Tag Archives: Opera

Concerto Winners on stage March 18; Meet Satoko Hayami from “Sound Out Loud”; Jazz Orchestra 50th anniversary podcast

March 2, 2018

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/


“Symphony Showcase” Coming Soon!

Sunday,  March 18, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall

We’ve announced this before, but here’s a reminder: Our annual concerto winners solo recital (a/k/a Symphony Showcase”) takes place at 7:30 PM on March 18 in Mills Hall.

Our 2018 winners are Kaleigh Acord, violin (Beethoven, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, first movement); Aaron Gochberg, percussion (Keiko Abe, Prism Rhapsody); Eleni Katz, bassoon (Mozart, Bassoon Concerto in B flat major); Eric Tran, piano (Bach, Concerto No. 4 in A Major); and Mengmeng Wang, composer (premiere: “Blooming”).

Tickets are only $10 for adults, free to students, and there’s a free reception after the show in Mills Hall. Buy tickets here or at the door.


Meet Satoko Hayami, graduate pianist

Satoko, a doctoral student in Professor Martha Fischer‘s studio,  is a member of Sound Out Loud, a recent winner of The American Prize.  Here’s an excerpt from our recent Q&A with Satoko:
“The idea of starting a contemporary chamber music ensemble came to me in searching for ways to better connect with more diverse audiences. I felt that the diverse musical language in contemporary repertoire might have as much or even more potential to be relevant to the different kinds of audiences including young people and non-classical music fans than older repertoire, if presented in appropriate ways. I wanted to team up with people who are open to different, sometimes unconventional ways to present music, and was lucky to find people who share the similar interests, openness and enthusiasm right away.”

Read more here.
Satoko Hayami


James Latimer wins award

Emeritus Professor of Percussion James Latimer won a Lifetime Achievement Award at annual Wisconsin Days of Percussion event, January 27, 2018 in Milwaukee. While at UW-Madison, Latimer spearheaded a Duke Ellington Festival, started the Madison Marimba Quartet, initiated the first of 300 Young Audience Concerts held in public schools from 1969 to 1984, and hosted the Wisconsin Percussive Arts Society “Days of Percussion.”


Shain Woodwind/Piano Duo winners concert

3:30 pm, Sunday, March 4,  Morphy Hall

A competition and recital sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain
Winners were announced on Tuesday, February 27. They include: Juliana Mesa-Jaramillo, bassoon and Satoko Hayami, piano;
Anna Fisher-Roberts, flute and Eric Tran, piano.

Read more here.

Local arts reviewers loved “La Boheme”

University Opera’s production of LA BOHEME. Foreground, left to right: Claire Powling (Musetta), Michael Kelley (Waiter), Jake Elfner (Alcindoro) Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
“University Opera’s “La Bohème” proves a complete success on all counts – from the staging and the costumes to the singing and the orchestra”
Larry Wells, The Well-Tempered Ear, Feb. 27.

“Ronis’ able hand was evident in the players’ acting. The cast was consistently believable, and consequently I was drawn into their world and suffered along with their despair over love’s inconsistencies and death’s sting. Using my acid test for a performance’s success, I never glanced at my watch either night. I was fully engaged.

“The orchestra was a marvel. Conductor Chad Hutchinson let it soar when it was appropriate, but the orchestra never overshadowed the singers. In fact, the key term that kept occurring to me both evenings was balance. The acting, the back-and-forth between the singers, and the interplay between the orchestra and the singers were consistently evenhanded.

“As for the singers, the primary roles were double cast. Friday’s Mimi was Shaddai Solidum whose first aria “Mi chiamano Mimi” was a lesson in the mastery of legato. Saturday’s Mimi was Yanzelmalee Rivera who possesses a bell-like voice of remarkable agility.”

Read the entire review here.
Yanzelmalee Rivera as Mimi in University Opera’s production of LA BOHEME. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
University Opera Offers a Gem in a Bejewelled Setting
Greg Hettsmanberger, What Greg Says, 2.27.18

“Again we have been given much to look forward to; certainly it is unrealistic to see University Opera in Shannon Hall every season, but we can hope that it becomes a semi-regular occurrence. The greater lesson from Sunday’s performance however is this: wherever Ronis and his “kids” show up, the audience is in store for some memorable opera. The national awards and recognition that the program are consistently earning are richly deserved, and our town is clearly the richer for what these folks are giving us.”

Read the full review here.

Johannes Wallmann and Jazz at UW-Madison

“Bucky’s Jazz Savior,”  Madison Magazine, February 2018

“It was that combination of vision, leadership and expertise as a pianist and composer that quickly pushed him to the top of UW–Madison’s list of candidates for director of jazz studies. During [Director of Jazz Studies Johannes] Wallmann’s first year of teaching here, in 2012-2013, he sought out and performed with many local jazz musicians as a means of building relationships and moving the music program forward.

“In less than five years, Wallmann took the Jazz Studies undergraduate program from zero enrollees to 17. It’s an important part of the efforts to revitalize Madison’s jazz community.”

Read the story here.

Announcement: The UW Jazz Orchestra is turning 50! April’s annual Jazz Fest will celebrate this anniversary with three concerts featuring guest trumpeter Marquis Hill, winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk Competition. Learn about the history of the Jazz Orchestra with our new six-episode podcasts with Les Thimmig, longtime composer and saxophonist. Listen to Episode 1 on our SoundCloud channel.


The American Prize first-place vocal winner coming to Madison on March 19 & 20

Vocalist Kristina Bachrach, recent winner of The American Prize in Vocal Performance and the Friedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Award, will perform a concert on March 20 at 7:00 PM in Music Hall. Accompanied by faculty pianist Daniel Fung, she’ll sing selections from “The Recovered Voices Initiative,” started by James Conlon and Los Angeles Opera, which focuses on musical works and musicians that were either suppressed or killed by the Nazi regime in World War II.

Kristina Bachrach
Read about Kristina, the Initiative, and The American Prize at this link.

Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

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..


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.

Hamel Music Center gets attention; Student News; “La Bohème” Feb 23-25; Flute & Keyboard Days

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/

“What are those crazy round windows in the Hamel Music Center? It’s a question Gary Brown has gotten a lot lately.”

To answer it, UW-Madison’s Käri Knutson wrote a story for Inside UW, the weekly e-newsletter of UW-Madison.

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“…They’re not windows, explains [Brown], the director of campus planning and landscape architecture. They’re sound chambers. And it’s just one of the features that will help the Hamel Music Center hit all the right notes. ‘It’s going to be amazing,’ Brown says. ‘The architecture and design is something we haven’t seen on this campus. It will really create a major gateway feature to campus.’ “

Read the full story here
View our ongoing construction photograph blog

Three-day “La Bohème” run at the Union’s Shannon Hall only three weeks away

The first University Opera production staged at the Union in 15 years, “La Bohème” features 56 cast members and a set designed by Madison’s dean of theater design, Joseph Varga.
In the Union’s “Green Room” blog, read Director David Ronis‘s description of his role as director: “What really interests me [in La Bohème] is seeing how the characters are changed from the beginning of the piece to the end,” Ronis writes. “They are forced to grow up; they become less self-involved; they learn about the fragility of life. Their sense of time changes – they won’t live forever – they learn the hard way how precious life and love are. For me, that’s the fundamental story we’re telling.”

The opera will be staged Friday, February 23, 7:30 PM start time; Saturday, February 24, 7:30 PM start time; and Sunday, February 24, 3:00 PM start time.

Buy tickets here

Fellowship string quartet and pianist heads to Florida

Once a year, a quartet or quintet comprised of graduate fellowship recipients travels to Florida to perform a private concert for  longtime School of Music donor Paul Collins. This year, they will perform works of Haydn, Beethoven, Manos Hadjidakis, Debussy, Liszt, Dvorak, and a passacaglia by Handel-Halvorsen.  Collins not only supports ten graduate students at the school, but also contributed $5 million toward the new Hamel Music Center. The new recital hall will be named for him.

Fellowship quartet
The 2017-2018 Fellowship String Quartet, L-R:
Ariel Garcia, viola; Kaleigh Acord, violin; James Waldo, cello; Richard Silvers, violin.
Pianist Anna Siampani

Harmony in performance: Violin Prof. Soh-Hyun Altino and cellist husband Leonardo Altino interviewed by the Wisconsin State Journal

“The Altinos, married in 2002, were born on opposite sides of the world. They had successful, growing, separate careers when they met and discovered two common languages between them: English and music.

Leo and Soh-Hyun Altino

“The couple came to Madison in 2015 when Soh-Hyun Park Altino was hired as assistant professor of violin at UW-Madison. Leo Altino now commutes from their West Side Madison home to Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, near Chicago, to teach three days a week.”

The Altinos were profiled by reporter Gayle Worland prior to their joint concert debut on January 26 with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Read the full story

Synching science and music

Luke Valmadrid. Photograph by Sarah Morton.

Double degrees are hard, but a triple degree?  “Luke Valmadrid has forged a rigorous path pursuing degrees in chemistry, biochemistry and violin performance — and the dedicated senior wouldn’t have it any other way.”  Luke studies music with Prof. Altino, above. Written by UW-Madison’s Katie Vaughn.

Read the full story

Polish your playing skills at our annual Flute or Keyboard Days

Flute Day,  Sunday, February 11, includes performances by guest artist, flutist George Pope, as well as by UW-Madison flute faculty Timothy Hagen and the UW-Madison Flute Ensemble. In addition, participants will be offered a brief seminar on making practicing more effective and enjoyable. Most importantly, there are opportunities for younger participants to perform in master classes and mock auditions in preparation for WSMA Solo and Ensemble Festivals and other solo performances.

Keyboard Day, Saturday, February 17, will include workshops by UW-Madison piano faculty, including Artistic Pedaling Techniques for the Developing Pianist and Poems at the Piano: How Songs and Poetry Help Us Understand  a Composer’s Mind, Heart and Fingers. Guest pianist Marina Lomazov (Friday, Februrary 16 concert in Mills Hall) will offer a master class.


Music TA wins campuswide teaching award

We congratulate choral conducting graduate student Chris Boveroux, one of only 15 UW-Madison teaching assistants (out of 2,000 total) to win a Graduate School CampusWide Teaching Award. Not only has Chris TA’d in music, but also in mathematics, political science, and integrated liberal studies.

Chris Boveroux

Hire a (Student) Musician!

Not sure where to look for that wedding string quartet, an Easter trumpeter, a church pianist, or maybe you need an arts intern? Post your request on our Hire a Musician blog, about two to four months prior to your event. Recent listings include a request for a quartet for a 50th anniversary party, summer internships available at Bravo! Vail music festival, and a jazz vocalist.


Selected Upcoming Events

  • Guest artists: Anna Hersey, soprano & Alan Johnson, piano. February 11, 1:30 pm, Morphy Hall.
  • Guest artist: Blaise Magniere, violin. February 11, 7:30 pm, Morphy Hall.
  • Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, contemporary classical works. February 15, 8:00 pm, Mills Hall.
  • Master class with Alban Gerhardt, cello. February 16, 2:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Morphy Hall.
  • Guest artist: Marina Lomazov, piano. February 16, 8:00 pm, Mills Hall. Part of UW-Madison Keyboard Day.
    View full calendar for more events.
  • Graduate composer Nathan Froebe, composer winner of the 2016-2017 concerto competition, offers two performances in the next month. February 19: Lecture recital on Pierre Jalbert’s “The Invention of the Saxophone,’ based on the poem of the same name by Billy Collins. Nathan Froebe, narrator; Patrick Specht, alto saxophone; and Kyle Johnson, piano. March 3: “Addiction’s Actuality,” for trombone, piano, and pre-recorded sounds. “Addiction’s Actuality” explores the topic of alcohol and drug addictions, from a person’s descent into addiction, through recovery, and life after. Disclaimer: This piece contains mature themes and content. Nathan Froebe, composer/electronics; Thomas Macaluso, trombone; and Vincent Fuh, piano.

Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

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..


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.

Student Recitals – Alumni News – Steve Miller Jets In – Kudos for Recent Concerts – Hunt Quartet in Stoughton – EARS goes to the Science Festival

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music

University of Wisconsin-Madison
455 North Park Street, Madison Wisconsin 53706
http://www.music.wisc.edu/

Student Recitals November & December

Our calendar is brimming with free student recitals, and the public is always welcome. Just click our calendar link and type “recital” in the search box for November and December. Bottom: Poster for senior Eleni Katz’s bassoon recital with pianist Kangwoo Jin, Friday, November 3 at 6:30 PM in Morphy Hall.


Steve Miller jets into Mills Hall

Our recent “Careers in Music” session with rocker Steve Miller – who also guest conducted the UW Marching Band at the Homecoming game on October 21 – drew about 40 young engaged music students, a few old-timers, and a few young wannabe rock stars, too. Miller described his unique path to stardom – starting in his parents’ Milwaukee living room visiting with famed guitarist and family friend Les Paul – fielded questions about music streaming, and exhorted students to be independent and to own their own work.


Praise for performances

Recent productions of the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra, UW Strings with David Kim, University Opera’s “Kurt Weill” Cabaret, and the Pro Arte Quartet & Wingra Wind Quintet collaboration each garnered enthusiasm from local writers. Scroll down to read excerpts and click on full reviews.

New faculty conductor Chad Hutchinson makes an impressive and promising debut with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra. “The ambitious program that Hutchinson put together says a lot about his priorities and instincts, and about his confidence in himself and the abilities of his student players, who performed superbly.”   Read the review in The Well-Tempered Ear, a classical music blog.

Hear the UW Symphony this Saturday, November 4, performing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

David Kim Bares His Heart and Soul (Musically and Otherwise). “The UW players exhibited tremendous alertness and shading of phrasing. Principal cellist James Waldo had numerous passages of delicate interplay with Kim, and particularly in the “Spring” concerto, first-chair first and second violinists Kaleigh Acord and Thalia Coombs respectively, also flourished in some brief spotlight moments.” We thank the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund for supporting Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim’s visit. Read the review in What Greg Says, a classical music blog.

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University Opera stages “compelling and engaging” production of Kurt Weill songs. “Throughout the evening I was unaware of the passage of time, which is one of my acid tests for a good performance. Likewise, I felt fully engaged.” Read the review on The Well-Tempered Ear.

Next up for University Opera, in February: Puccini’s La Bohème in the Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall.

Sarah Kendall in Le Train du Ciel from A KURT WEILL CABARET. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

The UW Pro Arte Quartet and Wingra Wind Quintet prove exceptional partners in a joint all-Schubert concert. They performed Schubert’s Octet with faculty bassist David Scholl.  Faculty flutist Timothy Hagen opened the program with variations for flute and piano, D. 802, on Schubert’s song, Trockne Blumen. Read the review on The Well-Tempered Ear.

Next Pro Arte Quartet concert: November 5, Noon, Chazen Museum.

See the Wingra Wind Quintet: November 5, 3 PM, Mills Hall.

Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar


Alumni News

J. Griffith Rollefson. Photograph by Kathleen Karn.

In alumni news, musicology PhD J. Griffith Rollefson saw his book, “Flip the Script,” published by the University of Chicago Press. He writes, “Hip hop is unique both in its directness and in the depth of its contradictions. We simultaneously laud hip hop as the ultimate politically conscious music and decry it as the most vapid commercial expression of materialism, sexism, homophobia, and violence. Something’s gotta give with this contradiction – and I think I offer some good, and potentially illuminating answers in the book.” Read our interview with Griff here.


Hunt Quartet to perform in Stoughton Opera House

The Hunt Quartet, UW-Madison’s graduate string quartet, performs nearly every week or more at area schools and venues. Next Monday, November 6,  see them at the Stoughton Opera House as part of their Music Appreciation Series. 3:00 PM.  The Hunt Quartet is funded by the School of Music and the Madison Symphony Orchestra as part of their “Up Close and Musical” outreach program.

The Hunt Quartet, 2017-2018. L-R: Kyle Price, cello.; Vinicius “Vinny” Sant’Ana, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Chang-En Lu, violin. Photograph by Katrin Talbot.

Play a Theremin and a Moog Synthesizer at the Wisconsin Science Festival

Associate professor Daniel Grabois will make electro-magnetic waves this Friday from 6 to 8PM at the Discovery Building Atrium, 330 North Orchard Street, as part of the Wisconsin Science Festival. The new Electro-Acoustic Research Space, Room 2401, will also be open on Saturday, November 4 from 4PM to 5:30. Bring an instrument to play!

To read news coverage of the new EARS studio, check our Media page.

Below: Students experiment with a theremin at the inauguration of the EARS open house on September 15.


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..


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 musical thank-you to the Mead Witter Foundation; Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Winners Announced; New Music Premieres & Papers at Musicology Consortium: “Jewish Archive” Project Continues Worldwide

News and Events from the Mead Witter School of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison
March 8, 2017

Faculty Ensembles combine with Lincoln High students for a memorable concert

On February 9, two School of Music faculty ensembles – the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and the Wingra Wind Quintet – traveled to Wisconsin Rapids, the home of the Mead Witter Foundation, for a special concert to thank them for their support of the school of music. The two ensembles, plus the Wind Ensemble from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, performed a side-by-side concert at the Performing Arts Center of Wisconsin Rapids after the students were coached by ensemble faculty and UW-Madison conductor Scott Teeple.

Afterwards, music engagement and outreach coordinator Beth Larson received this note from Jeanne Olson, director of bands at Lincoln High School: “Thank you so much for all of the time you spent organizing that event, my students loved it and learned so much! I had them write a reflection this week, and they were very positive and many listed countless things that they learned from the professors sitting in with them and then working with the small groups!! It was a very successful event!”
Photographs by Beth Larson.

Irving Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition Winners to perform this Saturday

Irving Shain, former chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Photograph by Jeff Miller, university communications.

March 11, 4 PM, Morphy Hall.

This years’ duo winners are Rayna Slavova, piano with Chia-Yu Hsu, bassoon; and Kangwoo Jin, piano, with Eleni Katz, bassoon. The four will perform their winning selections at a free concert this Saturday.  Learn about the winning musicians and download the program.

Meet Yasha Hoffman, Russian Studies and composition double major

Yasha Hoffman.

Yasha Hoffman, a Minnesota native, grew up with parents of Soviet/Russian heritage and as a young child, fell in love with Russian folk songs. “One of my favorite activities was putting on ‘concerts’ for my parents where I’d loudly sing Soviet children’s songs and bang on the piano,” he says. He loves the breadth of opportunity offered by classes at UW-Madison. Read more about Yasha Hoffman.

“Performing the Jewish Archive” project continues worldwide

UW-Madison professor Teri Dobbs in Israel, Jordan, Michigan, and Vienna (upcoming)

This past January, Professor Teri Dobbs, a member of the Performing the Jewish Archive team, spent two weeks in Israel and Jordan. During her time there, she was a guest at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, together with colleagues from UW-Madison’s Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. In addition, she conducted research in the Yad Vashem Archives, met with musicology/music education colleagues to discuss the possibility of future projects within Israel, and met with the family of piano prodigy and composer, Josima Feldschuh (d. 1943).

Teri Dobbs
Professor Teryl Dobbs. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Professor Dobbs will present several conference papers this coming semester, most of which pertain to her work with Performing the Jewish Archive. Her paper, “Music Education and the Holocaust: So What?” was heard at the New Directions in Music Education Conference: “Musicking Equity: Enacting Social Justice Through Music Education,” Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, February 17. Dobbs has been invited to present more two papers, one in collaboration with soprano and PtJA performer Elizabeth Hagedorn of Vienna, at the 25th European Association for Music in Schools/6th European International Society for Music Education regional conference, JOINT (AD)VENTURE MUSIC: Network as a Challenge for Music Educators, at the University Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria, April 18 – 22, 2017.
Learn more here.

Read about prior Performing the Jewish Archive events in Madison, 2015-2016.


Selected Upcoming Events

Anthony Georgeson. Photograph by Thomas Bruce.

March 12, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.
UW Symphony with alumnus Anthony Georgeson, bassoon, conducted by James Smith. Georgeson is principal bassoon with The Florida Orchestra in St. Petersburg. Georgeson will play the Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K. 191.  Other works will include Un Sourire pour Orchestre by Olivier Messiaen and Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  This is the penultimate opportunity to see longtime conductor James Smith, who will retire this spring after 34 years at UW-Madison. His final appearance as conductor will be on April 9. 

James Smith, orchestra conductor.
James Smith, orchestra conductor.

March 14, 6:30 PM, Morphy Hall.
Emery Stephens, baritone, guest artist recital. Free concert.
Stephens is assistant professor of voice at Wayne State University in Detroit. Prof. Stephens will coach student singers and pianists in African-American songs and spirituals and perform with students in a recital, with Professor Martha Fischer as collaborative pianist.

Emery Stephens

The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium – Presenting Original Research and New Compositions

Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1, Memorial Union and Mead Witter School of Music. Free events.

The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium (MGMC) is a joint venture organized by graduate students from Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. MGMC encourages the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate students around the country. The 21st annual meeting will include paper sessions, a new music concert, and a keynote address. For the new music concert, seven composers’ works were chosen from a nationwide call for scores. The ensemble Sound Out Loud will perform the new works, each a world premiere. All of the composers will be in attendance.
Find the schedule and concert program at this link:
Midwest Graduate Music Consortium

Sound Out Loud

University Opera’s “Turn of the Screw” receives warm reviews

Katie Anderson (Governess) and Anna Polum (Miss Jessel) in ”The Turn of the Screw.” Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

“Much of the overall success of the show begins with decisions by Ronis (and executed by costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park) to resist all temptation to make the specters of Quint (former valet of Bly’s master, who is far removed from the action of the story) and former governess Miss Jessel in any way ghoulish. Alec Brown and Anna Polum, in the roles on Friday night, looked fully human—and that’s just fine. The otherworldliness—and palpable evil—that they exude is in the music and the libretto itself,” wrote Greg Hettsmanberger in his blog, What Greg Says.

Doctoral cellist Andrew Briggs performs with Middleton Community Orchestra

At the March 1 concert of the Middleton Community Orchestra, cellist Andrew Briggs played two works by Antonin Dvorak: Silent Woods, Op. 68, No. 5,and Rondo in G minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 94. “Briggs played both of these with affectionate sensitivity. Currently finishing his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, he is an artist with an already expanding reputation and a great future,” wrote reviewer John Barker.

Andrew Briggs

On Monday, March 27, Andrew will perform a lecture/recital on his dissertation project, “Piatti and the Body: An Integrative Approach to Learning and Performing the 12 Caprices, Op. 25.”

Morphy Hall, 6:30 PM. Free.


Our Full Concert Calendar

calendar

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.


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.

University Opera presents Verdi’s Falstaff, re-envisioned in Hollywood, 1930

As part of the worldwide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, University Opera will present Verdi’s final masterpiece, Falstaff. Based on material from The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV, and Henry V, Falstaff is a wild, comic romp. In the UW-Madison production, updated to Hollywood in 1930, Falstaff is a has-been silent movie actor, out of work with the advent of the “talkies,” holding onto his former glory and living beyond his means at the Chateau Marmont. Now a petty criminal, Falstaff puts the make on Alice Ford and Meg Page in an effort to bilk their husbands of money. The ladies, incensed at his audacity, hatch a plot to give Falstaff his comeuppance. But not before Mr. Ford, (a movie studio executive in the UW production) acting on his own ill-founded suspicions, gets involved and complicates matters. At the end, all are reconciled as both men are taught their respective lessons.

falstaffad

Falstaff will be presented in Italian with English supertitles for three performances, November 11 at 7:30 pm, November 13 at 3:00 pm, and November 15 at 7:30 pm in Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus. Directed by David Ronis with James Smith conducting the UW Symphony Orchestra, the production will involve over 90 UW singers, instrumentalists, and stage crew. This production opens just one week after the national traveling exhibit of Shakespeare’s First Folio arrives at the Chazen Museum of Art.

Buy tickets here.

Following the success of the panel discussion before University Opera’s production of Transformations last spring, Ronis will again be assembling a panel of colleagues to discuss Falstaff on Friday, November 11 at 6:00pm in the Music Hall, admission free. Featured panelists include:

Joshua Calhoun, Assistant Professor of English, UW-Madison

Cabell Gathman, Lecturer, Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies, UW-Madison

Steffen Silvis, Dramaturg and Doctoral Candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, UW-Madison

David Ronis, Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera, UW-Madison

Susan Cook, Pamela O. Hamel/Music Board of Advisors Director of the Mead Witter School of Music, Moderator

Paul Rowe, Professor of Voice at UW-Madison, will sing the title role amidst a cast featuring current students and a couple of guest alums. The principal ladies’ roles will be filled by Yanzelmalee Rivera and Sarah Kendall (Alice Ford), Courtney Kayser and Talia Engstrom (Meg Page), Emily Weaver and Claire Powling (Nannetta), Rebecca Buechel and Jessica Kasinski (Quickly). The men in the cast will be alum Brian Schnieder and guest artist Richard Schonberg (Ford), José Muñiz (Fenton), Wesley Dunnagan (Dr. Caius), Jiabao Zhang (Bardolfo) and alum Benjamin Schultz (Pistola). Assisting Maestro Smith will be Kyle Knox, assistant conductor, with musical preparation by new professor of opera and vocal coaching, Dr. Daniel Fung, Chan Mi Jean, and chorus master, Christopher Boveroux.

The physical production will be designed by Greg Silver. Costume design is by Sydney Krieger, and Hyewon Park, lighting design by Kenneth Ferencek, props design by David Heuer, and the production stage manager will be Alec Brown. The production staff include Erin Bryan, operations manager for University Opera; Jimmy Dewhurst and Daniel Lewis, master electricians; and Ethan White, lighting board operator.

Tickets are $25.00 for the general public, $20.00 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 http://www.arts.wisc.edu/ (click “box office”). Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00-5:00 p.m. and the Vilas Hall Box Office, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and after 5:30 p.m. on University Theatre performance evenings. Because shows often sell out, advance purchase is recommended. If unsold tickets remain, they may be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.

University Opera is a cultural service of the School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose mission is to provide comprehensive operatic training and performance opportunities for our students and operatic programming to the community. For more information, please contact opera@music.wisc.edu. Or visit the School of Music’s web site at music.wisc.edu.

 

Violist Nobuko Imai joins Pro Arte Quartet Oct. 7; Brass Fest II features solo trumpet, Oct. 9-11; UW Opera presents “Figaro,” Oct. 23-27

News & Events from the UW-Madison School of Music – September 29, 2015

Violist Nobuko Imai joins the Pro Arte Quartet for an evening of chamber music
NobukoImai2
Nobuko Imai

Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. She’ll join the Pro Arte on Wednesday, October 7 at 7:30 PM for a free evening of chamber music. On the program: Mozart’s String Quintet in C Minor, K. 406/516b and Mendelssohn String Quintet in B-Flat Major, Op. 87. There will also be a master class with Nobuko Imai on Tuesday, October 6, Morphy Hall, 7:30 PM. Click here for event info.

Brass Fest II features an eclectic mix of voice, jazz trumpet, and brass quintet: October 9-11

From October 9 to 11, the UW-Madison School of Music will present its second brass music festival, following a spirited event last year that was enthusiastically received by students and the community. See photos here.

BrassFest8x11Poster2015All events will be held in Mills Hall.

This year, “Brass Fest II” has added a vocalist to the mix: Elisabeth Vik, a Norwegian singer who mixes jazz tunes with pop and folk music from the Middle East, Bulgaria, Spain and India. The three-day festival will also features two brass quintets and Adam Rapa, a solo trumpeter.

Friday: Chicago’s Axiom Brass Quintet. 8 PM. With Dorival Puccini, Jr., trumpet; Jacob DiEdwardo, horn; Kevin Harrison, tuba; Orin Larson, trombone; Kris Hammond, trumpet. The award-winning Axiom Brass Quintet has quickly established itself as one of the major art music groups in brass chamber music. Their repertoire ranges from jazz and Latin music to string quartet transcriptions, as well as original compositions for brass quintet. Tickets $15, students and children free admission.

Saturday: Festival Brass Choir Concert Brass Festival Concert. 8 PM. Guest artists Adam Rapa and Elisabeth Vik will be featured on a program that showcases the combined sounds of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and their guests, the Axiom Brass Quintet, conducted by Scott Teeple of the School of Music. They’ll perform music of Anthony DiLorenzo, James Stephenson, Richard Strauss, and a tour de force performance by the expressive and technically agile Adam Rapa of Weber’s Clarinet Concerto, arranged with a twist. The program will also feature Daredevil by UW alumni composer and tubist Michael Forbes, and Vik/Rapa will join talents in a shimmering piece by Swedish composer Evert Taube arranged for brass choir by Rapa. Tickets $15, students and children free admission. Meet the performers at a reception following the concert!

Sunday: Elisabeth Vik and Adam Rapa, duets on trumpet and voice.  7:30 PM. Rapa and Vik have perfected a creative blend of jazz and folk vocals with solo trumpet.  Free concert. Hear them here:

Buy tickets to both concerts and save!

University Opera presents “The Marriage of Figaro” Oct. 23-27

After the unprecedented success of last spring’s sold-out run of The Magic Flute, this fall, University Opera will present four performances of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.  This new production will be directed by returning interim opera director, David Ronis, and James Smith will conduct the UW Symphony Orchestra.  The production will involve over 80 UW singers, instrumentalists, and stage crew. Read the full news release on the School of Music website.

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The opera will be performed in Italian with projected English supertitles in Music Hall, 925 Bascom Mall, on Friday, October 23 at 7:00pm, Saturday, October 24 at 7:00pm, Sunday, October 25 at 3:00pm, and Tuesday, October 27 at 7:00pm.  Tickets are $25.00 for the general public, $20.00 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 http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

Please check our calendar for many other concerts in October, many free. All are held on campus unless indicated otherwise. Selected events are listed here:  UW Wind Ensemble, October 2; “An Evening of Opera Arias,” Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, October 10;  Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, October 14; Contemporary Jazz Ensemble & Jazz Composers Septet, October 15;  Javier Calderon, classical guitar, October 17; Choral Collage, October 18; and many more.

UW Wind Ensemble. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.
UW Wind Ensemble. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.
Opera Benefit Concert with Brenda Rae and UW-Symphony Orchestra delights all

On Sunday, Sept. 27, alumna soprano Brenda Rae and the UW Symphony wowed an audience of about 400 in Mills Hall with spectacular performances. Read a review by John Barker, professor emeritus of history.

On Friday, UW-Madison staff photographer also shot photos of Brenda’s master class. View all of them here.

UW student Alaina Carlson (right) performs during a Brenda Rae opera master class held in Music Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sept. 25, 2015. During the class, students performed for a public audience and received helpful critiques from UW School of Music alumna Brenda Rae (left). (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
UW student Alaina Carlson (right) performs during a Brenda Rae opera master class held in Music Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sept. 25, 2015. During the class, students performed for a public audience and received helpful critiques from UW School of Music alumna Brenda Rae (left). (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
UW student Alaina Carlson (right) performs during a Brenda Rae opera master class held in Music Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sept. 25, 2015. During the class, students performed for a public audience and received helpful critiques from UW School of Music alumna Brenda Rae (left). (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
UW student Alaina Carlson (right) performs during a Brenda Rae opera master class held in Music Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sept. 25, 2015. During the class, students performed for a public audience and received helpful critiques from UW School of Music alumna Brenda Rae (left). (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)
From the Archives: UW-Madison Archivist David Null uncovers band stories from 1915

Did you know…. that in 1915, the University First Regimental Band took a long train ride to California to help celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal?

FirstRegNullemblem

The UW-Madison Archives at Steenbock Library houses thousands of memories from UW-Madison’s past. Over the summer,  UW-Madison Archivist David Null dug down and found clippings, photos and letters documenting UW Bands’ concert at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and 19 other cities, including Lewiston, Montana.

Read David’s full post on Tumblr.

Composition/business undergrad double major wins national prize for best musical

Congratulations to Nicholas Connors, a composition student of Les Thimmig, Laura Schwendinger, and Stephen Dembski, who in August won the college division grand prize in Showsearch, the nationwide search for new musical theatre writers put on by Festival of New American Musicals. His new musical Here, In The Park will be premiered next summer in New York City by a professional cast and production team. He’ll also receive a financial award and professional mentoring.

While in Madison, Nick founded Intermission Theatre and produced his first musical, SPACE VOYAGE: THE MUSICAL FRONTIER. He also served as music director  for Tony Award-winning Karen Olivo’s  Madison debut at Overture Center. Nicholas is now in England finishing his business classes and will graduate this fall from UW-Madison with degrees in music composition and marketing.

Nick Connors, center, with the cast for his musical, "Here, in the Park," about a struggling writer who meets an investment banker/painter in a big city.
Nick Connors, center, with the cast for his musical, “Here, in the Park,” about a struggling writer who meets an investment banker/painter in a big city.
Faculty News

On our website: News from John Aley, Laura Schwendinger, Tony Di Sanza, Wesley Warnhoff and Dan Grabois. Click here to read.

Alumni News

On our website: News about “Hill’s Angels”; MiLi Chang, flutist; Nebojsa Macura, composer, and more. Click here to read.

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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“Sensual” soprano returns for Opera Benefit; “Buena Vista Social Club” legend on campus to teach and perform

Coloratura soprano Brenda Rae returns to alma mater to raise funds for University Opera

Gazing at herself in a bewitched mirror, she is obsessed with her radiant beauty; she caresses her own face and simpers at an imagined lover. That would be Brenda Rae in Seattle Opera’s February production of Handel’s “Semele,” where she was described by Opera News as “sensual,” “dazzling,” and “moving.”

Above: Brenda sings “Myself I shall adore” in Seattle Opera’s Semele.

Discover the dazzle for yourself on September 27, when Appleton native and School of Music/Juilliard alumna Brenda Rae – who has spent most of the last decade performing in Frankfurt, Berlin and other major European opera halls  – visits Mills Hall at 7:30 PM to sing a benefit concert for University Opera. She’ll be paired with the UW Symphony Orchestra as she sings Gliere’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano, having just finished a run in Milwaukee Symphony’s Cosi fan Tutti.  She’ll then fly to Paris’s  du Théâtre des Champs-Elysées to sing Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. 

Brenda’s return is part of a larger three-day fund drive to place University Opera – which has existed at UW-Madison for 57 years, but relies mostly on ticket sales and donations to finance productions  – on secure financial footing. On Friday, there will be a free master class in Music Hall from 5-7 PM. On Saturday, two special donor events are planned: the first, a VIP dress rehearsal followed by a private University Club reception for event sponsors. The weekend’s events comprise a fund drive that honors opera alumna Karen K. Bishop, who passed away in January. Her husband, Charlie Bishop, donated $500,000 to the opera program in her name, now matched by a $1 million gift from the Morgridge Fund and local supporters. Read a story in the Wisconsin State Journal about the larger effort.

Brenda Rae. Photo credit: Kristin Hoebermann.

You are invited to join the many others in Madison who love opera and who have supported University Opera for all or part of its history. Please consider becoming a sponsor:

The Impresario
$250–$499
Includes admission for you and one guest to the private University Club reception with Brenda Rae on Saturday and two tickets to the Sunday concert in a prime seating area.

The Prima Donna
$500–$999
Includes the benefits of the Impresario level, plus your name(s) will appear in the concert program as a master class sponsor.

The Bishop Circle
$1,000 or more
Includes the benefits of the Prima Donna level, plus your name(s) will appear in the concert program as a concert sponsor. You and one guest will also receive admission to the VIP dress rehearsal on Saturday.

Table Sponsorship
Give a gift of $2,500 or more, and you will receive a reserved table in your name for a maximum of eight people at the private University Club reception on Saturday. This includes all the benefits of the Bishop Circle level for the named sponsor, so your name will appear in the concert program at the Bishop Circle level.

– See more at: http://www.uwalumni.com/event/brendarae/#sthash.gcqNtse2.dpuf

Tickets for the Sunday evening concert are $25 for adults, and are available online now; they will also be sold at the door, day of show. Students are free. We invite you to pack Mills Hall and see her now… before she hits the stratosphere!


Legendary “Buena Vista Social Club” musician Juan de Marcos here to teach, perform and inspire

UW-Madison will host legendary Cuban musician, Juan de Marcos González, a driving force behind the Buena Vista Social Club, as the Fall 2015 Arts Institute’s Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence.

Juan de Marcos Gonzalez. Photo credit Tom Ehrlich.
Juan de Marcos Gonzalez. Photo credit Tom Ehrlich.

During his residency, notable Cuban artists and groups including Afro-Cuban All Stars, Telmary Diaz, Pellejo Seco, and musical members of his family (who also are part of Afro-Cuban All Stars) will perform in Madison. He will present numerous lectures on the history of Cuban music and teach a lecture course called “Afro-Cuban Music: Roots, Jazz, Hip Hop” and a production course “Music Production: Afro-Cuban and Hip Hop Music.” A complete schedule of classes and performances is listed at this website: http://artsinstitute.wisc.edu/iarp/juandemarcos/

Juan de Marcos González was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up surrounded by music. As a musician, composer, and producer, it is his mission to showcase the wealth, diversity, and vitality of Afro-Cuban music to the world. Through his work with the Afro-Cuban All Stars, the Buena Vista Social Club, Rubén González, Ibrahim Ferrer, Sierra Maestra, and others, he has made an extraordinary contribution to raising the profile of Cuban music throughout the world. He has been nominated for a Latin Billboard Award and multiple times for Grammy Awards. During his career, Juan de Marcos has arranged, conducted, produced/co-produced, and/or performed on more than twenty-five albums.

Juan de Marcos González’s residency is presented by the UW-Madison Arts Institute and is hosted by the School of Music and the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI). Additional co-sponsors and supporters are listed 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.

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.

 

British Choral Composer to visit UW; Wind Ensemble travels to Carnegie; John Stevens trombone premiere; more!

AWARD-WINNING CHORAL COMPOSER TO VISIT UW-MADISON Feb. 19-21

British composer Cecilia McDowall, a recent winner of the British Composer Award for her work, Night Flight, for choir and solo cello, will jump the pond in late February for a three-day residency at the School of Music. The residency–McDowall’s first in the U.S.– will include two concerts, one featuring the U.S. premiere of her work, Seventy Degrees Below Zero, commissioned in 2012 to honor the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

McDowallWEB

The classical magazine Gramophone describes McDowall as having “a piquant musical vocabulary, underpinned by moments of pure lyricism.” In 2008, the Phoenix Chorale won a Grammy Award for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” for its Chandos CD, “Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary,” which included a work, Three Latin Motets, by Cecilia McDowall.

Visit our website to learn details of her residency: http://www.music.wisc.edu/cecilia-mcdowall/

Hear her music at this site: https://soundcloud.com/cecilia-mcdowall
Please join us for one or more of our events!

  • COLLOQUIUM Thursday Feb. 19, noon, Mills Hall: Meet the composer! McDowall will describes how she creates music based on real or imagined events. Free.
  • CONCERT Friday Feb. 20, 8PM, Mills Hall: Featuring the U.S. premiere of Seventy Degrees Below Zero. With UW Madrigal Singers and Concert Choir (Bruce Gladstone, conductor) and a faculty/student chamber orchestra conducted by James Smith.  Michael DuVernois of the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center will offer a slideshow describing the past and the present in polar research.  Free reception to follow!
    Tickets: $20 adults, free for students. Buy online (click link) ; in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door.
  • CONCERT Saturday, Feb 21, 8 PM, Mills Hall: The Chamber Music of Cecilia McDowall. Free.

Learn much more at our website: http://www.music.wisc.edu/cecilia-mcdowall/

News flash: Our Spring 2015 event brochure is now available in an interactive format! Click this link to view: http://www.music.wisc.edu/flipbook/

UW WIND ENSEMBLE TO PERFORM AT CARNEGIE HALL IN MARCH-Catch their send-off concert on Feb. 24
The UW Wind Ensemble. Photograph by Megan Aley.
The UW Wind Ensemble. Photograph by Megan Aley.

The Wind Ensemble and its conductor, Scott Teeple, plans a trip too, not across the ocean but across half the country: a performance on March 9 at Carnegie Hall. You can hear them perform prior to their New York concert on Feb. 24, a ticketed fundraiser and preview concert,  will include works by Vaughan Williams, Kathryn Salfelder, Percy Grainger, and others. Tickets: $10 adults, free for students. Buy online (click link); in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door. Read more here.

Many thanks to Lau and Bea Christenson and the UW-Madison School of Music for supporting this trip.

DOCTORAL TROMBONIST COMMISSIONS AND PERFORMS A JOHN STEVENS PREMIERE

How do new classical works get funded these days? Sometimes, it’s the product of “consortia,” a group of universities and orchestras interested in new works. Such is the case with the Kleinhammer Sonata for bass trombone,  named for the former bass trombonist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and newly written by former tuba professor and composer John Stevens. As part of his doctoral dissertation, Alan Carr, a trombonist in the studio of Prof. Mark Hetzler, secured underwriting from UW-Madison and many others, including the Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Detroit symphonies and the Metropolitan Opera. The new sonata will be part of a new CD that features works for bass trombone, none previously recorded.  Come hear Carr will perform the new sonata on March 3 in Mills Hall at 7:30 PM, along with pianist Vincent Fuh. Composer John Stevens is expected to attend. Read more here.

ALUMNA SOPRANO EMILY BIRSAN PROFILED IN CLASSICAL SINGER MAGAZINE
Emily Birsan (3)
Emily Birsan

“[UW provided] a small hall and a safe environment,” Emily Birsan says of her experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “But that situation really boosted my confidence that I could take on these pretty big leading ladies and make them my own.” Birsan is featured on the front cover of February’s Classical Singer magazine. Read the full article here. 

MUSICOLOGY DISSERTATOR RECEIVES OPERA AWARD

Robert Torre, a PhD candidate in musicology studying with Professor Jeanne Swack, recently received the Leland Fox Scholarly Paper Award from the National Opera Association for his essay “Cultural Translatio and Arne’s Artaxerxes (1762).” The paper is part of a broader project that examines the role of translation in the composition and reception of Italian opera in eighteenth-century London. Robert is currently visiting faculty at Emory University in Atlanta.

HOMAGE TO RAMEAU CONTINUES THIS SPRING

Prof. Charles Dill‘s massive effort to pull together a series of events to commemorate the work of Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau will continue this spring, with events on Feb. 5 (Chazen Museum); March 11 (Chemistry Building–yes, you read that right);  April 18 (Morphy Hall) and April 17 & 18 (performance of Pygmalion by the Madison Bach Musicians, at the First Unitarian Society Church). Why in Chemistry, you ask? Because chemistry professor Rod Schreiner knows a bit about the principles of string vibration and sound propagation that influenced Rameau. Even today, 250 years after his death, Rameau’s work is considered seminal, so please join us to learn more! Full information can be found here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/rameau/ All events are free.

WISCONSIN BRASS QUINTET COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. L-R: Mark Hetzler; Daniel Grabois; John Aley; Tom Curry; Jessica Jensen. Photograph by Megan Aley.
The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. L-R: Mark Hetzler; Daniel Grabois; John Aley; Tom Curry; Jessica Jensen. Photograph by Megan Aley.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet will travel around Wisconsin this spring with an all-new program of works written or arranged for brass, including compositions by Cecilia McDowall (who will travel from England in late February for our residency), Malcolm Arnold, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Vladimir Cosma, and William Mathias. Towns will include Ashland, Richland Center, Kohler, and others. Check this website to find more locations and times.

Meanwhile, UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet and the Wingra Woodwind Quartet will also travel this spring to perform, all in keeping with the Wisconsin Idea of outreach to the state. All their outstate concerts can be found on this website:  http://artsoutreach.wisc.edu/index.html

HEAR OUR CONCERTO WINNERS SOLO WITH ORCHESTRA THIS WEEKEND: SUNDAY, FEB. 8: 7 PM, MILLS HALL
L-R: Keisuke Yamamoto; Ivana Ugrcic; Jason Kutz; and Anna Whiteway. Missing: Composition winner Adam Betz. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
L-R: Keisuke Yamamoto; Ivana Ugrcic; Jason Kutz; and Anna Whiteway. Missing: Composition winner Adam Betz. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Grab a spot this Sunday for our annual “Symphony Showcase” concert featuring our concerto competition winners. Tickets are $10.00 for adults, free to students, and include a reception in Mills lobby immediately following. This event is always joyous; we encourage all to attend! Read more here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/symphony-showcase/

Buy tickets online (click link) or in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door.

RONIS AND TEAM WIN PRIZE AT NATIONAL OPERA ASSOCIATION

We congratulate visiting director of opera David Ronis, whose Queens College-CUNY production of “Dialogues of the Carmelites” recently won third place in Division 4 of the 2013-14 National Opera Association’s Production Competition. Ronis and his team have won twice before, in 2009 and 2011.

David Ronis.
David Ronis

 

 

 

 

 

 

With that in mind, you won’t want to miss this spring’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, also directed by Ronis. There will be four shows, one more than the usual number:  March 13 at 7:30pm; March 14 at 7:30pm; March 15 at 3:00pm; and March 17 at 7:30pm. Buy tickets online (click link) or in person at the Memorial Union box office or at the door. More info to come! http://www.music.wisc.edu/opera/

From the Gallery: Scenes from two recent concerts at the School of Music. All photographs by Michael R. Anderson.

HELPFUL LINKS

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Concert Calendar

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School of Music announces David Ronis as visiting director of opera

The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of opera director David Ronis to serve a one-year term as Visiting Assistant Professor, Director of University Opera, replacing William Farlow, who retires this year after 16 years in the position. His final production of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict will be staged Tuesday, April 15, in Music Hall.

David Ronis.
David Ronis.

Ronis, a tenor with many singing and acting roles to his credit, is currently on the faculties of the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College/City University of New York, and Hofstra University on Long Island, where he teaches voice, directs opera, and coaches singers on acting and auditioning skills.

“The voice and opera programs are delighted to welcome David Ronis,” says Mimmi Fulmer, professor of voice and opera at the School of Music. “Mr. Ronis will direct two full productions for University Opera during the 2014-15 season, as well as join me in teaching Opera Workshop. He brings a background of a distinguished singing career in both opera and musical theater as well as extensive credits as a director. We are fortunate to have him contribute his artistry and experience to our singers and our audiences. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work together to present another wonderful season of University Opera.”

Ronis’s resumé is impressive. His 2009 and 2011 productions of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Argento’s Postcard From Morocco won first and third place, respectively, in the National Opera Association Opera Production Competition. Other recent productions include L’incoronazione di Poppea, Suor Angelica, La Damoiselle Elue, The Magic Flute, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Dido and Aeneas at Queens College, Rigoletto for the Queens Symphony Orchestra, Cosî fan tutte for OSH Opera, From Berlin to Potsdam: A Kurt Weill Cabaret for the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and a portion of Gregg Wramage’s Death in Summer at the Manhattan School of Music, part of their annual “From Page to Stage” series.

Mr. Ronis is also the co-director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College, a faculty member at the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and served as the local chair for the National Opera Association’s January 2014 convention in New York City.

Ronis visited UW-Madison in March and says he was “very impressed with the students.”

“Their skill level is very high, they were very engaged, interested and motivated. They asked really difficult questions. I just loved it,” he added.

David Ronis.
David Ronis as “Lumiere” in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Mr. Ronis has sung over 50 operatic roles, including performances of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, the Four Servants in Les Contes D’Hoffmann, Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus, Basilio and Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Goro in Madama Butterfly. He has appeared on stages from Milan’s La Scala to Vienna, New York to Hong Kong. He also has performed as a soloist in the world’s most famous halls and at summer music festivals and has acted in many musical theater productions, independent films and commercials. He is a member of the National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, the College Music Society, Actors Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists and the Screen Actors Guild.

Mr. Ronis received his B.F.A. degree from Purchase College of the State University of New York and the M.A.L.S. (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) in Opera Studies, an interdisciplinary research degree, from Empire State College/SUNY. He also studied at the Conservatoire Americain in Fontainebleau, France, then under the direction of the legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Additionally, he received the Anthony Gishford Award to attend the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England, where he worked with the late Sir Peter Pears.

For more information, please email or call Mimmi Fulmer, fulmer.wisc@gmail.com. 608/263-1882.

Retiring director Farlow brought high expectations and humor to the stage

Written by Paul Baker
Photographs by Michael R. Anderson

In his 16 seasons as director of University Opera at UW-Madison, William Farlow has become known for high expectations coupled with a devilish sense of humor.

This is his final year, his final opera: Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, to be performed in Music Hall April 11, 13, and 15. Now, in near-daily rehearsals, a group of voice students are receiving their very last chances to experience the Farlow Method.

(Click here for a news release about this show.)

It is not always easy. He can be brutally honest one minute, and chuckle with mirth the next. Students may accept his comments with a professional “thank you” or jokingly threaten to post questionable comments on his Facebook page. On the other hand, during one rehearsal a few years ago of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, known for a somewhat-oppressive tone, he donned bunny ears to lighten the mood.

He does not compromise. He wants the best. Some young actors sometimes find it difficult to deliver their spoken words, he confides. “They overdo it. They don’t yet know how to underplay less important lines.”

To a pair of male actors, clearly still working on their delivery: “That dialog sort of went reasonably well.”

To the chorus, who failed to show sufficient fear when the inept Somarone brandishes his conductor’s baton, he invoked the name of a famous household appliance: “Your inhalation must sound like a giant Hoover [vacuum], sucking up in Chicago!”

To the chorus, again, celebrating Don Pedro’s military victory over the Moors: “You will have to put out a lot more sound. The longer you sing, the less energy there seems to be. It should be the opposite. Especially when the orchestra is here.”

At a recent rehearsal, Farlow never sat for long. He constantly jumped onto the stage to position actors and chatted during breaks when conductor James Smith worked with musicians. His need to be in the middle of things stems from his time at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, he says. The director would suggest a change, and Farlow would sprint down the aisle, grab the actors and push them into new positions. He developed a response to the common adage that “directors must not invade the actors’ space”: “Baloney!”

Farlow well remembers this stage of a singer’s career. Before he began directing, he performed half a dozen or so Gilbert and Sullivan roles. The experience became critical to his directing. It’s like being a good orchestral musician before you conduct, he says, or a good shortstop before you coach.

Stress is always part of performance, and the last thing Farlow wants to do is add to it. So much is going on at any given moment that rehearsals can seem like a circus. He tries to keep pressure low, unless he’s really ticked off about something. He knows that actors must be comfortable to give their best.

The two-act Béatrice et Bénédict is based loosely on William Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing. Written by Hector Berlioz and premiered in 1862, it is scored for lead singers, chorus, and a large orchestra. The story line leads up to a double wedding ceremony.

Although the singers deliver dialog in English, they sing in the French. Farlow decided that was the way to go, following his success with a production of The Magic Flute with English dialog and German singing.

The modestly-sized chorus consists of six female and six male undergraduates. A professional company doing Béatrice et Bénédict would employ a chorus three times that size, Farlow says, but Music Hall doesn’t require such forces.

Lead parts are sung by Lindsay Metzger (Beatrice), Benjamin Schultz (Somarone), Anna Whiteway (Hero), Daniel López-Matthews (Benedict), Erik Larson (Don Pedro), Jordan Wilson (Claudio), Kathleen Otterson (Ursule), and  Annisa Richardson (Adèle).

Farlow stayed on as Director of University Opera this last year because he knew he had two more master’s students majoring in opera performance left to graduate. He loved last semester’s production of Handel’s Ariodante (“It was beautiful”) and he thinks he can see the Berlioz through to the end. “Just needs a little tightening up here and there.” And that’s exactly what he was doing.

Later, over lunch, Farlow takes a minute to reflect. Four weeks from tomorrow my directing career is over, he says, a glint in his eye. He’s already been asked to direct four productions and he’s turned them all down.

Even though he will no longer direct, he will continue to serve as artistic advisor for Madison’s Fresco Opera and artistic consultant and master teacher for Des Moines Opera. 

Working his way through a delicious looking spinach quiche, he was reflective, yet upbeat, when we talked. Béatrice et Bénédict has been on his wish list for at least 30 years. He first saw it performed on public television and thought, “it was the greatest thing I’d heard.”

The most rewarding challenge

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s in El Paso, Texas, William Farlow benefited from strong public school music programs. His first career ambition was to direct a high school orchestra; he graduated college from the University of Texas-El Paso as a music theory/composition major. But that impulse passed very quickly. His eyes were opened to the possibility of a professional career as a director when he did graduate work at UT-Austin with Walter Ducloux, the internationally known conductor, pianist, translator, writer, and educator whose career spanned over 50 years.

A former pianist and violinist, Farlow chose opera as his life work because it combines singing, dancing, lighting, costumes, poetry, prose, stage design, and orchestral conducting. Opera is the most rewarding and the most frustrating challenge of all, says Farlow. “To make all those elements come together at the same time is a huge undertaking, but when it does all come together it’s unlike anything,” he says.

Most operas he’s witnessed have been good. Unforgettable performances are rare. One can enjoy outstanding performances by individual singers in an otherwise mediocre production. But a really extraordinary experience requires everything to sparkle: singers, orchestra, the conducting, the sets, the costumes. He places the Chicago Lyric’s recent La Clemenza di Tito in the “wonderful” category, and not only because UW alum Emily Birsan played the role of Servilia. (Note: Birsan is scheduled to perform in this weekend’s performance of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart’s Requiem. Students may purchase tickets for as little as $12. She will also give a master class at the School of Music Thursday, April 3, at 1PM in Mills Hall.)

Farlow’s years of experience prepared him for directing Tristan und Isolde for the Pittsburgh Opera (where he served as operations director from 1990-1992), Turandot for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Salome for the Los Angeles Opera. He has also directed productions for the Canadian Opera Company, Los Angeles Opera and the Kalamazoo Symphony.

People sometimes ask when his career really took off. “I don’t know that it ever did take off,” he says. “I just started working more in opera and working less at Barnes and Noble.”

The anatomy of the UW Opera program

“Wonderful” is a term voice professor Mimmi Fulmer uses to describe Farlow’s work. She credits him with transforming the program in two ways: using the university orchestra, rather than using a “pick-up” ensemble. And rather than assigning meaty roles to faculty and guests, he picked only students.

Plotting out operas for the coming year, Farlow always chose works by surveying his resources and solving an equation, of sorts. It went like this: Here are my singers. What operas can they do now? Is the orchestra part workable? Does it require a huge chorus? If it requires five baritones, do we have five baritones? Will this role prepare this student for where she or he should be next year? “I choose operas that will afford the most parts to the most singers,” he says.

He developed a policy of accepting students into the opera performance program only if he knew if he knew they could be cast in three major roles. He wanted to understand their strengths and their potential so that he could plot their growth and pull out the best they have to offer. “When a really talented student lands on my doorstep,” he says, “I want to know I can work with them for a few years, and that gives me some leeway.” Two dozen Master’s of Music in Opera Performance students have graduated during his tenure.

After graduation, when their professional careers start to develop, singers need to be patient, Farlow says. If you want a career as a musician, you have to give it everything, he says, “and that means doing all kinds of temp work that you never thought you would, and you have to give it at least five years. And you’ll see if that’s what you want to do, or not.”

Mimmi Fulmer says Farlow always listened to a student’s voice, then mentally placed what that voice will be able to do several shows ahead. Farlow’s hunches generally proved to be correct. It’s not just that he had a crystal ball, Fulmer says; he also provided students opportunity and training. He could tell where the voice was going and help them make the next leap.

Fulmer updates her list of vocal and opera program graduates. The alumni, and what they’re doing, are a tribute to Bill, she says. The program has sent graduates (of the master’s and doctoral programs-there is no undergraduate opera major) to choice positions all over the world, and she credits that to Farlow’s leadership. Farlow recently saw former student Emily Birsan sing in the Lyric Opera’s production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. But Emily is just the tip of the iceberg, says Fulmer. Click here for a partial list of opera graduates: UW-Madison Opera Graduates2013

Farlow appreciates his UW faculty colleagues, who demonstrate their commitment in myriad ways. Longtime university orchestra conductor James Smith, for example, attends every rehearsal of every production, something Farlow has seen nowhere else. “Bill has an immense knowledge of all areas of music: vocal, orchestral, chamber music, and theatrical,” Smith says. Indeed, Farlow has directed operas ranging from works by 17th century Italian composer Cavalli to a 2009 world premiere of Maura Bosch’s Art and Desire, based on the life of Jackson Pollock.

Other faculty members have gone to great lengths to realize certain shows. With Mimmi Fulmer and emeritus professor and pianist Bill Lutes, Farlow presented a semi-staged version of Schoenberg’s Erwartung, one of his “absolute favorite things,” even though Schoenberg’s music is difficult and Fulmer said learning it was the hardest thing she’d done.

He also appreciates his tech colleagues, not only for their talent but for their longevity. Costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park have worked with Farlow on nearly every production. He’s had only had three tech directors, including incumbent Greg Silver, who’s been with him for seven years. Set designer and scenic artist Liz Rathke and lighting designer Steven M. Petersen have been stalwart as well.

He’s had help from a supportive media. Farlow credits Scott Herrick and Perry Allaire of WORT-FM with promoting his productions faithfully. Journalist Jacob Stockinger has supported UW opera for decades, beginning with his Capital Times columns and now with his blog, The Well-Tempered Ear. Many times Wisconsin Public Radio’s Jonathan Overby invited Farlow to guest on his program Higher Ground. And not just to plug the opera, but to stay in studio for an extra hour to play Ed McMahon to Overby’s Johnny Carson.

Besides faculty and staff salaries, the major part of University Opera’s funding comes from private donors and outside grants. Both Bill and Mimmi Fulmer, like many in the arts and on campus, have taken on larger roles in advancement and fund raising, work that now serves as a model for the entire School of Music.

Who will likely replace him? Farlow says whomever is hired will bring a skill set that overlaps, but does not duplicate, his own. “Professionals have their own way of doing things,” he says. “There are certain things that must be done but, beyond that, it’s up to the person.”