Tag Archives: trombone

Star violinist heads up George Crumb fest; Audio website showcases student solos; Wingra Woodwind Quintet plans 50th anniv. party/concert; more

For our concert calendar and much more, check the main School of Music website: http://www.music.wisc.edu/
STAR NEW YORK VIOLINIST MIRANDA CUCKSON TO HEADLINE A FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
Cuckson
Miranda Cuckson

Highlighting the music of George Crumb

Four days, four events: Friday through Monday, March 20-23. Full details: http://www.music.wisc.edu/george-crumb/

The “economical and elegant” music of Grammy and Pulitzer winning avant-garde composer George Crumb will be on display at the School of Music when violinist Miranda Cuckson comes to town. The festival — a total of four concerts over four days — is sponsored by UW-Madison resident composer Laura Schwendinger, whose work “The Violinists in My Life” will be on Cuckson’s program.

“Crumb’s music, economical and elegant from the start, has mesmerized and enchanted broad audiences as well as fellow composers and musicians. He has made us think about time and sonority in new ways and has forged contemporary links between music, sentiment, and ideas…” — Leon Botstein, from his American Symphony Orchestra website.

Cuckson will also perform works by composers George Crumb, Augusta Read Thomas and Sebastian Currier.

Over the past five years, Miranda Cuckson has drawn rave reviews from music critics at the New York Times, including Anthony Tommasini, Allan Kozinn, and Zachary Woolf, who wrote only recently: “Her tonal luster and variety of touch enliven everything she plays.” She will perform on Sunday, March 22, 7:30 PM, in Mills Hall. Tickets: $20.00 adults, students free. Buy here.


Hear Miranda Cuckson perform a new work by composer Michael Hersch.

Other events include:

MONDAY, March 23, 8PM, Morphy Hall: Due East, a duo consisting of Erin Lesser on flute and Greg Beyer on percussion.  Due East will be joined by New York City-based harpist Jacqui Kerrod and musicians from Dal Niente, vocalist Amanda deBoer and bassist Mark Buchner, in a multi-media interpretation of George Crumb’s well-known Madrigals, Books 1-4. In Due East’s performance, a set of three video screens and projectors are set at odd-angles in and amongst the musicians and create a triptych video montage that becomes a magical and powerful “environment.” Tickets: $10.00 adults, students free. Buy here.

Click here to view a video and description of the Madrigals Project.

SATURDAY, March 21, 7:30 PM, Music Hall: UW’s Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, featuring cellist Parry Karp performing Crumb’s Sonata for Solo Cello.  Free concert.

FRIDAY, March 20, 8 PM, Music Hall.  Lakeshore Rush, a Chicago-based new music ensemble co-founded by music alumni Erin K. Murphy and Laura McLaughlin, will perform Crumb’s Vox Balaenae by contemporary composer George Crumb. Free concert.

NOTE: Watch for a preview of the George Crumb Festival in Isthmus, on newsstands and online this week.

STUDENT SOLOISTS NOW ON SOUNDCLOUD

Those wonderful performances you heard (or perhaps missed, to your regret!) back on February 8 can now be heard on our SoundCloud audio channel (a YouTube for audio).  They include Keisuke Yamamoto, violin; Adam Betz, composition; Ivana Ugrcic, flute; Anna Whiteway, voice; and Jason Kutz, piano. Audio provided by Lance Ketterer.  Click here to listen: https://soundcloud.com/uw-madisonsom/sets/student-soloists-and-concerto

One of those soloists, soprano Anna Whiteway, will appear in University Opera’s production of The Magic Flute, starting this weekend in Music Hall. Shows are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Learn more here: http://www.music.wisc.edu/2015/02/12/magic-flute/

And watch Anna here:

MUSIC THEORY, DEMONSTRATED

Our year-long analysis of the music of 18th-century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau continues with a discussion of his lasting influence on tonality, harmonic progression, and harmony. On Wednesday of this week (March 11), with chemist Rod Schreiner, music theorist Lee Blasius, and harpsichordist John Chappell Stowe. Meet them in the Chemistry Building, Room 1315,  at 7 PM. Free.

Says Charles Dill, lead organizer and Rameau expert: “If you hit a note loudly enough on a piano, with the dampers off, other, different notes will ring sympathetically. That’s because they share certain overtones in the harmonic series.”

http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/rameau-the-theorist-free/

Charles Dill
Charles Dill
STUDENTS IN THE NEWS
Bassist Ben Ferris on the Terrace with James Castaneda, Ty Peterson, Drew Schrieber and Luke Busch. Photo courtesy Ben Ferris.
Bassist Ben Ferris on the Terrace with James Castaneda, Ty Peterson, Drew Schrieber and Luke Busch. Photo courtesy Ben Ferris.
 Save the Date: WINGRA WOODWIND QUINTET COMMEMORATES 50 YEARS WITH A PARTY AND CONCERT
The Wingra Woodwind Quintet, 2013. From left: Kostas Tiliakos, oboe; Linda Kimball, horn; Linda Bartley, clarinet; Stephanie Jutt, flute; and Marc Vallon, bassoon. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.
The Wingra Woodwind Quintet, 2013. From left: Kostas Tiliakos, oboe; Linda Kimball, horn; Linda Bartley, clarinet; Stephanie Jutt, flute; and Marc Vallon, bassoon. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

Free and open to the public!

Mini-Concert & Party, April 25, 4 — 6 p.m. University Club, 803 State Street.

Please RSVP to news@music.wisc.edu

The Wingra Woodwind Quintet [click here to read new bio] turns 50 this year and plans a party! Embodying the Wisconsin Idea and serving as role models to our students, the Wingra Quintet has a rich tradition and will honor current and former members. Former members who plan to attend are Robert Cole, flute, Marc Fink, oboe, Glenn Bowen, clarinet, Richard Lottridge, bassoon, Douglas Hill, horn, and Nancy Becknell, horn. A short program of 20 minutes is planned and then we will celebrate with hors d’oeuvres and beverages catered by the University Club. Everyone is invited to enjoy the food, music, and good company of current and former members of the Wingra Quintet. On the program:

Oodles of Noodles – Jimmy Dorsey, arr. Glenn Bowen
Ode to a Toad – Ray Pizzi. arr. Glenn Bowen
Suite Française – Francis Poulenc, arr. Richard Lottridge

UW’S WIND ENSEMBLE PLAYS CARNEGIE HALL

Photo by Steve Carmichael.

Last week, the UW Wind Ensemble trekked to the East Coast in a double-decker bus to play a series of concerts in several states and in Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Wind Band Festival.  “I am very excited to perform this evening and share our music with these outstanding high school students and the community,” said principal trumpeter Jamie Wozniak, warming up in the hotel as he prepared for a performance at Valparaiso High School in Indiana.

Jamie Wozniak, trumpeter with the UW WInd Ensemble. Photos by Steve Carmichael.
Jamie Wozniak, trumpeter with the UW WInd Ensemble. Photos by Steve Carmichael.
STUDENT CONCERTS AND RECITALS

Recitals: We encourage our students to list their recitals on our concert calendar: search “recital” in the upper right side spotlight box to find them. All are free and open to the public.

Coffee Houses: Many students also perform in coffee houses across Madison. The Jason Kutz Quintet plays at Ancora Coffee (112 King Street) each week in March – Friday 3/13, Friday 3/20, and Thursday 3/26. This group features Eric Siereveld (trumpet), Jeff Williams (bass), Ed Dewey (trombone), Nat Schwartz (drums), and Jason Kutz (piano).

The Hunt Quartet, a graduate string quartet funded by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the School of Music, will perform on Thursday, March 26, at 6:30PM in Morphy Hall. The Hunt Quartet regularly plays music for elementary children in the public schools as part of the Up Close & Musical! program of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.  Click here for info; full program will be posted soon!

FACULTY MUSICIANS IN CONCERT

Trombonist Mark Hetzler and his group Sinister Resonance debut their newest CD at the High Noon Saloon, Monday, March 16, 8:30 PM. This recording features original compositions by Mark Hetzler and Todd Hammes, as well as arrangements of rock, classical and experimental electro-acoustic styles. Click here to learn more.

Flutist Stephanie Jutt presents “Flautistico!” at the Overture Center’s Promenade Hall, Friday, March 20, 8 PM.  A one-time-only performance including flute plus piano, voice, clarinet, three tango dancers, and beautiful visual installation and film. Click to learn more and buy tickets.

Mike Anderson
(Who’s that sneaky guy behind the camera?)
That would be Mike Anderson, who’s been shooting our students and faculty for two years. If you find yourself on Langdon Street this spring, step inside the Lowell Center to view his brand-new exhibit of School of Music photos.
HELPFUL LINKS

Main Website

Concert Calendar

Ticketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brass Fest, Pro Arte World Premiere, “Showcase Series” launches with faculty voice recital

NEW FESTIVAL TO SHOWCASE LYRICISM AND POWER OF BRASS MUSIC

Audiences will be treated to some of the most beautiful and thrilling brass music ever written–including  “Quidditch,”  composed for the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by legendary composer John Williams– at a six-day all-brass festival October 8-13 at UW-Madison.

Other works to be performed include “Elegy,” by Pulitzer-Prize winner Kevin Puts, and “Four Sketches,” by trumpeter and composer Anthony Plog. Plog will also be in residence for two days of the festival.

Watch “In Medias” Brass Quintet performing “Four Sketches” by Anthony Plog, to be performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet on Wednesday, October 8.

Jessica Valeri
Jessica Valeri , SOM alumna, now plays horn with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

The festival will feature world-renowned brass musicians performing four concerts, and master classes on all the brass instruments—from trumpet to tuba and everything in between. Students and the general public are encouraged to attend. Guest musicians include virtuoso solo tubist Oystein Baadsvik of Norway; renowned trumpeter and brass composer Anthony Plog; the Western Michigan Brass Quintet; the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet; and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra horn player  Jessica Valeri (BM, UW-Madison, 1997). Click here for the full schedule. All events free to the public except “Brass Alchemy” headline concert, October 11, which is ticketed.

Featured concert: “Brass Alchemy,” October 11, 8 PM, Mills Hall. Click to learn more. A full contingent of our soloists, guests, and students presenting dramatic and inspired works of John Williams, Morten Lauridsen, Juan Colomer, Ennio Morricone, Scott Hiltzik, Kevin Puts, Anthony DiLorenzo, and an original work of Baadsvik’s, “Fnugg.”  School of Music professor Scott Teeple will conduct.   Tickets for the general public are $25; UW music majors with ID are free; other students, $10.00.  Ticketing info here. 

Oystein Baadsvik
Oystein Baadsvik

Says John Aley, lead organizer and longtime professor of trumpet as well as principal trumpet of the Madison Symphony Orchestra: “Brass instruments are so much more expressive than many people assume. While brass players take great delight in the excitement of filling a concert hall with grandeur and power, it is the lyrical quality of each these instruments that touch the heart of the listener.”

For a full calendar of Celebrate Brass! events, click here. 

PRO ARTE QUARTET PRESENTS ITS FINAL CENTENNIAL WORLD PREMIERE

Composer Pierre Jalbert’s “Howl” for clarinet and string quartet will receive its world premiere by the Pro Arte Quartet on Friday, Sept. 26, at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus. The event, free and open to the public, will be the first classical music concert to take place in the historic theater’s newly refurbished Shannon Hall.

The 8 p.m. concert will be preceded by a 7 p.m. concert preview discussion with Jalbert in Shannon Hall. In addition to Jalbert’s composition, the evening’s program includes the String Quartet No. 2 in A Major (1824) by Juan Crisóstomo Arriga and the Clarinet Quintet in A Major (1791) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The concert will be repeated Sunday, Sept. 28, at 12:30 p.m. in Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art, also on the UW-Madison campus. Joining the Pro Arte for both concerts will be clarinetist Charles Neidich, a regular member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and noted guest performer with orchestras and string quartets worldwide. Read about the inspiration behind the commission here.

PROFESSOR STUDIES HOLOCAUST CHILDREN’S OPERA

Teri Dobbs
Teri Dobbs

Hans Krása’s operetta Brundibár became indelibly associated with the Holocaust when the score was smuggled into the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and a production was mounted that lasted for more than 55 performances. Sung and acted by children, Brundibár was held as an example of the cultural programming offered to Jews at the Terezín “show camp” during the 1944 International Red Cross visit and the subsequent propaganda film, The Führer Gives the Jews a City.  Associate Professor of Music Education and Jewish Studies affiliate Teryl L. Dobbs recently returned from a sabbatical trip to Prague and Terezín (the Czech name of the garrison town where the Theresienstadt camp was located), where she studied the history of the operetta. Read the full story here.

“SHOWCASE SERIES” CONCERTS TO HIGHLIGHT STUDENT/FACULTY MUSICIANS

Each concert $10.00;  season passes available for $60.00; students free. Proceeds to the School of Music. Please note:  Only seven concerts are ticketed– Most concerts at the School of Music are still free!

Seven student/faculty concerts will be “showcased” this year, starting with a all-faculty voice recital on November 2.  Professors Mimmi Fulmer and Elizabeth Hagedorn, sopranos; James Doing, tenor; and Paul Rowe, baritone, each will sing. The program will include a premiere of a new work by composer and UW professor Les Thimmig, “White Clouds, Yellow Leaves,” a cantata on poems of ninth-century China.

Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor

Other “Showcase” concerts will include a solo recital by pianist Christopher Taylor on January 23. (On Nov. 21, Taylor is also engaged to perform JS Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; in April, he will perform Liszt and Bach with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.)

Later in January, pianists Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes will be joined by cellist Norman Fischer of Rice University plus students and faculty for a second “Schubertiade”  of chamber music. In early February, join us for a captivating evening of solo student performances as we present our annual concerto winners concert (the “Symphony Showcase”). A reception will follow this concert. Learn about all these special events here.

Our concerto winners relaxed at last year's post-concert reception. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.
Our concerto winners relaxed at last year’s post-concert reception. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

Tickets for the general public are $10.00, and a seven-concert “pass” is available for $60.00. Students from all schools are free with identification. To save on service fees, buy in person at the box office or on the day of the show. Ticket info here.

INHORNS RECEIVE AWARD FROM MADISON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The inaugural DeMain Award for Outstanding Commitment to Music will be awarded to philanthropists Stan and Shirley Inhorn by the Madison Symphony Orchestra League at its fifth annual gala banquet at the Madison Concourse Hotel on Friday, Sept. 12. Named after music director John DeMain, the annual honor will go to an ardent supporter of the MSO and Madison-based music in general. The Inhorns are longtime and much-appreciated supporters of the UW-Madison School of Music. Read more here.

TANDEM PRESS ANNOUNCES NEW FRIDAY FALL JAZZ SERIES

Beginning this September, Tandem Press will host a concert series featuring several student ensembles from the UW-Madison School of Music’s Jazz Program under the leadership of Johannes Wallmann, Director of Jazz Studies at UW-Madison, and Les Thimmig, Professor of Saxophone.

      • UW Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, September 26,  5-7 pm
      • UW Jazz Composers’ Septet, October 24, 2014 – 5-7 pm
      • UW Blue Note Ensemble & the Latin Jazz Ensemble, November 21, 5-7 pm

Tandem Press is located at 1743 Commercial Avenue in Madison. Concerts are free and open to the public.  Free parking is available, and refreshments will be served.

invited

Tandem Press is one of only three professional fine art presses operating within a university in the United States. Founded in 1987, it is affiliated to the UW-Madison Art Department in the School of Education. Each year, a select number of internationally renowned artists are invited to participate in Tandem’s artist-in- residence program, where they collaborate with a team of master printers assisted by UW students to create exclusive editions of prints.  Tandem prints hang in museums and corporations throughout the United States and Europe. This program is made possible with support from the Brittingham Fund.

ALUMNI PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE PRESENTS CONCERT AT GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Contemporary chamber ensemble Clocks in Motion brings new music, new instruments, and new sounds to the Grace Presents concert series Saturday, Sept. 20 at 12:00 p.m. with a program that highlights the power and diversity of percussion music. Their free program will include Marc Mellits’ new mallet quintet, “Gravity”; “Music for Pieces of Wood” minimalist pioneer Steve Reich; “Drumming Part 1”, also by Reich; “Four Miniatures,” an original composition by Clocks in Motion member Dave Alcorn; and “Third Construction”, by John Cage. Grace Church is located at 116 W. Washington Avenue, on the Capitol Square.

Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion began as an extension of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Graduate Percussion Group, and now serves as the ensemble in residence with the UW-Madison percussion studio. In August, the group released its debut studio album, titled Escape Velocity,  recorded in Madison, WI, at Audio for the Arts and available as both a digital download and hard copy.  Links to purchase both digital and hard copies of the album can be found at Clocks in Motion’s website. 

Alumni Notes

1964 alumnus F. Gerard Errante releases new CD

For a complete rundown of events this year at the School of Music, click here.

For parking information, click here. 

 

Young trombonist finds community–and inspiration–at the UW-Madison School of Music

Hot on the heels of “Trombone Week” in Madison, which featured three famous trombonists performing in town (Trombone Shorty, Papo Vazquez and our own alum Chris Washburne), we now offer a story about a trombonist at the other end of the career spectrum: Brittany Sperberg, a junior from Shawano. Brittany is a recipient of several School of Music scholarships and has put them to good use, having formed her own Dixieland band which has played several concerts in Madison and around the state. She’s also played with the UW Jazz Orchestra (directed by Prof. Johannes Wallmann), the UW Wind Ensemble (directed by Prof. Scott Teeple), the Trombone Choir (directed by Prof. Mark Hetzler), among others.

Brittany Sperberg
Brittany Sperberg.
Photograph by Tori Rogers.

We asked Brittany to describe her time in Madison, and how scholarships have benefited her education.

“My name is Brittany Sperberg and I am a junior music education major.  One of the things that always inspired and guided my education has been my sense of community.  I am from Shawano, Wisconsin, which is a fairly small town and farming community near Green Bay.  In fact, one of my favorite things to do when I go home is to sit outside my house with a view of my barn and vast numbers of trees, and practice trombone. (Sometimes my grandma even sits in her house which is a farmer’s field apart from mine to listen!)   Because I have been so used to having a supportive and small community encouraging my entire grade school music experience, I knew that when I made the jump to college that it was important to go somewhere where I could recreate that atmosphere.  I truly feel that I have found this family here at UW-Madison!

IMG_3407_3
The Dairyland Jazz Band. Travis Worth, banjo; Jacob Bicknase, washboard; Gavin Garrett, sousaphone; Brittany Sperberg, trombone; Jacob Riederer, trumpet; and Alex Charland, clarinet.
Photograph by Erika Anderson. Missing: Pat Doty, piano.

“The thing that I am most proud of during my time so far at Madison is making my own Dixieland band, The Dairyland Jazz Band.  The Dairyland Jazz Band was created last semester in part of an independent study I did with my trombone professor, Mark Hetzler, as a way for me to learn more about jazz outside of my involvement with the UW Jazz Orchestra.  The independent study required me to write a research paper, put on a Dixieland recital, and present a lecture to my trombone studio.  I was incredibly lucky to find the six musicians that I did to play with me.  I have learned and been inspired by their incomparable talent, professionalism, and enthusiasm.  Leading and playing in this band has been nothing but a fun and challenging experience. Our recital last April was a huge hit and Morphy was nearly filled!  We also played at a cabaret at the bar  “Plan B” on Williamson Street, where we opened for some singer-dancers from the touring group of Mary Poppins. Because we all love working with each other and playing this kind of music, we have since stayed together. Besides myself, the members of my band  include Travis Worth, banjo; Pat Doty, piano; Gavin Garrett, sousaphone; Alex Charland,  clarinet; Jacob Bicknasse, washboard; and Jacob Riederer, trumpet.  Creating this band has taught me to become a better musician and strengthen my leadership and organizational skills.

“In September, my band traveled to Shawano to play two shows in two days.  Our first show was a concert that my former boss hosted at her reception hall, “The Gathering.” The concert went really well and we had nearly 90 people there to simply listen to our music–impressive for a small town!  I was really happy to have such a great turnout because I had been in charge of all the planning of the event from ticket sales, making posters, putting them up, finding repertoire, rehearsing the band, and playing myself.  The next day, my band played at my church’s annual Church in the Barn, which we host in my family’s barn.  Because this type of live music is not often heard there, some people were so strongly affected by the music that they had tears in their eyes.  One person even sent a letter to the Shawano newspaper about our gig and the personal connection he felt with the music.  Recently, the band also played at the Collage Concert.

“Last year I played trombone in the pit for “Space Voyage: The Musical Frontier” (a musical written and directed by School of Music students Nicholas Connors) and can be heard in the album that will be released soon!  I have also played in the touring group, Kids From Wisconsin, for the past two summers.  This group was an amazing opportunity and gave me the chance to perform for audiences as big as 4,000 people!  I also have been a guest college clinician at the Shawano Jazz Festival where this will be my third year performing with such musicians as Wayne Bergeron, Eric Marienthal, and Gordon Goodwin.  My current involvement includes: UWJO (3 years), Wind Ensemble (2 years), Trombone Choir (3 years), substitute trombonist with the Ladies Must Swing (3 years), Dairyland Jazz Band (1 year), and Brass Quintet (1 year), among others.

“I have received various scholarships from the School of Music and the awards ceremony.  At the 2012 awards convocation, I was awarded the Jeanette Ginzl Scholarship . In 2013, I received the Edda Valborg Ofstie Scholarship, Raymond F. Dvorak Music Education Award, and Full Compass Foundation Scholarship. I also receive another scholarship through the School of Music.   I have been truly, truly blessed to have such positive support and encouragement from my school.  If it were not for these scholarships, I am not sure I would have been able to stay at UW-Madison. These scholarships have not only helped me financially, but have also served as a tool to encourage me to follow my musical aspirations.  I am touched by the generosity others have shown me and want to impact others through my music, just as others have influenced me.

“My college experience has been incredible.  I have an endless amount of appreciation and respect for my studio professor, Mark Hetzler.  I think what is so amazing about the School of Music is that we have some of the best teachers and resources.  Professor Hetzler has been an incredible mentor and I am inspired by his dedication and creativity as a performer and teacher.  I really get excited about my lessons every week, and it is great that Professor Hetzler encourages me to explore a variety of genres and musical outlets in my studies with him.  Also, how many people can say that their studio teacher has his or her own metal band, “Sinister Resonance”?  Any prospective students should know how lucky they would be to study under the teachers found here at UW-Madison!

“I am not sure what the future holds for me, but I am excited to see the directions that music will continue to take me!   I would love to go to grad school and get my masters in trombone performance.  After that, I would like to have a career as both a music educator and performer, as I am very passionate about both aspects of music.”

We hope Brittany’s story will inspire others to contribute to scholarships at the UW-MadisonSchool of Music. Click the link to donate!

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May 10 at SoundWaves: Trombonist Mark Hetzler brings the “electric aesthetic” to his music

Mark Hetzler, XXX and Vince Fuh, three of four members in "Sinister Resonce,' at a gig in St. Paul in April.
Mark Hetzler, composer Mark Engebretson, and Vince Fuh, at a St. Paul gig in April.

UW-Madison trombone professor Mark Hetzler describes himself as a “bit of a geek,” which may help to explain he’s more often now found onstage with laptops, guitar pedals, a mixing board and surround sound instead of a symphony orchestra.

He’s done that, too, of course, having served for a time as the principal trombonist of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra as well as playing with other orchestras around the country. He was a fellow at the New World Symphony and Tanglewood and for 14 years was one-fifth of the internationally-known Empire Brass Quintet. He still is the trombonist in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, which just celebrated its 40th year (and, while not quite ready to bring laptops on stage, still plays some pretty cool new music).

But somehow he got from there to here, where “here” is “Sinister Resonance,” an experimental ensemble offering an amalgam of musical genres mixed with electronics. Sinister Resonance performed in St. Paul and Madison clubs last month and will finish out the semester with a few pieces at the upcoming “SoundWaves” presentation on May 10, at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. (See previous blog post for info on SoundWaves.) Mark will also speak for ten minutes on “The Electric Aesthetic,” about how he incorporates electronic technology into his music.

Mark Hetzler
Mark Hetzler

Last year, Mark received an H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, an unrestricted grant awarded to newly tenured faculty members who show “exceptional promise.” The grant has allowed him to expand his experimental efforts exponentially: to commission composers, buy sophisticated technology, record and perform all over the country, and compose new pieces himself. Mark recently answered a few questions about this style of music and why it appeals to him.

When did you first become interested in electro-acoustic music?

I became interested in this music when I was a sophomore in college- I was exploring in the library and discovered recordings of computer music from the 1950’s and 60’s.  At that time I didn’t have a computer, there was no internet and the means of making “electronic” music for me was simply playing along with a tape (a reel to reel tape back then- today we use sound files in a variety of digital formats).

One of the first electronic pieces I discovered was “Deserts,” by Edgar Varese. I was making my way through Varese’s music and was floored by Deserts.  I was struck by the concept of pre-recorded sounds being inserted into the sonic fabric of live players- this music really opened my ears up. I then came across a composition by Roger Reynolds titled “From Behind the Unreasoning Mask.” This piece was for 4-channel tape (surround sound), trombone and two percussionists. When I purchased the score, the publisher sent me a 4-channel reel to reel tape. I had no machine on which to play it and had to take it to a studio in Boston (where I was going to school at the time) and have an engineer convert it into another format. It’s kind of hilarious in a way, because when I left that studio, my new tape was now playable on a machine that would be obsolete within 2-3 years.

What do you like about this kind of music; what inspires you?  Are there any particular musicians whom you admire?

I’m a bit of a geek, so I’ll admit that I like the complexity of it. I like the fact that pieces I work on these days tend to require an enormous amount of preparation and technological involvement- from getting specific pieces of equipment to link and talk to each other, to software patches that need to be learned and tweaked. This music requires a level of focus and brain power that I find intellectually stimulating. Of course, I also marvel at the many ways one can express themselves with this kind of music. If I am working to shape a phrase, color my tone on the trombone or create a musical state that is either calm or excited, I find that technology can help me to get into places that are quite unexpected with regard to sound, intellect and emotion. I love making acoustic music- the feel of it and the sound of it. My approach when using technology is the same, but with digital and analog tools I feel like my musical reach multiplies- that is hard not to like.

There is nothing like spending ten to twelve hours in a studio working with sound. I love that time- it goes by WAY too fast. If I’m working on a new piece or trying to get just the right sound with my gear, or even improvising and working out a musical idea with an effects processor, I am in heaven.

Who are your musico-technological heroes?

Pat Metheny, David Tom, Nels Cline, Javier Alvarez, Terrence Blanchard–too many folks to mention all of them.

What logistics are involved in setting up for a concert?

Imagine a ton of wires and all kinds of equipment running together, machines depending on each other. It can take me up to two hours to set it up sometimes, so my pre-concert vibe can become anxious, but that is part of the thrill of this music. The logistics don’t stop there- I usually have a host of things to remember in concert as well (beyond just playing the trombone)- which fader to raise or lower, which program to turn on, which microphone to open, which effect to turn on or off. Playing this kind of music is like doing a complicated dance, in many ways similar to what percussionists do all the time.

Sinister Resonance is comprised of Mark Hetzler (trombone and electronics), Vincent Fuh (piano), Nick Moran (doublebass) and Todd Hammes (drums/percussion). On May 10, 7 p.m. at SoundWaves, in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, the four will present a program of novel music that will follow a series of short talks on the theme of tools. Mark’s tools? By now, we know.

On the program:
“They Said…” by Mark Engebretson, professor of composition at UNC-Greensboro.
“Mark composed a powerful work that uses spoken word and interactive computer technology.  The piece is based on a poem that was inspired by the Abu Ghraib atrocities.”

“Murmuration,” composed by Mark Hetzler. This piece uses an 8-channel pre-recorded sound file, creating by playing the trombone through effects units.  The musicians improvise with each other and the surround-sound recorded part.  This work was inspired by the spontaneous formations of starlings, known as murmurations.

Mixing musicians with meteorologists: UW’s new SoundWaves series offers audiences an intellectual smorgasbord

"Sinister Resonance," in rehearsal
“Sinister Resonance,” in rehearsal

So this is a big university, with all sorts of smart people learning all kinds of fascinating stuff and sharing all that great knowledge with lots of others. Right?

Well, sometimes, yes, sometimes no. The truth is, it’s all too easy to remain in our silos and not trumpet what we do. Somebody will ask, eventually, right?

Maybe. But we also are learning that if we bring disparate disciplines together in attractive locations to mingle, chat, and (preferably)  eat and drink a little, amazing things will likely occur. Friendships will develop. Collaboration may ensue.

That’s the case with SoundWaves, which had its roots in a small idea between UW horn professor Dan Grabois and a few others on the UW campus: to combine science talks with concert performances. One thing led to another, and before you could blow the next note, Dan was curating a series of ten-minute talks by intellectual people, always on a theme, followed by live music provided by faculty at the UW School of Music. It was a way to bridge the streets and avenues and roads and alleys that separate people on this campus. And by all accounts, it’s been a success.

Next Friday, May 10, at 7 pm, at the Town Center at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St., the public is invited to the final SoundWaves event of the 2012-2013 academic year. (And you can have dinner beforehand, at the in-house restaurant, Steenbock’s on Orchard.) This months’s theme:

Getting the Job Done: Humans and the Tools We Use

Electricity? What is it really and how does it work? (John Booske, engineering)
Can we connect emotionally with our robot helpers? (Bilge Mutlu, computer science)
Do musical instruments help create musical styles?  (Dan Grabois, music)
How can a computer link animal sounds to linguistics? (Michael Coen, biostatistician)

Helping to answer the third question will be music from a new band called “Sinister Resonance,” comprised of Mark Hetzler (trombone and electronics), Vincent Fuh (piano), Nick Moran (doublebass) and Todd Hammes (drums/percussion). Sinister Resonance will not sound like any music any of us have ever heard before. We promise. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on that topic.

Here’s the scoop on how SoundWaves got started, from Dan Grabois:

“SoundWaves started as a small idea: what if we had an evening where we had some science lectures and some live classical music? I love learning about science, and UW-Madison is filled with scientists doing fascinating stuff. Also, I like learning about how everyday stuff works; once, meeting a civil engineer at a party, I began peppering her with questions about road construction. What is tar? What is asphalt? I don’t know much about the world I live in, and I’d love to learn more. I figured there must be other people like me, who are interested in learning science and are equally interested in hearing great music. It seemed like a good way to stitch together two very separate areas of the university, and a good way to increase the audience for each area.

“I brought the idea to [School of Music director] John Stevens, who thought it interesting enough to suggest I bring it to the Arts Institute. The Arts Institute thought it interesting enough to suggest I bring it to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. I made an appointment to speak with Laura Heisler, who is the program pirector for WARF (if you are getting confused, so was I, but here’s an explanation: the Arts Institute is in charge of managing development for all the arts on campus. WID is the fancy new building on University Avenue right before it meets up with Johnson. WARF is the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. WARF operates WID, and WARF is the organization that provides research funding for the university).

“Preparing to meet Laura, I thought my original idea lacked punch. Bringing science and music together was nice, but we needed to do it thematically, to explore an issue from different sides. I came up with some possible themes and wrote them up. I pitched them to Laura, expecting her to say either NO or to agree to try one of them. Instead, she said we would do them all and see where it went (thank you, Laura!).

“We decided to start with the theme of sound itself, and our first SoundWaves event was entitled Music to Our Ears. I found a physicist to talk about the structure of sound, a hearing specialist to talk about how the ear works, a neuroscientist to talk about how the brain processes the signal from the ear, and a psychologist to talk about how our emotions transform brain signals into feelings. Then I performed the Brahms Horn Trio with my colleagues Felicia Moye and Kit Taylor. We held this debut event at the Science Festival, and it was a big success, with a great audience.

“After that, we didn’t have the benefit of the Science Festival’s built-in audience, and we didn’t know what to expect. But our next project, The Consequences of Sequences, had an overflow audience. For the third project, Inch By Inch, Measure for Measure (about, what else, measurement), we moved to the largest space in the WID building, and we had an audience of over 250 people. Our final event of the year takes place on May 10. Entitled Getting the Job Done: Humans and the Tools We Use, we’ll have Mark Hetzler and his band Sinister Resonance performing two pieces, plus talks by Mark himself and by electrical engineer John Booske (I always wondered how electricity works), computer scientist Bilge Mutlu (with his robots!), and biostatistician Michael Coen (he uses the computer to analyze animal vocalizations in order to understand them linguistically – he’s basically a one-man university). I’ll be speaking about how musicians’ tools, their instruments, have a two-way relationship with style, both influencing stylistic evolution and being influenced by the demands new styles put on players.

“One other thing: I am grateful to the Kemper K. Knapp Bequest Committee for awarding a generous grant to SoundWaves. We’ll be holding eight SoundWaves events next year. And we have sponsored a student logo design competition – the winning design will be revealed on May 10. As of that date, we will have brought over fifteen science departments into the SoundWaves fold, and heard a lot of great music, too.”

Listen to Dan Grabois and Mark Hetzler discuss SoundWaves with WORT radio’s Rich Samuels, May 9th, about 7 am,  89.9 FM.

Website for Rich Samuels’ show on WORT-FM radio

For more info about SoundWaves:

SoundWaves website