So many worthy events crowd the fall music calendar that you would all stop reading before I could possibly do them all justice. For the same reason, I’m limiting this survey to the remainder of 2011; we’ll a winter-spring preview in January. But some events rise a little higher on the horizon, and I’m bringing them to your attention here.
For a comprehensive A-Z listing that runs all the way to June, please bookmark Matthew Reddin’s ever-evolving TCD Performing Arts Guide. And of course check in often at TCD; no other media covers the arts as we do.
Present Music hits in the lead-off spot this fall, and Kevin Stalheim and company will swing for the fences with a concert called Water. On Aug. 27, PM will put on its first stand-alone in Marcus Center Uihlein Hall. Note that the new-music group’s audience has maxed out at about 800 in the past, and Uihlein seats about 2,300. In addition to involving Danceworks, the Milwaukee Choral Artists, the Cream City Chorus, the Bel Canto Boys Choir, the UWM Art and Design Department, a small fleet of boats, a water theme, and a new piece by Kamran Ince, Stalheim added Milwaukee’s magic word: Free. Every last ticket has been claimed.
The Milwaukee Symphony will get wet this season, too: Tan Dun’s Water Concerto, for water percussion and orchestra, is coming Oct. 7-8. Edo de Waart will conduct and Yuri Yamashita will be the percussion soloist.More generally, the MSO has played brilliantly week after week for two years under de Waart’s leadership. But the orchestra remains in precarious financial shape; we’ll keep an eye on that this season.
MSO concertmaster Frank Almond’s Frankly Music series has become must-hear chamber music in Milwaukee, first because Almond has access to the best local players and international talent. Almond has also found his groove with his pre-concert commentaries. Of particular interest this fall: The Bach-Goldberg Variations, in Dmitri Sitkovetsky’s arrangement, with Almond, violist Kyle Armbrust and cellist Edward Aaron, Nov. 28-29 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
The Wisconsin Conservatory abounds with chamber music offerings of its own, including the Prometheus Trio (I’m a sucker for Ysaye’s music, and they’re playing his Poeme Nocturne on Sept. 19-20); the Philomusica Quartet; and the We Six jazz sextet, along with an endless array of faculty and guest recitals.
The Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, too, offers a wide array of chamber music, most notably Chamber Music Milwaukee (Nov. 10) and the Fine Arts Quartet (Sept. 25). Details still to come on CMM. The Fine Arts Quartet will be in a transitional year, as the search is on to replace long-time cellist Wolfgang Laufer, who died this summer.
I so admire the daring and creativity of our two main opera companies, the Skylight Opera Theatre and the Florentine Opera Company. The Skylight will open its season Sept. 16 with a world premiere Kirk Mechem‘s The Rivals, an opera based on a comedy by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The Skylight will bring back director Dorothy Danner and music director Richard Carsey, the team that scored big with Mechem’s Tartuffe at the Skylight in 2007. The Florentine’s daring is coming in the spring; a traditional Italian grand opera, Puccini’s Turandot, opens its season. The production comes with a traditional opera selling point: an awesome tenor, Renzo Zulian. That’s Nov. 4 and 6; with Zulian and just two performances instead of the usual three, this will be a hot ticket.
Present Music opens Milwaukee’s ears on the modern side. Early Music Now imports the most vital and informed early-music players in the world. Renowned gambist Jordi Savall and son Ferran (voice, theorbo) are coming Oct. 8; listen to this ravishing playing.
Sharon Hansen’s Milwaukee Choral Artists will be extraordinarily busy this fall. The small, elite women’s choir will sing in Present Music’s Water and Thanksgiving concerts and will put on its own Northern Lights program on Oct. 22 at St. Matthew’s Church in Wauwatosa. The MCA is starting to get some national recognition in the field, and much deserved. Their singing is exquisite.
Trumpeter, composer and bandleader Wynton Marsalis, one of the greatest musicians of the age, and the superb Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will return to Marcus Center Uihlein Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4. Soul, sophistication, virtuosity, tradition; Marsalis and the JLCO have it all. The Marcus Center is presenting them. Ticket prices still to be determined.
Did I leave anything out? Of course I did — the Wisconsin Philharmonic, for example — but I have to stop somewhere. Go to the TCD comprehensive guide and be sure to check out our new events calendar to get the rest.