told reporter Paul Grondahl of the Albany Times-Union. Want to know what went wrong? Click here to read the entire story.

Pro Arte premiere of new Benoit Mernier string quartet draws appreciative crowd as well as positive critical reviews

Benoit Mernier rehearses with the Pro Arte String Quartet
Belgian composer Benoit Mernier rehearses with the Pro Arte String Quartet, March, 2014.
Photo by Michael R. Anderson

The fifth of six world premieres commissioned by Madison’s own Pro Arte String Quartet took place on March 1 in Mills Hall, and was enthusiatically received by former UW-Madison history professor and music critic John Barker (who also helped to plan the centennial events). The new work, funded by both the Pro Arte Quartet and the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, deliberately hailed the quartet’s roots in Belgium, as Mernier is from that country, and “was the most musically satisfying of all the commissioned works presented so far,” according to Barker in a post on The Well-Tempered Ear, Madison’s classical music blog. “Met honestly, the score has a logic and even power to it that one might compare to Bela Bartók’s quartets — and we have all caught up with those by now, haven’t we?” The final commission, a clarinet quintet by French-Canadian composer Pierre Jalbert, will be performed next September.

Read the entire review here.

Read an interview with Pro Arte violinist Suzanne Beia in the Wisconsin State Journal, Feb. 27, 2014

School of Music music ed students band together to support music education in public schools

 NAfME students,
The NAfME students, excited about their new chapter!

Over 40 music ed students have launched a UW-Madison chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Membership will allow students to network for job and educational advancement, as well as finding ways to assist area schools, according to Dan Joosten, co-president. The chapter is advised by Teri Dobbs, associate professor of music education and Darin Olson, assistant director of bands.

With over 130,00 members, NAfME bills itself as the world’s oldest arts education organization, and includes students, faculty, and professional teachers, both active and retired. According to its website, “NAfME developed the National Standards for Music Education and administered the overall development of the National Standards for Arts Education (1994) under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Standards represent the first comprehensive set of educational standards for K–12 arts instruction.” The group meets Wednesday nights at 8PM in Humanities. For more information, contact Dan Joosten at djoosten@wisc.edu, or Jenny Deroche at jlderoche@wisc.edu.

Piano Extravaganza High School Competition announces winners

Finalists in the 2014 UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza Competition. Front L-R: Anthony Cardella, Vivian Wilhelms, Kaitlin Lalmond, Olivia Montgomery; Bach L-R: Ethan Nethery, Garrick Olsen, Quinton Nennig, Theodore Liu.
Finalists in the 2014 UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza Competition. Front L-R: Anthony Cardella, Vivian Wilhelms, Kaitlin Lalmond, Olivia Montgomery; Bach L-R: Ethan Nethery, Garrick Olsen, Quinton Nennig, Theodore Liu.

Saturday, March 1 was the inaugural UW-Madison School of Music Piano Extravaganza Competition. Nine finalists from Wisconsin and Minnesota competed for cash prizes. The 1st prize winner ($1,500) was Vivian Wilhelms, a freshman at Waunakee High School. Vivian is a student of William Lutes and was a finalist of the 2010 Chopin Piano Competition in Milwaukee, 2011 winner of the Fall Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and 2013 winner of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. The 2nd prize winner ($1,000) was Garrick Olsen, of Madison. Garrick studies with William Lutes and plans to major in piano performance in college next fall. Garrick will make his subscription concert debut with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in May 2015, playing Gershwins’ I Got Rhythm Variations. He is the winner of a number of competitions, including the Wisconsin Public Radio’s 2013 Neale-Silva Young Artist Competition, the 2012 PianoArts award for Best Performance of a North American Competition, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 2012 Bolz Young Artist Competition (“Final Forte”) as well as MSO’s 2003 Fall Youth Concerto Competition. 3rd prize ($500) went to Quinton Nennig from Sherwood, Wisconsin. Quinton currently studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy with Dr. TJ Lymenstull, where he is the recipient of a merit scholarship. Previous studies were with Nina Mink. His many accomplishments include winning Lawrence University’s Piano Festival (2009-2012), and 1st place in the WMTA Badger Competition in 2010 and 2012. Honorable mention went to Theodore Liu, a sophomore at Waunakee Community High School. Theodore studies with Shu-Ching Chuang and plays trumpet in band and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. He is very fond of mathematics and science due to their precision and logic.

Judges for the competition were Jess Johnson, Christopher Taylor, John Stowe, Todd Welbourne, Dino Mulic and Seungwha Baek.

The Piano Extravaganza Competition was sponsored by the Evjue Foundation and Former Chancellor Irving Shain.

Pianist Christopher Taylor receives patent for new double keyboard

Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor performs at the Miller Theater in New York City, May 2013.
Richard Termine photograph.
Click photo for the New York Times review.

It’s official: The new digital double keyboard piano invented by UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor, modeled after a unique double Steinway that resides in Taylor’s office, is the owner of patent number 8,664,497, issued to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Association on March 4.  As described in San Francisco’s Classical Voice: “The instrument setup is an unusual one in that a console, with the two sets of 88 keys, will drive two “slave” pianos, remotely. The console piano will not produce any sound. Instead, an electronic sensor will record what a pianist is playing and instantaneously send that information across the stage, MIDI style, to two normal pianos that will produce the music.”  Taylor has worked extensively with scientists and technicians at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery to perfect the instrument.

It’s not built yet, though. What it means is that anyone with an interest in something very musical and very new could apply for a license to pursue actual construction of the piano, says WARF spokeswoman Emily Bauer, license manager. “It’s a cool case. We’d love to see it licensed and commercialized,” Bauer says.

Taylor hopes that in a couple of years, he’ll be able to unveil both the first iteration of this new piano and a new piece written especially for it. He’s already talked to composer Derek Bermel about the idea.  “Bermel welcomes the idea of writing music for an instrument where limitations are not known. The possibilities for new music are many, said Bermel, who wrote his first work for Taylor — a solo piano piece titled Turning — in 1995,” wrote Classical Voice writer Edward Ortiz. “ ‘[Repeated] notes on one set of hammers are pretty tough to play, but with two sets of hammers you can repeat notes by playing one note on one keyboard and a note on the other; then you can get this incredible, drumroll-like effect,’ said Bermel. “ ‘Also, there are some chords you cannot play on the piano because they would be too wide —– you would need fingers that were two feet long!’ ”

Read about Christopher Taylor in On Wisconsin! magazine, February 2014.

Read “The Quest for the Perfect Piano” in San Francisco Classical Voice, May 2013

Read about Taylor in the Wisconsin State Journal, 2011

And one more: Madison Magazine Q&A with Taylor in February, 2014.

SAVE THE DATE! SELECTED UPCOMING CONCERTS AT THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Paul Rowe, Julia Foster, and Martha Fischer perform the Italienisches Liederbuch of Hugo Wolf

Paul Rowe.
Paul Rowe. Photo by Michael R. Anderson

Austrian-born Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), a child prodigy who became a devotee of Richard Wagner, was known for his “concentrated expressive intensity” in his compositions, especially his lieder (songs). On March 26, at 7:30 PM in Mills Hall, voice professor Paul Rowe, alumna Julia Foster (now assistant professor of voice and opera at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida) and pianist Martha Fischer will perform his “Italian Songs.” Read about the program here (PDF): Notes on the “Italienisches Liederbuch” of Hugo Wolf

Cello professor Uri Vardi bridges a cultural divide with trans-Middle Eastern music

On April 5 at 8 PM, cello professor Uri Vardi, oud artist Taiseer Elias, and composer/pianist Menachem Wiesenberg will present a concert, “Fusions,” of Arabic and Israeli music on the stage of Mills Hall, co-sponsored by UW’s Center for Jewish Studies. Elias is founder and conductor of the first Orchestra of Classical Arabic Music in Israel and is currently the musical director and conductor of the Arab-Jewish Youth Orchestra; he is the head of the Eastern Music Department at the Jerusalem Music Academy and is a professor of musicology at Bar Ilan University. Wiesenberg  is a professor and dean of composition, conducting, and music education at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and also a senior consultant to the Jerusalem Music Center. Cellist and pedagogue Uri Vardi has performed as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber player across the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and his native Israel. Born in Szeged, Hungary, Vardi grew up on kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh, Israel. He studied at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, was an Artist Diploma student at Indiana University, and earned his Master’s degree from Yale University.

Read an interview with Uri Vardi in the Center’s winter 2014 newsletter. 

Learn about the backgrounds of the musicians and hear a track of their music.

View the concert program.

The concert will be repeated on Sunday, April 6 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Live at the Chazen afternoon show, starting at 12:30 PM. It will also be held in Milwaukee that evening. Learn more here. 

Final Farlow opera to be staged April 11, 13, and 15 in Music Hall

Put it on your calendar: After 15 years with University Opera,  director William Farlow will retire after this spring’s performance of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, a comic opera in two acts that was Berlioz’s last work; according to a National Public Radio story from 2009, it “combines the signature brilliance and bombast of composer with the sly, comedic insights of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.” Berlioz wrote both the libretto and the music. Look for an official news release very soon. Hear the overture in this YouTube video clip.

Tickets are $22.00 for the general public, $18.00 for senior citizens and $10.00 for UW-Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at (click “buy tickets” on the site): http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

JUST ANNOUNCED: OPERA STAR SUSANNE MENTZER TO CONDUCT MASTER CLASS AT SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Opera singer Susanne Mentzer, in town for Madison Opera’s April 25-27 production of Dead Man Walking, will conduct a master class on Monday, April 7 at the School of Music, 1:15 to 3:15 in Room 1321 (one floor below below Mills Hall). This event is free and open to the public.  Ms. Mentzer will be working one-on-one with students, performing a signature aria for the class, conducting a Q&A session, and staying to meet and greet all attendees. From her online bio: “Ms. Mentzer has appeared with nearly all the major opera companies, orchestras and festivals of North and South America, Europe and Japan. For over 20 years she has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera. She has collaborated with many of the world’s great conductors and singers including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Pierre Boulez and Christoph Eschenbach, Joan Sutherland, Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo, Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Carol Vaness, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade to name just a few.” Read more here: http://www.susannementzer.com/index.html

Madison Opera website, for information and tickets: http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2013-2014/dead_man_walking/

New York Times review of Susanne Mentzer, 2000

The School of Music offers many more concerts and recitals this spring. See the full schedule at http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar

Farlow
Retiring opera director Bill Farlow exchanges pleasantries with Beatrice et Bendict chorus member Annisa Richardson
on the stage of Music Hall, March 2014. The two are old pals.
Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Remembering Janos Starker: Memorial Concert Sunday, June 9, Mills Hall

Written by Cathy Spann.

On Sunday, June 9, the National Summer Cello Institute (NSCI), a summer program affiliated with the UW-Madison School of Music, will present a free special tribute concert to Janos Starker, one of history’s greatest cellists and teachers, who died in Bloomington, Indiana on April 28, 2013.  Starker was professor of cello at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University from 1958 until recently.  He also had served as principal cellist of many major symphony orchestras: Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, Dallas, Budapest, and the Budapest Philharmonic.

An obituary of Starker was published in the New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/arts/music/janos-starker-master-cellist-dies-at-88.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The Wall Street Journal called Starker’s death “the end of cello’s golden age.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324266904578461103567260348.html

Uri Vardi, cello professor at the UW-Madison School of Music and the artistic director of the NSCI, who studied at Indiana with Starker from 1972-1975, said  Starker helped him to confront the gaps in his performance and cover the pedagogical topics required for mastery. “After three years, I had an amazingly clear view of how to continue to grow as a cellist and of what professional teaching meant,” he said. With Starker’s recommendation, Vardi then entered the Yale Masters program with Aldo Parisot.

Janos Starker at Eva Janzer conference Bloomington, IN 2004
Janos Starker at the Eva Janzer conference in Bloomington, Indiana, 2004.

Vardi maintained contact with Starker throughout his life and found him always supportive of former students and cellists everywhere.

In 1996, Starker came to Madison for a residency in which he conducted a cello master class and performed a duo recital with Vardi which included the Boccherini Sonata for two cellos. A recording of their Boccherini performance is available at this website:

https://uwmadison.box.com/s/1dwu4ihkjq6q99wi37o9

Starker also contributed to the formation of the Wisconsin Cello Society, founded in 2000.

To commemorate Starker’s life and mark his loss, participants in the National Summer Cello Institute will give a concert in his honor on Sunday, June 9th at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall.  Entitled “A Tribute to Janos Starker,” the program will feature two sarabands of Bach, duos by Bartok, David Popper’s Requiem for three cellos and piano (a cello choir version), Julius Klengel’s Hymnus for twelve cellos, and an arrangement by Laszlo Varga of Bach’s 5th Cello Suite for cello choir.  Additionally a video interview of Starker filmed in 2012 and excerpts of IU’s 75th Birthday Tribute will be shown. Performers will include Vardi, cellist and professor Timothy Eddy of the Juilliard School and the Orion Quartet, as well as about twenty cellists from this year’s cello institute.

Called the “King of Cellists” in Joyce Geeting’s 2008 biography, Starker was born on July 5, 1924 in Budapest, Hungary, the third son of Sandor and Margit Starker.  His older brothers were violinists so his parents gave him a cello.  Deemed a child prodigy at an early age, Starker gave his professional debut at age 14.

World War II intervened and by its end all of the family had been interned in Nazi concentration camps.  Starker and his parents survived.  Working his way to Paris as a tradesman after Liberation, Starker was able to resume a career as a professional cellist.  His breakthrough came in 1947 performing Zoltan Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello.  His recording of the sonata, previously thought unplayable, won him the Grand Prix du Disque and international fame.

Soon after this success, Starker immigrated to the United States.  He held principal cellist positions with major symphony orchestras and in 1958 accepted the teaching position at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.  Along with teaching, Starker embarked on a career as a concert soloist performing solo with the world’s major symphonies and in chamber recitals world-wide.

Over the next 30 years, he recorded over 165 works for cello on labels such as Angel, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, London Mercury, and RCA Victor, among others.   His recorded works include the major cello repertoire.

Early in his teaching career, Starker published An Organized Method of String Playing and in 2004 a memoir, The World of Music According to Starker (Indiana University Press).

“Starker was the perfect combination of a great artist/performer and an extremely dedicated teacher who felt that his main mission in life was to teach,” says Vardi, adding that Starker understood what professional cello playing entailed.  With a surgeon’s ability to diagnose and cut to the core of a cellist’s problem, Starker was very direct in his remarks and instruction.  Though his comments could be painful to the recipient, they were the essential tools needed for improvement.

Video from Medicitv.com

Vardi’s path to Starker came through the recommendation of Gabriel Magyar, cellist of the Hungarian String Quartet. Vardi met Magyar in 1972 in a summer festival in Holland.  Magyar  described the crux of Starker’s teaching method and philosophy:  It is not enough to be an intuitive performer, the essential method of playing the instrument–the physical requirements, musicality, phrasing– must be consciously known and understood by the cellist.  It was this concept of the combined importance of performance and teaching  that resonated with Vardi.

In 1979 at Indiana University, Starker established the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center to honor and promote comradeship among cellists internationally.

Starker’s lifetime achievements are numerous, and include performance, teaching and mentoring awards, including the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award for distinction in teaching at Indiana,  five honorary doctorates and the title of Honorary Professor of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.  He is considered one of the greatest cellists and teachers of the cello in history.

For more information about the National Summer Cello Institute, see  http://www.yourbodyisyourstrad.com/main/2013_National_Summer_Cello_Institute.html

Taylor Skiff, Dave Alcorn

Two more notable students from the School of Music.

Note from the editor: I first met Taylor Skiff when he was still in high school – (or maybe it was middle school). His teachers took note of him even then. It has been a real pleasure to watch him and many others from his group of friends grow both personally and professionally. Best wishes to Taylor and all those who leave us this year!

 

(From Uri Vardi) Taylor Skiff is one of the most outstanding cellists I have had in my cello studio at UW-Madison. He has a very strong passion for music, an impressive work ethic, and a strong motivation and drive to be the best cellist he can be.

Taylor Skiff
Taylor Skiff. Photo by Tori Rogers.

While studying with me, Taylor has won several competitions and has had the opportunity to perform many concertos with orchestra. In 2008 he won Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Competition, and performed Bloch’s Schelomo with the Milwaukee Symphony. Later that year he performed Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. In 2010, Taylor won the UW-Madison Concerto Competition and performed Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with the UW Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, the Perlman Trio, of which Taylor was a member, performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Middleton Community Orchestra.

Taylor auditioned for graduate school at Juilliard, Mannes, Peabody, and Eastman and was accepted with scholarship to all of them. He will attend Juilliard for his MM degree

Taylor shared some thoughts:

“My time at the UW School of Music was one of the most significant periods in my life. Apart from my growth as a cellist and musician, the school has allowed me to grow a lot as a person. When I first arrived at UW-Madison, I had serious doubts as to whether or not I had made the right college choice. I had been homeschooled for all of my pre-college years and was a fairly independent person. While I was involved in youth groups at my church, played in numerous sports leagues, and was a five-year member of MYSO (Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra), having to transition to a school of over 40,000 students was a jarring notion. The UW School of Music made the transition manageable. Even though the University is enormous, the School of Music is quite small in comparison. From day one, the faculty made an effort to get to know me and was always willing to go out of their way to help me grow as a musician and as a person. The familial environment that the school offered also made it easy to interact with colleagues and eventually make new friends. I greatly cherish the relationships that I have built with my professors and fellow students over the past five years.

“Without question, the person who helped me the most during my time at the UW was Uri Vardi, my primary cello instructor. I had been taking lessons from Mr. Vardi since my junior year of high school—so, he knew me well even before I arrived on campus. In addition to providing technical and musical advice, Mr. Vardi and I would talk regularly about my personal concerns. He would constantly encourage me to push my limits and step outside of my comfort zone. Our conversations not only helped me grow as a person, but also as a cellist. Without his support, there is no way I would have ended up auditioning, much less enrolling at The Juilliard School.

“All in all, I feel that the UW School of Music has prepared me well for my future endeavors. If someone had asked me as a freshman that I would one day be going to school in New York, I would have thought they were crazy. The UW School of Music has helped me achieve goals that I never would have set for myself and challenged me to continue to raise the bar.”

(From Tony Di Sanza) Dave Alcorn, who just graduated with a master’s degree in percussion, is part of a contemporary percussion ensemble, Clocks in Motion, that serves as the ensemble-in-residence for the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Dave Alcorn
Dave Alcorn

A few thoughts from Dave:

“I grew up in Pittsburgh. In terms of choosing percussion, I think it was more that the instrument chose me. In third grade, the band teacher at my elementary school had me march down the hall while tapping my hands on my chest. She told me I had good rhythm and that I would make a good percussionist. I also looked up immensely to my older cousin who played the drums; I wanted to be like him. By sixth grade I was pretty sure playing percussion was what I wanted to do with my life.

“I chose UW for my masters degree because of Tony Di Sanza. I took a lesson with him before applying to the school and it was one of the best lessons I have ever had. Working with him has been very enjoyable over the past two years.

“I will be heading to Maine for the summer, where I am a percussion instructor at the New England Music Camp. At the end of the summer, I will be returning to Madison to continue working with Clocks in Motion, as well as teach private lessons and freelance.”

Later this summer, we’ll feature Clocks in Motion on our blog. Stay tuned!