summer = music Squared
downbeat from Director Andrew Sewell comes at 7 tonight.
(Michelle Stocker photo)
a delectable summer experience: Tens of thousands of Madisonians
sitting around the Capitol Square with fine music washing
over them and, often, fine wine washing over their palates.
sun sets on the golden statue "Wisconsin" atop
the Capitol, the ritual of Concerts on the Square will get
under way tonight for the 21st season.
there's an art to "entertaining" with the Wisconsin
Chamber Orchestra, just as there is an art is to enlightening
audiences during the orchestra's classical concert series
in the fall and winter. WCO artistic director and conductor
Andrew Sewell's programming of the popular summer concerts
has become increasingly rich in recent years, like a fine
chef adding subtle ingredients to a recipe that shouldn't
be too heavy.
approach to programming is that the pendulum can swing either
way," Sewell says. "I've tended to start out with
familiar works and then pushed the envelope a bit, and then
come back to things you would expect. But then the polka
concert has incredible musicians. It's not just a pops concert."
take a look at this summer's six programs, which begin tonight
at 7 and continue through Aug. 4. Can we detect some desirable
enlightenment amid the entertainment?
season will open with one of the finest short pieces of
American classical music ever: Aaron Copland's "Fanfare
for the Common Man," with its bracing harmonic power
and chest-swelling dose of democratic fervor.
there is the first movement of Dmitri Shostakovich's piano
Concerto No. 2, to be performed by high school student Christie
Naughton of Madison, the winner of the WCO's first annual
Statewide Young Artists Concerto competition. The composer
is perhaps the most burdened and brooding of Russia's composers.
And he's from the 20th century, that era when many cutting-edge
composers strayed far from the listener's auditory comfort
program also features Tchaikovsky's delightfully bombastic
"1812" Overture, several patriotic numbers and
a very classy literary touch: Wisconsin native Sherry Sarazin
will sing a song she composed based upon a poem her grandmother
wrote, which became Wisconsin's official state ballad in
July 7 program, by contrast, makes little pretense to respectability.
Rather it celebrates the state's ethnic heritage and official
state dance with a program of polkas, waltzes and marches,
performed by virtuoso guest ensemble Sonnenschein Express.
on July 14 Sewell will bring out more heavyweight material
with the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto
No. 1 in B flat minor performed by Jason Peterson. Also
on tap will be the last two movements of Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony -- some of the finest musical passages in the classical
canon -- as well as the first movement of Mozart's famed
Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
will also honor his predecessor at the podium, David Lewis
Crosby, by performing Crosby's "Sesquicentennial Anniversary
July 21 program adds a classy nod to America's indigenous
art form, jazz, with local vocalist Gerry DiMaggio and her
trio performing some jazz-flavored orchestral numbers, including
Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" and
Bruno Martino's sublime boss nova tune "Estate."
concert, by the way, will be broadcast at 6 p.m. the following
Saturday on Wisconsin Public Television, thanks to funding
from the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. All the
concerts will be again broadcast live on radio station the
WMGF Magic 98.
chamber orchestra will offer two more stellar guest soloists
on July 28 with tenor James Doing, the outstanding UW-Madison
faculty member, and 17-year-old soprano Hayley Westenra,
who will make her U.S. orchestral debut. She has caused
a sensation in her native New Zealand with her CD "Pure,"
a multiple-platinum winner and the fastest-selling debut
classical recording in U.K. history. She's already had extremely
high-profile appearances, including a performance in front
of Queen Elizabeth, President Bush and Prime Minister Tony
Blair. Westenra's program here will include selections from
her hit album.
the Aug. 4 program will celebrate this nation's roots, Sewell
says, with an array of classic Americana material, including
Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town" program music,
Copland's superb "Billy the Kid: Suite," and a
medley from Richard Rodgers' beloved musical "Oklahoma."
anticipated sidelight of the concert season will be the
release of the Chamber Orchestra's first CD. Called "Close
to the Music," it will include Bach's Brandenburg Concerto
No. 3, Arthur Honegger's "Summer Pastorale," Mozart's
Symphony No. 35 "Haffner," Stravinsky's "Pulcinella"
Suite, and Lilburn's "Four Canzonas." The CD will
cost $15 and will be released during the second concert
on July 7.
support for the summer concerts remains strong, says WCO
managing director Robert Sorge, but the chamber orchestra
is changing its approach to direct funding appeals. The
collection barrels of previous years will be replaced by
a raffle for a trip to New York.
think it's a more positive message than the barrels,"
Sorge said. "We have exceeded our annual appeals goal,
which is for the classical series, the Halloween concert
and everything we do during the year. And we're working
on the Concerts on the Square and we're right on track for
that, God willing, if the weather stays on our side."