Tag Archives: University 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..


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“La Bohème” in Shannon Hall – “Sound Out Loud” wins first prize – “Schubertiade” on Jan. 28

January 11, 2018

Welcome to 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/

University Opera to stage “La Bohème” at Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall

University Opera takes over the Wisconsin Union Theater for a three-day run of Puccini’s masterpiece

Read full news release here.

On February 23, 24 and 25, University Opera, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Union Theater, will present a special production of Giacomo Puccini’s timeless masterpiece, La Bohème, at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. This marks the first time in over 15 years that University Opera has staged a production at the Union Theater and the first bona fide opera production in the space since the theater’s renovation in 2014. Conducted by interim UW-Madison Director of Orchestras, Chad Hutchinson, and directed by Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, David Ronis, the production will be performed in Italian with English supertitles. It will take full advantage of the many upgrades to Shannon Hall, in particular, the expanded orchestra pit which will accommodate the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Friday, Feb. 23 @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, Feb. 24 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, Feb. 25 @3:00 PM

Tickets are $38 for premium seating, $30 general admission, $25 senior tickets, $15 non-UW-Madison students and $10 UW-Madison students and are available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at https://union.wisc.edu/events-and-activities/event-calendar/event/la-boheme/. 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.

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.

Says longtime University Opera supporter Kathleen Harker: “I am excited to see opera return to Shannon Hall at the Union with the University Opera’s lavish production of Puccini’s La Bohème. I have fond memories of seeing my first opera, a touring Metropolitan Opera production of ‘Madama Butterfly,’ at the Memorial Union in 1965.”



Above: Maria Callas sings “Quando me’n vo” from La Bohème, 1958


Sound Out Loud Ensemble wins first prize in national competition

The School of Music congratulates the Sound Out Loud Ensemble for its first place award from The American Prize in chamber music performance, university division. Sound Out Loud! is a new music ensemble currently comprised of pianists Kyle Dee Johnson and Satoko Hayami, violinist Biffa Kwok, flutist Iva Ugrčić, clarinetist Pedro Garcia III, and composer/cellist Brian Grimm. All but Grimm are either former or current graduate students at UW-Madison.

Sound Out Loud. L-R: Biffa Kwok, Iva Ugrčić, Satoko Hayami, Brian Grimm, Kyle Johnson and Pedro Garcia III.

The group specializes in contemporary music from the early 20th century to the present, as well as commissions new works to be written for it. Having drawn inspiration from numerous performance ensembles (such as Eighth Blackbird, Silk Road, and the International Contemporary Ensemble), the group seeks to expand the realm of possibilities within the chamber ensemble repertoire through the implementation of experimental techniques, the incorporation of a variety of instruments and musical styles from the Middle East and Asia, innovative performance practice, and the use of live electronics.

The American Prize is a series of new, non-profit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards, professional adjudication and regional, national and international recognition for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals each year in the United States at the professional, college/university, church, community and secondary school levels. Administered by Hat City Music Theater, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut, The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is awarded annually. The competitions of The American Prize are open to all U.S. citizens, whether living in this country or abroad, and to others currently living, working and/or studying in the United States of America, its protectorates and territories.


Our Annual “Schubertiade” only three weeks off!

This year’s Schubertiade will present at least one work from each year of Schubert’s all-too-brief but brilliant career. Beginning with one of his earliest piano duets, written when he was 14 years old, and ending with songs from his final year, this 5th Annual Schubertiade at the Mead-Witter School of Music will take place on Sunday afternoon, January 28, 2018 at 3pm in Mills Concert Hall.  All are invited for a post-concert reception in the University Club.

Once again, pianists Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes will be joined by School of Music faculty, students, and guest mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood, professor of voice at UW-Whitewater. Ms. Wood is a mezzo soprano whose performance credits include opera roles in Europe with Accademia Europea dell’Opera in Lucca, Italy and with Opera Studio Nederland, as well as numerous appearances in opera and recital in the US and Canada.

Rachel Wood

Tickets: $15/$5 students. Free to Mead Witter music majors, staff and faculty.

Ticket information here.


Please check our concert calendar for many other noteworthy upcoming events!

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..


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.

 

David Ronis Appointed as University Opera’s Permanent Director

Good afternoon. Our last newsletter of the academic year contains good news. We’ll see you again in August!

David Ronis Appointed as University Opera’s Permanent Director

The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce that David Ronis, interim University Opera director since 2014, has been selected as the program’s permanent director following a nationally competitive search.

“We are delighted to have hired someone with such wide-ranging experience and expertise, as well as a proven commitment to music education in the 21st century,” said Susan C. Cook, director of the school of music, adding that Ronis also plans to collaborate with other programs on campus and beyond.

David_Ronis. Image by Luke DeLalio.

The position is endowed, and was initiated with a pledge of $500,000 from Dr. Charles Bishop, CEO of Opko Health’s Renal Division of Miami, Florida. The pledge was in memory of his wife, Karen K. Bishop, who died of cancer in January 2015. Karen Bishop was a successful businesswoman who, after her diagnosis, returned to school for a master’s degree in opera and a doctoral degree in voice, both at UW-Madison.

Dr. Bishop’s gift was matched dollar for dollar with John and Tashia Morgridge’s matching gift for faculty support, making the professorship a reality. It was further bolstered by overwhelming support by the community’s opera lovers and friends.

Ronis will become the inaugural Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera and will assume his position in the fall.

David Ronis came to UW-Madison as interim director in 2014 following the retirement of William Farlow. Prior to coming here, Ronis was a faculty member at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College/CUNY, where he directed the opera studio and co-founded the Baroque Opera Workshop, and at Hofstra University, where he taught voice and diction. Four of his productions have won awards in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition, most recently his 2014 UW-Madison staging of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring. This marked the first time that University Opera has won a national award.

Ronis also has taught at La Lingua della Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, and the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts. He has presented master classes and workshops across the country, coaching singers on acting and audition skills. As a performer, he has appeared in opera productions in Europe, Asia and the United States, in concert at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and Alice Tully Halls, toured the U.S. with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and worked in film and television commercials.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the fine students and terrific colleagues at UW-Madison, ” Ronis said, adding that his plans include continued emphasis on the theatrical aspects of both traditional and contemporary operatic repertory and exploring additional partnerships with campus and community organizations.

“We are so very grateful to Charles Bishop for helping ensure the future health and stability of our opera program. Karen was a remarkable student, and this professorship recognizes her many talents as well as her commitment to the School of Music and the opera program,” added Professor Cook.

Ronis will be only the third director of University Opera. The program began informally in 1958, with Karlos Moser formally appointed as director in 1961. He served until 1998 and was replaced by William Farlow, who retired in 2014.

 

UW singers win a first round; pianist Christopher Taylor secures patent for double piano; UW Opera bids farewell to Bill Farlow in April show

NEWS

Madison a cappella choir one of region’s best

It was the colorful chalk drawings that drew Mike Fuller to sing with Fundamentally Sound, advertisements painted on sidewalks near the Humanities building last September. But it was Mike’s voice–and those of 16 others–that allowed them to win first place a few weeks ago in the first round of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), held at the University of Chicago.  The group, open to students who either have “a voice and/or can make noises with your mouth,” according to their website, is an auditioned, all-male a cappella choir founded in 2005 that sings arrangements of Disney songs, rap, hip-hop and more. The group rehearses twice a week, performs regular shows and gigs, and even released a CD in the fall of 2012, “Sounding the Alarm.”

The next competition will be in Normal, Illinois, on April 5. The group will also perform April 25 at the Orpheum Theater on State Street in Madison; buy tickets here.

“It’s a fun escape from homework and studying,”  says Mike, a freshman who sang in choirs at Pacelli High School in Stevens Point before entering college. He is not a music major–in fact his favorite class is Physics 109, the physics of light and sound–but is one of many students who take lessons to have fun and improve their skills. Along the way, they sometimes discover they have more talent than they realized.

Mike Fuller.
Mike Fuller. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

Last fall he enrolled in Music 144, a group voice lesson class open to non-majors that was taught by Jordan Wilson, a graduate student; this semester, he’s taking lessons from Elizabeth Hagedorn, visiting assistant professor of voice.

The voice lessons have given him much better range, he says. And he’s made a bevy of great new friends. “I feel it was one of the best decisions I made this year at UW-Madison.”

Albany music director and SOM alumnus Brian Gurley is really glad winter is over

Brian Gurley, SOM alumnus in choral conducting (M.M., 2011), moved from Wisconsin last summer to take the position of music director of the 162-year-old Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, New York, a church built during the height of the Irish potato famine that served as a refuge for persecuted Irish. Over its century-and-a-half, church activities included welcoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, hosting a “forgiveness ceremony” between Catholics and Jews,  and avoiding demolition in the 1960s. Lately, the church had been undergoing significant restoration that included replacement of deteriorated sandstone with imported stone from England, new granite steps and a unique rolled lead roof. But this past winter (the one we’re all hoping is finally OVER), as Gurley played a Steinway piano for a choir rehearsal, he heard the sound of dripping water. “My stomach kind of went in my mouth and I thought oh my gosh, they spent all this time and money on the restoration and now the roof leaks,” Gurley told reporter Paul Grondahl of the Albany Times-Union. Want to know what went wrong? Click here to read the entire story.

Pro Arte premiere of new Benoit Mernier string quartet draws appreciative crowd as well as positive critical reviews

Benoit Mernier rehearses with the Pro Arte String Quartet
Belgian composer Benoit Mernier rehearses with the Pro Arte String Quartet, March, 2014.
Photo by Michael R. Anderson

The fifth of six world premieres commissioned by Madison’s own Pro Arte String Quartet took place on March 1 in Mills Hall, and was enthusiatically received by former UW-Madison history professor and music critic John Barker (who also helped to plan the centennial events). The new work, funded by both the Pro Arte Quartet and the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, deliberately hailed the quartet’s roots in Belgium, as Mernier is from that country, and “was the most musically satisfying of all the commissioned works presented so far,” according to Barker in a post on The Well-Tempered Ear, Madison’s classical music blog. “Met honestly, the score has a logic and even power to it that one might compare to Bela Bartók’s quartets — and we have all caught up with those by now, haven’t we?” The final commission, a clarinet quintet by French-Canadian composer Pierre Jalbert, will be performed next September.

Read the entire review here.

Read an interview with Pro Arte violinist Suzanne Beia in the Wisconsin State Journal, Feb. 27, 2014

School of Music music ed students band together to support music education in public schools

 NAfME students,
The NAfME students, excited about their new chapter!

Over 40 music ed students have launched a UW-Madison chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Membership will allow students to network for job and educational advancement, as well as finding ways to assist area schools, according to Dan Joosten, co-president. The chapter is advised by Teri Dobbs, associate professor of music education and Darin Olson, assistant director of bands.

With over 130,00 members, NAfME bills itself as the world’s oldest arts education organization, and includes students, faculty, and professional teachers, both active and retired. According to its website, “NAfME developed the National Standards for Music Education and administered the overall development of the National Standards for Arts Education (1994) under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The National Standards represent the first comprehensive set of educational standards for K–12 arts instruction.” The group meets Wednesday nights at 8PM in Humanities. For more information, contact Dan Joosten at djoosten@wisc.edu, or Jenny Deroche at jlderoche@wisc.edu.

Piano Extravaganza High School Competition announces winners

Finalists in the 2014 UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza Competition. Front L-R: Anthony Cardella, Vivian Wilhelms, Kaitlin Lalmond, Olivia Montgomery; Bach L-R: Ethan Nethery, Garrick Olsen, Quinton Nennig, Theodore Liu.
Finalists in the 2014 UW-Madison Piano Extravaganza Competition. Front L-R: Anthony Cardella, Vivian Wilhelms, Kaitlin Lalmond, Olivia Montgomery; Bach L-R: Ethan Nethery, Garrick Olsen, Quinton Nennig, Theodore Liu.

Saturday, March 1 was the inaugural UW-Madison School of Music Piano Extravaganza Competition. Nine finalists from Wisconsin and Minnesota competed for cash prizes. The 1st prize winner ($1,500) was Vivian Wilhelms, a freshman at Waunakee High School. Vivian is a student of William Lutes and was a finalist of the 2010 Chopin Piano Competition in Milwaukee, 2011 winner of the Fall Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and 2013 winner of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. The 2nd prize winner ($1,000) was Garrick Olsen, of Madison. Garrick studies with William Lutes and plans to major in piano performance in college next fall. Garrick will make his subscription concert debut with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in May 2015, playing Gershwins’ I Got Rhythm Variations. He is the winner of a number of competitions, including the Wisconsin Public Radio’s 2013 Neale-Silva Young Artist Competition, the 2012 PianoArts award for Best Performance of a North American Competition, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 2012 Bolz Young Artist Competition (“Final Forte”) as well as MSO’s 2003 Fall Youth Concerto Competition. 3rd prize ($500) went to Quinton Nennig from Sherwood, Wisconsin. Quinton currently studies at the Interlochen Arts Academy with Dr. TJ Lymenstull, where he is the recipient of a merit scholarship. Previous studies were with Nina Mink. His many accomplishments include winning Lawrence University’s Piano Festival (2009-2012), and 1st place in the WMTA Badger Competition in 2010 and 2012. Honorable mention went to Theodore Liu, a sophomore at Waunakee Community High School. Theodore studies with Shu-Ching Chuang and plays trumpet in band and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. He is very fond of mathematics and science due to their precision and logic.

Judges for the competition were Jess Johnson, Christopher Taylor, John Stowe, Todd Welbourne, Dino Mulic and Seungwha Baek.

The Piano Extravaganza Competition was sponsored by the Evjue Foundation and Former Chancellor Irving Shain.

Pianist Christopher Taylor receives patent for new double keyboard

Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor performs at the Miller Theater in New York City, May 2013.
Richard Termine photograph.
Click photo for the New York Times review.

It’s official: The new digital double keyboard piano invented by UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor, modeled after a unique double Steinway that resides in Taylor’s office, is the owner of patent number 8,664,497, issued to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Association on March 4.  As described in San Francisco’s Classical Voice: “The instrument setup is an unusual one in that a console, with the two sets of 88 keys, will drive two “slave” pianos, remotely. The console piano will not produce any sound. Instead, an electronic sensor will record what a pianist is playing and instantaneously send that information across the stage, MIDI style, to two normal pianos that will produce the music.”  Taylor has worked extensively with scientists and technicians at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery to perfect the instrument.

It’s not built yet, though. What it means is that anyone with an interest in something very musical and very new could apply for a license to pursue actual construction of the piano, says WARF spokeswoman Emily Bauer, license manager. “It’s a cool case. We’d love to see it licensed and commercialized,” Bauer says.

Taylor hopes that in a couple of years, he’ll be able to unveil both the first iteration of this new piano and a new piece written especially for it. He’s already talked to composer Derek Bermel about the idea.  “Bermel welcomes the idea of writing music for an instrument where limitations are not known. The possibilities for new music are many, said Bermel, who wrote his first work for Taylor — a solo piano piece titled Turning — in 1995,” wrote Classical Voice writer Edward Ortiz. “ ‘[Repeated] notes on one set of hammers are pretty tough to play, but with two sets of hammers you can repeat notes by playing one note on one keyboard and a note on the other; then you can get this incredible, drumroll-like effect,’ said Bermel. “ ‘Also, there are some chords you cannot play on the piano because they would be too wide —– you would need fingers that were two feet long!’ ”

Read about Christopher Taylor in On Wisconsin! magazine, February 2014.

Read “The Quest for the Perfect Piano” in San Francisco Classical Voice, May 2013

Read about Taylor in the Wisconsin State Journal, 2011

And one more: Madison Magazine Q&A with Taylor in February, 2014.

SAVE THE DATE! SELECTED UPCOMING CONCERTS AT THE SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Paul Rowe, Julia Foster, and Martha Fischer perform the Italienisches Liederbuch of Hugo Wolf

Paul Rowe.
Paul Rowe. Photo by Michael R. Anderson

Austrian-born Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), a child prodigy who became a devotee of Richard Wagner, was known for his “concentrated expressive intensity” in his compositions, especially his lieder (songs). On March 26, at 7:30 PM in Mills Hall, voice professor Paul Rowe, alumna Julia Foster (now assistant professor of voice and opera at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida) and pianist Martha Fischer will perform his “Italian Songs.” Read about the program here (PDF): Notes on the “Italienisches Liederbuch” of Hugo Wolf

Cello professor Uri Vardi bridges a cultural divide with trans-Middle Eastern music

On April 5 at 8 PM, cello professor Uri Vardi, oud artist Taiseer Elias, and composer/pianist Menachem Wiesenberg will present a concert, “Fusions,” of Arabic and Israeli music on the stage of Mills Hall, co-sponsored by UW’s Center for Jewish Studies. Elias is founder and conductor of the first Orchestra of Classical Arabic Music in Israel and is currently the musical director and conductor of the Arab-Jewish Youth Orchestra; he is the head of the Eastern Music Department at the Jerusalem Music Academy and is a professor of musicology at Bar Ilan University. Wiesenberg  is a professor and dean of composition, conducting, and music education at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and also a senior consultant to the Jerusalem Music Center. Cellist and pedagogue Uri Vardi has performed as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber player across the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and his native Israel. Born in Szeged, Hungary, Vardi grew up on kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh, Israel. He studied at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, was an Artist Diploma student at Indiana University, and earned his Master’s degree from Yale University.

Read an interview with Uri Vardi in the Center’s winter 2014 newsletter. 

Learn about the backgrounds of the musicians and hear a track of their music.

View the concert program.

The concert will be repeated on Sunday, April 6 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Live at the Chazen afternoon show, starting at 12:30 PM. It will also be held in Milwaukee that evening. Learn more here. 

Final Farlow opera to be staged April 11, 13, and 15 in Music Hall

Put it on your calendar: After 15 years with University Opera,  director William Farlow will retire after this spring’s performance of Hector Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, a comic opera in two acts that was Berlioz’s last work; according to a National Public Radio story from 2009, it “combines the signature brilliance and bombast of composer with the sly, comedic insights of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.” Berlioz wrote both the libretto and the music. Look for an official news release very soon. Hear the overture in this YouTube video clip.

Tickets are $22.00 for the general public, $18.00 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 (click “buy tickets” on the site): http://www.uniontheater.wisc.edu/location.html

JUST ANNOUNCED: OPERA STAR SUSANNE MENTZER TO CONDUCT MASTER CLASS AT SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Opera singer Susanne Mentzer, in town for Madison Opera’s April 25-27 production of Dead Man Walking, will conduct a master class on Monday, April 7 at the School of Music, 1:15 to 3:15 in Room 1321 (one floor below below Mills Hall). This event is free and open to the public.  Ms. Mentzer will be working one-on-one with students, performing a signature aria for the class, conducting a Q&A session, and staying to meet and greet all attendees. From her online bio: “Ms. Mentzer has appeared with nearly all the major opera companies, orchestras and festivals of North and South America, Europe and Japan. For over 20 years she has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera. She has collaborated with many of the world’s great conductors and singers including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Pierre Boulez and Christoph Eschenbach, Joan Sutherland, Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo, Natalie Dessay, Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Carol Vaness, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade to name just a few.” Read more here: http://www.susannementzer.com/index.html

Madison Opera website, for information and tickets: http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2013-2014/dead_man_walking/

New York Times review of Susanne Mentzer, 2000

The School of Music offers many more concerts and recitals this spring. See the full schedule at http://www.music.wisc.edu/calendar

Farlow
Retiring opera director Bill Farlow exchanges pleasantries with Beatrice et Bendict chorus member Annisa Richardson
on the stage of Music Hall, March 2014. The two are old pals.
Photo by Michael R. Anderson.