What To Do in September
Autumn is the perfect time to reconnect with Madison’s arts scene, whether it’s music or theater or visual art
September 21–January 5
If ever there were a celebration of local, regional and statewide art, the Wisconsin Triennial is it. Every three years, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art invites all active Wisconsin artists to apply to the long-running exhibition, revered as the state’s utmost showcase of contemporary visual art. The result is an incredibly diverse offering of paintings, prints, photography and mixed-media works that reveal the exciting subjects, materials and methods on artists’ minds today. mmoca.org
An Epic Endeavor
August 31–November 24
Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey inspired a series of collages and watercolors that artist and writer Romare Bearden created in 1977. In A Black Odyssey, the Chazen Museum of Art presents the fifty-piece series along with watercolor variations, line drawings and additional classically themed compositions. chazen.wisc.edu
September 27–October 12
Shakespeare’s comedy about two pairs of lovers—one sweet and the other engaged in a “merry war”—gets a new twist as StageQ provides a gender-queer adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing at the Bartell Theatre. stageq.com
Scherenschnitte, or “scissors-cut,” is a German/Swiss folk art in which an image is cut from a single piece of black paper. Absolutely Art celebrates the tradition with the art of June Gengler, whose subjects range from nursery rhymes to fairy tales to characters from literature and opera. absolutelyartllc.com
We’ve Got the Blues
What’s better than one blues-music star? Two—and that’s exactly what Overture Center offers as it hosts Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang (pictured at right). The Chicago blues guitarist and Fargo-born singer and guitarist, respectively, perform separate sets sure to sizzle on the Overture Hall stage. overturecenter.com
Overture Center’s Playhouse is haunted with the ghosts of opera’s past. Thank goodness for Fresco Opera Theatre’s ghost hunters, who will track down the singing spirits in the spookily fun new show Paranormal Playhouse. frescooperatheatre.com
August 30–September 21
A group of corporate execs want to dig up Paris to extract the oil they believe lies beneath its beautiful and storied streets. Will the eccentric Countess Aurelia be able to stop them? Strollers Theatre takes on Jean Giraudoux’s play about greed, idealism and power in The Madwoman of Chaillot. strollerstheatre.org
Feeling the Heat
September 20–October 5
Madison Theatre Guild stages Tennesse Williams’s The Night of the Iguana. In the play, an ex-minister leads a busload of Baptist women on a trip to Mexico, where, at a dilapidated resort, his sexual passions, emotional instability and spiritual calling won’t leave him any peace. madisontheatreguild.org
September 20–October 12
In Triggered (pictured at left), a play written and directed by Madison’s own Callen Harty, Broom Street Theater delves into the complex issue of guns, in which the right to bear arms also creates the chance to be shot and killed. The play tells the story of lives that intersect because of a random act of violence. bstonline.org
The Madison World Music Festival marks its tenth anni-versary with three days of fantastic music by artists from around the globe. Events take place on the Memorial Union Terrace as well as at the Willy Street Fair. uniontheater.wisc.edu
September 10–October 27
Come to the James Watrous Gallery to see paintings, drawings and prints inspired by the Wisconsin landscape. Participating in The Inhabited Landscape are Barry Carlsen, David Lenz, Cathy Martin, John Miller, Charles Munch, Dennis Nechvatel and Tom Uttech, an exciting mix of veteran artists and those Madison audiences may not yet know. wisconsinacademy.org
with Greg Hettmansberger
While September might be a “slow” month in getting the indoor concert season up and running, it is fitting that the one major event is bigger than usual: the opening concerts of the Madison Symphony Orchestra mark the twentieth season of John DeMain as music director.
DeMain has said more than once in recent years that one of his greatest satisfactions in his tenure at the MSO has been the orchestra’s overall rise to a new level of virtuosity. Consequently, Madison’s maestro has opted to highlight the orchestra without any guest soloists for the year’s first program (September 27–29, madisonsymphony.org).
Opening the event is Copland’s superb ballet, Appalachian Spring. Arguably his masterpiece, Copland’s evocation of a rural wedding and its rural setting virtually defines the general concept of an “American” sound.
We don’t get much Wagner in Madison (although the Madison Opera—where DeMain also marks his twentieth season this year—staged The Flying Dutchman not long ago). And while DeMain is featuring composers with whom he has had a close association in his career, the reason for programming Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde is a little more basic: 2013 marks the bicentennial of Wagner’s birth.
The concerts close with the most overtly virtuosic of the selections, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade. Not only does every section have an opportunity to revel in the Russian’s version of the Tales of the Arabian Nights, but concertmaster Naha Greenholz gets to play the multiple famous solos that were part of her audition here just a couple of years ago.
Find more classical coverage in Greg’s blog Classically Speaking.
Katie Vaugh is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Read her art blog here.