Daewon Kang, a current DMA Orchestral Conducting student studying with Professor Oriol Sans, was selected to participate in Jorma Panula’s Conducting Masterclass in Vaasa, Finland in January 2024.

Only a handful of conductors from around the world are invited to participate in the masterclass. These include winners of the Bucharest International Conducting Competition, finalists of the International Besançon Competition, a kapellmeister (conductor) at the Hannover State Opera in Germany, and the music director of the Washington Opera Society.

Panula’s teaching has nurtured a significant number of prominent conductors throughout his career. His students include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Osmo Vänskä, Hannu Lintu, Susanna Mälkki, Pietari Inkinen, Rolf Gupta, Jukka Iisakkila, Dmitri Slobodeniouk, and Dalia Stasevska ja Klaus Mäkelä.

“It was an immense privilege for me to be chosen to work with Maestro Panula and conduct the Vaasa City Orchestra at the concert, which was held at the historic Vaasa City Hall in Vaasa,” Kang said.

Dan Cavanagh, director of the School of Music, won The American Prize in the “Composition, 2023, Social Justice related” category for his composition Even if the Last Bullet Hits My Chest. A work for wind symphony, the piece reflects on the patterns of war and hope, and its impact on human beings.

“Some number of years ago, I was listening to the BBC World Service on the radio, and through an interpreter, a Yemeni farmer was being interviewed about the civil war there,” Cavanagh wrote in program notes. “He said something so profound: ‘Even if the last bullet hits my chest, we must end this war.’ To me hearing that was like a flash of human connection across the globe, from a man I will never know, from a completely different culture. That has stuck with me ever since.”

The piece was also awarded second place earlier this year in The American Prize Wind Symphony Composition division.

“I’m glad I was able to tackle themes of war and cultural connection through this piece and I’m grateful that it continues to spread that message,” Cavanagh said.

The University of Texas at Arlington Wind Symphony premiered the piece, with a subsequent professional debut by the Dallas Winds. 

According to the organization, The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts is the nation’s most comprehensive series of contests in the performing arts. The American Prize is unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, directors, ensembles and composers in the United States at professional, college/university, community and high school levels, based on submitted recordings. The American Prize was founded in 2010 and is awarded annually in many areas of the performing arts.

The Mead Witter School of Music is excited to announce that Ben Bell Bern has accepted the position of Music Operations Manager, effective November 13.

Bell Bern was born and raised in Madison, WI, where he studied trumpet in high school with UW–Madison Emeritus Professor John Aley. Bell Bern received a degree in trumpet performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

“I am thrilled to be joining the School of Music as Music Operations Manager,” Bell Bern said. “I can’t wait to meet its many talented students, faculty, and staff, and to ensure that the school’s resources and policies best support their learning, teaching, and work.”

For 14 seasons, Bell Bern worked backstage at Lyric Opera of Chicago–most recently as the Director of Company Management–supporting all facets of artistic, production, and technical operations. Additionally, he served as Rehearsal Department Director at The Santa Fe Opera for nine seasons, where he also played trumpet in the stage band.

“Ben impressed the search committee and many other colleagues who participated in the interview process as someone with a deep understanding of music operations, a mature and thoughtful leadership philosophy, and an excitement for the role and the School of Music,” Dan Cavanagh, Director of the School of Music, said. “I am looking forward to him joining our administrative leadership team.”

The Music Operations Manager plays a critical role leading all music production operations for the department. The position also manages strategic planning for events, and serves as the primary contact with internal and external partners on the use of performance spaces at the Hamel Music Center. Bell Bern can be reached at facilities@music.wisc.edu after November 13.

Purchase tickets

After recently winning The American Prize for its 2022 production of Sweeney Todd, University Opera begins the 2023-24 season with Francesco Cavalli’s Baroque masterpiece, La Calisto. Four performances of this important work will be presented at Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus: November 17 at 7:30 pm, November 18 at 7:30 pm, November 19 at 2 pm, and November 21 at 7:30 pm. David Ronis, Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, will direct and visiting guest artist and Baroque specialist Christa Patton will be the music director for the production.

Inspired by the myth of Calisto as recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, La Calisto explores themes of gender and power, sex and consent, revenge and justice, mortality and morality. With a good dose of comedy thrown in. In Giovanni Faustini’s beautifully crafted libretto set to Cavalli’s intoxicating score, the gods are brought down to earth, both figuratively and literally. Here they let it all hang out and prove that they are every bit as lustful, pernicious, and simple-minded as mortal humans.

The story: Jove espies the fetching young nymph, Calisto, a devoted and chaste follower of the goddess Diana, and immediately falls in lust. On advice from Mercury, his right-hand man and fellow schemer, Jove disguises himself as Diana and successfully seduces Calisto. His wife, Juno, finds out and takes revenge, turning Calisto into a bear. But Jove manages to save Calisto from a life of wandering the earth in animal form by transforming her into a constellation, Ursa Major. Along the way, Diana falls in love with the handsome shepherd/astronomer Endymion and various hijinks are provided by Linfea, another follower of Diana, and a trio of satyrs.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is difficult not to view the central plot line of the story as one about a powerful man–perhaps the most powerful archetype of a man ever–using cunning and deceit to seduce a naïve young woman. Not only does Jove get away with his ruse, but as Juno is powerless to truly punish her husband, she takes her fury out on… yes, the victim, Calisto. Although Calisto is eventually transformed into something seemingly beautiful and eternal – a constellation of stars – she has still undergone classic, textbook, sexual subjugation at the hands of a powerful patriarch.

The production will feature an ensemble of period instruments–harpischords, theorbo, Baroque guitar, Baroque harp, organ, Baroque strings, and recorders–creating an authentic sound world characteristic of the seventeenth century. The ensemble will be placed on the audience level of Music Hall, as opposed to being in in the orchestra pit. Thus, the audience will have the chance to be even closer to the musical underpinnings of the score and see the Baroque instruments.

Preceding the performance on Sunday, November 19 at 12:30 pm in Music Hall, there will be a panel discussion of dramaturgical and musicological aspects of La Calisto. The panel will consist of Christa Patton, music director for the production; Margaret Butler, Associate Professor of Musicology at the School of Music; Olivia Gacka, dramaturg and Ph.D. candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies; and David Ronis, Director of University Opera. The panel discussion is free of charge. The public is encouraged to attend.

The large cast for the University Opera production features May Kohler and Eliza Morris alternating in the title role and Eric Luebke and William Volmar as Giove. Eloise Berkley will portray both Diana and “Giove in Diana” while Madison Barrett will take on Endimione. Professor Julia Rottmayer will portray Giunone and Ryan Nash will be Mercurio. Danielle Bullock and Elena Paul will split performances of Linfea while Avery Brutosky and Riley Brutto will do the same with the role of Satirino. Benjamin Johnson and Noah Strube will split the performances of Pane while Augustine Ahn and Corey Lallo will do likewise with Silvano. For the Prologue, Minseon Lee will be Eternità, Jing Zhang will be Natura, and Brendin Larson will be Destino. Xinyi Liu and Alexxis McDade will round out the group of Nymphs and Furies.

Greg Silver will do triple duty as set designer, lighting designer, and technical director. Costumes will be designed by Kenneth Hoversten and Emily Popp. Sara Bartlett provides choreography, Jan Ross will design hair and makeup, and Zak Wolff will be the props designer. Musical preparation will be by Thomas Kasdorf and Frankie Bones is the rehearsal pianist. The production stage manager will be Elizabeth Cantwell. Others on the production staff include Oliva Gacka, assistant director and dramaturg; Benjamin Johnson, operations manager for University Opera; Audrey Ferrero, assistant stage manager; and Katie Eggers and Kyla Moore, costume assistants.

Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for senior citizens, and $10 for UW–Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at artsticketing.wisc.edu. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-5:30 pm,  and Saturdays, 12-5 pm, and 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.

The UW Marching Band, a School of Music ensemble, has a long tradition on campus, and we are proud of the ways in which it contributes to the culture of the university and spreads the joy of music throughout the state. The School of Music remains unwavering in its commitment to the UW Marching Band and its contributions to Wisconsin.

Through activities such as Badger Bash, performances at athletic events, run-out concerts across the state, and special community events, our Marching Band students enjoy rich opportunities that enhance the student experience and connect them with beloved state and University traditions.

The Marching Band will continue to participate in these kinds of opportunities going forward, continually adapting to meet the needs of our community and the best interests of our students.

We are also grateful for the leadership of Dr. Corey Pompey–Associate Teaching Professor, Associate Director of Bands, and Director of Athletic Bands–and his mission to carry on the Marching Band legacy. A valued member of the School of Music community since 2019, Dr. Pompey’s appointment to the academic staff, rather than faculty, is in keeping with similar positions across the country, and allows him to focus his full efforts on teaching.

“Since my arrival on campus in July, I’ve been tremendously impressed with Dr. Pompey’s vision and leadership,” says Dan Cavanagh, Director of the School of Music. “We fully support Dr. Pompey and his work.”

We have no plans to alter the artistic vision of the Varsity Band Spring Concert, an annual tradition which provides a major culminating performance experience to band members in the spring. We look forward to the upcoming Varsity Band Spring Concert in April 2024.

Watch the October 29 live stream

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the Mead Witter School of Music, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. At the forefront of brass chamber music since the group’s founding in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet has offered countless concerts, clinics, workshops, residencies, and other educational services throughout Wisconsin and the nation.

The ensemble celebrates its milestone achievement with a concert and reception on October 29 at 2 pm at the Hamel Music Center. The concert includes performances of pieces by Emeritus Professor of Tuba John Stevens, Emeritus Professor of Horn Doug Hill, and current Professor of Horn Daniel Grabois, with special guest John Aley, Emeritus Professor of Trumpet.

“The Wisconsin Brass Quintet has brought the sounds of brass music of all eras off campus, and is a loud and vital audio representation of the Wisconsin Idea,” Grabois said. “Within the ensemble, graduate students have always filled the second trumpet chair, and they have gone on to illustrious careers of their own. The WBQ is proud to represent UW–Madison, and looks forward to the next 50 years of playing and teaching.”

Emeritus Professor of Tuba John Stevens, who played with the ensemble for nearly three decades, congratulated the current members of the group as they begin the next half century of brass artistry and innovation.

“As representative of the Mead Witter School of Music through live performances, recordings, and master classes, the quintet has brought the highest level of musical artistry and pedagogy to the greater Madison community, throughout the state of Wisconsin and around the country,” Stevens said. “I can think of no musical endeavor more rewarding than playing chamber music of all styles and eras with consummate musicians who bring the highest artistic standards to every note and phrase.”

The ensemble has always maintained a commitment to commissioning and performing new music, and has worked with composers such as Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen, and more.

Emeritus Professor of Horn Douglas Hill played with the quintet from 1986 to 2011 and composed several pieces for the group.

“Some of the most enjoyable memories of my 25 years with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet occurred when we rehearsed and frequently performed my ‘Timepieces for Brass Quintet,’” Hill said. “I composed that five movement work in 1997 as a celebration piece for the ensemble’s 25th anniversary. Knowing, after 10 years, that my colleague’s musical talents, sensitivities, and abilities were limitless, that allowed me to write whatever I thought sounded good at the time.”

Current members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet include Jean Laurenz, trumpet; John Wagner, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn; Mark Hetzler, trombone; and Tom Curry, tuba.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet in 1982, from L to R, John Aley, Mitch Gershenfeld, Bill Richardson, Nancy Becknell, and Kevin Woelfel.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet on tour in Alaska, 1989. The tour van John Aley, Elizabeth Schmitter, Douglass Hill, Bill Richardson, and John Stevens were traveling in broke down on a rural road in bitter cold temperatures. They were able to hike back to a bar they passed earlier, where the owner was originally from Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet visiting schools as part of its 25th anniversary.

Wisconsin Brass Quintet performing on State Historical Society Civil War instruments at the Dean House in Monona, WI.

WBQ at 25: John Stevens, John Aley, Douglass Hill, William Richardson, and Richard Rulli at the 25 year mark of Wisconsin Brass Quintet history.

WBQ & Friends: Tom Curry, Mark Hetzler, and John Aley with members of Stockholm Chamber Brass.

The School of Music is excited to announce the hiring of four new faculty members for the fall: Gabrielle Cornish, Assistant Professor of Musicology; John Walsh, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology; Jesse Rathgeber, Assistant Professor of Music Education; and Sarah Brailey, Voice Instructor.

Cornish’s research broadly considers music and everyday life in the Soviet Union. In particular, her monograph-in-progress, Socialist Noise: Sound and Soviet Identity after Stalin, traces the intersections between music, technology, and the politics of socialist modernity during the Cold War. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Musicological Society, and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Musicology and the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and she has bylines in Slate, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

“I’m thrilled to be coming to UW–Madison,” Cornish said. “The research environment is everything a young scholar could hope for, and I’m eager to work with such a devoted, intelligent, and supportive community of students and scholars. The department is moving in very exciting directions, buoyed by its faculty, staff, and students, and I’m excited to be a part of these transformations.”

Rathgeber has been a faculty member at Augustana College in Illinois and James Madison University in Virginia. As part of his teaching, scholarship, and service, Rathgeber has founded AugiePlay and JMUke, both informal, community-based music projects. He also co-founded the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement and co-convened the Disability Studies and Music Education Symposium. Prior to his work at the collegiate level, Rathgeber was K-12 music teacher for Deland-Weldon Community Unit School District 57 and EC-5 general music teacher for Kildeer Countryside School District 96, both in Illinois.

“I’m excited to join everyone at the Mead Witter School of Music and UW–Madison, broadly, in order to build upon the deep and meaningful history of music education scholarship and practice and to help chart new pathways toward inclusive, responsive, critical, just, and playful lifelong music learning,” Rathgeber said. 

As an ethnomusicologist, Walsh is broadly interested in the relationships between music and cities. Specifically, his work explores the music scene as a flexible form of collective expressive culture that articulates relations between sociality, materiality, and aesthetics. His current research focuses on contemporary music scenes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under conditions of political transformation. Walsh’s research has been supported through two Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, the Cota Robles Fellowship, The John L. Simpson Memorial Research Fellowship, the Rocca Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, and UC Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies and Center for African Studies.

Brailey, a Wisconsin  native, received her MM and DMA from the Mead Witter School of Music. She has worked as a freelance soloist and chamber artist in New York City and around the globe for the past 15 years in a repertoire that includes historically-informed performance, contemporary classical pieces, and 18th- and 19th-century solo and orchestral music. A prolific recording artist, she won the 2020 Grammy in the category Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for her performance in Dame Ethyl Smyth’s The Prison.   She is a member of the Lorelei Ensemble and Roomful of Teeth, and is co-founder of the Just Bach chamber series in Madison as well as Artistic Director of the Handel Aria Competition. 

Graduation: A time for celebration and reflection; a time to say goodbye to friends and prepare for the future. Graduating students Lauren Rault and Heidi Keener highlighted those sentiments during prepared remarks at the Graduation, Hooding, and Awards Recognition Ceremony on May 12.

“I’m so grateful for everyone I’ve crossed paths with over the past four years,” Rault said. “No matter how small the interaction, every single person I met made me better in some way, so thank you.”

Held at the Hamel Music Center, a portion of the ceremony included recognition of all students who have earned School of Music awards over the past year. The Class of 2023 joins 4,702 living School of Music alumni.

“No matter where you go in the world, you are likely to meet other alumni, and be reminded that you are forever a Badger,” Director Susan C. Cook said.

Watch the live stream: 

Heidi Keener, DMA Flute Performance ’23, offers remarks on her time at the School of Music.

School of Music choral students perform “In My Life” and “The Road Home” during the ceremony.

Chris Fiol, MM Tuba Performance ’23, accepts a pink rose from Professor Martha Fischer. Pink is symbolic of music in academia.

Jerzy Gillon, MM Vocal Performance ’23, accepts a pink rose from Professor Martha Fischer.

Jason Xue, Piano Performance ’23, and Shelby Miller, MM Flute Performance ’23, attend a post-ceremony reception in the Hamel Music Center lobby.

Karen Szczech, MM Violin Performance ’23, Amelia Simpson, Violin Music Performance ’23, Dr. Dawn Dongeun Wohn, Jane Krasovich, Violin Music Performance ’23, and Nithya Attipetty, Cello Music Performance ’23.

Andrew Voth, DMA Choral Conducting ’23, and Herbert Payung, DMA Wind Conducting ’23.

Hanna Noughani, Oboe Music Performance ’23, Dr. Lindsay Flowers, Professor Emeritus Mark Fink, and Keslie Pharis, MM Oboe Performance ’23.

Let’s celebrate: Students and supporters attend a a post-ceremony reception in the Hamel Music Center lobby.

Dan Cavanagh has been named the next director of the School of Music, effective July 1, 2023. Cavanagh’s appointment concludes a national search led by Associate Dean Susan Zaeske of the College of Letters & Science; music professors Mimmi Fulmer, Christopher Taylor, Scott Teeple, Conor Nelson, and Daniel Grabois; and School of Music Assistant Director Wendy Johnson.

“I am thrilled that Dan will bring to the directorship of the Mead Witter School of Music a cutting-edge vision of research and curricular excellence combined with the wherewithal to get things done thanks to his many years of experience as a music and liberal arts administrator,” Zaeske said.

Cavanagh is a composer and pianist who has garnered numerous awards in both areas. As a composer he has written or arranged for Latin Grammy-winning AfroBop Alliance, the legendary Patti LaBelle, and a wide range of classical and jazz performers across North America and Europe. He has released five critically acclaimed jazz CDs as a leader.

His music can be heard on many other recordings both classical and jazz and he continues to be commissioned and programmed around the world. Cavanagh has also performed extensively in North America and internationally. He has been a finalist in the EuropaFest Jazz Contest in Bucharest, and in the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition.

“I am very excited to join UW–Madison as the next Pamela O. Hamel/Music Board of Advisors Professor and Director of the Mead Witter School of Music,” Cavanagh said. “The school’s national reputation is bolstered by its amazing faculty, talented students, and accomplished staff.”

Cavanagh is currently the interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to serving as interim Dean, Cavanagh held various academic leadership roles, including program director, music department chair, and associate dean. He has also served in high-profile shared governance roles in the University of Texas System, including as Chair of the Faculty Advisory Council representing over 21,000 faculty members across the 14 institutions in the system.

From 2015-2020, he served as the Co-Chair of Region VI for the Society of Composers and currently serves on the executive board of a2ru, the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities. Cavanagh serves on the board of directors for Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (Arlington, TX), chairs Downtown Arlington’s Cultural Arts District Partners group and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Winds, a five-time Grammy nominated professional Wind Symphony.

Cavanagh succeeds Director Susan C. Cook, who will be on research leave during the 23-24 academic year after serving 10 years as director of the School of Music.

“I look forward to engaging with the Board of Advisors, colleagues across the University, and individuals throughout the community to continue growing the impact, reach, and excellence the School of Music creates every day, and to advance the ideals of the Wisconsin Idea through the creative work and scholarship we will produce together,” Cavanagh said.

The School of Music is thrilled to announce and celebrate the Susan C. Cook Scholarship Fund. This newly-established fund created by alumni, friends, and our Board of Advisors will provide eligible students with full in-state tuition and will build upon Professor Cook’s ten years of service as director of the School of Music.

Professor Cook’s legacy resonates throughout the school, from the students she has mentored to overseeing the building and completion of Hamel Music Center which she called “the Wisconsin Idea at its most audible” upon its opening in 2019. During her ten years as director, Professor Cook has also developed a larger culture of philanthropy and support and has expressed her deep appreciation for the generous philanthropic individuals who have continued to support music students through scholarships and support of all kinds.

Join us in celebrating the new fund during Day of the Badger March 28–29. All gifts made during Day of the Badger will be designated to support students through the Susan C. Cook Scholarship and will ensure Professor Cook’s pivotal contributions to the School of Music will be remembered for generations. Thanks to Garry and Joanne Owens, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar–up to $10,000–during Day of the Badger.

On the heels of winning four national awards for last year’s productions, University Opera rounds out the 2022-23 season with Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic masterpiece, La traviata. Perhaps his best-known work, La traviata tells a tale of love, morality, and self-sacrifice. Three performances will be presented at Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus: March 3 at 7:30 pm, March 5 at 2 pm, and March 7 at 7:30 pm. The Mead Witter School of Music’s 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.

“Due to the significant vocal and dramatic demands placed on performers, works like La traviata do not often show up in the repertoire for university opera programs,” Ronis said. “But this year, we are thrilled to have the right complement of extremely accomplished singers among our students who cannot only meet La traviata’s challenges, but deliver professional-level performances.”

Written during Verdi’s fruitful middle period, La traviata is one of his most intimate works. The opera features a taut plot and vivid characters for which Verdi composed perfectly attuned music. Although a work of the 19th century, La traviata’s themes are universal and have compelling contemporary resonance.

Literally meaning “The Fallen Woman,” La traviata is based on the famous novel, La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils. Dumas used the real-life Marie Duplessis, a courtesan who served elite Parisian society in the 1840s, as a model for his heroine. In the opera, Marie becomes Violetta, who lives the high life but is dying of consumption. Upon meeting Alfredo, Violetta is disarmed and captivated by a man who is not interested in her for the usual reasons. Instead, he offers true love and a chance to escape her frenetic and unfulfilling lifestyle.

Shortly after the couple goes off to a country cottage to live an idyllic life, Alfredo’s father Giorgio Germont pays Violetta an unexpected visit. He asks her to end the relationship and leave Alfredo so that his daughter’s (Alfredo’s sister) marriage can proceed, and his family’s honor be restored. Reluctant to give up the love that she has found but understanding the profound effect on her lover’s family, Violetta makes the supreme sacrifice and returns to her old life. Alfredo, believing Violetta to have left him for financial reasons, finds and confronts her in Paris with disastrous results. A few months later, Alfredo, having finally learned the truth from his father, returns to reunite with the dying Violetta one last time.

The University Opera production will be set in the late 1920s and include fashions from the era as well as Art Deco furniture and decorations. The cast features Jeni Houser and Sachie Ueshima in the title role, Evan Mitchell as Alfredo, and Luis Orozco as Germont. Madison Barrett and Jing Zhang will share the role of Flora while Ryan Nash and Noah Strube will split the performances of Gastone. Annina will be played by Jerzy Gillon and Krista Laszewski, Grady Hayden will be the Baron, Corey Lallo the Marquis, and Augustine Ahn, Doctor Grenvil.

Keith Pitts will be the scenic designer, Zak Stowe will design the lighting, and Kenneth Hoversten and Madeline Walaszek will design costumes. Jan Ross will be the wig designer and Zak Wolff, the props designer. Musical preparation will be by Thomas Kasdorf and William Preston is the rehearsal pianist. The production stage manager will be Grace Greene. Others on the production staff include Oliva Gacka, assistant director; Juliana Gessner, assistant scenic designer; Evan Mitchell, operations manager for University Opera; Elizabeth Cantwell, assistant stage manager; and Katie Eggers and Bella Moss, costume assistants.

Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for senior citizens, and $10 for UW–Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts Ticketing office at (608) 265-ARTS and online at artsticketing.wisc.edu. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-5:30 pm and Saturdays, 12 pm-5 pm. Tickets may also 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 in Madison.

Professor Mimmi Fulmer and School of Music students Sachie Ueshima, Trace Johnson, James Osorio, Sahada Buckley, and Ben Ferris are each recipients of  a UW–Madison Division of the Arts 2023 Creative Arts Award. Award recipients will be recognized at a ceremony on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

These awards celebrate artistic achievement, recognize service to the arts, and support arts research. Nine awards were open to a variety of arts practitioners, researchers, students, staff, and faculty from any area including arts academic departments and programs. This includes Art, Art History, Arts Administration, Communication Arts, Creative Writing, Dance, Design Studies, Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, Music and Theatre and Drama. Applications and nominations for these awards were juried by a panel of seven committee members including previous recipients of the awards and campus arts research administrators.

School of Music faculty and staff received awards in the following categories:

Emily Mead Baldwin Award in the Creative Arts

Mimmi Fulmer, Professor
Project title: Women’s voices then and now: at the center of Finnish music as artists, activists, and muses

David and Edith Sinaiko Frank Graduate Fellowship for a Woman in the Arts

Sachie Ueshima, DMA student, Music Performance
Project title: Last Letters Home: Voices of Japanese Soldiers in WWII

Lyman S.V. Judson and Ellen Mackechnie Judson Graduate Student Award in the Creative Arts

Trace Leighton Johnson, DMA student, Music Performance

Joan Spero and C. Michael Spero Graduate Student Award

James Carl Lagman Osorio, MM student, Piano and MA student, Historical Musicology
Project title: “Pagbabagong-anyo” (Transformation): Rediscovering Nicanor Abelardo’s “Violin Sonata”

Graduate Student Creative Arts Award

Sahada Jewel Buckley, MM student, Violin Performance & Trace Leighton Johnson, DMA student, Music Performance
Project title: Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival

Ben Ferris, MM student, Music Performance
Project title: Roland Hanna Bass Concerto Project

University Opera has won four national awards over the past year. University Opera garnered two first place awards–one each in Division V and VII of the National Opera Association Production Competition–for last year’s productions of Two Remain (Out of Darkness) and Sweeney Todd.

Additionally, The American Prize awarded University Opera third place in its Musical Theater division for I Wish It So: Marc Blitzstein – The Man In His Music, a biographical video project that director David Ronis assembled, wrote, and produced, using resources from the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. The same production also earned Ronis the second place Charles Nelson Reilly Award for Musical Theater Directing, also given by The American Prize.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has named Professor Laura Schwendinger and librettist Ginger Strand winners of the Charles Ives Opera Prize for their opera Artemisia. Based on the life of 17th-century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi, Artemisia premiered at the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in 2019 and received an OPERA America Discovery Grant.

The Ives Opera Prize is is the largest and most prestigious award for opera composers in the US. As composer, Schwendinger will receive $35,000, and Strand, as librettist, will receive $15,000.

Operas were nominated by the Academy’s members, and winners chosen by a jury comprised of members John Harbison (chair), Anthony Davis, Tania León, Tobias Picker, and Shulamit Ran, who met in 2022. The awards will be given at the annual Ceremonial in May.

The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Schwendinger is a professor of composition at the Mead Witter School of Music.


The winners of the 2022 Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition are Elizabeth Vaughan, piano, and Benjamin Davies Hudson, violin.

The winners of the 2022 Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition are Elizabeth Vaughan, piano, and Benjamin Davies Hudson, violin. The results were announced by Director of Orchestral Activities Oriol Sans following the Concerto Competition Finals on November 28 in the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall at the Hamel Music Center.

“The judges were highly impressed with the high artistic level of all performances during the finals,” Sans said. “Congratulations to all!”

At the finals, Elizabeth performed Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 with Eric Tran as accompanist. Benjamin performed Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor with Calvin Guse as accompanist. The winners will perform with the UW–Madison Symphony Orchestra in spring or fall of 2023.

Concerto competition judges this year included Devin Colbeigh-Morrison, brass; Les Thimmig, jazz; Marisol Kuborn and Alexander Weir, percussion; Lina Lee, piano; Dawn Wohn, strings; Marc Vallon, woodwinds;  and Paul Rowe and Colleen Brooks, voice.

Elizabeth Vaughan is a current DMA student in piano performance and pedagogy under the tutelage of Professors Jessica Johnson and Christopher Taylor. She received her master’s degree in piano performance from University of Tennessee-Knoxville, master’s in viola performance from Roosevelt University, and bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Lawrence University.

She has performed as a solo pianist with the UT-Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra. She is a first place winner of the MTNA Young Artist Competition in the states of Tennessee and Wisconsin, and second place winner in the MTNA East Central Division. She has also won second place awards at the Wisconsin Federations of Music Clubs competition and the Wisconsin NATS competition.

Elizabeth is a freelance musician in the Chicagoland area, and her performances have been broadcast on 98.7 WFMT and 91.9 WUOT. She has collaborated with musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and with students and faculty in studios of Roosevelt University, DePaul University, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Music Institute of Chicago. In addition to performing as a pianist, she sings with the Chicago Symphony Chorus.

Benjamin Davies Hudson is a sophomore studying violin with Professor David Perry and viola with Professor Sally Chisholm. Prior to UW–Madison, Benjamin studied with Janet Chisholm shortly after starting the violin at age 7. In high school, Benjamin studied harpsichord maintenance, tuning, and period performance with Trevor Stephenson.

In 2018, Benjamin was a finalist in the Milwaukee Symphony’s “Stars of Tomorrow” Concerto Competition and was given the opportunity to solo with the Milwaukee Symphony under the Baton of Maestro Yaniv Dinur performing Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. That same year, Benjamin was a winner of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras concerto competition and performed as a soloist with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under the Baton of Maestro Andrew Sewell.

He has worked with Arnold Steinhardt, Uri Vardi, Young Nam Kim, Kenneth Woods, Arianna Kim, Eric Nowlin, Jordan Bak, Siwoo Kim, and Eleanor Bartsch through performance classes and chamber music festivals.

Susan C. Cook sums it up perfectly: “You can take the professor out of the classroom, but not the classroom out of the professor.” After a decade as director of the Mead Witter School of Music, Cook will step down at the end of this year. But this isn’t the grand finale of Cook’s career; it’s just the beginning of a new movement.

Having worked 15 years without a sabbatical, Cook is looking forward to taking some time off. Then, she’ll be back to doing what she loves: teaching music history.

“My area of interest has always been contemporary music,” Cook says, “which used to mean the 20th century, but now it’s the 21st century as well. The world keeps changing around us and we have to change with it. I think it’s always important for faculty to be continuing to think about what it is our students need now and to be not teaching just the way we were taught, or just the way we used to teach even 10 or 15 years ago.”

That adaptability and forward thinking have been the cornerstones of Cook’s term as director. They served her well when things looked precarious for the school.

“I came into the role in somewhat of a challenging time,” she recalls. “The previous director had stepped down a couple years early, so it was a transition that we weren’t expecting.”

The school was experiencing budget cuts and limited hiring and had been struggling to move ahead with a new building project. Then, there came a new chancellor, provost, and dean in quick succession — all starting around the same time that Cook assumed her new role. The future was uncertain. However, following campuswide discussions, Chancellor Rebecca Blank quickly decided to move ahead with plans for a new music building, which would become the Hamel Music Center.

“That decision proved to be a really smart one,” Cook remembers, because it was the vote of confidence that signaled to the Mead Witter Foundation that the university was invested in the future of the school, and “that there was a real critical need here.” The foundation made a major gift that allowed the ambitious building project to proceed and attracted even more support.

“One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this job was working with the incredibly generous philanthropic individuals who have helped make this building a reality and have continued to support our students, again, through scholarships and support of all kinds,” Cook says. She beams as she talks about the “larger culture of philanthropy and support” that has sprung up around the school. “We have wonderful fans that come and write students notes (after performances) and tell them how terrific they sounded and that has just been something really unexpectedly wonderful to be a part of.”

The Hamel Music Center opened its doors in fall 2019, glistening like a jewel at the heart of campus. Then came the blow that nobody expected: COVID-19. But as it turned out, even though the center wasn’t designed with a pandemic in mind, it met the needs of the moment perfectly.

“Had we not had this building, the pandemic would have been so much worse for all of us,” Cook says. “Because we did have the technology and the extra spaces in this building that allowed us to do things safely to continue to connect with each other and to connect with audiences, even if we couldn’t be in person. I know there were people who felt like the building was closed and empty, and I kept saying, ‘It’s not. There’s still life going on there.’ I would drive by, and I would see the lights on in the lobby. To me, it was a beacon of hope and a reminder that we would be back together and that the building was helping keep us connected even then.”

Looking ahead, Cook hopes that the school will continue to build on what the Hamel Music Center started, continuing to be “inventive in our programming, inventive in our use of the space.” She also hopes to get the additional rehearsal spaces and financial assistance that students need, though that is a quest that will pass to the school’s next director — and to the new Humanities building project, which is in development.

“This clearly is a big job, a challenging job,” Cook says. “Sometimes people have asked me what have been the rewards? And I would say that the rewards have been in the music.”

She says it’s like “being in this wonderful garden” and not knowing what’s going to spring up and blossom. “You’re doing a lot of digging and a lot of heavy labor at times, but then (you’re) rewarded with this kind of beauty that you couldn’t have imagined.”


Purchase tickets

Albert Herring, Benjamin Britten’s intricate and witty opera, will open the 2022-23 University Opera season at UW–Madison following the success of last season’s Two Remain (Out of Darkness) by Jake Heggie and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  One of Britten’s few comedic operas, Albert Herring explores the themes of lost innocence, social stratification, Victorian morality, and the coming of age. Three performances will be presented at Music Hall on the UW–Madison campus: November 18 at 7:30 pm, November 20 at 2 pm, and November 22 at 7:30 pm. The Mead Witter School of Music’s Director of Orchestral Activities, Oriol Sans, will conduct a chamber ensemble comprised of members of the UW–Madison Symphony, and Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, David Ronis, will direct the production.

Britten’s score for Albert Herring is equally as complex and beautiful as his most serious operas and the libretto by Eric Crozier inspires some of his most sensitive musical writing. The piece displays a good measure of levity as it tells a story as old as time, contrasting the values of older and younger generations.  With the town’s May Day Festival approaching, Lady Billows is scandalized and shocked by the lack of moral virtue in the young women of East Suffolk and is left with no choice but to appoint a King of the May rather than a May Queen.  Her committee of advisors suggests the young Albert whom they don’t view as particularly bright but is perceived as virtuous and a good son.  Albert, put upon by his strong-willed mother, is forced to accept this appointment. But, in a bold move of self-actualization fueled by a bit of alcohol, he breaks free from small town conventions and uses his prize money to pursue the life experiences he so desperately desires. This all too familiar story of the conflict between generations ignites Britten’s hilarious opera and is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face regardless generational affiliation.

The cast features Ryan Nash in the title role and Eloise Williamson as Lady Billows. Madison Barrett and Kathryn Flynn will share the role of Nancy while William Volmar will appear as Sid, Alexxis McDade as Mum, Noah Strube as Mayor Upfold, Grady Hayden as Vicar Gedge and Augustine Ahn as Superintendent Budd. Isabel Celata and Minseon Lee will split the performances as Miss Wordsworth, Jing Zhang and guest artist Chloe Agostino as Florence Pike, Katie Eggers and Danielle Bullock as Emmie, and May Kohler and Riley Brutto as Cis. Liam Kleckner and John Palenik, both members of the Madison Youth Choir program, will share the role of Harry.

Greg Silver will design both scenery and lighting and Hyewon Park will design costumes. The production stage manager will be Grace Greene. Others on the production staff include Luis Orozco, assistant director; Evan Mitchell, operations manager for University Opera; Elizabeth Cantwell, assistant stage manager; and Kenneth Hoversten, Katie Eggers, and Madeline Walaszek, costume assistants.

Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for senior citizens, and $10 for UW–Madison students, available in advance online through Campus Arts Ticketing or by calling (608) 265-ARTS. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office Monday-Friday, 11:30 am-5:30 pm, and Saturdays, 12 pm-5 pm. Tickets may also 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 in Madison.

From L to R, Amy Lewis (Music Education), Michael Weinstein-Reiman (Music Theory), and Lindsay Flowers (Oboe) joined the School of Music faculty this fall.

The School of Music is excited to welcome three new faculty members this fall: Amy Lewis (Music Education), Michael Weinstein-Reiman (Music Theory), and Lindsay Flowers (Oboe).

Dr. Amy Lewis is the daughter of Jayne McShann Lewis and Bennie Lewis and is the granddaughter of Frances McShann Shelton and jazz pianist Jay McShann. Dr. Lewis is a research associate as an Anna Julia Cooper Fellow in the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Her research is focused on systemic oppression, equity, and racism in music education. As a public music teacher, she taught K-1, 6-8 general music, beginning band, middle school choir, and jazz band in the Chicagoland suburbs. She received the 2022 Compass Visionary Award, the 2019 Black Faculty, Staff, and Administrators Association Emerging Leader Award, and was also named the 2015 Illinois Education Association Teacher of the Year.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be named an Anna Julia Cooper Fellow at the UW–Madison,” Lewis said. “I look forward to working with incredible colleagues in the Mead Witter School of Music and contributing to such a rich history of research in music education.”

Michael Weinstein-Reiman is a historian of music theory. His work seeks to elucidate music theory’s role in the history of ideas over the longue durée. His related research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European philosophy, music pedagogy, literature, gender and sexuality, and disability studies.

In 2021, he received the Ph.D. in Music Theory from Columbia University, where he wrote a dissertation on the changing understanding of touch—considered as an action, a sense, and as a metaphor for music’s effect on the psyche—across the span of two centuries of French intellectual history. Research for the dissertation was supported by Columbia’s Dean’s Fellowship, a Georges Lurcy Fellowship, an honorary Chateaubriand Fellowship from the French Embassy, and several travel grants. He holds degrees in music from The University of Oregon, Mannes College, and Brandeis University.

“It is a real honor to join the community of musicians and scholars at UW–Madison,” Weinstein-Reiman said. “I am excited about working with the School of Music’s top-notch and diverse performers. As I embark on my own research projects, I cannot wait to see our students flourish and forge their own paths.”

Dr. Lindsay Flowers is the Assistant Professor of Oboe at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music where she is a member of the Wingra Wind Quintet and guides student-generated community engagement projects. She received a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Linda Strommen and Roger Roe. Her background in athletics distinguishes her pedagogical approach in her emphasis on performance visualization, disciplined commitment, and supportive teamwork.

Lindsay is an Oboist and English Hornist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra. She previously was a member of the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, New Mexico Philharmonic, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Lindsay was a founding member of the Arundo Donax Reed Quintet, Bronze Medal Winners of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and recorded a duo album with Dr. Andrew Parker to be released in 2023. She has performed with the Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Utah, and Nashville Symphony Orchestras and during recent summers with the Santa Fe Opera, Grant Park, Midsummer’s, Lakes Area, Apollo, Lake George, Castleton, Aspen, and Banff Music Festivals.

Dr. Mariana Farah, director of Choral Activities, and incoming DMA choral conducting student Liz Olson are presenting as part of a panel session at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. This session will feature five active women conductors and a first-year doctoral student in a candid discussion about past, present, and future challenges for women in choral music. The presenters will offer strategies on how young and experienced conductors can fight new and longstanding matters involving gender bias in the choral field. Members will learn to:

a) identify instances of gender disparity in the choral profession;
b) fight challenges related to gender bias;
c) support students and colleagues who experience gender discrimination;
d) advocate for themselves and others;
e) promote change to help create more equitable spaces for women conductors

The conference will be held February 22-25, 2023 in Cincinnati, OH.