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Remembering and celebrating the life of Howard Karp

Howard Karp, professor emeritus of piano at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died of complications of cardiac arrest on Monday, June 30 at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado, close to his beloved summer home in Estes Park, surrounded by his wife and sons. He was 84.


Howard Karp. Photo by Katrin Talbot.

“Howard Karp was an inspirational presence as both an educator and performer,” says Susan Cook, director of the UW School of Music. “He taught generations of students and helped make the Wisconsin Idea international by recruiting pianists worldwide. His influence continues to shape the School of Music and its mission.”

For many music lovers, the Madison concert season begins with the annual Karp Family Concert each Labor Day. In 38 years, three generations of the Karp family — piano, cello, violin, viola and spoken word — never repeated a piece, premiering new works and celebrated masterpieces in front of some of Mills Hall’s largest crowds. However, the 2014 concert — originally scheduled for September 1 — has now been cancelled. In its place is a tribute event on Sunday, August 31, at 3 PM in Mills Hall. The public is welcome. A reception will follow.

Download the program here. (PDF)

In lieu of flowers, donations and contributions in Prof. Karp’s name may be made to the “Howard and Frances Karp Piano Scholarship Fund” University of Wisconsin Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278.

Click here to read the story published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison News.

Click here to read Prof. Karp’s obituary.

Click here to read a story about Prof. Karp and fellow pianist Leonard Shure, published August 17, 2014 in the New York Times.

Howard Karp’s music is now available on SoundCloud and may be purchased through Albany Records and the UW-Madison School of Music Online CD Store.

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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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St. Paul Chamber Orchestra violinist Leslie Shank to join School of Music

The School of Music welcomes violinist Leslie Shank as visiting assistant professor of violin next fall, replacing Felicia Moye who has taken a position at McGill University in Montreal. Shank is a longtime member of the 55-year-old Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, one of the world’s most renowned chamber ensembles, known for its adventurous programming, commissions and world premieres. This week, the orchestra will premiere a new viola concerto composed by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

Leslie Shank

Leslie Shank

Leslie is well-known to the musicians of Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet, who recommended her appointment. “I couldn’t be happier to welcome Leslie Shank to the UW School of Music this coming fall,” says David Perry, Pro Arte violinist. “Her performance and master classes in recent years have been inspirational, and it will be great for our students to benefit from her broad range of experience on a more regular basis.” Pro Arte violist Sally Chisholm praises Shank’s “wonderful and boundless energy.”

For her part, Shank is thrilled to have the opportunity to work at UW-Madison. “Phenomenal musicians come out of UW,” says Shank, which is not true of all universities, she adds. “I’m honored to be invited to join such amazing faculty. People would give their eyeteeth to be able to work in that department.” Hear Leslie perform in this audio clip from Minnesota Public Radio.

Shank will commute to Madison while maintaining her role as a violinist in St. Paul. She hopes to bring UW’s violinists to the Twin Cities for concerts, she adds.

Ms.Shank has been a member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra since 1984 and was assistant concertmaster for 24 years. She gave her New York recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Hall as a winner of the Artists International Competition, and was twice re-engaged to perform on its Special Presentation Series. Shank has also performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, the National Orchestral Association (also serving as concertmaster), and the Racine Symphony. Her recital at the celebrated Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago was broadcast on WFMT radio. She has also appeared with the Baltimore Symphony as guest associate concertmaster, and with the Indianapolis Symphony as guest concertmaster.

Ms. Shank currently serves as concertmaster of the “Music in the Mountains” Festival in Colorado, and has performed at numerous other festivals including Aspen, Grand Teton, Mainly Mozart, Marlboro, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Orcas Island Festival, and the Britt Festival, where she served as concertmaster of the festival orchestra. As a member of the prestigious Musicians from Marlboro, she performed several concerts throughout the East Coast. Additionally, she plays both violin and viola as a member of the Hot Dish Trio with pianist, Susan Billmeyer, and clarinetist, Karrin Meffert-Nelson.

On disc, Leslie can be heard on two Centaur releases, Recital for Violin & Guitar, with her husband, classical guitarist Joseph Hagedorn, and the Bartok Violin Sonatas with pianist Heather MacLaughlin. Ms. Shank’s interest in Bartok’s Violin Sonatas resulted in a trip to Hungary with pianist Heather MacLaughlin to study those works and was supported by a grant from the General Mills, Dayton Hudson and Jerome Foundations. The Shank-MacLaughlin Duo also received the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians.

Leslie received bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School. Her teachers were Shirley Givens, Felix Galimir, and Dorothy Delay.