Alejandro Oñate is one of three seniors graduating from the College of Letters & Science to have been selected by Dean Eric M. Wilcots for the Dean’s Prize, one of the College’s highest academic honors. Candidates for this award completed a minimum of 24 Honors Program credits, made significant contributions to UW–Madison and the local community, completed an undergraduate thesis or major research project, and excelled in their classes.

Oñate will continue researching immune therapies to combat cancer in the lab of Dr. Zachary Morris in the Carbone Cancer Center, while making plans for earning an MD-PhD degree and becoming a physician scientist. Oñate has been praised for his development as both a team member and leader, combining thoughtful communication skills, scientific curiosity, and critical thinking on his path through both the Biochemistry and Music (violin performance) majors, with a certificate in biology core curriculum (Biocore). Oñate is also a Mercile J. Lee Scholar.

“He embodies empathy and humility in our weekly violin studio class where he is always eager to give positive and insightful comments to his colleagues and then in turn, to receive others’ suggestions humbly and with gratitude,” says Eugene Purdue, adjunct professor of strings.

Among many community service activities, Oñate brought his music and science passions together when, as a Biocore Outreach Ambassador, he developed an elementary-school program exploring the physics of stringed instruments. He has also played violin and coordinated other School of Music students to perform for patients and staff of the UW Hospital and Clinics.

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Four Music students were among the 149 recipients honored at the 2022 Chancellor’s Undergraduate Awards Ceremony on May 2, where students were recognized for their academic excellence, public service, and undergraduate research. The 149 award-winners will take on research in areas ranging from biochemistry and neurobiology to psychology and music.

Read more about the students and their accomplishments.

Sophomore Research Fellowship
Niharika Patankar (Biochemistry, Music): Investigating the Role of Metabolism on iNKT Cell Cytokine Production

Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowships
Daniel Laws (Music, Physics): Characterizing the Roles of KLC4 Interactor Proteins MSTO1 and TRAK2 in Mitochondrial Transport and Function During Neuronal Development

Allyson Mills (Music): A Revolutionary Composer: Analyzing the Songs and Letters of Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy

Hanna Noughani (Music, Neurobiology): Obesity and Brain Health: The Association Between Body Fat and Entorhinal Cortex Microstructure

By Ila Schrecker

For her dissertation, Lindsey Meekhof, a graduate student in musical arts, is directing and recording a rendition of Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

But not just any version: Meekhof’s version will highlight and comment on how the opera’s premise perpetuates violence against women and rape culture more broadly.

Meekhof will collaborate with pianist Aubrie Jacobson to stage and record one of Mozart’s most well-known operas.

“Don Giovanni” tells the story of the lead “seducer” Don Giovanni and his “conquests” of women.

Meekhof got the idea for her project from a class assignment in her first year of graduate school to devise an interpretation of a production. She selected “Don Giovanni.”

“There are moments in the show that I didn’t like and that didn’t sit well with me. I thought there could be better ways to go about presenting it,” she said. “I [wanted to] start a bigger conversation about the #MeToo movement and opera; how to make opera an overall safer environment, especially because [opera] feels behind other industries.”

For her dissertation, Meekhof focuses on the role of women in three main scenes.

“In reviews, really negative words are used to describe the women,” Meekhof said, “they are described as ‘willing participants,’ or tragic, or that they didn’t object to what’s happening… this promotes rape culture.”

In the original production, the audience is supposed to believe that Zerlina, one of the female leads, was instantly charmed by Don Giovanni.

“That just doesn’t sit well with me,” Meekhof said, “I think there’s room for an interpretation where Zerlina doesn’t have the power [to say no] because she is a lower position… she’s described as a peasant.”

This, Meekhof said, calls into question power dynamics between Zerlina and Don Giovanni:

“When the power dynamic is off it calls into question consent,” Meekhof said, “and if [Zerlina] could even consent in this situation.”

Meekhof hopes the audience will walk away with a new perspective. “I hope it starts a conversation about how we interpret these stories and how we talk about women and female-identifying people, but especially sexual violence,” she said.

This is particularly important on college campuses, she said. “People are usually first introduced to Mozart and these operas when they’re in college… it’s [important] to think about what message we’re sending, and how we’re talking about safety, and that rape culture isn’t promoted on college campuses.”

Aubrie Jacobson, the pianist working on the production, added: “Putting a spin on these older operas also brings a sense of relevance that might interest a wider audience… it’s also supporting the work of young female directors, which is another cool aspect of this project.”

For her interpretation, Meekhof is loosely basing the Don Giovanni character on the Joker from DC comics. “I think Gotham City and that kind of comic book world is a great way to show that [Don Giovanni] is a villain,” she said, “but people love villains and I think there will still be people that will be charmed by him.”

Meekhof also hopes that her interpretation will impact the way audiences start to consider and think about other operas. “I hope it inspires people to look at other productions, and [talk] about different ways we can interpret opera.”.

The performance will take place at noon on March 27 in the Collins Recital Hall in the Hamel Music Center. The performance will also be streamed live on YouTube. The performance is free and tickets are not required.

Luis Orozco, baritone (Don Giovanni, Leporello, and Masetto)
Amanda Lauricella, soprano (Zerlina)
Aubrie Jacobson, piano
Lindsey Meekhof, director
Dave Alcorn, videographer
Hyewon Park, costume designer

Sachie Ueshima (voice), Shuguang Gong (piano), and Joshua Biere (tuba) are the winners of the 2021 Mead Witter School of Music Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. The winners will perform with the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra during the 2022 Spring or Fall semesters.

“Performing on stage as soloist with an orchestra is an experience that the Mead Witter School of Music is proud to offer our students,” Director of Orchestral Activities Oriol Sans said. “Sachie, Shuguang, and Joshua excelled in their performance at the final round. The works they will be playing in concert are very interesting and eclectic: Landskap (Landscape), a piece for tuba and string orchestra by Swedish composer Trobjörn Ludquist; Alban Berg’s Seben Frühe Lieder (Seven Early Songs) for soprano and orchestra; and Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor.”

Ludquist’s work Landskap includes no other brass, woodwinds, or percussion, and its melodic harmonic material stretches the expressive capacity of the instrument, Biere said.

“Lundquist was often inspired by nature, and the piece itself is a little off the beaten path as far as tuba concertos go,” Biere said. “It has moments that are gorgeous cascades of sound, and others that are visceral and guttural, almost angry sounding, so it has a very diverse color palette that Lundqust draws from. I’ve performed Landskap before with piano, but I’ve never heard it done live before with strings, so I’m excited what the sustaining power of a string section will bring to the table. I’m very much looking forward to playing it with my colleagues,  as it will be a unique and thrilling musical experience.”

Compared to his late works, which are always complicated, Chopin’s second concerto is more like a direct expression of the characters and emotions of a young man, Gong said. Gong is looking forward to showing the romantic and classical sides of Chopin, and exploring his music more deeply with the orchestra.

“It’s difficult to capture the essence of Chopin’s music, to express his music in a genuine way, and I’m still on my way trying to do that, trying to get closer to his heart and feel what he felt,” Gong said. “I’m excited and really looking forward to collaborating with Professor Sans and our excellent orchestra. From my perspective, this concerto contains a lot of intimacy as well as magnificence, so it would be challenging to cooperate well and accomplish all these elements with a large orchestra.”

DMA student Kyle Sackett (Voice Performance) was recently nominated as an ensemble member with The Crossing for a GRAMMY award in the category of Best Choral Performance. Learn about the compilation album here.

What has your involvement been with The Crossing?

KS: I have been singing with The Crossing since 2015. It was during my master’s program that I met and sang for the conductor of The Crossing, Donald Nally, who also leads the Northwestern University choirs. I had long admired the mission of The Crossing and the level of choral music they were putting out into the world. I hoped an opportunity would present itself to sing with them, and eventually it did. In the years that followed, I joined them for a few concerts and recordings each year before becoming a regular member of the ensemble, for which I feel incredibly lucky. Each time we get together the work is the most meaningful and impactful music making I can imagine.

What does the Grammy nomination mean for you personally?

KS: The nomination, while a great honor, does not mean a great deal to me individually. We are an ensemble, so my individual efforts to help get to this point are merely a contribution to the greater whole. Still, I appreciate how friends and family seem to perk up when they hear that I sing with a GRAMMY-winning choir! And it is special to be a part of that recognition by our colleagues in the recording academy.

What does the nomination mean for the group?

KS: The group has been on a bit of a role with these nominations (seven nominations in six consecutive years), and I like to think it speaks to the level of passion and dedication Donald Nally and the whole team put behind our work. While I have not been a contributor to each of the individual albums that have been nominated and won over the last six years, it is exciting to know that people are listening. Choral music—particularly music such as ours, which is always newly commissioned, often risk-taking, and strong in its social commentary—does not always receive the global recognition I wish it would. These nominations illuminate the work we are doing and care so much about. I’ll also add that it is thrilling to see the construction of the choral category this year, with several American chamber choirs being represented. It feels like we are entering a choral “golden age” in this country!

Any watch party plans?

KS: I imagine we will do a Zoom call of some kind to watch the ceremony. In years past, we have often been in a rehearsal or performance together during the GRAMMY ceremony, so we miss the live announcement! Hopefully that won’t be the case this year.

By Teddy Larson

Magdalena Sas and Midori Samson are two of three recipients of the first Sherry Wagner-Henry Scholarship in the Creative Arts and Entrepreneurship. The scholarship honors Sherry Wagner-Henry, who was the director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business from 2012 to 2020. Wagner-Henry passed away in May 2020.

Sas is currently completing her doctoral studies at UW-Madison, and is co-founder and executive director of Third Coast Chamber Collective (TCCC), a group of emerging musicians from diverse backgrounds devoted to promoting the transformative power of chamber music through inspiring performances, residencies and workshops. She will use her $750 award money for TCCC programming and operations.

“Sherry Wagner-Henry was one of my first mentors at the Wisconsin School of Business and her suggestions and advice helped me find confidence in bringing my project to life,” Sas said. “I feel incredibly honored to be one of the recipients of this unique and meaningful award and beyond grateful for everything I learned from prof. Wagner-Henry that helped me grow as an entrepreneur in the arts.”

Samson is finishing her doctoral degree as a Collins Fellow at UW-Madison studying bassoon and social welfare. Her dissertation suggests how musicians can operationalize social work principles to create a more anti-oppressive classical music landscape. She brings this philosophy to her role as the artistic director of Trade Winds Ensemble, a group of teaching artists that host composition workshops in partnership with social impact organizations in Nairobi, Chicago, and Detroit.

“Since receiving this award, I’ve heard from numerous colleagues of Sherry Wagner-Henry,” Samson said. “In their messages to me, everyone speaks to her friendship, kindness, and commitment to students’ success. While I never got to meet her, I have benefited greatly from projects she oversaw. So, it is an honor to be a small part of her legacy.”

Samson will use her $1,000 scholarship to support her work with Trade Winds Ensemble.

The Sherry Wagner-Henry Scholarship is sponsored by Max Fergus, a 2018 graduate of the Wisconsin School of Business. In 2019, Fergus founded LÜM, a social music streaming platform, and credits Wagner-Henry and the staff of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship for preparing him for his career in arts entrepreneurship.

The scholarship is open to any currently enrolled full-time student in good academic standing at UW-Madison.

Marvin Rabin String Quartet

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 youtu.be/ObJMMA220Jw

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). 

 

 

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 (togracepresents@gmail.com) for more information.

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.”

Cole Bartels

“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.

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

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

The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.

The Stockholm Chamber Brass. Credit: Beatrice Winter.

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

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

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

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

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

Brass-Fest-III-social-media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FemaleFront_Back2016T-shirt

L-R: Kangwoo Jin, piano; Luis Alberto Peña, piano; Garrett Mendelow, percussion; and Paran Amininazari, violin. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson. 

L-R:
Kangwoo Jin, piano; Luis Alberto Peña, piano; Garrett Mendelow, percussion; and Paran Amininazari, violin. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

A percussionist, a violinist, two pianists and a composer will take the stage on Feb. 14 at the UW-Madison School of Music, when the school offers its annual “Symphony Showcase,” a night of joy and musical revelry celebrating winners of our annual concerto competition. The concert is open to the public.

Yunkyung Hong, composer. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson. 

Yunkyung Hong, composer. Photograph by Michael R. Anderson.

The concert takes place in Mills Hall at 7:30 PM on February 14, Valentine’s Day, which falls on a Sunday, and will be followed by a reception in Mills Hall lobby.

Winning students will solo with the UW Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Smith.

While tickets for children and students are free, tickets for adults are $10.00. Tickets are sold at the Memorial Union Box office on Langdon Street and in Mills lobby day of show. A $4 fee is added to online sales. Please note: We recommend that patrons arrive early to buy a ticket in the lobby.

Box Office link: Buy online ($4 fee).

Free parking (every Sunday) is available at the Business School/Grainger Hall parking lot, diagonally across University Avenue from Humanities.

2016 winners include:

Violinist Paran Amininazari, 31, a doctoral student of assistant professor Soh-Hyun Park Altino, performs with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, is the concertmaster of the Middleton Community Orchestra and is also the artistic director of the new summer chamber group, the Willy Street Chamber Players. At UW-Madison, she is also a member of the Hunt Quartet, sponsored by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Dr. Kato Perlman. She will play a movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63, written in 1935, which contains a Russian folk melody in the first and second movements and ends in a Spanish-tinged theme, complete with castanets.  Amininazari has an undergraduate degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and attended the Orchestral Skills Program at the University of Nevada-Reno.

Composer and South Korean native Yunkyung Hong, 31, is a doctoral candidate in composition, studying with professors Laura Schwendinger and Stephen Dembski. “Yun” received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin where studied composition with Russell Pinkston, Yevgeniy Sharlat, and Donald Grantham. At the University of Florida, she studied composition with James Paul Sain and Paul Koonce and received a master’s degree.

She has presented her music at The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS); Sejong Chamber Center (Korea); Unbalanced Concerts, University of Florida; Wet Inks, University of Texas at Austin; and has been commissioned by the Berliner Ensemble Essenz, Ensemble Mise-en at Illinois State. She has also won awards at the Out of Bounds Ensemble, the Mullen Sacred Music Composition at UW-Madison, the University of Missouri Kansas City composers competition and the American Prize chamber music division.  In Madison, Yun is now employed as a sound designer for UW-Madison’s “Moocs” program. Her winning composition, titled “Translucency,” includes four movements that reflect the life cycle of a living organism. For the winners recital only the first movement will be performed. “This first movement is about blossoming,” Yun says. “At the opening, we will hear a musical depiction of seeds fluttering in the wind, then gradually this material will develop and blossom at the arrival. The movement is focused on textural and coloristic alterations.”

Pianist and Collins Fellow Kangwoo Jin, 34, a doctoral student of professors Christopher Taylor and Jessica Johnson, is a native of South Korea who has won numerous competitions, including the Korea-Herald Newspaper Competition, the Eumyoun piano competitions, plus the Beethoven Piano Competition at UW-Madison,  sponsored by former Chancellor Irving Shain. He also performed a debut concert sponsored by the Chosun Daily Newspaper in Korea. Jin received an undergraduate degree from Hanyang University in South Korea and a master’s degree from  Indiana University, where has received the J.Battista Scholarship on Excellence and worked as an associate instructor. In Madison, Jin is an instructor in the School’s “Piano Pioneers” and Community Music Lessons programs, and has worked at the Summer Music Clinic as a collaborative pianist. Jin will perform the third movement from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor Op. 18.

Garrett Mendelow, 26, a doctoral percussionist and Collins Fellow studying with professor Anthony Di Sanza, has placed in numerous percussion competitions and premiered many new works. In 2012, Mendelow won second prize in the biennial Tromp Percussion Competition in The Netherlands, and in 2014, he was a semifinalist at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany. Mendelow has an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree from SUNY-Stony Brook, and also studied at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold in Germany.
In Madison, Garrett has performed with trombone professor Mark Hetzler, with the ensemble SO Percussion and is also involved with the Beyond Border Percussion Group, a group consisting of percussionists from different cultural and musical backgrounds.

At Symphony Showcase, Mendelow will play the Arena Concerto, written in 2004 by Swedish composer Tobias Broström, which includes a combination of wood, metal and skin percussion instruments in the first part, and a virtuosic marimba part in the second movement.

Colombian Luis Alberto Peña, 27, a doctoral student of professor Christopher Taylor, has soloed with the Unimusica Orchestra, the Tolima Conservatory Symphony, the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra, the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata Dallas, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama, and won prizes in competitions in Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica and the United States.
Luis holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, Southern Methodist University and the Juan N. Corpas University of Bogota. Luis will perform Richard Strauss’s Burleske in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra, composed in 1885-86, an exciting and colorful one-movement work. “What makes it particularly unique among romantic piano concertos is its predominantly humorous character,” says Luis. “However, it preserves an irresistible elegance and charm all throughout and all its wild brilliance is counterbalanced by many moments of incredible beauty and mystery.”

By Katherine Esposito

It all started with an idea for summer fun, in the midst of a verdant paradise, at a family home he’d visited every year since he was a wee toddler. Now he was a 19-year-old cellist who wanted his college friends to hang out and play music at his grandma’s lake house. They could play string quartets practically in their sleep. Why not invite a few neighbors to hear them?

Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

Kyle Price. Photograph by Katherine Esposito.

 

Paradise was tiny Caroga Lake, New York, a 54-square mile town in the lower Adirondacks that is home to 1,200 permanent residents and booms to 4,000 every summer.  In 2012, the cellist, Kyle Price, asked a group of friends from undergrad at the Cleveland Institute of Music to join him, and they wound up performing Bach and Mendelssohn as an opener for the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Lake Performing Arts Center as well as at two other venues. Not bad for a first stab at a music party.

Kyle dubbed the event the Caroga Lake Music Festival, and an annual tradition was born. In 2015, in its fourth year, the Caroga Lake Music Festival offered four weeks of free concerts at venues ranging from Fulton-­‐Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, the Canada Lake Marina (on floating barges), several churches, a nursing home, on a farm and in New York City.

Kyle, now a master’s student and Collins Fellow at UW-Madison, studying with professor Uri Vardi, plans a fifth festival for 2016 and has even bigger ideas: he is cultivating support to evolve it into a year-round arts center located on the site of Sherman’s, a long-shuttered amusement park. He’s created an official nonprofit, the Caroga Arts Collective, and established a board of directors sprinkled with names from big companies like L.L. Bean, Borden Dairy and two law firms – all people with summer homes in the area.

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Somehow he’s doing this around a full-time schedule as a music student. “It’s tough,” he says, with a laugh. “Recently, I’ve been needing to go back there to present things, meaning I miss class here, but the teachers have been great.” His classes mostly include performance-based classes such as chamber orchestra with conductor James Smith and chamber ensembles with professor Parry Karp, but he’s also enrolled in Jazz Improvisation with saxophone professor Les Thimmig.

It was the Internet that got him hooked on Madison.

Price, who is originally from Columbus, Ohio, knew nothing about the university until he watched a YouTube video about the National Summer Cello Institute, an intensive week-long camp for cellists organized by professor of cello, Uri Vardi. The camp has been held at UW-Madison since 2010 and offers classes that explore connections between body awareness, musical expression, and injury prevention.  “I was literally sitting with my cello in front of my computer in a practice room, and I came across a video that linked to the NSCI,” he says. “There was this funky word, Feldenkrais, and  a video of Uri explaining Feldenkrais and how it relates to performance. And I decided, I totally have to go to this. It was my main priority, cello-wise, for the summer.” (Feldenkrais is a technique that helps people to increase ease and range of motion.)

By the time he graduated, he also had decided that he wanted to apply for a master’s degree at the UW-Madison School of Music, a behemoth compared to the 350-student Cleveland Institute of Music. “I didn’t know much more about the school, but Uri was someone I wanted to study with.” He’s been impressed with the city and the university. “It was amazing, meeting all these undergrads – some are double or triple majors. Everyone is so smart and the faculty is amazing.”

Of Vardi, Kyle says: “It’s been fantastic. He’s pretty brilliant. He tries to get you out of your habits, so you have options to work with, then you can expand your palette. His teaching goes way beyond the cello in a lot of ways. It made a big impact on my life, and on playing the cello.”

Prof. Vardi has similar praise for Kyle. “He’s a mensch,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye. “He has a good heart and appreciates beauty. He wants to improve life for society. And he’s one of the most musical students I’ve ever worked with.”

All of these, he said, are why Vardi nominated Kyle for the Collins Fellowship, a full graduate scholarship funded by longtime School of Music supporter Paul Collins.

His intuition was accurate.  In 2015, Kyle was a winner in the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition and a finalist in the G. Gershwin International Music Competition. After graduation next spring, he plans to devote himself full-time to growing the Caroga festival, plus freelancing and composing music.

Kyle has high hopes for the future of the festival, now an annual tradition that has captivated those who live in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys of central New York state. It may have begun as a lark, but it’s brought deep pleasure to the small community. “We have a mix of audience: the experienced ones who’ve been to Saratoga and New York City, and people who are completely brand new and who are experiencing classical, jazz, even alternative music for the very first time,” he says.

People like Jim Hinkle, from Johnstown,  who in 2014 penned a letter to editors of the Leader Herald, a local newspaper.  Wrote Hinkle: “My knowledge of music is extremely limited. But now I am hooked on this concert series. It took some time for me to figure out whom they they talking about when they correctly pronounced Debussy. It’s not De Bu Sea like I had been taught. There are still play dates left. I urge you to not watch television but go to the free concert, sit in back and if the music is not right for you, leave during the applause. It’s OK. Please give it a chance, as I did.”

Fifty years is not a long time in the world of classical music, but it’s a very long time in the world of formal percussion studies. In the 1960s and before, the very notion of teaching percussion beyond the basic orchestral instruments caused music educators to simply shake their heads in disbelief.

Professor Anthony Di Sanza, right, with members of the World Percussion Ensemble. Photo by Mike Anderson.

Professor Anthony Di Sanza, right, with members of the World Percussion Ensemble. Photo by Mike Anderson.

“There was this old guard tradition that very much did not see percussion as a viable solo artistic instrument,” says Anthony Di Sanza, professor of percussion at UW-Madison. In fact, John Cage, one of the pioneers in the field, was unable to find percussionists to play his first works; instead, they were performed by dancers and composers. “The percussionists wanted nothing to do with it,” Di Sanza says. “Most were in orchestra.” One famous orchestral percussionist even referred to the rising deployment of sirens and whistles in cutting-edge percussion pieces as “debasements.”

But that was then.

Since then, percussion studies have exploded, with UW-Madison firmly in the vanguard. In 1950, the University of Illinois established the first accredited university percussion ensemble. In 1965, UW-Madison staged its first percussion concert, followed one year later with a full-blown major. In 1968, James Latimer was hired as program director and served until 1999 when he retired and was replaced by Di Sanza. While at UW, Latimer spearheaded a Duke Ellington Festival, started the Madison Marimba Quartet, initiated the first of 300 Young Audience Concerts held in public schools from 1969 to 1984, and hosted the Wisconsin Percussive Arts Society “Days of Percussion.”

Di Sanza’s tenure has been marked by numerous world premieres, commissions, recordings, and collaborations. In 2004, a doctoral program was founded, and two additional teachers are now on board: Todd Hammes and Tom Ross, both with specialties of their own.

Now, almost exactly 50 years after the school’s first percussion concert, Di Sanza’s studio plans to celebrate.

On March 20 at 8 pm in Mills Hall, the percussion ensemble will present a ticketed concert of music from the United States, China, Mexico, Brazil and the Middle East with emeritus professor James Latimer as guest conductor and Clocks in Motion, a four-year-old professional alumni ensemble, as guest artists. With the help of Latimer and many others, DiSanza has doggedly tracked down dozens of former students from over the years, and hopes that many of them will be able to attend. Buy tickets here or at the door. Adults $10.00/students of all ages are free.

Latimer will conduct the ensemble in Carlos Chavez’s landmark composition Toccata for Percussion, which was performed on their first concert in 1965.

But that’s only the prelude. In April, Di Sanza’s studio will embark on its first international tour, a ten-day trip to China to perform and also partner with students at the Shenyang and China Conservatories.

The group was invited by percussion professor Lu Qingshan of the Shenyang Conservatory, whose former student, Zhang Yuqi, is now a master’s candidate at UW-Madison. There, they will play works by American and Chinese composers as well as music from the Middle East and Brazil. The trip is funded by the Wisconsin China Initiative, Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Graebner, the UW-Madison Division of International Studies and the UW-Madison School of Music.

Since the program’s founding fifty years ago, hundreds of graduates have established multi-pronged careers of their own, as teachers, as arts managers, as performers playing music from every tradition imaginable and on every instrument that makes a sound, which includes pretty much anything.

Including whistles.

Want to know the full history of the UW-Madison Percussion Program from decade to decade? Download a timeline here.

Wonder what percussion with whistles sounds like? Watch a video of the UW-Madison Percussion Ensemble in 2009, performing John Cage’s “Dance Music for Elfrid Ide II.”

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

He was the only one with gray hair.

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

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

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

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

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

John Wunderlin. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

John Wunderlin. Photo by Katherine Esposito.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

David Ronis

University Opera presents Albert Herring, Benjamin Britten’s entertaining ensemble comedy with a social message

On October 24, 26, and 28, University Opera will present its first operatic production of the season, Albert Herring, composed in 1947 by Benjamin Britten. The libretto is based on Guy de Maupassant’s novella Le Rosier de Madame Husson, and was written by Eric Crozier. It was premiered in 1947 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in East Sussex, England, and received its first United States premiere at Tanglewood in 1949. It has been called the greatest comic opera of the century.

It will mark the first opera staged under the direction of David Ronis, visiting director of opera at UW-Madison. Read about David Ronis’s new ideas for University Opera. 

The opera will be performed in Music Hall, 925 Bascom Mall, on Friday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, October 26 at 3 p.m., and Tuesday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Herring-Poster-FnlWEB

The story begins when the town council in the small English village of
Loxford, motivated by the formidable Lady Billows, meets in order to select a “chaste and virtuous” Queen of the May. When no young ladies can be found that fit the bill (scandale!), they decide to choose a King of the May instead. The young man they select is the nerdy Albert Herring. Henpecked by his mother, Albert dreams of going out on his own. For the moment, however, he does not have the emotional wherewithal to break loose from her tether. That changes when his contemporaries, Sid and Nancy, spike his drink during the celebration. Under the influence of alcohol, he conquers his inhibitions and disappears overnight. The next morning, the whole town believes him to be dead. But Albert, of course, reappears and proceeds to tell them all off. Thus, Britten’s opera is both a coming of age story as well as one that gently examines the nature of hypocrisy in modern society.

Although originally set in 1900, the University Opera production transports Albert Herring to 1947, the year it was written. At that time, England was still reeling from the hardships of World War II. By setting the opera at the the time of its creation, University Opera hopes
to reflect some of the social and economic challenges faced by Britten and
his colleagues when they started the English Opera Group. Some of Britten’s most important work dates from this period in which he wrote for the same forces of 13 instrumentalists and a small group of singers, and consequently made a huge contribution to the genre of the chamber opera.

The 13-character cast of Albert Herring features William Ottow and Joshua Sanders in the title role, as well as Jessica Kasinski and Tyana O’Connor as Lady Billows. Additionally, the production will include Alaina Carlson and Jennifer DeMain as Nancy, Brian Schneider as Sid, Joel Rathmann as the Vicar, Tia Cleveland as Mrs. Herring, Sheila Wilhelmi as Florence, Dennis Gotkowski as the Mayor, Emi Chen as Emmie, Emily Weaver as Cis, and Nicole Heinen and Sarah Richardson as Miss Wordsworth. Three local performers join the cast – Rick Henslin as Superintendent of Police Budd, as well as Michael Chiaverini and Eli Kuzma, boys who sing in the Madison Youth Choir, splitting the role of Harry. The instrumental forces for Albert Herring will be the University Opera Orchestra, conducted by Kyle Knox, with musical preparation by Mr. Knox, Chan Mi Jean, and Thomas Kasdorf.

The production staff include scenic designer Stephen Hudson-Mairet, costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park, lighting designer Jordan Kardasz, prop designer Dana Fralick, scene painting advisor Liz Rathke, technical director Greg Silver, and production stage manager Erin McDermott. Student staff include Emi Chen, costumes; Katie Oliver and Fabian Qamar, props; Melanie Treuhaft, scene painter; Briana Miller, master electrician; and Lukas Heins, assistant carpenter.

Tickets are $22.00 for the general public, $18.00 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. Because shows often sell out, advance purchase is recommended. If unsold tickets remain, they may be purchased at the door beginning one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in 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 opera@music.wisc.edu.