A Journey Through Madison's Classical Music Scene
Nov 17, 2011
12:54 PM
Classically Speaking

Freely Giving Thanks Before Thanksgiving

Freely Giving Thanks Before Thanksgiving

Before you even think about what that extra helping of candied yams and/or stuffing with gravy might mean for future New Year’s resolutions, let me suggest that you fill up emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. And given the fact that two special concerts this weekend are offered free of charge, your only guilt should result from missing them.

Here’s your appetizer: As part of the Pro Arte Quartet centennial season celebrations, another free guest lecture will be offered, this time by Bill McGlaughlin. If the engaging style of the host of NPR’s “Exploring Music” isn’t enticement enough, his topic should be more than intriguing: “The Artist As Distant Early Warning System.” The lecture, including time for questions and answers, is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Plenary Room of Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave.

The main course, of course, is the evening concert featuring the world premiere of “Three Rhapsodies for Piano Quintet” by Paul Schoenfield. McGlaughlin and Shoenfield will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Mills Hall, with the concert at 8. Pianist Brian Hsu joins the Pro Arte for the new work, and the program includes the Fourth Quartet of Shostakovich, and perhaps the greatest of the late Beethoven string quartets, his Op. 131.

Oh, and then there’s real dessert—a selection of sweets just a short walk away at the University Club … think of it as a pre-game warm-up for Thanksgiving Day itself.

If we’re always so quick to head back for that “just one more” helping of fill-in-the-blank at the feast table, why not indulge our aesthetic appetites as well? Here’s the perfect opportunity, with the Wingra Quintet, joined by pianist Christopher Taylor. You might not think there are many works for piano and woodwind quintet, but the Wingra and Taylor will give us three, including perhaps the most famous, Poulenc’s Sextet. And there’s even a nice segue to looking forward to the next Pro Arte installment: Sunday Taylor plays William Bolcom’s “Five Fold Five,” while next March he joins the Pro Arte in the world premiere of Bolcom’s Piano Quintet No. 2.

But that’s several holidays in the future … for now head to Mills Hall Sunday at 2. This musical glutton will be there night and day.

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About This Blog

Years before I contributed my first classical review to the Los Angeles Times in 1988, I started a class in music appreciation for adults that had one aim: to put a few cracks in the “ivory tower elitism” I found pervasive in the classical music world since my boyhood days. Whether as a critic, program annotator or band director, that goal has never changed. After all, Mozart and Beethoven and the gang wrote their music for people like you—not critics or professors!

After growing up in the suburbs of New York City, and spending twenty years in and around Los Angeles, the last twelve years here leave me more amazed than ever at the musical riches of Madison. I’m a cheerleader at heart, because I always think more people would become classical fans if they’d give it a chance—but I’m also quick to tell you when you’re not getting your money’s worth. Classically Speaking brings you as much news and as many reviews as possible, and I hope you’ll join me for a fabulous musical journey.

–  Greg Hettmansberger
Follow Greg on Twitter @ghettmansberger

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