February 2012 Event Highlights

From great jazz to a Russian folk tale, the history of mathematics to the rhythms of Carnaval, this month is enriched with cultural connections

Kanopy Dance's

Kanopy Dance's "Baba Yaga"

A Welcome Return

Ever since Kanopy Dance performed an old Russian folk tale back in 2008, fans have asked artistic directors Lisa Thurrell and Robert E. Cleary to bring it back. They’re doing so this month with a revised Baba Yaga (February 17–19, kanopydance.org). The story follows Vasilissa, who’s captured by Baba Yaga, a child-eating hag who lives in a bone hut. To be freed, the girl must carry out three daunting tasks. The performance brings together dark and humorous elements, traditional Russian and pop techno music, puppetry, fanciful costumes and unique choreography.

Round Three

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra devotes its third Masterworks concert to Beloved Beethoven (February 24,
wcoconcerts.org), with a performance of his “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 and London-based Alexander Sitkovetsky joining in for the Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. The concert opens with a short work by Benjamin Britten, with American Players Theatre actor James Ridge narrating a poem about a night mail train running from London to Glasgow. And the Oakwood Chamber Players offer their third concert of the season (February 11–12, oakwoodchamberplayers.com), highlighting works by Schumann and Faure.

School Ties

Faculty of the UW–Madison Art Department don’t only teach; they also create their own art and exhibit their work nationally and internationally. In Compendium 2012: Art Department Faculty Exhibition (February 4–April 1, chazen.wisc.edu), the Chazen Museum of Art focuses on recent work by thirty-four current and twelve emeritus faculty. The show includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, textiles, digital art and more to reveal the breadth, scope and diversity of the department’s faculty.

The Grace Chosy Gallery also shines the light on an artist with UW ties. Barry Roal Carlsen (February 3–25, gracechosygallery.com) is an alum and senior artist at the University Communications office who occasionally teaches lithography at UW– Madison. His recent work focuses on an attempt to clarify imperfect memories.

Mood Music

Wondering how to woo your Valentine this year? Make your move to Overture Center for Jim Brickman: An Evening of Romance (February 14, overturecenter.com). The pianist and singer is a best-selling solo artist whose shows meld beautiful music with anecdotes, setting the stage—literally—for a romantic evening. 

Global Groove

What’s better than one night of Carnaval? More nights, of course! And that’s exactly what the Majestic Theatre offers with 2 Nights of Carnaval (February 17–18, majesticmadison.com). This showcase of dance and party music from around the world features the Handphibians performing Maracatu rhythms from Brazil, Grupo Um Dois Tres playing Axe and Brazilian pop and Mama Digdown’s Brass Band’s New Orleans sound on Friday. And Saturday brings Grupo Balança’s Brazilian “backyard samba” and Metabaque, a band that mixes traditional Brazilian beats with hip hop.

Adding Up

Math is rigid, exact and unchanging, right? Not so fast, says Broom Street Theater. Playwright Scott Feiner’s Splendor in the Math (February 17–March 10, bstonline.org) delves into the lives of people who love and work with math—and those who hate and fear it. “The beauty of the absurdity of math proving itself to be incomplete shows math is just like any other human endeavor,” says Feiner, “messy and inspiring, poignant and surprising.”

Jazz with a Past

Formed in the sixties, with ties to institutions in their respective cities, two jazz groups offer unique opportunities for local listeners.

Each Monday for the past forty-five years, the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (February 4, uniontheater.wisc.edu) has played at New York’s legendary jazz club of the same name. The group, which formed in 1966 and hasn’t stopped performing since, earned a Grammy in 2009 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and comes to Madison to play at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

Later in the month, Preservation Hall Jazz Band (February 18, stoughtonoperahouse.com) takes a Stoughton Opera House audience back to the sounds of 1950s New Orleans. Named after Preservation Hall in New Orleans, which formed in 1961 to preserve local music, the band grew from friends who got together weekly to jam to a group that tours the world. 

Irish Pride

While St. Patrick’s Day is a month away, celebrate Celtic spirit with two special concerts in February. Gaelic Storm (February 17, uniontheater.wisc.edu) hits the Wisconsin Union Theater. Since appearing as the party band in 1997’s Titanic, the indie band has gone on to release several albums (including Cabbage in 2011) and tours more than two hundred days out of the year. And at Overture Center, catch Celtic Nights: Journey of Hope (February 29, overturecenter.com), a unique show that melds music with dance to tell the story of the Celtic people.

Musical favorites

The Madison Savoyards present How Quaint the Ways of Paradox (February 10, madisonsavoyards.org) at the First Unitarian Society. This eighth annual winter concert—a treat for lovers of Gilbert and Sullivan works—features pieces from an array of operettas by the duo, and music director Terry Kiss Frank leads the audiences through choruses from several works.

And Overture Center brings Fiddler on the Roof (February 24–26, overturecenter.com) to Madison. The Tony Award–winning musical is based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem and centers on Tevye, a Russian father of five daughters who strives to maintain his family and Jewish traditions. The story intertwines with a beloved score featuring “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”

Thrills and Chills

Are you craving a bit of danger this month? Then don’t miss Madison Theatre Guild’s production of Yankee Tavern (February 24–March 10, madisontheatreguild.org) at the Bartell Theatre. This chilling play is set in a crumbling New York bar, where conspiracy theories about the September 11 terrorist attacks swirl, and a newcomer to the tavern seems to know more than he should.

Or head over to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for Houdini: Art and Magic (February 11–May 13, mmoca.org), an exhibition examining the life and legend of Harry Houdini, the world-renowned magician and escape artist. Work by a variety of contemporary artists is showcased alongside historic photographs, Art Nouveau-era posters, silent films and magic apparatus, much of which is rarely exhibited together.

A Touch of Country

Country music lovers won’t want to miss Brad Paisley (February 23, alliantenergycenter.com) live at the Alliant Energy Center. Since starting out in West Virginia at age thirteen, Paisley has released nine studio albums and garnered three Grammy and fourteen Country Music Association awards. Opening for him is The Band Perry, whose “If I Die Young” has enjoyed major radio play over the past few months.


Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

Find more arts and entertainment coverage in Liberal Arts and Classically Speaking.




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