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The School of Music rallies behind stricken student

Concert to Benefit UW-Madison Trombonist Brittany Sperberg

On Wednesday, March 18, the School of Music’s brassiest ensembles will join forces in a concert to benefit Brittany Sperberg, a formerly highly visible and energetic trombonist now stricken with an undiagnosed ailment. This semester, Brittany reluctantly withdrew from school to attend to her medical needs and her performing future is in doubt. She will also have to miss next month’s Carnegie Hall debut of the UW Wind Ensemble.

Brittany Sperberg

Brittany Sperberg

Brittany, a Shawano native, is a senior majoring in music education, now being treated full time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her symptoms began last August with a painful infection in her nasal cavity, and despite numerous tests, medications, surgeries, scans and biopsies, the cause and precise treatment remain a mystery. She was hospitalized on Christmas Eve, and while her family is insured, the out-of-pocket expenses–including travel, hotel, food and loss of employment from her mother who is at her side– are mounting.

Groups to perform at the benefit will include the UW Wind Ensemble, directed by Prof. Scott Teeple; the UW Jazz Orchestra, directed by Prof. Johannes Wallmann; the Low Brass Ensemble, directed by Prof. Mark Hetzler; Dat Brass, a funk horn band founded by Sperberg; and the Badger Brass, featuring her fellow students. Brittany performed in all of these ensembles, and more: she also played her trombone with the Latin Jazz Ensemble and even sang with the Twisted Metal Horn Choir, directed by Prof. Daniel Grabois.

“If you’ve spent any time with Brittany Sperberg, you know her as a person with energy, love and creativity, in amounts that go beyond the norm,” says her teacher, trombone professor Mark Hetzler. “Her heart is bigger than what should be possible, her mind is open to amazing ideas and her spirit always seems to soar. Even in the midst of this horrible illness, with her music career and trombone future up in the air, Brittany continues to keep a positive attitude and an incredibly upbeat sense of humor. She has been a true warrior in the face of this adversity.”

In November 2013, Brittany wrote an account of her experiences at the School of Music that remains one of the school’s all-time most popular posts.

Read it here: https://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/sperberg/

The benefit concert will be held in Mills Hall on Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 PM. A suggested donation is $10.00, and more is welcome.

Online donations can be made at this website:

Checks may also be mailed to Mark Hetzler, 5326 Russett Rd., Madison, WI 53711. Please make checks out to “Brittany Sperberg.”
For more information or an interview, please contact
• Mark Hetzler at (608) 628-5026 or hetzler@wisc.edu.
• Katherine Esposito (608) 263-5615 or kesposito@wisc.edu