Tag Archives: Tony Di Sanza

A Taste of the Middle East Coming to Morphy Hall

Special Concert Announcement from the UW-Madison School of Music – March 3, 2016
duoJalal – A fusion of cultures and styles, with Yousif Sheronick, percussion, and Kathryn Lockwood, viola

In Concert: Monday, March 14, 7:30 PM, Morphy Hall

$15 public, available at the Memorial Union Box Office and at the door. Free to students. Note: Seating is limited. We recommend patrons buy ahead of time or arrive early.

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Kathryn Lockwood and Yousif Sheronick. Photograph by Anja Hitzenber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yousif Sheronick, a native of Iowa,  discovered the music of Arabian countries when his Lebanon-born mother sang tunes over the drone of the family vacuum cleaner. As a youth, he gravitated toward American rock and was a member of the local drum corps. His natural percussion skills landed him a full scholarship to the University of Iowa, but it wasn’t until he enrolled as a master’s student at Yale University that he really dug into the music of Eastern countries. He traveled to Brazil and studied music of India, Africa and the Middle East.

Kathryn Lockwood, a native of Australia, studied classical viola at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and came to the US in 1991, where she received a master’s degree at the University of Southern California. She then won several awards in succession: the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, Grand Prize at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, Concert Artists Guild Management Award, and awards at solo competitions such as the Primrose Competition, Washington International Competition, and the Pasadena Instrumental Competition.  She was an original member of the Pacifica Quartet and co-formed the Lark Quartet in 1985. Along the way she met Sheronick.

The two met, married and formed a new ensemble, duoJalal, that spanned cultures, genres and styles.  “duoJalal started organically when a friend and composer offered to write us a piece,” says Sheronick. “We had so much fun we decided to keep going and commissioned more pieces which showcases our unique voice as an ensemble of melody & rhythm.”

Hear duoJalal on SoundCloud:

“duoJalal” was named to honor the cross-cultural poetry of the 13th-century Turkish poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi, whose work Sheronick discovered when he arrived in New York City.

Today, duoJalal performs music ranging from classical to Klezmer, jazz to Middle Eastern. Wrote Toronto Star reviewer John Terauds: “Sheronick applies impeccable technique to a wide range of percussion tools, from the bodhran in the opening piece to a goat-hoof shaker in Glass’s ‘Duo for Solo Viola and Percussion.’ Lockwood is all slow, sensuous allure with her bowing arm one moment, a tempest of notes the next. If this is what world music’s future holds, bring on the party.”

At the School of Music, duoJalal’s concert was suggested by percussion professor Anthony di Sanza and viola professor Sally Chisholm, the long-standing violist with the . “They sit halfway between the Western classical world and global music, and that’s a world I find interesting,” says Di Sanza. “Yousif plays a lot of Middle Eastern percussion music, and we have a good number of students who have been playing Middle Eastern instruments and studying this regularly. And I also like the idea of collaboration with the string area, and with Sally Chisholm.”

“I am certain she will give wonderful feedback to our violists on standard viola repertoire as well as offer her unique perspective on paths musicians can create for themselves,” says Chisholm.

Additional Events:
String Master Class: Mon March 14, 12:05 PM, Room 2521- Free
Percussion Master Class: Mon March 14, 12:05 PM, Room 1629 -Free
Presentation/Discussion about Composing Global Chamber Music: Tuesday, March 15, 12PM, Room 2521 – Free

We hope you will join us for one or more events!
Here is the March 14 concert program:

  • David Krakauer (b. 1956): Klezmer a la Bechet (in the SoundCloud link above)
  • Evan Ziporyn (b.1959): Honey from Alast
  • Yousif Sheronick (b.1967): Jubb Jannin
  • Enzo Rao (b.1957): A Different World
  • Kenji Bunch (b.1973): Lost & Found (2010)
    I. Lost in Time (Dumbek)
    II. Found Objects (Djembe)
  • Somei Satoh (b.1947): Birds in warped time II (1983)
  • Giovanni Sollima (b.1962): Lamentatio

For more information, please contact the concert manager at 608. 263.5615.

We thank the University of Wisconsin Anonymous Fund for its support of this residency.

 

 

 

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Percussion Ensemble Celebrates 50 Years; UW Rallies to Help Stricken Student; Opera to Stage Magic Flute; Photo Gallery

 UW-MADISON PERCUSSION PROGRAM CELEBRATES 50 YEARS WITH A MARCH 20 CONCERT AND TRIP TO CHINA

“Fifty years is not a long time in the world of classical music, but it’s a very long time in the world of formal percussion studies. In the 1960s and before, the very notion of teaching percussion beyond the basic orchestral instruments caused music educators to simply shake their heads in disbelief.” So what happened? Read the full story on our main website here.


The University of Wisconsin Madison World Percussion Ensemble performs the Olodum classic A Visa La (May 2013). The arrangement was created by Nininho and A. Di Sanza.

Concert: March 20, 8 PM Mills Hall. Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office and in Mills on day of show. Adults $10, all-age students free. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

HEAR THE MUSIC OF BRITISH COMPOSER CECILIA McDOWALL AND MEET THE COMPOSER, TOO

Heard any new choral music lately? You’ll get your chance this week when Cecilia McDowall, winner of the 2014 British Composer Award for her choral work, Night Flight, comes to Madison.

Please note: On Wednesday the 18th at noon, McDowall will be featured live on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Midday show with host Norman Gilliland (88.7 FM). On Thursday on WORT Radio (89.9 FM), host Rich Samuels plans a half-hour special on McDowall that he pre-recorded with organizer John Aley. At 7:15 AM.

Cecilia McDowall
Cecilia McDowall

Thursday, noon, Mills Hall: Colloquium with the composer. How does she impart those whispery Antarctic sounds into her music? Come to ask and find out how!

Friday, 8 PM, Mills Hall: We’ll feast on McDowall’s choral and instrumental music for ensembles and soloists, including her work about the ill-fated expedition of polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Selected faculty and student performers will include pianist Christopher Taylor, tenor James Doing, the UW Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn.  Mike Duvernois of UW-Madison’s IceCube Antarctic research project will update us on the state of polar research today (hint: they don’t need sled dogs anymore). Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office and in Mills on day of show. Adults $20, all-age students free. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

Saturday, 8 PM, Mills Hall: A concert devoted to smaller ensembles, including a trio with violinist Eleanor Bartsch, cellist Kyle Price, and pianist SeungWha Baek. They’ll perform “The Colour of Blossoms,” a meditation by McDowall after a 13th century Japanese story. Free concert. Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/cecilia-mcdowall/colour-of-blossoms

Sunday, 9:15 and 10:30 AM, Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue. Forum (9:15) and Church Service (10:30) featuring McDowall’s music, with the composer present.

WINNERS OF SHAIN WOODWIND-PIANO DUO COMPETITION ANNOUNCED

Our 2015 winners are Kai-Ju Ho, clarinet and SeungWha Baek, piano, and Iva Ugrcic, flute and Thomas Kasdorf, piano. Pedro Garcia, clarinet and Chan Mi Jean, piano, received honorable mention.

The competition is sponsored by former UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain. The winners will perform this Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 PM in Morphy Hall. A reception will follow.

BENEFIT FOR STRICKEN TROMBONIST BRITTANY SPERBERG: MARCH 18


The Dairyland Jazz Band, with Sperberg on trombone, plays Ory’s Creole Trombone.

Undergraduate trombonist Brittany Sperberg, who performed in the UW’s Dairyland Jazz Band and many other ensembles, is now having serious medical problems and has withdrawn from school. Sperberg was featured in this blog in the fall of 2013.  Her teacher, trombonist Mark Hetzler, has organized a benefit concert on Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 PM to raise donations to assist her family with unmet expenses. Please join us to help wish Brittany a speedy recovery!  Donations may also be made at YouCaring.org. Learn much more at our website: http://www.music.wisc.edu/2015/02/07/sperberg_benefit/

STELLAR SINGING EXPECTED AT UNIVERSITY OPERA’S NEXT SHOW: MOZART’S THE MAGIC FLUTE
On Oct. 14, 2011, costume designers Sydney Krieger (right) and Hyewon Park (left) work on the fit of a costume worn by University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate Caitlin Miller (center) for the upcoming UW Opera performance of "La Boheme." Also pictured is undergraduate Katherine Peck (center left). (Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison)
In 2011, UW costume designers Sydney Krieger (right) and Hyewon Park (left) worked on a costume for La Boheme. Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison.

University costumers are already busy sewing Victorian bustle skirts and the classic South Asian attire known as the shalwar kameez for next month’s University Opera production of The Magic Flute.  It’s all a product of visiting opera director David Ronis‘s imagined East-west setting for the show. Read the complete news release on our website.

New this spring: four performances, not just three, allowing for even double casting of all lead roles. The show dates are Friday, March 13, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 15, 3:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets sold at the Memorial Union Box office. Adults $22, seniors $18, $10 UW-Madison students. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

PRICELESS MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPT NOW ACCESSIBLE AFTER A LAPSE OF 800 YEARS

For the first time in history, a formerly inaccessible manuscript of the medieval composer Guillaume de Machaut will become widely available for study, thanks to a new hardbound facsimile version just released by the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) in Oxford, England. The publication of The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript, one of six such illuminated manuscripts and long unavailable to scholars, renders complete the source material for the 14th Century French composer many consider to be the greatest musical and poetic influence of his day, according to Lawrence Earp, professor of musicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the world’s foremost scholar of Machaut’s manuscripts. Read the complete story on our website. 

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SCHOOL OF MUSIC PHOTO EXHIBIT STARTS MARCH 1, LOWELL CENTER

Our friendly helpful photographer Mike Anderson has enlarged and framed about 25 images of student musicians to be placed on display in the Lowell Center Gallery, 610 Langdon Street. The exhibit runs from March 1 to April 30, and there will be a small reception on March 8. Read more here.

Below are a few of Mike’s images taken at our concerto winners concert (“Symphony Showcase”) that was held on February 8. (More information here.) Please check back this fall for our next winners recital date, and join us; it is always a joyous event!

HELPFUL LINKS

Main Website

Concert Calendar

Ticketing

Pro Arte goes on tour; new faculty hires; di Sanza receives award

Pro Arte Quartet Rehearsal with composer Benoit Mernier
Benoit Mernier rehearsed with the Pro Arte Quartet in March. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Pro Arte Quartet Plans Belgium Concert Tour

The UW Pro Arte Quartet will return to its roots in May with a concert tour of Belgium, where the group was first formed in 1912.

The trip is the capstone of the Pro Arte’s centennial season and is believed to be the quartet’s first return to its homeland since being stranded in the U.S. when Nazi forces invaded Belgium, and UW responded by creating a residency for the group. The tour will feature the European premiere of the quartet’s latest commission, String Quartet No. 3 by Belgian composer Benoît Mernier.

Mernier’s composition received its world premiere by the Pro Arte on March 1 at Mills Concert Hall in the Mosse Humanities Building on the UW-Madison campus. The European premiere is scheduled for May 26 at the Brussels Conservatory, where the Pro Arte itself originated. Read a review of the Madison concert here.

The Pro Arte will kick off the weeklong tour on May 22 with a performance in Studio 1 of the Flagey Building, home to Belgium’s broadcast industry. The program will include compositions by Mozart, César Franck and Randall Thompson. Studio 1 has historic significance for the Pro Arte, too. An earlier iteration of the quartet recorded a Beethoven cycle there in 1938.

On May 23, the Pro Arte will perform an afternoon concert in the Arthur de Greef Auditorium of the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. The library series features works important to the library’s collections, and Pro Arte will present a program featuring works by Bartok and Haydn, since the library holds first editions of these composers. Know any Dutch? If so, you may read the announcement here: http://www.kbr.be/actualites/concerts/programme/23_05_nl.html

On May 24, the Pro Arte will travel to Dolhain Limburg, birthplace of the quartet’s founding violinist Alphonse Onnou for a reception, dinner and performance at Kursaal Dolhain. The evening program will include compositions by Mozart, Franck, Haydn and Alexander Glazunov. The Mernier European premiere at the Brussels Conservatory follows on May 26, along with compositions by Mozart, Thompson and Samuel Barber.

The final performance of the tour on May 27 will take place at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. In addition to the Mernier work, the performance would include works by Mozart and Barber. In addition, the audience will view a 1975 documentary film about the Pro Arte by Pierre Bartholomée that includes interviews with composers Darius Milhaud, Igor Stravinsky and others.

Final arrangements for the trip are in the works pending the resolution of some current restrictions regarding international travel.

The Pro Arte Quartet issued a commemorative CD last year. Read about the CD here. To purchase it, click here.

Wisconsin Public Television filmed the quartet in concert last year. Watch the video here.

New faculty hired for next year

The School of Music will add three visiting professors next year. One, David Ronis of New York City, will replace retiring opera director William Farlow. A second, Tom Curry, will replace retiring tuba professor John Stevens, And a third, Leslie Shank, will replace violin professor Felicia Moye, who has accepted a position at McGill University in Montreal.

The School has issued separate news releases for all new faculty.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra violinist Leslie Shank to join UW

School of Music appoints alumnus Tom Curry as visiting assistant professor of tuba

School of Music announces David Ronis as visiting director of opera

 

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Percussion professor wins Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award

Nominated by one of his students

Anthony Di Sanza
Percussion Professor Anthony Di Sanza working with students. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Anthony Di Sanza, professor of percussion in the School of Music, has received the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, nominated by percussion student Jacob Wolbert (who was published in this space last summer), who was himself inducted into the society on April 12. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society and honors undergraduates for outstanding scholarly achievement. Students elected into Phi Beta Kappa are asked to nominate a deserving faculty whose teaching is exemplary and who encouraged their love of learning. Wolbert nominated di Sanza.

“Professor DiSanza found a way to transfer my musical skills into my non-musical ones and has encouraged my endeavors, providing wisdom and guidance even when they are unrelated to music,” says Wolbert. “Overall, he recognizes the value of music in an interdisciplinary education, a crucial tenet of what it means to receive an undergraduate liberal arts education here at UW-Madison.”

“I am deeply honored by this award and even more so by the fact that Jacob Wolbert, this engaged, talented and thought-provoking student, would think highly enough of my efforts to nominate me,” says di Sanza. Read the full press release here.

Speaking of choral: Sing this Summer! Auditions are now open for Madison Summer Choir

The Madison Summer Choir is an approximately 80-voice, auditioned choir performing a cappella, piano-accompanied, and choral-orchestral works, conducted by alumnus Ben Luedcke. We are supported by singers, the larger Madison community, and UW-Madison School of Music. 2014 will be our sixth year keeping summer choral arts alive – please join us on stage or in the audience! Rehearsals start in room 1351 Humanities, Monday May 19th, 5:15-7:15 pm, and are open to all current UW choral singers, as well as the community. The final concert is June 27, 7:30 pm, at First Congregational United Church of Christ. On the program: Schicksalslied, Op. 54, of Johannes Brahms, and Te Deum, by Georges Bizet.

Graduate wins Elliott Carter Rome Prize for music composition

Paula Matthusen, a 2001 graduate in composition who studied with professor Stephen Dembski and is now Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University has received the Elliot Carter Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. The prize is awarded annually to about thirty people “who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities,” according to the academy’s website.  Winners receive a fellowship and are invited to live in Rome for up to two years. Read a 2009 review of Paula’s work here.

Selected upcoming concerts at the School of Music

(For a full list, please see http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar )

Saturday, April 26: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” or “All-Night Vigil” performed by Choral Union

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The Choral Union in rehearsal. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

On Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW-Madison Choral Union will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” or “All-Night Vigil,” composed in 1915, consisting of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox All-night vigil ceremony. Read about this work in Madison’s blog, The Well-Tempered Ear.

Tickets: $10/Adults & General Public, Free/Students and Seniors. Call (608) 265-ARTS (2787) for ticket info or buy online (surcharge applies; no surcharge if purchased at box office).

Thursday, May 1: Brian Lynch, the UW Jazz Orchestra and the High School Honors Jazz Band

Lynch to offer master classes on Wednesday, April 30 and Thursday, May 1 – see http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar for details

Grammy-award winning jazz trumpeter Brian Lynch will perform May 1 as a guest of the UW Jazz Orchestra. Lynch, a native of Milwaukee who now makes his home in New York City, will appear in concert with the orchestra and the High School Honors Jazz Band, an auditioned ensemble comprised of the best jazz musicians that Madison-area schools have to offer.  Student tickets $5/general public $10. http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/Season13-14/Brian-Lynch.html

Read an earlier post here.

Read an interview with Brian Lynch in the blog, The Cultural Oyster.

Wallmann & Jazz Studies featured in Downbeat; Di Sanza eats kimchi and plays drums in South Korea

It’s a good time for jazz in Madison! The School of Music’s revitalized Jazz Studies program received a major boost this summer after Chicago-based Downbeat Magazine chose to feature it in their annual “Where to Study Jazz” issue, available in bookstores September 17.

Downbeat Magazine
Downbeat Magazine, Oct. 2013.
Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Writer Aaron Cohen visited UW this summer to interview Jazz Studies director and assistant professor Johannes Wallmann, who says he is “absolutely thrilled” with the story. Says Frank Alkyer, the publisher of Downbeat:  “We were thrilled to publish it. Susan Lipp, the chairman of Full Compass Systems (and also a board member of the UW-Madison School of Music), is a dear friend in the industry. She invited me up last fall for ‘Jazz Junction,’ a community event in honor of Johannes joining the faculty of UW and the plans for a jazz department. I attended and was blown away by the back story, by donor John Peterson’s generosity, by Johannes and by the local jazz community’s embrace of the new direction the school of music was taking.”

“I knew it would be the cover of our October ‘Where to Study Jazz Guide’ right there and then,” he continued.

An excerpt: “In 2014, Wisconsin will introduce its first Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies program—almost 100 years after the university began offering degrees in music. Meanwhile, the school has benefited from local support, such as a large donation from a local philanthropist earmarked for jazz, and equipment and scholarships provided by local companies like musical instrument retailer Full Compass. New facilities are on the horizon, too, including a $46 million music building to host the university’s concert halls, faculty studios and departmental offices. From all indications, it’s a good time for jazz in the state’s capital.”

Congratulations to Johannes and the UW jazz program!

Meanwhile, last month Tony Di Sanza, professor of percussion, mingled with top percussionists in South Korea as the guests of Akademie Percussion Ensemble (APE), now beginning its 20th year as an ensemble. We asked Tony to write a story about his trip:

Anthony Di Sanza Travels to South Korea to Eat Kimchi (and play a couple of concerts)

“I have been fortunate to be a member of the Galaxy Percussion Group for over ten years.  The group was initially formed to accompany Japanese marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe in the early 2000’s.  After that the ensemble recorded a CD of works featuring marimba solo with percussion trio with American marimbist Linda Maxey.

“Through the years the ensemble has changed shape, depending on the programs being performed and ensembles with which we were collaborating.  At first, the ensemble members were Michael Udow, Roger Braun and myself.  In 2010 the group began a relationship with the Akademie Percussion Ensemble (APE) from Seoul, South Korea.  APE is the premier professional chamber percussion group in South Korea and they also run a tremendous prep program for developing percussionists.  In August 2010, Galaxy traveled to Korea to share a concert tour with APE.  Given the repertoire being discussed for the 2010 tour, we decided to add a 4th member to the ensemble.  Galaxy welcomed Jamie Ryan as our 4th member for the 2010 tour and the group has been a quartet ever since.

“Galaxy Percussion represents three generations of percussionists.  Michael Udow is retired Professor of Percussion at the University of Michigan where Roger and I both studied with him.  Roger studied with Mike as an undergraduate and I as a masters and doctoral student.  I have had the pleasure to learn from Professor Udow for over 20 years as a student and professional.  His influence upon me runs very deep.  Jamie Ryan studied with me at UW as an MM and DMA student and he now serves as Assistant Professor of Percussion at Eastern Illinois University.  In essence, Mike is Jamie’s percussive grandfather.  🙂

“In 2011, Galaxy and APE toured the Midwest United States, including a performance at UW. During the 2011 tour, APE director Kang-Ku Lee invited Galaxy to perform in Seoul for a celebration of APE’s 20th year in 2013!  We, of course, were happy to accept Kang-Ku’s kind invitation.

“Given that Galaxy Percussion members live in myriad parts of the country, rehearsals are done in the days prior to a particular event.  We met in Seoul on Aug 6 and had three days to rehearse our program.  Most of the repertoire we were performing was new to us, so we each needed to be ready for three intense days of rehearsal (with jet lag).  A major portion of Galaxy’s repertoire is music composed by the ensemble members and this program reflected that ethos performing works by Mike, Roger and myself.

“One of the challenges for the ensemble in rehearsals is not getting lost in laughter.  The group really gets along well (which is so important when traveling) and has fun making music and hanging out.  Sharing the program with APE and Galaxy was a Swiss percussion quartet named QuaDrums.  Working with Hans, Thomas, Chris and Rafi was complete blast!  Lovely musicians and wonderful people.

Akademie Percussion Ensemble, QuaDrums & Galaxy in rehearsal, South Korea, August 2013.
Akademie Percussion Ensemble, QuaDrums & Galaxy in rehearsal, South Korea, August 2013.

“The first concert took place on Aug 9 and included each group performing about 20 minutes of repertoire and closing with two fun works combining all three ensembles.  Despite it being a bit like a sauna in the hall, the concert went very well (with a full house attending) and we looked forward to having Saturday and Sunday off.  Being that QuaDrums and Galaxy were staying in the same hotel it was easy for us to occasionally share meals and enjoy long conversations with libations.

“On Monday, we rehearsed most of the day and on Tuesday moved into the Seoul Arts Center for the evening concert.  The Arts Center is the most high profile concert hall in South Korea and is a tremendous place in which to perform.  This was the gala event celebrating APE’s 20th year and we were all excited to perform for the large audience.  The concert came off without a hitch and after packing up the party began in a local pub.  At 2:00am QuaDrum, having to head to the airport at 5:30am, decided to call it a night.  Galaxy stayed until about 3:00am and bid goodnight to our Korean hosts, who, as it turns out, continued the celebration until dawn!

“Having had a wonderful time with our old friends (APE) and new friends (QuaDrums), Galaxy caught various flights from Seoul home.  Amazingly, as I was boarding the plane, preparing for the 12-hour flight, I was told that the airline had oversold the flight and I was being bumped up to business class.  What a tragedy!  While I had a luxurious flight from Asia, Roger got stuck in Toronto and had to spend a night in a hotel after ten hours of waiting in the airport.  I felt bad for Roger.”

Taylor Skiff, Dave Alcorn

Two more notable students from the School of Music.

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

 

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

Taylor Skiff
Taylor Skiff. Photo by Tori Rogers.

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

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

Taylor shared some thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Dave Alcorn
Dave Alcorn

A few thoughts from Dave:

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

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

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

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

More enterprising students, coming and going: Laronga and Basak

Steven Laronga is returning to Madison next month from East Java, Indonesia, where, under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship, he conducted nearly two years of intensive ethnographic field research for his dissertation in ethnomusicology. Steve completed a B.A. in Music at Wesleyan University, where he first was introduced to Javanese music, and then studied at STSI, a prestigious music college in Central Java with an Indonesian government Darmasiswa fellowship before entering the graduate program in ethnomusicology at UW-Madison. In preparation for writing his M.A. thesis on the “fusion aesthetic” of a new Javanese musical genre known as “Campur Sari,” he spent nearly two additional years in Java, at which time he also undertook exploratory work that led to his unique dissertation project, which looks at the musical lives and economic realities of gamelan musicians in the Javanese and Madurese cultural mix in and around the city of Surabaya in East Java. In addition to gathering data through interviews and observation, Steve actively participated as a performer with several groups and returns to Madison with an unparalleled depth of knowledge about the musical practices of East Java.

Mike Basak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance. While here, he served as the acting principal percussionist of the Beloit Janesville Symphony and was a substitute percussionist for the Dubuque Symphony. This summer, he will attend the Pierre Monteux School for conductors and orchestra musicians in Hancock, Maine on a full scholarship, and then will move to Boston to study with members of the Boston Symphony as he begins a masters program in percussion.

Mike shared a few thoughts about the UW-Madison SOM and Tony Di Sanza, professor of percussion:

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Mike Basak

“UW has a music program that is all-encompassing. The UW music school does a good job of offering a curriculum where all of your classes and performance studies inform one another. It’s very easy to take what I learn in theory and history and use it in my performances and vice versa. [And] what I really like about Prof. Di Sanza is how much he cares for all of his students. He cares for us not as a studio, but as individuals. I hear a lot about, and have experienced, some other programs where the idea is to just do whatever your professor tells you, no matter what you think. Rather, Professor Di Sanza adjusts how he teaches to best suit each student individually. He encourages us to take a lot of risks and really push ourselves in a way that can be rare in the world of education. There are a lot of really major events in my undergrad that really shaped who I am as a person and as an artist that I could only have gotten from this studio.”