According to recent data published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 70% of all children residing in Wisconsin are identified as white, while 9% of the state’s children are identified as non-Hispanic Black. Yet Black children in Wisconsin face grave, disproportionate risks that include residing in families who live below the federal poverty level, experiencing high numbers of school suspensions and expulsions, not graduating high school on time, dying before reaching the age of 19, being sentenced to juvenile detention or residential correctional facilities, and being sentenced to prison.

Join Professor Teri Dobbs as she presents recent data from the Civil Rights Data Collection, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and other sources to begin a conversation on how systemic racism structures life very differently for African-American children in majority white Wisconsin.

Professor Dobbs is professor and chair of music education at the  School of Music. She affiliates with the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, Disability Studies Initiative, Division of the Arts, and Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA). Dobbs’ scholarly interests focus on the musical experience via trauma and violence, transformative thinking and just action through critical interrogations of constructions of equity, inclusion, empathy, and care.

Hosted by Congregation Shaarei Shamayim

Sunday, February 28, 10 am via Zoom
Zoom link Meeting ID: 863 6672 8099
Password: 1989


UW-Madison’s Tandem Press and the Mead Witter School of Music’s jazz program will premiere a collaborative video production at 6 pm on February 12, 2021. The video features print works created by Tandem Press resident artists alongside new jazz compositions performed by UW’s student jazz ensembles. The video will be released and archived on the Mead Witter School of Music’s YouTube channel at The concert can also be viewed on the Tandem Press YouTube channel on the Tandem Press site at

Forced into an online-only format by Covid restrictions, UW’s 28 jazz ensemble students, led by jazz ensemble directors Johannes Wallmann, Peter Dominguez, Les Thimmig, and Nick Moran didn’t drop a beat going into the fall semester and immediately got to work making music remotely using students’ computers in their homes and practice spaces to create 45 multi-tracked collaborative ensemble recordings.

The Tandem Press jazz concert series dates back to 2014, and each semester since has featured three performances by UW’s jazz ensemble at Tandem Press’s galleries and production space in Madison’s historic Roundhouse building at 1743 Commercial Avenue. With in-person UW music concerts cancelled for the fall semester, Tandem Press and the jazz program reimagined the concert series and collaborated on this video production which was Covid-safely recorded at the downtown recording studio Audio for the Arts with videography by Microtone Media. Audio engineer Audrey Martinovich and videographer Dave Alcorn also seamlessly integrated interviews as well as musical contributions by students unable to participate in-person due to unanticipated mandatory quarantines and students who were taking fall semester classes remotely.

The video is a virtual recreation of attending a Tandem Press jazz concert where audiences are invited to stroll the galleries and explore the prints created by Tandem Press’s resident artists in between sets of music presented in a quiet listening space. The video features five compositions by students and faculty and showcases the work of Tandem Press artists. In particular, the video celebrates the work of African American artist Derrick Adams, a recent recipient of the New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem’s prestigious $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize. Adams’ prints inspired two student compositions by Luke Levitt and Collin Dedrick that are featured on the video.

The musical performances are interspersed with images of prints by Adams, Jeffrey Gibson, Judy Pfaff, and other artists who have worked at Tandem over the past 34 years. Viewers will see Adams’ prints being created in collaboration with our master printers. Tandem curators Sona Pastel Daneshgar and Myszka Lewis will give short talks on the Adams’ images. Audio for the Arts owner Buzz Kemper and Paula Panczenko, director of Tandem Press, welcome the audience, and Johannes Wallmann, UW’s John and Carolyn Peterson Professor of Jazz Studies, describes the program’s purpose and the collaboration which has taken place between both entities over the past six years.

Tandem Press and the UW jazz ensembles will create and release a second video later this spring. Previous in-person Tandem Press jazz concert can be viewed on the Tandem Press YouTube channel.

The Tandem Press concert series and this video collaboration are made possible with generous financial support from the John and Carolyn Peterson Foundation.

Welcome by Buzz Kemper and Paula Panczenko
Images by Judy Pfaff

“Boy on a Swan Float” (comp: Luke Leavitt), 4:00 minutes
Sona Pastel Daneshgar talks about Boy on a Swan Float.

“The Door” (comp: Sean Lloyd), 7:30 minutes
Suzanne Caporael – The Violet Gaze Series

Johannes Wallmann talks about the Jazz Studies Program and the collaboration with Tandem Press.

“To Party and Plan” (comp: Collin Dedrick), 4:50 minutes
Myszka Lewis talks about Party Guest 1 and Party Guest 2 by Derrick Adams.

Video on Derrick Adams’ prints being made at Tandem Press featuring the master printers Jason Ruhl and Joe Freye.

“Tired of Power” (comp: Luke Leavitt), 9:15 minutes
Images of works by Jeffrey Gibson and Alison Saar

“The Drifting Night” (comp: Les Thimmig), 11:00 minutes
Images of Robert Cottingham, Jim Dine, Carmen Lomas Garza, and Andy Burgess

A 2016 MEMF workshop. MEMF is moving its administrative home to the Mead Witter School of Music as of February 2021.

The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF) is moving from its administrative home in the UW-Madison Division of the Arts to a new administrative home in the Mead Witter School of Music as of February 2021. The festival will be known as the Madison Early Music Festival, a program of the Mead Witter School of Music. 

The partnership gives MEMF and the School of Music the opportunity to integrate and connect with existing curriculum, faculty, and students. The move also allows for increased access to acclaimed early music artists and increased resources available to program early music performances. 

MEMF Co-Artistic Directors Cheryl Bensman-Rowe and Paul Rowe will remain on staff with the festival through the spring 2022 semester.  

“MEMF is looking forward to having a more integral role at the Mead Witter School of Music, with opportunities during the academic year for students to study with guest musicians who specialize in historically informed performance,” Bensman-Rowe said. “Historical Performance is a growing field and we hope to entice students into exploring another career path in music.” 

MEMF was created in 2000 to provide an opportunity for musicians, scholars, teachers, students, and music enthusiasts to study Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music in its social, cultural, and political contexts, and to present concerts by acclaimed artists who specialize in historically informed performance of early music. 

“We refer to our MEMF community as family and would like to thank them for all of their enthusiasm,” Bensman-Rowe said. “MEMF has flourished because of them, and Madison became a recognized center for studying early music in the summer. We are extremely grateful for all of the support over the past 21 years.”

In spring 2022, a special finale event will mark the end of the MEMF as an annual summer festival to celebrate the beginning of its status as a fund to support early music initiatives. The event will also recognize the retirement of Bensman-Rowe and Rowe from MEMF, and is expected to consist of a concert featuring School of Music students and faculty, a guest ensemble, and participants from the MEMF community.

The original goal of the festival was to bring an intense experience of early music to increase sustained understanding, appreciation, and performing skills to the university and the community. Festivals lasted a week and featured a concert series, five days of workshop classes, lectures, student performances, and special events such as community dances. The 21st season of MEMF was offered as a free virtual performance series due to COVID-19.

Visit for the latest updates.

Learn more and register

Badger Precollege is excited to introduce the 2021 virtual Summer Music Clinic (SMC) experience. This year, SMC will run a series of 3-day intensives designed to help students grow as musicians and build authentic community connections.

Students may select from an array of performance-based classes and electives in band, orchestra, choir, musical theater and more. New this year, we’re also pleased to introduce a new selection of non-performance intensives. These new intensives will allow all students, regardless of their level of music experience, to learn about music and the world around us. Our intensive model uses best practices in music education and will allow students to learn virtually in a format that facilitates the growth of the whole person.

Full and partial scholarships based on financial need are granted each year. In addition, some community service organizations, such as local Kiwanis or Rotary chapters, may offer scholarship opportunities for their local students. School music boosters or other support organizations within your school district may also have funding available. Be sure to check for local resources in your community.

Visit the SMC website to learn more about course topics and to register. Questions? Contact


Summer Music Clinic 2021

Junior Intensive Sessions (completed grades 6‑8): June 21–23, June 24–26
Senior Intensive Sessions (completed grades 9‑12): June 28–30, July 1–3



Three-dimensional rendering of a shelving concept against a navy blue background

Unique iterative shelving concept for the Kohler Art Library by Anders Nienstaedt, recipient of a Graduate Student Creative Arts Award

By DotA staff

A two-year long photographic essay project by Darcy Padilla (Art Department) examining the profound economic and social disparities experienced by Americans caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A contemporary art exhibition by Roberto Torres Mata (Art Department) at the Chazen Museum of Art spotlighting the complex issues of migration from both human and animal perspectives. A premiere of a new choral work by Lawren Brianna Ware (Mead Witter School of Music) on the life and death of Elijah McClain (1996-2019), who fell victim to police brutality. The creation of a functional shelving system by Anders Nienstaedt (Art Department) to showcase curated library collections, while serving as beautiful and interactive public art in the Kohler Art Library.

These are just some of the people and their projects who were recently awarded funding through the University of Wisconsin–Madison Creative Arts Awards.

Each year, the Division of the Arts provides significant research support to faculty, staff, and students in the arts. Seven awards are available including one offered bi-annually. The 2021 Creative Arts Awards selection committee was comprised of Susan Zaeske (chair), Division of the Arts; Jennifer Angus, Design Studies; Anna Campbell, Gender and Women’s Studies; Anthony Di Sanza, Mead Witter School of Music; David Furumoto, Theatre and Drama; Florence Hsia, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE); and Leslie Smith III, Art Department.

The grants are divided into three categories: Faculty Arts Research, Staff and Faculty Arts Outreach, and Student Arts Research and Achievement.

“While the pandemic and national reckoning stress our health, economy, and wellbeing, the human drive to engage in creative expression perseveres. This was clearly demonstrated by the high caliber submissions to the 2021 Creative Arts Awards competition,” stated Susan Zaeske, Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, College of Letters & Science and Interim Director of the Division of the Arts. “Each honoree demonstrated in a unique way the power of the arts to respond to these unprecedented times through song, film, dance, theater, architecture, photography, and other forms of art. We are honored to recognize and support each of the honorees within their specific discipline and look forward to their on-going contributions to artistic knowledge, excellence, and research at UW­–Madison and the world. While we regret that this year we are unable to celebrate the recipients in person, we encourage faculty, staff, students, and the community to join us in a virtual award ceremony on May 4, 2021.”

For Ava Shadmani, a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student in violin performance, the award will “support my research project, ‘Unheard Voices of Iran,’ to foster, through music, an understanding of two cultures seemingly impossibly divided, East to West, Ancient to Modern.” She will use the David and Edith Sinaiko Frank Graduate Fellowship for a Woman in the Arts to record five new folk-inspired compositions by Iranian composers and present them to new audiences.

While some awards support future projects, others are given based on an individual’s contributions to their field. Jen Plants, for example, a faculty associate in the English Department, received a Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell Award in the Arts for her work in theater and performance as a means to address social, racial and economic injustice. “Plants is a prolific and powerful force in the study and practice of performance as a means for social awareness and change at UW. Her commitment to racial and economic equity is present throughout her work—in the topics it covers and the audiences it reaches,” notes her nominee, Michael Peterson, Professor of Art and Director of Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies.

While the pandemic has rendered it impossible to gather in person to attend artistic performances, the Edna Wiechers Arts in Wisconsin Award recipient Aaron Granat (videographer, cinematographer, and instructor in the Department of Communication Arts) will use his award to catalyze his vision to build a virtual platform from which artists may share their work to appreciators around the state. Leveraging the capacity of an online platform to share content limitlessly, Aaron plans to stream a regular series of multi-media virtual performances in music, dance, video arts, architecture, sculpture, and other mediums to the community that has lost the traditional opportunity to experience the arts.

With support from the Anonymous Fund, the Division of the Arts established a new Graduate Student Creative Arts Award. For graduate students whose public productions, exhibits, or performances were halted due to COVID-19, the award is particularly timely. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of our performance opportunities that would normally fund our recordings have been canceled. This Graduate Students Creative Arts Award will allow us the opportunity to record and release this music and to allow Golpe Tierra to grow professionally and deliver our message of social change,” says award recipient Nick Moran who is pursuing his graduate degree in Double Bass Performance.

“Creative Arts Award is a vehicle to propel my graduate work further in practice and in future endeavors. I will be able to maximize the investment in my practice and accomplish my goals beyond the project needs that will lead to greater impacts in the community,” says Roberto Torres Mata, whose exhibition about migration, In the Routes We Take, is slated for display at the Chazen Museum of Art in summer 2021.

Quanda Johnson, a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, was also one of the six recipients of the Graduate Student Creative Arts Award. She stated that she is excited to “lift scholarship and give voice to an area of research in the field of Interdisciplinary Performance that is often unconsidered and underserved.” On how the impact of the award will benefit her career, she expressed that the award will “have broad impacts with Interdisciplinary Performance as the vehicle on activism and social justice.” In Trauerspiel: Subject into Nonbeing, Johnson will explore four performative vignettes on the violence against Black bodies, psyches, and the resulting generational trauma using projection art, spoken word, dance, visual art, and poetic reading.

The awardees will be honored during a virtual reception on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

Below is the full list of 2021 Creative Arts Award recipients. View full recipient bios online.


  • Darcy Padilla, Associate Professor, Art Department


  • Daniel Grabois, Associate Professor of Horn, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Mark Hetzler, Professor of Trombone, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Michael Peterson, Professor, Art Department; Director, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies


  • Jen Plants, Faculty Associate, English Department
  • Ben Reiser, Wisconsin Film Festival Director of Operations, Department of Communication Arts


  • Aaron Granat, Associate Lecturer, Department of Communication Arts


  • Ava Shadmani, DMA Candidate, Violin Performance, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Lawren Brianna Ware, DMA Candidate, Musical Composition, Mead Witter School of Music


  • Sarah Brailey, DMA Candidate, Vocal Performance, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Timothy Yip, DMA Candidate, Violin Performance, Mead Witter School of Music    


  • Quanda Johnson, PhD Candidate, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies (ITS)
  • Nick Moran, MM Candidate, Double Bass Performance, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Anders Nienstaedt, MFA Candidate, Art Department
  • Chris Rottmayer, DMA Candidate, Piano Performance, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Midori Samson, DMA Candidate, Bassoon Performance, Mead Witter School of Music
  • Roberto Torres Mata, MFA Candidate, Art Department

We are saddened to learn that Professor Jeanette Ross died Dec. 21, 2020. Professor Ross earned music degrees from Northwestern University School of Music and the American Conservatory of Music before joining the music faculty at Monticello College in 1946.

She would later join the School of Music faculty in 1957, where she played an important role in redeveloping the Class Piano Program. Professor Ross retired from the School of Music in 1990.

A full obituary for Professor Ross is available here.



The Hamel Music Center was featured in the January 2021 issue of Structure magazine.

“A balance between the structural, acoustic, and architectural designs resulted in a world-class music facility right on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus. Little does the musician or event-goer know that, to achieve acoustic perfection, three separate buildings were designed – and that these three separate buildings had to fit within a whole other, larger structure.”

Read the full article

Schubertiade 2021 Program

Schubertiade 2021 Biographies

Schubertiade 2021 Texts & Translations

For the 8th consecutive year, the Mead Witter School of Music will present its annual Schubertiade, a special concert celebrating the music of Franz Schubert. Traditionally these concerts have been held around the composer’s birthday. This year’s concert will in fact occur on his birthday: Sunday, January 31 at 3 pm at

As in past years, Martha Fischer, professor of piano and head of the collaborative piano program at UW-Madison, and her husband Bill Lutes, an independent piano teacher, and UW Emeritus Artist-in-Residence, will host the program.

These concerts have been presented in the sprit of the first Schubertiades that took place during the composer’s lifetime (1797-1828) in the homes of his friends and fellow artists, poets, and fans. These were social as well as musical occasions with Schubert himself presiding at the piano, giving his audience a chance to hear his latest songs, piano duets and chamber music, as well as pieces that had already become favorites.

This year’s Schubertiade will be rather different, in response to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be an online look back—or Rückblick—at past concerts, with songs chosen from performances that have been preserved in our audio and video archive. The featured performers will include faculty, students and alumni from the Mead Witter School of Music, along with special guests. In addition pianists Fischer and Lutes will give a “new” performance recorded for this occasion of the great Fantasie in F-minor for piano duet.

The songs have been chosen to reflect themes that were not only relevant to Schubert and his circle, but also to all of us in the midst of this challenging time: hope for a brighter future, the need for connection with others, remembrance of happier times, and the consolation to be found in nature.

Schubert left us a vast and precious legacy of beauty—an enormous output of music that he composed in his short lifetime. In a sense, each time his music is performed and heard, it is a journey from the past to our own time, the sounds speaking to us today as vividly and consolingly as they did when they were created 200 years ago.



Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes, pianists


Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano

Emily Birsan, soprano

Michael Roemer, baritone

Jennifer D’Agostino, soprano

Daniel O’Dea, tenor

Wesley Dunnagan, tenor

Sarah Brailey (alumna and current DMA student)

Sara Guttenberg


Marie McManama, soprano

Cheryl Bensman-Rowe, mezzo soprano


Mimmi Fulmer, soprano

Paul Rowe, baritone

Julia Rottmayer, soprano


David Alcorn, Videographer, editor, etc.

Katrin Talbot, Images for audio only tracks

American conductor Kenneth Woods has been selected as recipient of the 2020 UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award. Woods was nominated for the award by James Smith, with additional letters of support from John DeMain, Parry Karp, and Cyrena Pondrom.

The School of Music established a Distinguished Alumni Award to recognize alumni who are making outstanding contributions to the music profession in service and in artistic impact. The award in particular recognizes exceptional skills and credentials as a music professional as well as significant influence on the profession.

Hailed by Gramophone Magazine as “a symphonic conductor of stature,” Woods was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra in 2013. He was also recently appointed Artistic Director of both the Colorado MahlerFest–the only US organization other than the New York Philharmonic to receive the International Gustav Mahler Society’s Gold Medal–and the Elgar Festival in Worcester.

“Equally at home as a conductor, recitalist, chamber musician, and writer, Kenneth is a credit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” retired Director of Orchestras James Smith said. “His artistic accomplishments and the numerous ways he has contributed to the music profession, and his outstanding career as a multi-talented professional musician, make him an excellent nominee for this award.”

As a guest, Woods has conducted ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and the English Chamber Orchestra.

“This past season, Kenneth made his conducting debut with the Madison Symphony Orchestra,” MSO Music Director John DeMain said. “His work drew raves from the musicians, audience and critics. Indeed, his performance of Haydn was revelatory, and Strauss’ extraordinarily difficult ‘Ein Heldenieben’ came off flawlessly.”

Under his leadership, the English Symphony Orchestra has gained widespread recognition as one of the most innovative and influential orchestras in the UK. In 2016, Woods and the ESO launched their “21st Century Symphony Project,” an ambitious multi-year effort to commission, premiere and record nine new symphonies by leading composers, with Philip Sawyers’ Third Symphony.

Woods earned his MM in Cello as a student of Parry Karp at the School of Music from 1991-1993. He remains active as a cellist, and his debut recordings with the string trio Ensemble Epomeo and the Briggs Piano Trio were both recipients of the Gramophone Editor’s Choice.

“The breadth and quantity of Kenneth’s work as a musician is awe-inspiring, and the consistent high quality of his artistic work is spectacular,” Professor of Chamber Music and Cello Parry Karp said. “While conducting has become the biggest part of his life as a musician, he has stayed very active as a cellist, musical writer, educator, composer and arranger. In all of these areas he is highly original, challenging and inspires the musicians around him to new heights. He is a great role model for young musicians of today, many of whom have to wear many hats to be successful.”  

A widely read writer and frequent broadcaster, Woods’ blog, A View from the Podium, is one of the 25 most popular classical blogs in the world. He has spoken on Mahler on NPR’s All Things Considered and is a regular guest on BBC radio programs. Since 2014, he has been Honorary Patron of the Hans Gál Society.

Mead Witter School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award candidates are reviewed each year by the Distinguished Music Alumni Award Committee. This committee consists of faculty emeriti, current faculty, the president of the School of Music Alumni Association, and the director of the Mead Witter School of Music.

Professor Laura Schwendinger is one of 14 composers selected to receive a 2020 Fromm commission from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University. The award marks Professor Schwendinger’s second Fromm commission.

According to the foundation, these commissions represent one of the principal ways that the foundation seeks to strengthen composition and to bring contemporary concert music closer to the public. In addition to the commissioning award, a subsidy is available for the ensemble performing the premiere of the commissioned work.

The Fromm Music Foundation was founded by the late Paul Fromm in 1952. Since 1972, it  has been located at Harvard University where it has operated in partnership with the Harvard University Music Department. Over the course of its existence, the Fromm Foundation has commissioned over 400 new compositions and their performances. The Fromm Foundation has also sponsored hundreds of new music concerts and concert series, among them Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music, American Composers Orchestra, and the Fromm Concert Series at Harvard University. The foundation  has also supported a Fromm Visiting Professorship for established composers in the Department of Music, and the Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence program at the American Academy in Rome.

Professors Rachel Brenner and Teryl Dobbs are presenting papers at the Association for Jewish Studies 52nd Annual Conference as part of the panel Uses and Abuses of Art in Representations of Holocaust Violence.

The panel is on Dec. 15 from 11:30 am-12:45 pm CST, and is one of several selected by AJS to be lived streamed to the public, free of charge, by AJS TV via Facebook Live.

“This is a first for AJS, and Rachel and I are thrilled that our panel was selected,” Professor Dobbs said.

Uses and Abuses of Art in Representations of Holocaust Violence

The adage “when the guns roar, the muses fall silent” does not reflect adequately the reality of the Holocaust violence which was not limited the physical annihilation of the Jewish victims. The scheme of the Final Solution aimed also at the dehumanization of the victims; it intended to destroy the victims’ dignity, beliefs, and identity. Distorted forms of art were called on to disfigure the victims, disparage their cultural heritage, and reaffirm their moral repulsiveness. Such use of art in the process of dehumanization violated not only the victims’ sense of humanity; it violated art itself, stripping it from its humanistic value. This panel shows the diverse role of visual arts, music, and literature in a) the documentation of the abuse, b) the contribution to the process of dehumanization, and c) the production of the story of continuing degradation.

Presentations include “Literary Responses to the Holocaust: The Continuing Polish Hostility toward Jews” by Rachel Feldhay Brenner, “Violated! Jewish Women during the Holocaust in Visual Arts” by Batya Brutin, and “Music as Violence: The Musical Experience of Dachau” by Teryl L Dobbs. Discussant: Michlean Amir, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

By Doug Erickson
University Communications

UW–Madison will confer nearly 3,000 degrees this Sunday at its winter 2020 commencement ceremony, to be held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. The virtual ceremony will be released at beginning at 11 a.m. central time on Dec. 13.

The ceremony will be prerecorded, not live, and will be available to the public. No password is needed. The video will remain available on the website so that people can watch the ceremony at a time most convenient to them.

“As we did in the spring, we will honor our graduates and their accomplishments with a virtual ceremony,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Later, we will find an opportunity for these graduates to celebrate in person with family and friends.”

Preliminary estimates show 2,932 degrees will be conferred Sunday (2,117 undergraduate, 526 master’s and 289 doctoral). The virtual commencement ceremony will include remarks from several people, including Chancellor Blank, soccer standout and UW–Madison alumna Rose Lavelle, and alumni speaker John Felder, an organizer and spokesman for the 1969 Black Student Strike.

Student speaker Sven Kleinhans will give remarks on behalf of his fellow graduates. A few of the notable winter graduates can be found in this roundup.

Additionally, honorary doctorates will be awarded to cancer researcher V. Craig Jordan and distance learning pioneer Michael G. Moore, both of whom did groundbreaking work early in their careers at UW–Madison.

Tony Award-winning Broadway star and UW–Madison alumnus André De Shields will close the ceremony with a special rendition of “Varsity.”

As a special gift, any graduate renting or purchasing a cap and gown is receiving a free celebration kit: a UW-branded face covering, a confetti popper and a refrigerator pennant magnet.

Those watching can comment on the commencement proceedings on YouTube Premiere, as well as on social media with the hashtag #UWGrad. For more information on commencement, please see

Several Voice & Opera students placed in the semifinalist or finalist category well at the 2020 Wisconsin NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) annual auditions. Here are the results:

Semifinalists (all students of Professor Jim Doing)

Summer Kleppek, Lower College Musical Theatre Women
Emily Quartemont, Sophomore Women
Maria Steigerwald, Junior Women

Finalists, and all winning first place awards in their divisions

Maria Marsland Lower College Musical Theatre Women (student of Professor Jim Doing)
Noah Strube  Lower College Musical Theatre Men (student of Professor Mimmi Fulmer)
DaSean Stokes College Age and Graduate Age American Negro Spiritual (student of Professor Mimmi Fulmer)

“We couldn’t have done this without the steady artistic support of our collaborative pianist program, including Will Preston and Aubrie Jacobson,” Professor Fulmer said.

Wisconsin NATS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the highest standards of singing through excellence in teaching and promotion of vocal education and research. Wisconsin NATS members include private-studio teachers, college and university faculty members, and other educators who are involved and interested in healthy and artistic use of the human voice. NATS events and activities are designed to cover interests across this broad spectrum, and all members are encouraged to participate.

The Hamel Music Center has been named the Midwest’s Best Cultural Project 2020 by the Engineering News-Record.

From the Engineering News-Record release:

Built on a heavily trafficked and often noisy corner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Hamel Music Center’s design was driven by acoustic considerations. The 75,000-sq-ft performance, instruction, recording and practice space consolidates smaller facilities across campus and includes a 660-seat main concert hall, a 320-seat recital hall and a rehearsal room that can accommodate a full orchestra. Although enclosed within the same building, the three performance spaces were built as separate structures to help isolate them acoustically. An acoustic joint further isolates each music hall from vibrations conducted by the building’s hard surfaces.

Unusual and highly precise concrete forms were required in the main hall to create circular openings at specific locations in the 70-ft-high cast-in-place walls. The openings connect to large chambers on each side of the hall to provide reverberance.

Mechanical systems are routed through corridors and back-of-house spaces to keep any noise or vibration from transferring to the structures surrounding the three music halls. Pipes are wrapped with additional insulation to absorb sound. To eliminate air noise while maintaining comfortable circulation in the concert hall, air is diffused from underneath the seats on the main floor and from the back of balcony seating instead of through large vents.

The accordion-like exterior envelops 16-in.-thick double walls that shield each hall from outside noise. The roof is made of 50,000 lb. of placed concrete to further reduce noise.

Concrete work presented numerous challenges throughout the project. Extra rebar install time caused the high wall crew to lose schedule time. As a result, the team developed rebar lift drawings to help crews pre-tie all mats prior to the inside forms being set. This included the locations of acoustical coffers, box-outs, dowels and add-bar. By enabling the concrete contractor to tie ahead of the wall crew, the team could save as much as a full day on corner pours. There was no room on site for the rebar contractor to pre-tie their mats on the ground, so the team built an elevated pre-tie deck. Finished rebar mats were then picked by the tower crane and set into place.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to build something like this,” says Tim Bizjak, senior project manager at JP Cullen. “Not many people can say they’ve built a performance arts center, not to mention one with this level of finishes.”

Jun & Sandy Lee

Active arts philanthropists and Mead Witter School of Music supporters Jun and Sandy Lee were named Outstanding Individual Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Madison Chapter during the annual National Philanthropy Day celebration.

Hosted by AFP Greater Madison, the 33rd Annual National Philanthropy Day took place as a virtual event on November 13, 2020. The event honored the people and organizations “whose financial and volunteer efforts make Madison and Dane County a wonderful place to live.”

The Lees were nominated for the award by the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

Major supporters of the Hamel Music Center building project, the Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall honors the Lee’s match to a gift from the estate of Annette Kaufman. The rehearsal hall provides space for large ensembles, and can accommodate pre-and post-concert educational talks, events, and receptions. The Lees named the hall in honor of Jun’s parents, Sing Man and Florence Lee, who share their love of music.

Jun and Sandy are also frequent supporters of the University Opera program, and sit on the Mead Witter School of Music advisory board.

University Opera has been awarded 2nd place in the 2019-2020 National Opera Association Production Competition (Division V) for last winter’s production of Cosi fan tutte.

The goal of the NOA Opera Production Competition is to further the organization’s mission by encouraging and rewarding creative, high quality opera productions at academic institutions and music conservatories. The Opera Production Competition is divided into multiple divisions so that competitors are fairly judged against similarly cast and budgeted productions.

Learn more here.

University Opera explored the vicissitudes of love with Mozart’s beloved Cosi fan tutte. Blending rollicking humor with keen insight and barely concealed cynicism, Cosi features some of the most ravishing music Mozart ever wrote.

The University Opera production placed Cosi in 1920, a time in which the early women’s rights movement was gaining momentum. Against this backdrop, this story of male manipulation takes on greater dimensionality and nuance.

The cast featured Rachel Love and Cayla Rosché alternating as Fiordiligi, and Chloe Agostino and Julia Urbank splitting the performances as Dorabella. Carly Ochoa, Anja Pustaver, and Kelsey Wang all sing the role of Despina. Benjamin Hopkins sang Ferrando, Kevin Green played Guglielmo, and James Harrington was Don Alfonso.

The production was designed by Joseph Varga with lighting by Zak Stowe. Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park were the costume designers; Lydia Berggruen, the props designer; Jan Ross, hair and wig designer, and the production stage manager was Dylan Thoren. Others on the production staff included Benjamin Hopkins, operations manager for University Opera; Alice Combs, master electrician; assistant stage managers Grace Greene and Cecilia League; and Ashley Haggard and Kelsey Wang, costume assistants.

Cosi fan tutte, by W.A. Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
David A Ronis, Director
Oriol Sans, Conductor
Joseph Varga, Scenic Designer
Thomas Kasdorf, Vocal Coach

Current and former Mead Witter School of Music students are participating in The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) 2020 National Conference, “Land and Equity: The Art and Politics of Place.” Beginning October 15 and held throughout multiple days, the a2ru conference is an opportunity for practitioners and researchers from across the higher education spectrum to share innovations and perspectives in the arts.

Thea Valmadrid and Mat Rodriguez are presenting Undoing Classical Whiteness: Incorporating Anti-Racism and Social Justice into Classical Music Courses at UW-Madison. Their session begins at 1 pm October 19.

Midori Samson is presenting “In C”: Using Terry Riley’s masterpiece to operationalize a social justice approach to music pedagogy with refugee children. Her session begins at 3 pm October 29. 

Thea and Matt’s session explores a course proposal that demands a required education on the relationship between Western and Non-Western music cultures while maintaining a focus on anti-racism and social justice. They note that at the Mead Witter School of Music, the present curriculum requirements for B.A., B.S., and B.M. degrees have a heavy emphasis on the education of Western music. B.M. degrees require a single Non-Western music course, but this course is a survey of Non-Western music cultures without a primary focus on social justice.

Further, there are two elective courses that address elements of racism in Western music, but they are electives that have only been offered recently and are upper-level courses that are typically only available to upperclassmen during undergraduate years.

The purpose of Thea and Matt’s course is to create visibility of the experiences of POC musicians in the classical music world, educate non-POC musicians on their privilege, and ensure that supportive race discussions are held early into undergraduate studies and in the classical music field.

Midori’s session explores the compositional structure that Terry Riley uses in “In C” is ideal for reconstruction and experimentation when teaching music composition to children. Midori will describe her work using “In C” as a point of entry for composition lessons with refugee students. She will also introduce a new framework for a social justice approach to music pedagogy that motivates these composition lessons.

At the core of Midori’s work is the idea that learning music comes with powerful benefits, including boosting confidence, communication, and teamwork. But music can only guarantee these benefits when students have access to an anti-oppressive classroom. She observes that western music’s pedagogical tradition has harmful tendencies: it can undermine students’ voice and musical ideas, and it largely excludes students who lack training.

It can even perpetuate colonialist ideals of white hegemony through practices like forcing the use of conventional notation, teaching exclusively western instruments, exposing students to music by white male composers only, and emphasizing tradition and discipline over individuality and experimentation.

To urgently respond to these observations, Midori has created a framework that reimagines music pedagogy through a social justice lens. Inspired by related frameworks in the social work literature, she names principles of socially just music pedagogy and explains how teaching artists can exemplify them, particularly when making music with refugee communities.

Thea Valmadrid is a 2020 graduate of UW-Madison.  She received her Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance under the direction of Soh-Hyun Altino.  During her time at UW-Madison, Thea was a Writing Fellow, B.A.S.E.S. mentor, and member of the Mead Witter School of Music Symphony Orchestra and chamber music program.  Additionally, she has written an award-winning research paper addressing discrimination that female Asian American writing tutors face at UW-Madison, and currently is pursuing a paralegal degree.

Mat Rodriguez is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Clarinet Performance with plans to graduate in May 2021. At the Mead Witter School of Music, Mat studies clarinet with Alicia Lee and performs in the Wingrito Wind Quintet, Symphony Orchestra, and Wind Ensemble. Outside of music, he is a melanoma oncology student research assistant in the Sondel Research Group and a resource navigator for medically underserved patients at local community health clinics.

Midori is a bassoonist, educator, activist and scholar. She is a doctoral candidate and Collins Fellow in bassoon performance and social welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Lecturer of Bassoon at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and a member of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist and orchestral musician, she has performed across North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Additionally, she is a teaching artist with Artists Striving to End Poverty and is the Founding Artistic Director of Trade Winds Ensemble, an organization that teaches music composition in partnership with social impact organizations around the world. Her research investigates how music pedagogy and social work can integrate to create a more anti-racist and anti-oppressive classical music landscape. She holds degrees from The Juilliard School and the University of Texas at Austin.

The Mead Witter of Music graduate string quartet has been named in honor of Dr. Marvin J. Rabin. An internationally acclaimed music educator and Emeritus Professor of Music at UW-Madison, Dr. Rabin (1916-2013) influenced generations of students throughout his life. 

Professor of Cello Parry Karp, who will oversee the quartet this fall, was a strong advocate for honoring Dr. Rabin.

“Marvin Rabin is the father of the youth orchestra movement in the United States and his devoted inspired work positively affected thousands of young musicians during his lifetime and that effect continues to this day,” Karp said. “As one of the legendary string educators, we are very excited to name our graduate string quartet at the Mead Witter School of Music in his distinguished memory.”

Dr. Rabin’s work was recognized worldwide. As the founder of youth orchestras in Wisconsin and in Massachusetts, many universities and workshops still use his continuing education programs for string teachers and conductors as a model for their own programs.  

“For our graduate string quartet to bear his name is an honor for them but also honors a Madison legend,” Professor of Viola Sally Chisholm said. “Marvin  inspired thousands of string educators nationwide for decades, and he was innovative, expert and charismatic as an educator. No horizon was impossible for him to challenge for something better.”

The Marvin Rabin String Quartet performs its first recital of the fall semester on November 6 at 6:30 pm. The concert will stream live at

Current quartet members include Ava Shadmani (Violin DMA 3rd year); Rachel Reese-Kollmeyer (Violin DMA 2nd year); Fabio Saggin (Viola DMA 3rd year); and Ben Therrell (Cello DMA 2nd year). 

Marvin Rabin Quartet