Tag Archives: Marc Vallon

University Opera presents spring show, “Transformations”; Clarinet Day debut; cellist Andrew Briggs impresses Middleton audience

News and Concert Highlights from the UW-Madison School of Music – Feb. 29, 2016

University Opera presents its spring 2016 show:”Transformations”

Transformations, a 1970s chamber opera that explores serious psychological themes through the re-telling of Grimm’s fairy tales, will be staged March 11, 13 and 15 by UW-Madison University Opera. The opera was written by Conrad Susa based on poetry by Pulitzer-Prize winner Anne Sexton, who suffered from mental illness and depression, and took her own life in 1974 at age 45.
‘It’s a challenging and compelling piece of music theater,” said David Ronis, director. “It’s a great vehicle to teach skills to young opera singers, and stimulating thought and dialog across the university and community.”  While the opera is dark at times, it contains much humor as well.

Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton

Sexton’s writing was often confessional and overtly feminist. Her champions included Maxine Kumin, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath. Transformations was commissioned of Susa in 1972 by the Minnesota Opera, known for its interest in contemporary works. The libretto includes eight cast members who play multiple roles from the fairy tales; the plot involves a middle-aged witch who is transformed into a young beauty pulled into a nightmare.

Transformations is conducted by graduate assistant conductor Kyle Knox.

Click this link to read much more about this production, including the cast list and backstage personnel.

Performance dates, times and prices:
Friday, Mar 11 @ 7:30pm (Pre-show discussion, 6 PM)
Sunday, Mar 13 @ 3:00pm
Tuesday, Mar 15 @ 7:30pm
General Admission: $25; Seniors: $20; Students: $10
Tickets available at the Memorial Union Box Office. Also available at the door.

Transformations is a thought-provoking and complex opera that benefits from thought and discussion. Join us for a pre-show discussion at 6:00 PM in Music Hall, March 11, with noted University scholars:
Lynn Keller – Professor of Poetry, UW-Madison
Thomas DuBois – Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies,UW-Madison
Laura Schwendinger – Professor of Composition, School of Music, UW-Madison
Karlos Moser – Emeritus Director of Opera, UW-Madison
David Ronis
– Interim Director of Opera, UW-Madison
Moderator: Susan Cook, Director, UW-Madison School of Music


Selected Concert Highlights, March 2016

The Hunt Quartet. Sunday, March 6, 6:00 PM, Morphy Hall, free and open to all. The Hunt Quartet is the graduate string quartet at UW-Madison, comprised of Paran Amirinazari, violin; Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; and Andrew Briggs, cello. The quartet will play music of Beethoven, Webern, and Schubert. Funding is provided by Dr. Kato Perlman and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

The Hunt Quartet. L-R: Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and cellist Andrew Briggs, cello. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.
The Hunt Quartet. L-R: Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and cellist Andrew Briggs, cello. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

UW Chamber Orchestra
Wednesday, March 16, Mills Hall, 7:30 PM. The UWCO, conducted by James Smith, will perform works of Bela Bartok, Elliott Carter, and Einojuhani Rautavaara, one of Finland’s most important composers. Rautavaara’s style has been influenced by Orthodox liturgical music and Finnish fiddlers and is both Romantic and mystical; read about him at this link.

“Le Domaine Musical”
Friday, March 18, Morphy Hall, 8:00 PM. Free concert. An homage to the late composer Pierre Boulez, featuring music of Pierre Boulez, Anton Webern, Claude Debussy and Johann Sebastian Bach. Performers drawn from School of Music faculty as well as students.

 

See much more on our complete calendar: recitals, jazz, classical, voice and percussion concerts, colloquia, and opera: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/


UW-Madison hosts its first “Clarinet Day”

On Saturday, February 20th, the clarinet studio and Wesley Warnhoff, adjunct professor of clarinet, hosted its first “Clarinet Day,” including Warnhoff and students performing works by Francis Poulenc and Eric Mandat, master classes with high school students, and chamber music sessions with college and high school students working side by side. The day concluded with the group attending a stunning performance by the UW Wind Ensemble conducted by Professor Scott Teeple. Warnhoff plans to turn this into an annual event; check back next year!

Clarinet Day 2016
Clarinet Day 2016

New on SoundCloud: Hear Martha Fischer, Wes Warnhoff and Jamie-Rose Guarrine perform “The Shepherd on the Rock” at last January’s annual “Schubertiade” concert. Fischer is prof. of piano and collaborative piano at UW-Madison. Guarrine received her DMA at UW-Madison and now teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Cellist Andrew Briggs earns ovation from Middleton Community Orchestra audience

“I must say that he gave me about the most satisfying experience of it that I have ever heard.” Reviewer John Barker, in his review of the MCO’s Feb. 24 concert, in which Briggs, a UW-Madison graduate student studying with Prof. Uri Vardi, played Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. “The reason for that is not only his playing skill but also his natural rapport with an audience: He communicates.”
Click to read the full post at The Well-Tempered Ear.

Andrew Briggs
Andrew Briggs

Faculty News: James Doing, Laura Schwendinger
Alumni News: Danny Kim


 

The School of Music offers a smorgasbord of performances each year; we invite you to visit our website and click on our events calendar. We also publish a season brochure that is mailed every August.


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Student profile: Sergio Acosta, flutist-turned-bassoonist

Sergio Acosta
Sergio Acosta and his favorite instrument

It’s the time of year to consider all the fine progress of our students at the UW-Madison School of Music. We have a few stories to share. Our first begins today, with the interesting career journey of Sergio Acosta, who just received his masters degree in bassoon after earning his undergrad on flute. His story came to us from UW-Professor of Bassoon, Marc Vallon.

Marc writes:

Sergio joined the School of Music as an undergraduate in 2006 as a flute player and made himself immediately noticed by extraordinary musical talent and his friendly personality. The course of his studies took an unexpected turn when he fell in love with the bassoon during a woodwind fundamentals course. His uncommon natural ability on the instrument allowed him such lightning-fast progress that he enrolled as a master’s candidate in 2010, only two years after playing his first notes on a bassoon. Sergio’s degree has been partially funded thanks to the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship program that supports access to higher education for minority students.

We asked Sergio a few questions.

What caused you to change instruments? 

I started on violin in 6th grade and in 7th grade began to learn oboe, flute and clarinet. (My middle school teacher would not let me try the bassoon.) Throughout high school I dabbled with different instruments, including baritone sax, and participated in Wisconsin School Music Association solo/ensemble competitions on flute, sax, and clarinet. I became most proficient on flute, so I decided to have flute be my undergrad focus.

But, after taking the bassoon fundamentals class in spring 2008 and playing it for a couple months I completely fell in love with it; it came naturally to me. I felt happy and I was able to communicate musically, after some practicing, on bassoon what I couldn’t on flute.

In a seating audition at UW-Madison, Mr. (James) Smith, our orchestra conductor, who had already heard me on flute for three years, said, “I think you found your instrument. You have a really great voice for it.” This meant a lot and really made me work hard. I then auditioned with Marc Vallon and he accepted me into his studio.

How was it different for you?

The weirdest thing about changing focus in instruments was the change in practice habits, repertoire and mindset. On flute, I focused on practicing sound and tone, whereas with bassoon I focused on technique and facility. I also had to get used to playing different styles of music and having a different role. The flute typically has very high melodic lines, whereas the bassoon has lower solo, but many times supporting roles for other instruments. Plus,I needed to get into the habit of making reeds! There are no reeds on flute.

I realized I would have to work harder than I was used to. Flute was second nature to me, so I was mostly just fine-tuning, while on bassoon I really needed to establish basics.  Eventually, my technical ability caught up to my musicality but sometimes I still need to think a little more about my bassoon playing than on the flute. It’ll take some time before bassoon is as “second nature” as flute is.

It has been an exciting journey that I knew I would not want to give up on. It just had to be. It helped to have a wonderful supportive teacher and mentor like Prof. Marc Vallon who was patient, supportive and kept inspiring me.

Where will you go now?

Throughout 2013-2014, I will be in Madison working. I plan on taking auditions for orchestral jobs around the country and perhaps eventually in other countries, such as Germany. I do plan on teaching more students and teaching as much as possible. I will be playing gigs as often as I can.