“Sounding Beckett” – The Intersection of Music and Drama, featuring the Cygnus Ensemble
Friday, March 23, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.
An event focused on music inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Samuel Beckett. Featuring a concert by New York’s Cygnus Ensemble, instrumental master classes, a lecture and panel discussion with Patricia Boyette, UW-Madison professor of theatre & drama and Laura Schwendinger, UW-Madison faculty composer and professor of composition.
With its pairs of plucked strings, bowed strings and woodwinds, Cygnus has a precedent in the Elizabethan “broken consort.” The members –Tara Helen O’Connor, flute; Robert Ingliss, oboe; William Anderson and Oren Fader, classical and electric guitars/mandolin/banjo; Calvin Wiersma, violin; Susannah Chapman, violoncello–are all virtuoso players with a great wealth of experience with some of our most cherished musical institutions, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Players.
Celebrating a milestone with students, faculty and special guest, trumpeter Marquis Hill
This April, UW-Madison’s annual Jazz Week will celebrate the 50th anniversary season of the UW Jazz Orchestra, the first jazz ensemble at UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music.
Jazz Week 2018 will feature performances by the UW Jazz Orchestra, the UW Jazz Composers Group, the UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, the UW High School Honors Jazz Band, and a faculty jazz quartet, all to be joined by special guest trumpet soloist Marquis Hill, the winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition.
Hill is a Chicago native who now makes his home in New York City. “His music crystallizes the hard-hitting, hard-swinging spirit of Chicago jazz,” writes Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune. “Hill commands a nimble technique, a fluid way of improvising and a pervasively lyrical manner.”
UW’s Jazz Week 2018 features three concerts:
Tuesday, April 24: Marquis Hill with the UW Jazz Composers Group and the UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble. Morphy Hall, 7:30 PM. Free concert.
Thursday, April 26: Marquis Hill with a faculty jazz quartet led by pianist and Director of Jazz Studies Johannes Wallmann with Les Thimmig, saxophones; Nick Moran, bass; and Matt Endres, drums. Morphy Hall, 8:00 PM. Ticketed concert: $15 adults, $5 non-music majors.
Friday, April 27: Marquis Hill with the UW Jazz Orchestra and the UW High School Honors Jazz Band. Music Hall, 8:00 PM. Ticketed concert: $15 adults, $5 non-music majors.
The UW High School Honors Jazz Band is an auditioned 18-member big band for high school students from about a dozen Madison-region schools who are looking for an additional opportunity to perform advanced jazz repertoire.
You may also purchase in person or at the door. For more information about ticketing and parking options, click here.
“We don’t want THAT word uttered in OUR school”: Listen to our audio stories on SoundCloud about the history of jazz at UW-Madison and at American colleges. With university saxophonist and professor Les Thimmig, who arrived at UW-Madison in 1971, just as the jazz program was getting started. To listen, click the icon below.
Speaking of jazz:
Alumnus trumpeter Eric Siereveld releases debut CD
In 2015, trumpeter Eric Siereveld was wooed from New York City to become the instructor of jazz trumpet and director of the Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble at the School of Music. In 2017, with a brand-new DMA under his arm, he returned to New York City to pursue a multi-pronged career, including performing with his Organic Quintet, working as a private instructor at the United Nations International School in Manhattan, gigs on and off Broadway, and playing in many small groups and big bands.
Eric writes: “As a DMA student at UW-Madison, I was provided the opportunity to pursue the musical endeavors that I felt a personal connection to. Under the guidance of tremendous professors like Johannes Wallmann and John Aley, they taught me to focus my energy toward musical pursuits that were both professionally and artistically fulfilling. It’s with that spirit that I approached this debut recording. This album reflects the creative spirit and artistic integrity at UW. The compositions on “Walk the Walk” are deeply rooted in the musical process I was going through while completing my DMA. I am particularly proud that this album was recorded, mixed and mastered in Madison and Milwaukee. Without the support of my professors and colleagues at UW and Madison, I do not believe this recording would have been as successful. I hope my teachers, mentors and colleagues at UW-Madison enjoy this recording and that the university shares this album with incoming DMA students. “Walk the Walk” is an example of the type of creative thinking that the DMA program at the Mead Witter School of Music allows its candidates to pursue.”
April 7 Wind Ensemble concert to be livestreamed on YouTube
Livestreaming in the Humanities building has always been a challenge, but new technology has made this a bit easier. So, on April 7, set your dials (a/k/a your browser URLs) to the School of Music’s YouTube page. There, you’ll find the UW Wind Ensemble with conductor Scott Teeple overseeing a concert of music by emeritus composer John Stevens, Francis Poulenc, Cindy McTee, Gustav Holst and Gerard Schwartz. Livestream Link Here
The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August. To receive the brochure, please send your postal address to newsletter editor..
UW-Madison alumnus studied with UW’s John Stevens and Northwestern’s Rex Martin
The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Appleton native Tom Curryas Visiting Assistant Professor of Tuba, replacing Professor of Tuba John Stevens who will retire this spring after 29 years in the position.
Curry, a former student of John Stevens’, graduated from UW-Madison in 2009 with a degree in music performance and communication arts and was on the Dean’s List for eight semesters with a 4.00 GPA. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in music performance and literature from Northwestern University, studying with Rex Martin, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in music performance there. He is principal tubist of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Joffrey Ballet, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ars Viva Symphony, and many other orchestras.
Curry maintains a large studio of private low brass students at several Chicago-area high schools and also teaches supplemental tuba and euphonium lessons and master classes at Northwestern. He has served as a low brass instructor at the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Clinic and as a guest tuba and euphonium instructor at Lawrence University.
In addition to teaching the Tuba/Euphonium Studio, Curry will play in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a position he also held during his final semester at UW while John Stevens was on sabbatical.
In Chicago, Curry has regularly appeared with several local and national rock and popular acts, including performances with the Grammy-nominated group Foster the People and the local band, Mucca Pazza.
“We’re ecstatic,” says Mark Hetzler, professor of trombone. “There’s an energy about Tom which comes across in how he teaches and plays. And he understands the style of teaching here: the faculty connection with students is extremely important. He’s going to continue that tradition.”
“It’s quite an honor to come back to a place that had such a formative influence on me,” Curry says. “To be in that environment is an incredible opportunity.”
For more information, please contact Mark Hetzler, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-628-5026.
Meet the mystery composer behind “Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra,” to receive its premiere Feb. 8
We’re happy to finally present Daria Tennikova, the Russian-born composer at the School of Music whose new work will be premiered (with sax soloist Erika Anderson) on February 8, 7 pm in Mills Concert Hall, along with the other winners of the annual concerto competition. This year’s recital has a name, Symphony Showcase, and will be followed by a ticketed reception at at the Memorial Union’s Tripp Commons for all students, parents, faculty, alumni, board members, and the community. Please help us celebrate the fine work of our students and join us for both! Proceeds will help fund student scholarships. Buy your tickets here:http://www.arts.wisc.edu/
“Daria’s an unusual woman,” says composition professor Stephen Dembski. “She came up through the Russian conservatory system, and has gradually adapted to the American system while keeping a fierce intensity in her work, which is quite striking.”
Here’s Daria’s bio, from an earlier announcement:
“Daria Mikhailovna Tennikova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1989. She began taking composition lessons from Natalia Karsh of the Composers Union of Saint Petersburg, but initially chose to focus on piano rather than pursuing a career in composition, receiving an associate degree in piano performance and pedagogy from St. Petersburg’s Mussorgsky College of Music in 2008. Her work received its first public performance at the college when her “Three Lilies” for soprano and piano was played as part of a final accompaniment exam. Daria moved to the United States in 2009 and began devoting more time to composition. In 2010 she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in composition at UW-Madison, studying with professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski. Poema for Saxophone and Orchestra is Ms. Tennikova’s most recent composition, and her very first work for orchestra. She says, ‘I began thinking about writing a piece for soloist and orchestra last spring. Originally I wanted it to be for a piano soloist, and I wrote the main theme with something “Russian” in mind. Later in the spring of 2013, I heard Erika Anderson play Anthony Caulkins’ saxophone piece at a concert. I was moved by her wonderful performance to write my piece for saxophone soloist. I wanted Erika to play it, so I asked her if she would be interested in collaborating and, being both a wonderful person and a great musician, she agreed to play without even hearing the music! I am very grateful to her for giving my piece a beautiful performance!”
March residency to feature singers and music from Finland
Three revered Finnish musicians from the faculty of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, will be in residency at the School of Music during the first week of March to present master classes, workshops, and discussions on Finnish music education. The week will be capped by a concert at Luther Memorial Church on Saturday, March 8th, at 1 pm. All events are free and open to the public. Read more here.
Clocks in Motion profiled in the Wisconsin State Journal
New work to be premiered this Saturday, Feb. 1
UW-Madison’s newest resident musical ensemble was profiled in last Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal. “The UW-Madison-based percussion ensemble is breaking ground by reviving rarely performed works, commissioning new music and even inventing its own instruments,” wrote reporter Gayle Worland. “Self-run, ambitious and highly talented, Clocks in Motion is also a group in motion, with a schedule that in the next four months includes seven performances in Madison and a Midwestern tour. ‘What this group is doing is something that’s quite inspiring, and tremendously unique,’ said UW percussion professor Anthony Di Sanza, who is teaching or has taught each of the young musicians who make up Clocks in Motion.” Read the full story here.
On Sunday at 7:30 pm in Mills Hall, the group will present “Earth and the Great Weather,” a collaborative multi-media performance depicting the Arctic landscapes of Northern Alaska, to include percussion, strings, chorus, digital delay patterns, spoken texts, and pre-recorded nature sounds. The work was composed by John Luther Adams. Performers will include Chelsie Propst, Sarah Richardson, Cheryl Rowe, and Paul Rowe will comprise the vocal chorus, and Carol Carlson, Max Fisher, Spencer Hobbs, and Mikko Utevsky will serve as the string quartet. Steve Gotcher, audio engineer for Audio for the Arts, will control the complex electronic component of the performance. Matthew Schlomer will conduct.
Alumnus Elias Goldstein to solo at Carnegie Hall
Viola professor Sally Chisholm informs us that her former student Elias Goldstein, a former Collins Fellow, will perform works of Haydn, Mozart, Boccherini, Paganini, and others at a recital on February 19 at Carnegie Hall.He will be accompanied by Ieva Jokubaviciute on piano and Roxana Pavel Goldstein on violin. Goldstein received his DMA in 2011 from the School of Music and is now professor of viola at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Pianist Christopher Taylor profiled in Madison Magazine
Writer Greg Hettsmanberger interviewed UW’s globetrotting pianist Christopher Taylor in a story published in the January issue of Madison Magazine.
What do you tell your students is the most important thing about being a pianist—especially not a professional performer? “I rarely try to boil this craft down to one overriding principle, but obviously I consider it a basic prerequisite for a student to be motivated by love of the art and curiosity about understanding its multifaceted glories. Provided those ingredients are present, then the student will thrive musically, regardless of his or her professional ambitions or prospects,” Taylor answered.Read the full story here. And catch Christopher Taylor in his only Madison appearance this year, performing Prokofieff’s Sonata No. 6 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat, as arranged by Franz Liszt, at Mills Hall on February 28, 8 pm.
Tuba prof John Stevens kicks off a pre-retirement semester of concerts
18: the number of feet a note must travel from tuba mouthpiece to the bell
29: the number of years John Stevens has invested in the School of Music as teacher, composer, administrator, and conductor.
50: the number of compositions Stevens has written
1951: the year Stevens was born in Buffalo, NY.
2000: the year the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered Stevens’s concerto, “Journey”
A semester-long series of events marks the retirement of music professor John Stevens, a man known for his grace as a teacher, performer, administrator, and composer. (Scroll down for complete schedule, or download it here: Spring2014_Stevens_concerts )
Stevens the teacher enjoys getting to know his students over the period of years and watching them grow. They move on to perform in quartets, bands, and orchestras, and many have landed college level teaching gigs. Beyond learning about the craft of playing the instrument, he expects them to grow in their musical thinking and in their ability to conduct business as a professional.
Stevens the performer feeds his appetite for chamber music by performing with theWisconsin Brass Quintet. Playing in a professional ensemble of like-minded and excellent musicians is “as good as it gets,” he says.
Stevens the administrator has enjoyed representing the School of Music to the larger University community, and doing what he can to advance its mission.
And for the past 20 years Stevens the composer has written works for tuba, euphonium, trumpet, trombone, oboe, brass quintet, and woodwind quintet. On March 9 the University Orchestra will perform “Journey,” his concerto for tuba and orchestra, featuring Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny, a concert co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Theater. (Read more here.)
From High School to The Big Time
Stevens’s parents were not musicians. His musical ambitions were whetted while playing in his high school’s nationally renowned band program. The director arranged for many inspiring guest musicians to perform with the award-winning ensemble, and before long Stevens realized music was the only career that interested him. He went on to attend the Eastman School of Music, graduating in 1973, and the Yale University School of Music, completing a master’s in 1975.
Then New York City called. For years Stevens made a reasonably good living as a free lancer, performing often with his Eastman colleague Chuck Mangione, riding on the popularity of the album “Chase The Clouds Away” and the pop hit “Feels So Good.” Stevens also performed in the New York Tuba Quartet and the American Brass Quintet, and under the batons of James Levine, Leonard Slatkin, and Zubin Mehta.
Then he found himself on Broadway, where he paid the bills with 500 performances as a tuba player in the musical “Barnum”. In 1980, the show made it all the way to the Tony Awards at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York, where Stevens entertained the crowd in the audience with a uniformed march down the aisle, wrapped in a sousaphone. (Click here for the video; advance to 4:50 minutes to see Stevens.) (For the record, “Evita” won “Best Musical” that year; “Barnum” won in several other categories.)
Over the years, Stevens learned that being self-employed demands quick thinking, versatility, and the willingness to jump in to the hot seat. He recalls a Friday night when the New York City Opera called to ask him to substitute for a sick tubist. They wanted him to play Tosca on Saturday and La Boheme on Sunday. And they wanted him to play on a strange instrument, to boot: an E flat cimbasso. Without benefit of rehearsal.
Many musicians would have quailed. For his part, Stevens had never performed in either opera and had no experience with an E flat instrument, never mind a cimbasso. “I had never before done any aspect of that job,” he says. “But I said, ‘Yes absolutely. I’ll be there and do it.’”
So he got to the theatre early and introduced himself to the cimbasso, only to discover it was out of tune. Then he had to start figuring out transpositions. Then the conductor raised the baton. John wisely took advantage of the tacet sections (the places where he didn’t need to play) to decipher whatever was coming next. He realized that if he did even a passable job, they’d be happy. And if a did a really good job, they’ll be thrilled. He was right.
It was the kind of challenge he likes. “And all the time, you’re playing incredibly beautiful music with a fine orchestra.”
That was one of many freelance assignments he found satisfying and exciting, but too many were “just for the money,” he says. He imagined himself as a freelancer ten years in the future: having to accept any and every job offer, whether satisfying or forgettable. He was living in a studio apartment with his wife and considering a family. New York just wouldn’t do. So he began looking for more stability, a job with benefits. When a faculty position opened at the University of Miami, he applied.
He speaks fondly of his years at Miami. But one important thing was missing: the opportunity to play chamber music. After several years there a position opened at the UW-Madison, and it included a seat in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet.
That’s all it took. The WBQ, as it’s called, already had a national reputation for its musicianship and the quality of its repertoire. Stevens came, and he thrived. In the WBQ each player contributes 20 percent of the creativity. “You get good at presenting your ideas in a collegial manner. It’s like a marriage among five people,” he jokes.
Composing creates bonds
As much as he loves performing, Stevens considers composing equally important. He loves developing and nurturing the personal relationships that result from collaborating, and writes many of his pieces for people he knows. Far from being an isolating activity, composing creates bonds he finds intimate and satisfying.
Among others, Stevens has composed for tubist Roger Bobo, trumpeter John Aley, oboist Marc Fink, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, the Oakwood Chamber Players, the International Trumpet Guild, the Wisconsin School Music Association (“Fanfare for an Uncommon Man,” in honor of the late Marvin Rabin), Germany’s Melton Tuba Quartett, and the New York Tuba Quartet. Many of his more than 50 original compositions and 22 arrangements are available on the CD labels Naxos, Albany, Mark, Centaur, and Summit. Perhaps his most notable composition is Journey, a concerto for tuba and orchestra.
In the late 1990s, Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal tubist Gene Pokorny asked Stevens to submit works for consideration in a new competition. Stevens was honored. The Chicago Symphony’s brass section has traditionally accounted for much of the orchestra’s worldwide fame, and concertos had already been commissioned for its trumpets and trombones, but not for a tuba. Because Stevens had not composed for a full orchestra, he submitted examples of his chamber music and tuba pieces. Then he forgot all about it, until several months later, when Pokorny called to tell Stevens he had won the commission.
“I had to sit down,” he says. “For a composer, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, to write for the Chicago Symphony.”
He began his homework, asking Pokorny about his favorite composers and about his hopes for the piece. He studied scores by Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss. “I was trying to get a feel for what to do, given this huge palette, of having one of the world’s great symphony orchestras to work with.” The piece was premiered in 2000 and will be performed here March 9 with Pokorny as soloist.
Stevens is now writing a multi-movement piece for bass trombone, commissioned by a dozen players who perform in ensembles ranging from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra to the San Francisco Symphony. Trombonist and UW-Madison school of music doctoral student Alan Carr, who arranged for the commission, says he expects the piece will become a substantial contribution to the instrument’s repertory. Carr credits Stevens with writing music that’s accessible to an audience and also interesting for the performers, something relatively few composers can manage.
Teacher, Administrator, and Judge
Sitting in his studio in the Mosse Humanities Building on a cold winter morning, Stevens talks about his pride in his current and former students. Graduates of the UW-Madison tuba/euphonium program are known for excelling as musicians and as teachers. Stevens says that’s because they work hard at developing the craft of playing their instruments, the art of making music with that craft, the skills necessary to share those abilities with others in a productive way, and the necessary knowledge of the business of music.
Former students play professionally, in the Jacksonville Symphony, the U.S. Marine Band, the Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet, and the Youngblood Brass Band. Some teach in public schools and in college, includng the University of Alabama, Baylor, Arkansas, Southern Mississippi, Northern Colorado, Illinois State, Emporia State, UW-Whitewater, UW-Platteville, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Stevens has also served as a judge or panelist at many competitions: Michigan’s annual Leonard Falcone solo competition, International Tuba and Euphonium Association competitions, and Finland’s Lieksa Brass Festival. He serves on the music panel of the National YoungArts Foundation, a national competition for America’s most talented high school young artists. Over the years, he says, one develops a reputation for not only having the musical expertise to judge such competitions, but the sort of personality and approach to the task that makes one a desirable member of competition juries.
He has enjoyed those experiences, as well as his two stints as director of the School of Music. The job requires juggling a lot of balls in the air, he says, and one gets pulled in a lot of directions. But you just try to do what’s best for the school, operating within the way the university works. Colleague and pianist Martha Fischer has accompanied Stevens for countless concerts, recording sessions, and road trips. She says Stevens was an effective director “because he’s a sane human being. He’s good at seeing the big picture. He sees the world in an incredibly positive way.”
As Stevens reflects on his three decades at Madison he notes the quality and nature of the students and faculty. He appreciates the institutional encouragement and support to engage in meaningful and rewarding work. For him, that means performance, composition, and conducting.
Retirement will offer a little more time to enjoy his personal CD collection. Most often, he expects to pull out something by Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Diana Krall, or Edith Piaf. “They sing with such passion and such commitment,” he says. “And I’m a singer at heart.”
Spring 2014 concerts featuring John Stevens, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet,
current and former tuba/euphonium students, School of Music faculty, and the UW Symphony Orchestra
Tuesday February 11: Faculty Concert Series
Mozart, Horn Quintet. Horn Quintet in E-flat major, K. 407 (386c)
(composed c. 1782 and scored for violin, 2 violas, cello and horn)
III. Rondo. Allegro
Mahler, Songs of a Wayfarer, 1883–1885
Brahms, Horn Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40, 1865
II. Scherzo (Allegro)
III. Adagio mesto
IV. Allegro con brio
Notes. John Stevens presents arrangements for tuba. Guest artists include David Perry, Sally Chisholm, Katrin Talbot, Parry Karp, Martha Fischer.
Notes: A chamber music concert featuring six Stevens compositions.
Performers include a tuba/euphonium quartet of former students, members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, and the Sotto Voce Quartet. Sotto Voce is one of the world’s foremost brass chamber ensembles. Its members are former UW-Madison students.
Viva Voce! (2003) was composed for the Sotto Voce Quartet (Demondrae Thurman and Mark Carlson – Euphoniums, Nat McIntosh and Michael Forbes – Tubas).
Diversions (1978) Sotto Voce Quartet. (Thurman and Forbes go their MMs here, Carlson got his MM and DMA and McIntosh was an undergraduate here). Diversions was composed for the New York Tuba Quartet, of which Stevens was a member.
Tournament (1999) John Aley and Jessica Jensen – Trumpets
Triangles (1978) Dan Grabois – Horn, Mark Hetzler – Trombone, John Stevens – Tuba
Music 4 Tubas (1974) Performed by four former students. Donald Deal and Griffin James – Euphoniums, John Bottomley and David Spies – Tubas. Whitewater native Griffin James is Stevens’s son-in-law; Don Deal, Griffin’s former high school band director, received his DMA in Trombone at UW-Madison. Deal’s son, Robert Wiley-Deal, is a current member of the tuba/euphonium ensemble.
Hodesanna (2012) The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. This work was composed in memory of former MM and DMA student Jeff Hodapp, who died of a heart attack at age 52 in 2009. The WBQ premiered the work in the fall of 2012.
Fanfare for a Friend (1991)
Five Dances (1988) Tylman Susato, composer; arr. John Stevens
Anna Magdalena Suite. J.S. Bach, composer, arr. John Stevens
Dances (1975) Performed by the Sotto Voce Quartet
A large tuba/euphonium ensemble made up of current group members and alumni, including Stevens’s older daughter Katie and son-in-law Griffin James). Stevens conducts a program of his own compositions and arrangements.
Distant Voices (David Sampson)
The Gershwins and Harold (J. Stevens)
The Brass Calendar (Peter Schickele)
Contrapunctus 1 (J.S. Bach)
Notes: This marks Stevens’s final on-campus concert with the WBQ .
Distant Voices is a 4-movement, contemporary work inspired by people who were big influences on the composer as a person and musician.
The Gershwins and Harold features 4 songs by the Gershwins (3 composed by George and one by Harold Arlen, but all lyrics by Ira). The “accompaniment” is arranged for brass quintet. Guest vocalist Abby Nichols is a leading lady of Madison’s musical theater scene and is Stevens’s younger daughter.
Stevens calls The Brass Calendar “a delightful trip through the 12 months of the year by America’s foremost composer/music humorist.”
About J.S. Bach’s Contrapunctus Stevens says, “I can think of no composer more appropriate to end my brass quintet career performing.”
Saturday April 19: Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble.
Notes: This brass chamber music extravaganza will feature several student brass ensembles, trumpets and horns.
The semester is winding down: we’ve got snow on the ground, there’s a nip in the air, and students are stocking up on cans of Red Bull and 5-Hour energy shots. (Not something we recommend, but we acknowledge.) But before we say farewell to the fall concert season, we’d like to suggest a couple more that might be a nice alternative to usual holiday fare. Both are bold, brassy, sometimes even cacophonous, and altogether exciting.
The first is the School of Music’s resident percussion ensemble, Clocks in Motion, which concludes its fall season this Friday, December 13 with two world premieres at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St. (7:30 pm, tickets $15/$10 students). On the program: the Percussion Duo, a brand-new work composed by UW SOM alumnus Tom Lang (who now lives in Minneapolis as a professional composer), written for piano and one percussionist playing a stacked keyboard setup of marimba with vibraphone. “The music really treats the piano as a percussion instrument,” says percussionist Sean Kleve, a founder of Clocks in Motion. “Piercing attacked notes in extreme registers of the piano punctuate silence throughout the music. The first and last movement of this three movement piece are quite rhythmically complex and it challenges the two performers to line up unison attacks exactly together.”
The second premiere will be Allhallows, a major work in three movements for five performers composed by John Jeffrey Gibbens. According to Gibbens, the title “is an archaic synonym for the feast of All Saints on November 1, and evokes associations with the onset of winter in Wisconsin, including the commercial holiday of Halloween, the beginning of the new year in the Celtic calendar, the liturgical function of All Saints, elections, and Armistice, now Veterans’ Day. These occasions address our sense of the closeness of uncanny events to everyday life.” Clocks in Motion premiered the first movement of Allhallows in September 2012 and will now premiere the rest of the piece on this upcoming concert.
Their closer will be Iannis Xenakis’ surround sound percussion sextet, Persephassa (1969). “This is an unbelievable experience for audience and performers alike. As one of the foundational pieces in the percussion repertoire, Persephassa is just as shocking now as it was the day it was written,” says Kleve.
Next on our Christmas list is Isthmus Brass, an ensemble formed in 2009 under the direction of renowned tuba professor John Stevens (who retires in May but will continue to conduct this ensemble). The group, comprised of a who’s who from the UW brass faculty and alumni, includes professors of trumpet and trombone John Aley and Mark Hetzler, plus Dave Cooper (DMA), trumpet, Jon Schipper (BM), trumpet, Ricardo Ameida (BM), horn, Dylan Chmura-Moore (DMA), trombone, Mike Forbes (MM), tuba, Keith Lienert (DMA in progress), percussion, as well as Doug Lindsey (trumpet), Mike Dugan and Mark Hoelscher (trombone).
Next Tuesday, Dec. 17, the group will perform a benefit of holiday tunes for Porchlight, a charity for the homeless, at the First United Methodist Church, 203 West Wisconsin Ave., at 7:30 pm. The concert is free but donations to support the Porchlight mission are appreciated.
After calling for stories about notable students graduating this spring, Fanfare received many stories about notable students–period! So we’ve decided to include them all. All were suggested by faculty, though some were written by students themselves. We included photos when available. If we missed yours, send it on to email@example.com! Note, however, that we received a surfeit of news about men–and we all know that women are just as successful. So, ladies, raise your voices!
(From John Stevens) Aaron Hynds is a Collins Fellow who is graduating with his masters degree in tuba performance. Although Aaron has distinguished himself as an outstanding performer in the UW Symphony Orchestra, Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, solo recitals and a number of ad hoc performance situations, his real love is contemporary music – especially the newest, avant garde, experimental stuff. Aaron, who comes from Decatur, Illinois and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa, will be pursuing his Doctorate in Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
(From Janet Jensen)Annie Melconian, a Fulbright Scholar from Baghdad, Iraq, just received her master’s degree in string development. Annie was born into a family that valued both education and music, but nevertheless had only sporadic access to a musical education. An undergraduate major in music was not an option; instead she earned a BS in Biology and began her career working in a lab in the morning and playing in the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra in the afternoon. When security measures required that rehearsals take place in the morning, Annie faced a choice: music or laboratory work. “This was a crossroads for me… Playing with the orchestra took me away from the daily terror and tension in to a world of peace, love and hope. So I chose music,” she says.
Annie sought professional development in music and violin in workshops and summer courses, including several months at the Guildhall School in London. She was appointed to teach violin at the Baghdad Music and Ballet School, and was an active volunteer teacher of violin and choir in church settings and through Armenian General Benevolent Union, but she knew she needed to attain new skills. As she was interested in every aspect of string pedagogy and music education, she was a perfect candidate for UW’s Master of Music in String Development. Now she returns to Iraq with full dedication and devotion to serve her community and Iraq.
“Iraqi schools are in need of music education. I believe music will give [children] positive energy, raise spirits up, teach patience and creativity, and take them away from everyday terror and noise of gunshots, sirens, and the sound of generators,” Annie says. We wish her and her country healing and peace.
(From Pam Potter)Jeremy Zima, a Ph.D. candidate in musicology working under the direction of Pamela Potter, has been awarded the Ora Frischberg Salamon Fund Award of the American Musicological Society. This award will allow him to travel to Germany to conduct research for his dissertation, “Aesthetics and Economics of the German Artist-Oper, 1912-1934.” Previously, Jeremy received the Wisconsin Musicology Fellowship (2011) and a Vilas Travel Grant (2012) in support of his research. He has conducted archival research at Yale University and is planning a research trip to Berlin later this year. His paper, “Strauss’s Intermezzo: A New Look at the German Artist-Opera” was presented at the Spring 2013 meeting of the American Musicological Society-Midwest Chapter.
Jeremy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music magna cum laude from Wisconsin Lutheran College, studying with virtuoso jazz guitarist Jack Grassel. He received the Master of Music degree in Jazz Performance and Musicology from Western Illinois University, completing his thesis, “Race, Authenticity, and Trans-Atlantic Identity in Jazz Guitar before 1942,” with Dr. Brian Locke. He has presented conference papers on a variety of topics, including Argentinian guitarist Oscar Aléman and the practice of “relicking” guitars. Jeremy serves as Visiting Lecturer in the department of music at Wisconsin Lutheran College.
As a pre-college student, Stephanie Frye couldn’t help but notice that the world of tuba players (a/k/a tubists) was a predominantly male one. As a grown woman and professional tubist, she noticed a paucity of female composers as well. Now, as she prepares to leave UW-Madison to become a lecturer in tuba at East Tennessee State University, she’s not only made inroads in the first area but in the second one as well.
Stephanie, a student of tuba professor and music school director John Stevens, who is also a composer, will receive her DMA this spring. As part of her dissertation project, she not only recorded seven works for the tuba by female composers, and commissioned two new works, by composers Asha Srinivasan and Inez S. McComas.
Her time in Wisconsin involved a range of activities, including performing (she is a member of the trombone-tuba duo Bell(e) Collective, the Sweet Thunder Tuba-Euphonium Quartet, and is the regular tubist with the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra), plus teaching at Concordia University, UW-Platteville, and UW-Madison, UW’s Summer Music Clinic, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, and more.
On Friday, May 3, she’ll give a talk about her personal experience in commissioning new works of music, including finding and selecting composers, working with the composers, and funding the commission. On Saturday, May 4, Stephanie will present a recital of many of the works on her new CD.
We asked Stephanie to fill us in on a few areas of interest.
Tell us more about your upcoming CD of music.
“The CD isn’t officially named, but the recital I’m giving is called “A Celebration of Women Composers.” I’ve received a contract from Mark Records and am planning on releasing the CD with them. The works on the CD include Libby Larsen’s “URSA” (for tuba and wind band, reduction for tuba and piano), Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Lamento” (tuba and piano), Elizabeth Raum’s “Sweet Dances” (tuba alone), Asha Srinivasan’s “Dyadic Affinities” (tuba and electronic accompaniment), Barbara York’s “Through the Tunnel” (tuba and piano), Elena Firsova’s “Euphonisms” (tuba and piano), and Inez S. McComas’s “The Middle Pigeons” (tuba, trombone, and recorded sound). The two pieces I commissioned for the CD from the previous list is Srinivasan’s “Dyadic Affinities” and McComas’s “The Middle Pigeons.”
What will you say about the commissioning process?
I’ll speak on different funding options for a commission and personal, collaborative relationship I’ve established with one composer in particular. Commissioning new works of music has been one of the most rewarding collaborative processes I’ve experienced. The composer-performer relationship is a unique one in the music world, where performers have the chance to assist in the creation of a new work of art.
You’ve been a student of John Stevens, our tuba professor, music school director, and long-time composer. Tell us more about working with John.
The first time I met John I was at a tuba workshop at Interlochen. I was a high school student and somehow had the great fortune of getting a lesson with this “tuba god” (as my mother would say) in all places but a stairwell of one of the buildings. That hour, even in a boomy, noisy stairwell, made an incredible impact on my excitement towards the instrument and music. So much so, that a number of years later, I knew the right place for me for my masters degree was at UW-Madison, with John. Then when I began considering doctoral programs, I knew I had lots left to learn and stayed. As a teacher and performer, John emphasizes not just being a great tuba player, but a great musician. From the very beginning John gave me permission to take musical risks, try new things, and break boundaries, not only increasing my ability on the instrument, but also my confidence as a musician and person. I wouldn’t be the performer and teacher I am today without his incredible influence.
Meet Stephanie this week at her talk or recital, or both.
Lecture, Friday, May 3 at 12:30PM (Room 1321, Mosse Humanities Building): “The Commissioning Process: A Reflection.”
Recital: Saturday, May 4, 6:30 pm, Morphy Recital Hall.