Nominations for the 2020 Mead Witter School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award are now open. This award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who is making, or has made, an outstanding contribution to the Music profession in service or in artistic impact. In addition to the award, the award recipient will receive recognition on the school’s website with a profile in any publication related to the award.
Nominations are due October 15, 2020. Learn more about the nomination process and eligibility requirements: Distinguished Alumni Award
For the purpose of judging nominations, an outstanding contribution should include evidence of one or more of the following:
• Artistic Award: Exceptional skills and credentials as a music professional.
• Service Award: Noteworthy contributions in music to society at large including significant influence on the candidate’s place of employment, community, and/or profession.
Alumna JoAnn Krause was the recipient of the 2019 award. JoAnn received a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1961, and went on to enjoy a career as a public school general music teacher, a studio piano instructor, a church music director, an accompanist for WSMA competitions, and more.
JoAnne has served in a variety of leadership roles on multiple boards including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Association of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestras, the Volunteer Council of the American Symphony Orchestra League, PianoArts of Wisconsin, and is a dedicated member of the UW School of Music Board of Advisors.
In 2006, JoAnn and her husband Don established a scholarship in the Mead Witter School of Music that presents two annual scholarships to a junior or senior majoring in Music Education. As a member of the School’s Board of Advisors, JoAnne, along with Don, pledged early support for the Hamel Music Center.
The first Grace Presents virtual concert, filmed in the resonant nave of Grace Church, will feature cellist Cole Randolph, performing selections for solo cello by J. S. Bach, Bright Sheng, and George Crumb. Cole, a class of 2020 graduate and a Posse Foundation Leadership Scholar, received his Bachelor of Science Degree this spring with majors in Mathematics, Economics, and Music/Cello Performance.
A student of Uri Vardi, Cole served as cellist of the Mead Witter School of Music Perlman Piano Trio and principal cellist of the UW Symphony Orchestra. Looking forward, Cole will serve as an incoming African American Orchestral Fellow for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra beginning in the fall of 2020.
Grace Presents will host a Zoom meet-n-greet with our guest artist following the performance. If you’d like to attend this virtual gathering, please RSVP to Grace Presents Program Coordinator James Waldo (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
The Mead Witter School of Music is immensely saddened by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Tony Robinson and countless others. Though we are saddened, we cannot claim shock: this country’s history is laced with anti-Black violence.
We feel that it is a matter of human dignity and duty to express our outrage and stand with our Black community members including students, faculty, and staff. We also stand in solidarity with those who are protesting anti-Black injustice in all its forms: not only the most blatant forms like police murders, but also disproportionate rates of incarceration, disparities in healthcare and education, and myriad other structural inequities.
We offer our sympathy in anger and grief, our love for those who wish to accept it, and our ears and shoulders for those who may need them. Especially, we affirm our commitment to dismantling the structures that perpetuate racial disparities both inside and outside the School of Music. Please feel free to reach out to the undersigned with thoughts, feelings, and suggestions. We do not all experience the world in the same way, as these police murders make clear, but we do share it, and we wish to share it well.
Susan C. Cook, Director of the Mead Witter School of Music
David Crook, Diversity Advocate for the Mead Witter School of Music
Trombonist Cole Bartels and composer Brian Mark’s work “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” was selected as a winner of the MOZAIK Philanthropy’s “Future Art Awards” competition. The work was one of 10 winners selected from an applicant pool of 1,100+ submissions.
At the onset of the national pandemic, MOZAIK Philanthropy “put a call out to artists across the nation to capture this unprecedented moment in human history from a diversity of lived experiences and creative perspectives.”
“Recognizing the healing power of the arts to evoke empathy, awaken critical consciousness, and rally communities to action, we asked both professional and amateur artists from all walks of life to help us all – as one human family – imagine what could come next— a future, reimagined,” MOZAIK Philanthropy wrote.
Cole is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in trombone performance at the Mead Witter School of Music. He studies with Prof. Mark Hetzler and is the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the trombone studio. He also currently serves as principal trombone in the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.
From composer Brian Mark’s program notes:
“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” is a solo work for trombone and digital delay processing pedal that was written for Madison, WI based trombonist Cole Bartels and was created as a direct result of COVID-19. The title is a verse taken from Emma Lazarus’s iconic 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” which was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty and was written to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal.
I can view the Statue of Liberty from my Brooklyn apartment, and it was during this time that the whole situation regarding the pandemic came full circle as I was gazing out the window. I was immediately struck by the 11th verse of this poem, since there is a cruel twist of irony that is currently taking place in America. We are a nation of immigrants, yet it’s shocking that the current administration has placed very strict laws on immigration since 2017, including the recent temporary suspension from April of 2020.
The landscape of New York citizens wearing masks in public, let alone those across the United States, is now also a stark contrast from Lazarus’s plea to “breathe free.” Although the masks are required to prevent the infection of this respiratory disease, I feel that we could be entering a new dystopian age where the freedom to breathe and prosper will be suppressed by major forces beyond our control. The mood on the streets in New York City feels very grim and ominous, yet at times hopeful, as these new “social distancing” laws have put its citizens through fear and uncertainty.
“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” depicts the current atmosphere felt by many concerned Americans, as it feels that our society is in fact “yearning to breathe free” from a socio-economic, physical and psychological perspective. This piece was constructed as a ternary musical form with a duration of ten minutes, due to the inclusion of the delay pedal loops. I experimented with various techniques and textural ranges of this instrument, as the material contracting and expanding throughout the work symbolizes the poet’s metaphor from this particular verse.
This piece also employs the use of music quotation, as the opening melodic material from America’s national anthem is echoed throughout as a warning to the masses. “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” also metaphorically alludes to a possible apocalyptic type scenario of our current environment, as this particular brass instrument subtly implies the trumpets from the Book of Revelation (though both the trombone and trumpet are part of the brass family). “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” was recorded and mixed on May 7, 2020.
This particular abstract video installation accompanies the surreal mood of the music composition. It is comprised of actual news and media footages from various American cities during this current pandemic, and was specifically created for the Mozaik Philanthropy’s “Future Art Awards” Competition.
Dr. Michael Alexander, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, has been named the University’s seventh chancellor. Alexander began his new role May 1, 2020.
“I am honored and humbled to work for the dedicated and talented students, faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,” Alexander said. “While my position as chancellor may be new at the University, my passion and dedication for the people of this community are stronger than ever and my family is proud to call Green Bay our home. With a growing academic portfolio, deep connections to the community and presence in the region, UW-Green Bay will continue to expand its impact on the population it serves.”
Alexander has served as provost and vice chancellor at UW-Green Bay since July 2019. As the University’s second highest administrative officer and senior academic officer, he oversees programming and leadership of the four academic colleges; the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, the Division of Continuing Education and Community Engagement, the UW-Green Bay Libraries, the Office of Admissions, and leads the four UW-Green Bay campuses including those in Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. As provost, he consults with the chancellor on all aspects of the University and speaks for the University in the chancellor’s absence.
Since joining the University, Alexander led the expansion of the University’s Continuing Education and Community Engagement efforts to build connections to high school students, increase non-credit offerings, and provide educational services to regional businesses; created academic affairs strategic priorities to drive the university’s strategic mission and vision; initiated new, international relationships with universities in Thailand; created an Office of Sustainability to improve efficiencies and increase the profile of UW-Green Bay as a campus traditionally engaged with environmental study; and restructured Graduate Studies and the Office of Grants and Research, setting the stage for the University’s growing research efforts.
“Anyone who has had the opportunity to work closely with Mike Alexander knows what a tremendous asset he is to UW-Green Bay and our region,” said Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven. “I have been immensely impressed with his vast knowledge of higher education and his vision for the future that aligns with UW-Green Bay’s mission. Mike has exceptional analytical skills and the ability to quickly put into action the necessary steps to move the university forward. He has quickly gained the respect of cabinet members, colleagues in the UW System and, more importantly, faculty and staff campus wide. His comprehensive understanding of university operations, with a relentless focus on student success, make him an ideal leader for UW-Green Bay at this moment in time.”
Prior to his role at UW-Green Bay, Alexander served as director of the School of Music at the University of Northern Colorado. He has also served as the interim director of the School of Music at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Alexander holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from UW-Madison. He earned his master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting from UW-Milwaukee, and a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Georgia. The Grand Island, New York native lived in Wisconsin from 1995 to 2004.
“I know the work of the University will increasingly be a driver in the educational, economic, cultural and civic life of Green Bay, Manitowoc, Marinette and Sheboygan. Our mission and vision is for a university that fearlessly meets challenges, solves problems, embraces diversity, cares about our region and provides access to education for all who want it honors the innovative spirit of the founders of the University and moves us forward. The potential for the future of this institution is immense. My belief in that future has been reaffirmed daily from the moment I arrived in Green Bay and first set foot on the campus.”
Alexander will be the UW-Green Bay’s seventh chancellor, succeeding Gary L. Miller, who left the University in September 2019 to serve as president at the University of Akron. Miller served as the university’s top administrator since August 2014.
“During Michael’s tenure at Green Bay he has demonstrated keen listening and engagement skills,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “His experience as a conductor has clearly enriched and influenced his ability to lead individual experts and professionals.”
Michael Draney, chair of UW-Green Bay’s Department of Natural & Applied Science and vice chair of the Chancellor Search and Screen Committee, said Alexander is “widely respected and admired by the faculty, staff, and students at UW-Green Bay, and his vision and leadership abilities are real assets to this institution.”
Alexander reflected on the announcement during this unprecedented time in the history of the University and the world: “I am incredibly proud of how our University has reacted to the challenges we currently face,” he shared. “We support one another, build each other up and always uphold our commitment to educating students. Led by Chancellor Van Gruensven, we have continued to show that we are a resilient and devoted community of teachers, researchers, scholars, artists and students. This community’s courage gives me strength. I am eager to build our future together.”
UW is carefully planning for a return to campus, writes Chancellor Blank.
The next academic year is likely to have elements of virtual delivery of instruction, coupled with other changes to promote community health and safety.
What are your plans after graduation?
Next fall I will be heading to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music to begin pursuing a master’s degree in percussion performance.
What will you miss most about the School of Music?
I will definitely miss the people from the School of Music the most. I have made lifelong friends and collaborated with many incredible musicians. All the faculty I had the pleasure to learn from have given me knowledge and skills I will cherish for the rest of my musical career.
Any advice for incoming freshmen?
I would say do more than what you are required to and work with as many people as you can! I love playing with percussionists and always will, but I have also learned a lot from working with wind, brass, and string players. Different instrumentalists bring different perspectives and I feel like I learned a lot from people outside my area.
Favorite spot on campus?
There are so many incredible restaurants down State Street, but some of my favorites include Conrad’s, Mooyah, and HopCat.
Any humorous SoM stories to share?
One of the most memorable concerts I played was a percussion ensemble concert my freshman year. All I did that concert was run around Mills with a metronome and dog toy, tap-dance with shoes on my hands, and play electric guitar (with no guitar training).
What are your plans after graduation?
I am going to be teaching in Philadelphia for the next school year, as part of the ArtistYear Americorps program.
What will you miss most about the School of Music?
I’m going to miss the people I got to share music with. There was so much compelling music being made, it was truly inspiring.
Any advice for incoming freshmen?
Be relentlessly you. Never let yourself take away from it.
Favorite spot on campus?
I don’t mean to be super corny but my favorite spot is the tuba room. Seeing so much tuba/euph history in one place is very humbling. To be allowed in that space is wonderful but being able to add something to it was an absolute honor.
What are your plans after graduation?
During my time at UW, I majored in Music Performance (Percussion), Neurobiology, and Psychology.
After graduating in May, I will continue to pursue a career in neuroscience. I have accepted a position as the Lab Manager for a research group at the UW-Madison Waisman Center that studies the neurological basis of speech production and acoustic processing. Language, sound, and music are all intrinsically linked in the brain, so I feel that working with this research team provides me with a perfect opportunity to bridge between my fascinations in both neuroscience and music.
In the coming year I plan on continuing to teach music. I have a small private piano studio where I currently teach 10 young students. Additionally, I will keep taking gigs that come my way, and will also continue studying and performing Brazilian samba music.
In the future, I plan on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology with an emphasis in pediatrics. I love working with children, and I hope to integrate music into future therapeutic approaches and community building initiatives for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
What will you miss most about the School of Music?
After graduating, the thing I will definitely miss the most is the family-like community of the percussion studio here at UW. Over the past 5 years I have formed so many strong bonds, and I will certainly remain close friends with the people I have met in this program. However, I will miss the comforting routine of spending most of my days with other studio members, making music and making mischief in the basement of Humanities. We could always be seen moving about the SoM as a pack, going on coffee runs together, eating dinner together, studying together, practicing together, relaxing together, celebrating together, and supporting each other.
We have something truly special in the UW-Madison percussion department, and I will always be thankful to have been a part of that community!
Any advice for incoming freshmen?
I have two pieces of advice for incoming freshman:
As a young player, the only person that you should be comparing yourself to is the past version of yourself. It is not useful to compare yourself to others around you – you only need to focus on your own progress in order to build a strong foundation. I was the only freshman in the percussion department when I began studying here, so I spent a lot of time comparing myself to older students who had far more experience than me. This was not helpful for my confidence! However, at the end of my freshman year I thought back to where I had started and realized that I should be quite proud of all the progress I made.
Secondly, take advantage of the SoM community! Freshman year is a great time to meet lots of new students, especially students who may not play the same instruments as you. The more people you are able to connect with, the more performance opportunities will be available to you over the next four years.
Favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. This building is so relaxing, with tons of sunlight and a peaceful atmosphere filled with water features and greenery. This was my favorite spot to study, because it didn’t feel like I was cooped up inside.
Another favorite spot of mine was the Reading Room at the Wisconsin Historical Society. This room is beautiful, and makes you feel like you are at Oxford! It is a great place to be quiet and productive, and enjoy being surrounded by books.
Any humorous SoM stories to share?
One of my favorite memories from the SoM is when we used to have a “Pun Jar” in the percussion studio storage room. That year, we had a couple of students in our studio that could turn almost anything you said into a joke or pun. We responded with exasperated (but good-natured) amusement, and instituted a “pun tax”. Every time someone made a pun in rehearsal or in the vicinity of the percussion rooms, they would be called out by fellow studio members and asked to put 25 or 50 cents in the jar. We did this for a whole semester, collecting contributions from percussion students, professors, and even a visiting guest artist! By the end of the semester we had $120 in the jar, which we used to purchase food for a big studio picnic after our juries.
Joan Wildman, Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies at the Mead Witter School of Music, passed away April 8, 2020. She was 82 years old.
Born January 1, 1938, Joan grew up on a ranch near Spalding, Nebraska as an only child. She credited her friendship and mutual appreciation of blues and ragtime with the nearby Glaser family (the same Glaser brothers who went on to form Glaser Sound Studios in Nashville) as a major influence on her own career.
A major influence herself on generations of jazz musicians throughout Madison and beyond, Joan played an especially critical role in establishing the current jazz studies program at the school. Known to deftly explore the area between structure and improvisation, Joan was a professor of music at UW from 1978 through 2002 specializing in music theory, jazz improvisation, and jazz piano.
Double bassist Hans Sturm recalls Joan’s “uncompromising” approach to her music. Hans came to UW-Madison in the early ’80s to study with Professor Richard Davis, and eventually started playing in the Joan Wildman Trio.
“She was a big reason why I stayed in Madison for so many years,” Hans said. “Working with Joan really changed a lot of my concepts with music.”
While she was a classically trained pianist, Joan charted new territory and created her own sounds. She was an early adopter of the Yamaha DX 7, a digital synthesizer that allowed her to experiment with true crescendos and sustained attacks. Joan was also an early pioneer of crafting exceedingly long loops on her computer and emulator, often 80 to 90 bars long with 20 bars of silence and a groove the trio would play along with.
“She was fearless in her music,” Hans said. “We would rehearse for hours, and there might have been some intricate plan, but all that would disappear during the gig and the piece would take another shape. It was about where the music would take us. That’s kind of how Joan lived her life.”
Founder of the Madison Music Collective, a nonprofit jazz organization, Joan had a knack for bringing musicians together and promoting their work, a skill Hans said can’t easily be replicated.
Though she performed less later in life, Joan was an active performer both nationally and in the Madison area. She led her trio for over 25 years, producing recordings such as Orphan Folk Music (1987), Under the Silver Globe (1989), and Inside Out (1992).
One of her more recent releases was the 2015 album Conversations, a live recording with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Joe Fonda during a celebration of Madison Music Collective’s 30th anniversary at the Brink Lounge.
Madison writer Dean Robbins often covered Joan’s work and many of the trio’s performances over the years.
“Joan loved experimentation, but hers was the kind that drew listeners in rather than shutting them out,” Dean said. “No matter how far she strayed from conventional forms, she never lost sight of blue notes, swing rhythms, and other sensual pleasures associated with jazz. She even gave the synthesizer a human warmth, the notes melting under her touch. In this way, Joan’s sounds matched her spirit: big-hearted, soulful, searching. Like her hero Duke Ellington, she made idiomatic American music that perfectly balanced passion and intelligence.”
Joan was equally adept at creating computer-generated animations, web pages, and computer-generated drawings. Her extensive overview of jazz history and styles formed one of the first web pages in the country, a site that incorporated multi-media animations, sound and static visuals, and hyperlinked text.
Before coming to Wisconsin in 1977, Joan received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Oregon and had previously taught at Central Michigan University and at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. She is the first and only member of her extended family to have achieved a doctoral-level degree.
“Joan gave so much to the School of Music,” Director Susan Cook said. “She was a path-breaking composer and performer in jazz, and with her colleagues and students, she was a dynamic force in the Madison jazz scene. Personally, she was a mentor to me when I joined the faculty in 1991, and in her retirement she continued to take an active interest in the school and lend her support.”
Mead Witter School of Music students, faculty, and staff share how they’re adjusting to new routines during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Like the rest of the world, faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music are adjusting to new routines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Associate Professor of Horn Daniel Grabois talks about a few of the techniques he’s using to stay connected with students during this challenging time.
- Tell us more about the drill book you wrote. How did that come about?
As soon as we heard about the shutdown (that very night) and knew we would all be teaching remotely, it became very important to me to make sure my students were hitting all the basics every day in their practicing. Being a smart practicer is hard for ALL of us, no matter the level of education, and it is easy to lose motivation when we are apart from our colleagues.
For about four days, I played the whole routine through twice a day (it’s a one-hour routine), refining the drills, fleshing out details, nixing some drills and adding others, and so on. When I was satisfied, I started setting the book into Finale.
It was a complicated process. I set each drill into its own Finale file, and then I placed the Finale files into an Apple Pages document to lay out the book (I usually use Word for my documents, but Pages is much more friendly when it comes to mixing words and images). In the end, for every drill, I had to create a PDF in Finale, then open the PDF in Acrobat and crop it, then pop it into the Pages document and resize it. Any change I made in the drill after that involved resetting in Finale and going through the whole process again. The text surrounding the drills went through around 10 drafts (thanks to my wife, my brother, and my mom!).
On the eleventh day, I got it off to my publisher with a request that we make it cheap so as not to take advantage of the pandemic in order to make a buck. He agreed to publish it as a download for $10, and released it the next morning, day 12. I beat my goal by two days! We sold 16 copies on the first day, which was a single title record for the publishing company.
- What sort of new opportunities are you finding to be possible online?
Online is HARD for teaching. Because of insufficient bandwidth, it is really hard to hear students. Yes, you can hear them, but you can’t hear their actual sound, and you can’t hear details. In this online world of ours, we music faculty are recognizing that being in the room with a student beats every option.
That said, this has opened up new opportunities. For instance, I invited my old horn professor, who is now 88 years old, to talk to my students in studio class and to talk to the brass chamber groups I’m coaching.
I had a friend of mine who is an incredible electro-acoustic violinist talk to my electro-acoustic improv group, and another friend from that world will be doing the same thing in the future. Musician colleagues are willing to do this for each other because it is just a wonderful group of people who perform music for a living.
- Any additional advice for students during this time?
We all have more time than we normally do during the semester. That means we can practice more carefully, but we can also listen to more music, get in shape, eat right, and sleep enough. Let’s find the silver lining wherever we can.
UPDATE: Due to the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s decision to suspend in-person courses, workshops, and conferences for summer term because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Madison Early Music Festival Workshop and Concert Series has been postponed until July 10-17, 2021.
Designed by Grant Herreid and J. Michael Allsen for MEMF, this program samples the musical heritage of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, including musical works associated with or influenced by the Burgundian court. Music associated with the 1454 Feast of the Pheasant features pieces by Gilles Binchois and Jean Morton, and Guillaume Du Fay’s emotional lament for the fall of Constantinople. Anchoring the program are mass movements from the L’homme armé tradition, from the Burgundian ducal chapel and beyond.
Oh, the Games Lovers Play! Love, fidelity, partner swapping, and morality collide in Mozart’s topsy-turvy COSÌ FAN TUTTE
Contact: David Ronis, Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera, email@example.com, 608-263-1932
Following this fall’s sold-out run of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, University Opera continues to explore the vicissitudes of love with Mozart’s beloved Così fan tutte. Blending rollicking humor with keen insight and barely concealed cynicism, Così features some of the most ravishing music Mozart ever wrote.
Three performances of this masterpiece will be presented at the Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus on February 28 at 7:30p.m., March 1 at 2:00p.m., and March 3 at 7:30p.m. The Mead Witter School of Music’s new Director of Orchestral Activities, Oriol Sans, will conduct the UW–Madison Symphony and Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, David Ronis, will direct the production.
The story of Così is relatively straightforward. On a dare from Don Alfonso, Ferrando and Guglielmo don disguises to test the faithfulness of their fiancées by wooing each other’s betrothed. Much comedy ensues. The women – goaded by their maid, Despina, who is on the take from Alfonso – at first resist, but eventually give in and fall in love with the “wrong” men. In the end, all is revealed and ostensibly resolved.
But beneath the surface, things aren’t so simple. As the plot develops, the characters are drawn into murky psychological and emotional territory and troubling questions emerge. Is love really so fleeting? When the women fall for the “wrong” men, do the men’s affections also shift to their new partners? And what about Don Alfonso, the instigator of the whole affair? And Despina, the ladies’ maid, who is also complicit. What’s in it for them? When all is said and done, what kind of toll does this partner-swapping take on everyone involved? For all its hilarity, Così fan tutte ends up being a complex psychological study of human nature that addresses serious questions about love and attachment.
The UW-Madison production places Così 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. When Despina encourages the ladies to have affairs with the “strangers,” she embodies the kind of free spirit emblematic of the roaring 20s. Likewise, Don Alfonso, written as an eighteenth-century libertine, becomes a true bon vivant in this milieu – another example of the spirit of the times. What’s more, the choices that the four lovers face can easily be seen to mirror the shifting social landscape of the post-World War I era.
The cast features 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 will all sing the role of Despina. On the men’s side, Benjamin Hopkins will sing Ferrando, Kevin Green will play Guglielmo, and James Harrington will be Don Alfonso.
The production will be designed by Joseph Varga with lighting by Zak Stowe. Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park will be the costume designers; Lydia Berggruen, the props designer; Jan Ross, hair and wig designer, and the production stage manager will be Dylan Thoren. Others on the production staff include 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.
University Opera is a cultural service of the Mead Witter 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the School of Music’s website at music.wisc.edu.
Venue: Music Hall, 925 Bascom Hall
The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in the Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.
Tickets: $25 general public/$20 senior citizens/$10 UW–Madison students
Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at http://www.arts.wisc.edu/ (click “box office”).
Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Vilas Hall Box Office, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and after 5:30 p.m. on University Theater performance evenings.
Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Masarah Van Eyck, email@example.com, (608) 335-6277
HAMEL MUSIC CENTER CELEBRATES OPENING WEEKEND
MADISON – There has been a lot of talk about the new Hamel Music Center over the years. But at long last, it’s time for some music.
The Hamel Music Center celebrates its opening this weekend. Events are currently at capacity but if tickets do become available, they will be offered first-come, first-served at the Hamel Music Center Box Office starting one hour prior to every performance.
Be prepared for limited parking and heavy traffic due to multiple events in the area, including Badger Men’s Hockey Friday and Saturday night, which some lots are reserved for, and Freakfest Saturday night, which will close several streets.
If you can’t make it opening weekend, not to worry. There are plenty of future events to attend.
For more information, go to https://www.music.wisc.edu/event/hamel-music-center-opening-weekend/2019-10-25/
PERFORMING THE WISCONSIN IDEA
The dust had not yet settled inside the new Hamel Music Center when Jessica Johnson, professor of piano and pedagogy, stepped into the almost-completed rehearsal hall: lofty ceilings, interlocking bands of light, walls softened by acoustic panels. She clapped her hands sharply: one-two.
“Every performance space has its own personality and sound,” she explained. “When musicians walk into a space, they test the sound.”
The claps landed crisply and vanished. Afterward there was complete silence, though cars hurtled through the rain on University Avenue just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. More than a foot of concrete wraps the rehearsal hall’s interior walls. Three feet of air space separates the corner wall’s two layers of glass. Sounds are not meant to enter, or escape, this room.
This is incredibly good news for faculty and students of UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music. After decades of rehearsing in the basement of the Mosse Humanities Building, UW’s musicians will now have a state-of-the-art acoustic environment in which to prepare for performances. And the Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall is just the prelude, if you will: The new Hamel Music Center, designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture in part¬nership with local firm Strang, also features a 660-seat Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall and a 300-seat Collins Recital Hall. Acoustics were designed by Talaske/Sound Thinking of Oak Park, Illinois.
With a new name, a new performance center, a new director of the UW Marching Band (Corey Pompey), a new orchestra director (Oriol Sans), new professor of trumpet (Jean Laurenz) and programs like opera and jazz studies pulsing with new energy, the Mead Witter School of Music opens the door on a dazzling new decade.
Since its official opening in 1895, the School of Music has offered a rigorous, student-centered musical education. Collaborative, creative instructors enjoy teaching as much as they enjoy performing in ensembles. In fact, UW-Madison was the first public institution in the country to welcome artists-in-residence, with the creation of the Pro Arte faculty ensemble in 1938. And while the UW Marching Band (a key part of the School of Music) plays to thousands at Camp Randall Stadium and other venues during football season, there are more than 300 student and faculty recitals and concerts happening throughout the year-not to mention dozens of outreach initiatives that take UW musicians out into the community and around the state.
“We are the Wisconsin Idea at its most audible,” says Mead Witter School of Music director Susan Cook.
Shakespearian Opera with Pop Art and Go-go boots!
University Opera’s outside-of-the-box production of Benjamin Britten’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM evokes the 1960s world of Andy Warhol
This fall, University Opera steps outside the proverbial box, setting Benjamin Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Factory, Andy Warhol’s famous (or perhaps infamous) studio, in the mid-1960s. Three performances of Britten’s evocative, colorful opera will be presented at the Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus on November 15 at 7:30pm, November 17 at 2:00pm, and November 19 at 7:30pm. The Mead Witter School of Music’s new Director of Orchestral Activities, Oriol Sans, will conduct the UW-Madison Symphony and Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, David Ronis, will direct the production.
The magical plot of Midsummer revolves around the adventures of four lovers and six “rustics,” or “rude mechanicals,” all manipulated by a group of fairies. It features the machinations of Oberon, King of the Fairies, trying to get even with his queen, Tytania, with whom he is at odds. While the rustics prepare to perform at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, Oberon also attempts to influence the love interests of four young people. Mistakes are made, and the lovers’ allegiances are thrown into confusion. But in the end, all is resolved as those assembled for the wedding enjoy the rustics’ performance of the hilarious “Pyramus and Thisby” play.
Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, masterfully crafted the libretto for A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Shakespeare’s iconic play, trimming the text and re-ordering some scenes. The result is a beautifully balanced, atmospheric yet playful musical version of Shakespeare’s play that regularly delights audiences.
The UW-Madison production imagines Oberon as a kind of Andy Warhol character, and his kingdom as Warhol’s workspace/playspace, The Factory. Some of the other characters are loosely modeled on those who were active in Warhol’s world. Tytania is inspired by Edie Sedgwick, Puck resembles Ondine, one of the Warhol Superstars, and the lovers are artists employed at The Factory. The “mechanicals” are depicted as a hodgepodge group of misfit blue collar workers, Warhol wannabes, who come together as an avant-garde theater troupe. The stories of the fairies, lovers, and mechanicals converge at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta who, in this setting, are arts philanthropists whose wedding takes place at, naturally, The Factory.
The large cast features countertenor Thomas Aláan as Oberon and Amanda Lauricella alternating with Kelsey Wang as Tytania. Puck will be played by Michael Kelley and the Boy, “Damon,” by Tanner Zocher. Of the four lovers, the role of Helena will be split between Jing Liu and Rachel Love; Chloe Agostino and Julia Urbank will alternate as Hermia; Benjamin Liupaogo and DaSean Stokes will take on Lysander; and Kevin Green will appear in all the performances as Demetrius. The “mechanicals” will be played by James Harrington (Bottom), Jake Elfner (Quince), Thore Dosdall (Flute), Jack Innes (Starveling), Jeffrey Larson (Snout), and Benjamin Galvin (Snug). The ensemble of fairies will include Miranda Kettlewell (Cobweb), Lauren Shafer (Mustardseed), Madelaine Trewin (Moth), and Brooke Wahlstrom (Peaseblossom) as well as Chloé Flesch, Angela Fraioli, Maria Marsland, and Maria Steigerwald. Hippolyta will be played by Lindsey Meekhof and UW-Madison Professor of Voice, Paul Rowe, will sing the role of Theseus.
The production will be designed by Greg Silver (also the Technical Director) with lighting by Kenneth Ferencek. Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park will be the costume designers; Jennifer Childers, the props designer; Lindsey Meekhof, the assistant director; and the production stage manager will be Sarah Luedtke. Others on the production staff include Benjamin Hopkins, operations manager for University Opera; Alice Combs, master electrician; assistant electrician Rachael Wasson; assistant stage managers Grace Greene and Cecilia League; and Ashley Haggard and Kelsey Wang, costume assistants.
The public is invited to a pre-performance panel discussion which will take place:
November 17, 2019
12:30 – 1:20pm
On the panel will be:
Joshua Calhoun – Associate Professor of English, UW-Madison
Steffen Silvis – Ph.D. Candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, UW-Madison
Douglas Rosenberg – Professor of Art, UW-Madison
David Ronis – Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, UW-Madison
Susan Cook, Director of the Mead Witter School of Music, Moderator
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) or at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the School of Music’s web site at music.wisc.edu.
UW-Madison alumni form 3/4 of new quartet in Door County
Executive director also an alumna
By Katherine Esposito
The first time UW-Madison’s Hunt Quartet played in Door County for Midsummer’s Music, a Door County summer chamber music festival, it was in response to an emergency.
The renowned Pro Arte Quartet had long been booked to play, but the quartet had to cancel. Midsummer’s artistic director James Berkenstock scrambled to fill the void.
David Perry, violinist with the Pro Arte, had a solution: Hire the Hunt, the graduate string quartet at UW-Madison. “David said that this particular configuration of the Hunt Quartet was superb,” says Berkenstock. “He said they already had a program and would do a great job.”
Subbing for the famous, seasoned quartet created undeniable pressure, recalled former Hunt violinist Vinicius (Vini) Sant’Ana. “The audience expected a world-class performance,” he said. “We were aware of that. So we tried our best, and it was one of our best performances.”
The audience at Sturgeon Bay’s United Methodist Church was thrilled, and so were Berkenstock and MSM’s executive director, Allyson Fleck, who received her doctorate at UW-Madison in viola. It was the musicians’ youth, their vivacity, their clear rapport with each other, that snagged attention. It was something that felt new and special. Following one more Hunt performance in Door County, Berkenstock and Fleck had an idea: why not see if the quartet would like to remain together after graduating to become a permanent presence in Door County?
They began to brainstorm. They teamed up with Green Bay’s East High School Fine Arts Institute and De Pere’s St. Norbert College to mull over the idea of a three-year string quartet residency. They started making the rounds to meet with community leaders, foundations, and interested individuals to develop plans and seek funding. “The alignment with programs already in progress or being planned at the Fine Arts Institute and at St. Norbert seemed so perfect and propitious,” said Berkenstock. Only two of the Hunt Quartet members were able to make the commitment (violinist Sant’Ana and violist Blakeley Menghini), as former Hunt cellist Kyle Price leads a different arts enterprise, and violinist Chang-En Lu had not yet finished his degree program at UW-Madison. So they tapped Roy Meyer, an alumnus violinist who studied with David Perry and Ryan Louie, a cellist who earned a master’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Now named the Griffon Quartet to honor a three-century-old Great Lakes shipwreck legend, the four regularly venture around the Door Peninsula and Brown County, beguiling audiences with classical quartet music designed to charm adults and kids alike. All fall, the quartet played a host of venues ranging from libraries to senior centers, to churches, at the local YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club, and in businesses and restaurants. In December, so many people attended a holiday concert at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor that even after adding dozens of chairs to the hall, at least 40 people stood to hear the music spilling over into the lobby.
But entertainment is only a partial goal: the Griffon Quartet is also designed to bridge a void in Door and Brown counties left when the century-old Green Bay Symphony folded and the public schools all but eliminated strings education. For this, the Hunt Quartet helped provide a model.
At the Mead Witter School of Music, the on-going Hunt Quartet, supported by longtime donor Dr. Kato Perlman, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the School of Music, is tasked with visiting elementary school children to inspire a love of music. Six schools participate in the Up Close and Musical program, and the quartet visits each school four times, showing children the basics of melody, rhythm, and expression. In Door County, the mission of the Griffon Quartet will be similar, but enlarged to include lessons, concerts, classroom presentations, involvement with seniors in a memory-oriented program called “B Double Sharp,” and impromptu appearances wherever appropriate and needed.
“The whole thing grew and expanded,” said Berkenstock. “The more we worked on it, the more we realized how potent this could be in northeast Wisconsin. There’s a lot missing, from a cultural standpoint.”
Fundraising “is now ramping up,” he adds.
Fleck is optimistic about the future of the Midsummer’s string residency program. “There are so many opportunities out there,” she says. “I know our project is worthy.”
For violist Blakeley Menghini, who discovered her calling as a teacher after two years in the Hunt Quartet, it’s a dream come true. “While earning my graduate degrees, I fell in love with teaching,” she writes. “And during my two years in the Hunt Quartet, it grew difficult to imagine my life without the string quartet. Thanks to Midsummer’s Music, we are not only able to imagine that life, but are living it.”
Learn more about the Griffon String Quartet, including full biographies and spring schedule.
About Midsummer’s Music Festival
Midsummer’s Music Festival is a chamber music ensemble featuring world-class musicians from organizations such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pro Arte Quartet, Aspen Music Festival, and faculty of quality universities throughout the Midwest. Midsummer’s Music performs in intimate and casual settings throughout Door County, including art galleries, resorts, museums, churches, and private homes. The Festival was co-founded in 1990 by Jim and Jean Berkenstock, long-time Door County summer residents and principal orchestral players with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Their summer festival runs from mid-June to mid-July, with six additional events during the Labor Day holiday. In addition, we sponsor programs such as the Pro Arte Quartet, the Chicago Early Music Consort with “A Renaissance Christmas,” and our exceptional string quartet with Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words” around Easter.
The 2019-2020 Hunt Quartet will perform on April 18, 2019 at 6:30 PM in Morphy Hall.
Current members are Chang-En Lu, violin; Ava Shadmani, violin; Fabio Saggin, viola; and Alex Chambers-Ozasky, cello. Repertoire will be posted soon.