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Third UW-Madison Brass Fest to feature renowned Stockholm Chamber Brass – Sept. 30/Oct. 1

BRASS, BRASS AND MORE BRASS – With No. 3, UW-Madison cements a tradition as a Brass Hub of the Midwest

On September 30 and October 1, 2016, the newly renamed Mead Witter School of Music will welcome the internationally acclaimed Stockholm Chamber Brass to campus for a third annual Brass Fest. The quintet’s tour of upstate New York, Michigan and Wisconsin will be their first-ever appearances in the United States.

The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.

The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.

Brass Fest III will also mark the first time that high school students will play an active role, attending master classes and performing on stage in a final Festival Brass Concert. Area high schools planning to attend include Middleton, Madison East, Madison West, Edgewood, and Memorial.

A number of major instrument makers and music companies, many located in Wisconsin, will also be on hand to display their wares. The School will also offer commemorative fund-raising t-shirts; scroll to bottom to learn more.

The events will include a concert with Stockholm Chamber Brass on Friday, September, 30, at 8 PM, and a second concert on October 1, also at 8 PM, with the Stockholm Chamber Brass, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, UW-Madison student performers and selected high school students. Both concerts will be held in Mills Hall in the Humanities Building.

Tickets: $20 for Friday’s concert ($5.00 non-music students); $15 for Saturday’s concert ($5.00 non-music students). Buy tickets here or at the door.

“We are expanding the festival because our mission is to perform and to teach,” says Daniel Grabois, assistant professor of horn and member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. “We are motivated by the Wisconsin Idea, and we are making every effort to bring what we do to the population of the state. There are many students in the state who play brass instruments, and we want to include them in our educational mission. We also want to build on the successes of the past two years – many people enthusiastically attended the festival, and we want to make it better, more exciting, and more inclusive.”


Stockholm Chamber Brass, formed in 1985, consists of some of Scandinavia’s leading brass musicians. Its five members are all prize winners at major international solo competitions, including the ARD-Wettbewerb, CIEM Geneve, Markneukrichen and Toulon. Their international breakthrough came in 1988 when Stockholm Chamber Brass won 1st Prize at “Ville de Narbonne,” the most prestigious international competition for brass quintets.

Stockholm Chamber Brass has performed at Bad Kissingen Sommer, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Niedesächsische Musiktage, International de Musique Sion Valais, the Prague Spring Music Festival, the Budapest International Music Festival, Festival Internacional de Santander, the Soundstream Festival in Toronto, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, the Umeå International Chamber Music Festival and the Stockholm New Music Festival. The ensemble has also performed at various brass festivals, including the Lieksa Brass Week, the International Trombone Festival in Helsinki, the Melbourne International Festival of Brass, Epsival Limoge and the Blekinge International Brass Academy.

Stockholm Chamber Brass has received glowing reviews for its CDs. A reviewer at American Record Guide writes, “I cannot imagine that a better brass quintet has ever existed.”

The ensemble’s repertoire consists mostly of original compositions and their own arrangements of older and contemporary music. Their interest in new music has resulted in over thirty compositions written specifically for the ensemble. Stockholm Chamber Brass has worked with a long list of leading composers, including Anders Hillborg, Sven-David Sandström, Pär Mårtensson, Britta Byström, Henrik Strindberg Piers Hellawell and Eino Tamberg. The ensemble has also collaborated with leading brass soloists Håkan Hardenberger and Christian Lindberg.

The current members of the Stockholm Chamber Brass are Urban Agnas, trumpet; Tom Poulson, trumpet; Jonas Bylund, trombone; Annamia Larsson, horn; and Sami Al Fakir, tuba.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, formed in 1972, is one of three faculty chamber ensembles in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music. Deeply committed to the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea, the group travels widely to offer its concerts and educational services to students and the public in all corners of the state.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Photo by Michael R. Anderson.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet includes John Aley, trumpet; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Mark Hetzler, trombone; Tom Curry, tuba; and Daniel Grabois, horn.

New this year: Commemorative Limited Edition T-Shirts, featuring our new Brass Fest III logo on the front and “Mead Witter School of Music” on the back. Prices from $11 to $14; all proceeds will support the School of Music. Send an email to t-shirt sales if you’d like to buy one.


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“Brass Fest II” to feature eclectic mix of jazz and folk vocals, solo trumpet, and works for brass quintet

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

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

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The festivals showcase the energetic, eclectic world of brass music, says festival organizer John Aley, professor of trumpet at UW-Madison and principal trumpeter of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. “We benefited from creative energy last year that continues to impact positively in the School of Music,” says Aley. “The performances will showcase some amazing talent and innovation including the surprising and delightful synergy of brass plus voice.”

On the docket this year:

Friday, October 9: Axiom Brass Quintet, 8 PM, Mills Hall. This lively Chicago quintet features repertoire ranging from jazz and Latin music to string quartet transcriptions, as well as original compositions for brass quintet.  Friday’s concert will offer an Elizabethan suite, “The Art of the Fugue” by J.S. Bach, and brass quintet works by Victor Ewald, David Sampson, and Patrice Caratini.

Axiom Brass is an Ensemble-in-Residence at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and at Chicago’s Rush Hour Concerts. They are winners of the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition (2012), the Preis der Europa-Stadt Passau in Germany (2012), the 2008 International Chamber Brass Competition and prize-winners of the 2010 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, and the Jeju City International Brass Quintet Competition in South Korea. Axiom Brass is comprised of Dorival Puccini, Jr., trumpet; Jacob DiEdwardo, horn; Kevin Harrison, tuba; Serdar Cizmeci, trombone; and Kris Hammond, trumpet.

Saturday, October 10: Festival Brass Choir with the Axiom Brass Quintet, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, trumpeter Adam Rapa, vocalist Elisabeth Vik, and students/faculty of the School of Music. 8 PM, Mills Hall. Conducted by Scott Teeple, professor of music and wind ensemble conductor. The concert will include works by Astor Piazzolla, James M. Stephenson, Anthony DiLorenzo, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and a Bulgarian vocal work sung by Ms. Vik.

The Norwegian-born vocalist Elisabeth Vik was classically trained by Norwegian opera singer Rolf Nykmark, then moved on to study commercial music and music business at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in England. She received a bachelors degree in pop-music performance, then moved to New York City. She has traveled the world gathering and learning techniques and musical expressions, giving her sound and stylings hints of Indian, Arabic, Spanish, Bulgarian as well as Norwegian flavors, superimposed upon a classical technique and an affinity for jazz.

American Adam Rapa is a dynamic performer, composer, producer and educator known for the excitement, energy and enthusiasm he brings to stages and classrooms around the world. Rapa has been featured as a special guest artist and clinician at trumpet conferences around the globe including the International Trumpet Guild conference, the National Trumpet Competition, and festivals in dozens of countries around the world. Adam performed and/or recorded with Grammy Award winners Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Doc Severinsen, Soulive, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Reed, Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Cyrus Chestnut, Jorge Pardo, Mnozil Brass, Belgian Brass, Alice in Chains, Academy Award winning film composer A.R. Rahman, and many others. Now living and freelancing in Copenhagen, Rapa plays lead trumpet in the Danish Radio Big Band and also performs with members of the Afro-Cuban All-Stars.

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, formed in 1972, is a faculty ensemble in residence at the UW-Madison. In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble. Current members include Tom Curry, tuba; Mark Hetzler, trombone; Daniel Grabois, horn; John Aley, trumpet; and Matthew Onstad, trumpet.

Sunday, October 11: Duo recital with trumpet soloist Adam Rapa, vocalist Elisabeth Vik, and musicians from the School of Music. 7:30 PM, Mills Hall.  Based in Denmark, the duo offers a creative blend of classical and jazz, melding traditional and modern repertoire with a Latin sizzle. Works will include the Carmen Suite by George Bizet, Så Skimrande Var Aldrig Havet by Evert Taube, arranged by Rapa & Vik, Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla arranged by Rapa, and Anitras Dance by Edvard Grieg, arranged by Vik & Rapa.

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday concerts are $15 for adults, free for students and children. Sunday’s concert is free to all.

Buy tickets to both concerts and save!

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Meet John Wunderlin: No limits on age when it comes to studying music

At the School of Music’s “Horn Choir” concert at the Chazen Museum of Art last month, one could easily discern John Wunderlin from the swarm of horn players on the stage.

He was the only one with gray hair.


UW’s Horn Choir at a recent concert, at the Chazen Museum. Wunderlin is second from right. Daniel Grabois, conductor.

That’s because he’s 50 years old. It’s safe to say that most of the other performers were about the ages of his two kids, 23 and 19. And yes, he is a student.

After a full life as a business owner, husband and dad, Wunderlin returned to school this fall for a master’s degree in horn. He first studied the instrument in college (way back when) and played as much as possible over the years. But after he met Dan Grabois, assistant professor of horn at UW-Madison, he finally took the leap and applied for the program at UW. He says he likes Dan’s teaching style. “[Dan] offers a lot of concrete suggestions, as opposed to someone who says, ‘it’s my way or the highway,’ ” Wunderlin says.

We asked John to tell us a bit about his unusual career path.

What made you want to come back to school for a masters degree?
“It was always a long-term goal of mine to come back to school. My undergraduate degree was computer science with a music minor from UW-Platteville. As an undergrad, I made a conscious decision to earn a degree that would allow me to make a good living, but music was always my passion. With a long career in computers and both my children grown, it seemed like the right time to focus on music.

John Wunderlin. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

John Wunderlin. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

What was your previous career, and how did the horn fit in?
“I spent 27 years working as a computer programmer. First for several large corporations, then as an independent contractor, and for the last 14 years I ran my own software business with my wife Nancy. After college, I didn’t stop playing the horn. I was always looking for gigs, but did try to balance my rehearsal schedule with my home life- we have two children. In 1999, I came across a summer camp called the Kendall Betts Horn Camp in New Hampshire. This is a camp for horn players of all ages from high school to seniors with world-class horn faculty. It was a week-long opportunity to immerse in music that I have taken advantage of nearly every year since. I credit KBHC with improving my playing significantly to the point that I won my first regional orchestra audition with the Beloit-Janesville Symphony (now called the Rock River Philharmonic). I’ve been a member there for the last six seasons.

Why UW-Madison?
“I’ve played a lot of gigs in the Madison area and my wife and I both love the town. We lived in Mineral Point for the last 21 years. This was a good opportunity (and a good excuse) to move to Madison. I considered a few other universities, but after working with Dan Grabois and considering my options, it was really an easy choice.

What is it like being having student colleagues in their 20s and even late teens?
“The other students in the horn studio have been absolutely terrific! From day one they treated me like just another student. I’m amazed at the sense of camaraderie and lack of competitiveness within our studio. I feel like everyone’s goal is to support and help each other become the best musicians we can all be.

Have you had any trouble adapting or fitting in?
“Very little. I’m not the only non-traditional student in the music department. There are a range of ages, though I’m probably a bit above the median.

What do you hope to gain from the degree and the experience here at UW?
“My primary short-term goal is full musical immersion for the next two years. Beyond that, I’m interested in winning a larger orchestra job and/or teaching at a college or university.

Any advice for people thinking of going back to school for a performance degree?
“The field of music performance is an extremely competitive area with many, many more musicians than available jobs. My first recommendation would be to save a lot of money before starting to give yourself some time to find a job and consider other options if things don’t work out. My second recommendation is to jump in with both feet. It’s a lot of hard work, but also very rewarding. When I’m performing with a great group of musicians and in ‘the zone,’ there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. Personal problems, politics, bad thoughts all melt away and are replaced with a musical connection with my talented colleagues that transcends words.”


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UW-Madison showcases Brass, Jazz, and Composers in 2014-15 Music Festivals

Brass, jazz and three composers–American George Crumb, Cecilia McDowall of the United Kingdom, and France’s Jean-Philippe Rameau — will be showcased this year at the UW-Madison School of Music in the form of five multi-event guest artist festivals, starting in October and continuing through April. Funding is provided by the Vilas Trust and Anonymous Fund at UW-Madison. We thank them for their support.

Other notable events will include an eight-concert faculty/student “Showcase Series” series, presenting some of the most dynamic music that the School has to offer. Click here for Showcase info.

Some events are ticketed (click here for info). Tickets will go on sale one month ahead of time. All other events at the School of Music, including dozens of faculty recitals, student ensembles and individual guest artists, continue to be free.

Oystein Baadsvik

Oystein Baadsvik

Our 2014-15 festivals include:

“Celebrate Brass”
Wednesday, October 8 — Monday, October 13, 2014

Brass music is often known for its swagger, but it is also famous for delicate polyphonies and burnished tones. We invite the public to experience the beauty of brass first-hand at a festival featuring both a full array of music and musicians, many at the height of their careers.

Performers will include famed Norwegian tubist Øystein Baadsvik, the only musician to have created a career as a tuba soloist, rather than becoming a member of an orchestra or accepting a teaching post. His multi-faceted musical career as a soloist, chamber musician and recording artist has taken him all over the world. Øystein Baadsvik’s international career began in 1991 when he was awarded two prizes at the prestigious Concours International d’Exécution Musicale in Geneva.

Baadsvik will be joined by hornist Jessica Valeri (BM, UW-Madison, 1997) of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Michigan’s Western Brass Quintet, UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet, renowned brass composer and blogger Anthony Plog, new UW-Madison faculty tubist Tom Curry, as well the best brass players and conductors at the University, including a Brass Choir led by conductor Scott Teeple.

Events will include concerts, solo recitals, masterclasses, brass coachings, a colloquium and a reception.
Click here for full schedule.

The 4th Annual UW-Madison/Madison Metropolitan School Jazz Festival
Wednesday, December 3 — Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ingrid Jensen in Brooklyn, NY. June 2005photo by Angela Jimenez

Ingrid Jensen

A festival featuring workshops and performances for college and high school jazz performers. This marks the first time that UW-Madison will host the event.

This festival will feature Ingrid Jensen, trumpeter, bandleader, artist-in-residence at the University of Michigan and part-time faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory. Ingrid Jensen has been a major figure on the international jazz scene for over 20 years. Her three CDs for the ENJA label and her latest CD, “At Sea,” won her nominations from the Canadian Juno Awards, including an award in 1995 for Vernal Fields. In addition to her work as a leader of the quartet Project O and the quintet Nordic Connect, Jensen is a featured soloist with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, with whom she recorded four albums, including the Grammy Award-winning “Concert in the Garden” and “Sky Blue,” the former of which was also named Jazz Album of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Jensen is a member of the Mosaic project with Terri-Lynn Carrington, Esperanza Spaulding and Geri Allen; the Darcy James Argue’s Grammy-nominated Secret Society; the Juno-award winning Christine Jensen Orchestra; has been featured on Gil Evans’ Porgy and Bess at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, under the direction of Maria Schneider; and has appeared as a guest in the festival’s “Tribute to Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard”, alongside Terence Blanchard, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson and Kenny Garrett.

The festival will include master classes in jazz trumpet and improvisation, open rehearsals, a Saturday high school clinic, and performances with UW jazz ensembles and high school big bands from Madison and Middleton.

This festival is free and open to the public.
Click here for full schedule.

“Seventy Degrees Below Zero”: A concert series and residency showcasing the music of British composer Cecilia McDowall
Friday, February 19 through Sunday, February 23, 2015

In 2009, after premiering a McDowall work, “Framed,” UW-Madison trumpet professor John Aley discovered for himself what he describes as the “challenging, energizing, poetic, clever, tongue in cheek, and utterly beautiful” music of Cecilia McDowall.

Cecilia McDowall

Cecilia McDowall

Our festival, organized by Aley, will feature the first-ever United States residency of British composer Cecilia McDowall and the US premiere of her symphonic work “Seventy Degrees Below Zero,” commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia and the Scott Polar Research Institute, based in Cambridge, England.

Often inspired by extra-musical influences, McDowall’s writing combines a rhythmic vitality with expressive lyricism. She has won many awards and has been short-listed several times for the British Composer Awards. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, ensembles and at major festivals both in Britain and abroad and has been broadcast on BBC Radio and worldwide.

“Seventy Degrees Below Zero” is a cantata for solo voice (to be sung by faculty tenor Jim Doing) and orchestra, inspired by a phrase written by British captain Robert Falcon Scott to his wife, prior to his death while returning from an expedition to the South Pole: ‘Dear, it is not easy to write because of the cold – 70 degrees below zero.’ ”

Joining us on Saturday will be Michael DuVernois of the UW-Madison IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, only recently returned from the Antarctic, who will present an entertaining and educational talk, complete with historic and modern photographs, on the progression of Antarctic exploration from the heroic age through modern science on the coldest, highest, driest continent.

Other works to be performed during the three-day festival include the first US performances of “Regina Caeli,” for four trumpets and four trombones, and “Cavatina at Midnight,” for clarinet, cello and piano. Her haunting choral works “Ave Regina” and “Ave Maris Stella” will be performed by the UW Chamber Choir, directed by Bruce Gladstone. In addition to Jim Doing, faculty performers will include pianists Christopher Taylor and Martha Fischer, clarinetist Linda Bartley, soprano Elizabeth Hagedorn, oboist Kostas Tiliakos, trombonist Mark Hetzler, trumpeter John Aley, cellist Parry Karp, percussionist Anthony Di Sanza, violist Sally Chisholm, and others.

In 2008, the Phoenix Chorale won a Grammy Award for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” for its Chandos CD, “Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary,” which included a work, “Three Latin Motets” by Cecilia McDowall.

Click here for full schedule.
Read a review in The Guardian newspaper of the UK premiere of “Seventy Degrees Below Zero.” 

“Honoring George Crumb at 85”
Sunday, March 22 and Monday, March 23, 2015

George Crumb has been a major force in American composition since the 1960s when his Ancient Voices of Children set to texts by Garcia Lorca provided an evocative and deeply personal response to late modernist serialism. The winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy, Crumb continues to compose new works, most recently his American Songbooks, that celebrate the magic and mystery of life. Crumb’s music often juxtaposes contrasting musical styles and quotes from pre-existing works, and his use of extended instrumental techniques shows his predilection for new sound colors. Many of Crumb’s works include programmatic, symbolic, mystical and theatrical elements, which are often reflected in his beautiful and meticulously notated scores.

Miranda Cuckson

Miranda Cuckson

Crumb’s 85th birthday provides an opportunity to celebrate this composer through concerts, workshops, and master classes featuring guest artists as well as our own faculty and students. The program will include a performance of the “Crumb Madrigals” by Chicago duo Due East and a concert by New York-based violinist Miranda Cuckson, as well as a performance of “The Violinists in My Life,” written by faculty composer Laura Schwendinger.

Cuckson is highly acclaimed for her performances of a wide range of repertoire, from early eras to the most current creations. In demand as a soloist and chamber musician, she appears in major concert halls, as well as at universities, galleries and informal spaces. She has performed at such venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, Miller Theatre, the 92nd Street Y, Guggenheim Museum, and many more.

Nunc (Latin for “now”) was founded in 2007 as “Transit Circle ” by artistic director and violinist/violist Miranda Cuckson, and was renamed and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2012. Nunc is devoted to presenting high-caliber performances of music of current, recent and older eras, through distinctive programming that highlights their innovations and contributions.

Due East (Erin Lesser, flutes; Greg Beyer, percussion) actively promotes new music and seeks to expand the flute and percussion duo genre through frequent commissions and premieres. Their first recording, Simultaneous Worlds, is available on Albany Records. Their second recording, Drawn Only Once, is a multi-media CD/DVD now available on New Amsterdam Records. Noted critic Steve Smith gave it a rare 5.0-star rating in Time Out New York, calling it “spellbindingly beautiful.”
Click here for full schedule.
Read a review of Miranda Cuckson in the New York Times.

“Rediscovering Rameau”
Multiple events; check back later for more details.

Jean-Philippe Rameau

Jean-Philippe Rameau.

A year-long festival marking the 250th anniversary of the death of French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
The UW-Madison and community partners will offer a series of public events beginning this fall and culminating in April with two concert performances of Rameau’s one-act opera, Pygmalion, by the Madison Bach Musicians.
Learn more about Rameau here.


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

UW-Madison alumnus studied with UW’s John Stevens and Northwestern’s Rex Martin

The UW-Madison School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Appleton native Tom Curry as Visiting Assistant Professor of Tuba, replacing Professor of Tuba John Stevens who will retire this spring after 29 years in the position.

Tom Curry

Tom Curry

Curry, a former student of John Stevens’, graduated from UW-Madison in 2009 with a degree in music performance and communication arts and was on the Dean’s List for eight semesters with a 4.00 GPA. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in music performance and literature from Northwestern University, studying with Rex Martin, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in music performance there. He is principal tubist of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Joffrey Ballet, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ars Viva Symphony, and many other orchestras.

Curry maintains a large studio of private low brass students at several Chicago-area high schools and also teaches supplemental tuba and euphonium lessons and master classes at Northwestern. He has served as a low brass instructor at the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Clinic and as a guest tuba and euphonium instructor at Lawrence University.


The 2014-15 Wisconsin Brass Quintet. Front row: Tom Curry, tuba; Mark Hetzler, trombone. Back row: Daniel Grabois, horn; John Aley, trumpet; and Jessica Jensen, trumpet. Photo by Megan Aley.

In addition to teaching the Low Brass Studio, Curry will play in the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a position he also held during his final semester at UW while John Stevens was on sabbatical.

In Chicago, Curry has regularly appeared with several local and national rock and popular acts, including performances with the Grammy-nominated group Foster the People and the local band, Mucca Pazza.

“We’re ecstatic,” says Mark Hetzler, professor of trombone. “There’s an energy about Tom which comes across in how he teaches and plays. And he understands the style of teaching here: the faculty connection with students is extremely important. He’s going to continue that tradition.”

“It’s quite an honor to come back to a place that had such a formative influence on me,” Curry says. “To be in that environment is an incredible opportunity.”

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Summer Music Clinic celebrates eight decades of hitting the high notes: UW Communications



For 80 years, UW-Madison’s Summer Music Clinic has provided its campers with the chance to learn new skills through a variety of different classes and performance opportunities.

According to program manager Anne Aley, Summer Music Clinic offers two instructional sessions—one for middle school students, which was held the week of June 16, and one for high school students, which concludes Friday, June 27.

Read the full story here: