Tom Strini

Strini’s been meaning to tell you…

By - Aug 30th, 2011 10:02 pm
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Milwaukee lost two very different, widely known cultural figures recently.

Tom DuBuque, a dentist by trade a theatrical house manager, arts fan, opera fanatic and world traveler by passion, died in a car accident while vacationing in South Africa on Aug. 16.


Tom DuBuque

I got to know him through his work as house manager at a great many Pabst Theater events over the decades. Clad in a tuxedo, he hustled and bustled around the place, cheerful but usually a little exasperated over one thing or another, and always doing his best to make every patron happy. He loved to gossip about all things theatrical. He also loved to share his experiences attending opera all over the world. DuBuque, a Wauwatosa native, loved the old theater buildings of the world as much as he did the art that happened on their stages, and he had served as president of the League of Historic American Theaters. DuBuque became fascinated with the theater as a child, and his interest never waned. He was 64.

Harry van Oudenallen, an architect, entrepreneur and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, succumbed to a fast-acting cancer on June 18. He was 67.

Van Oudenallen was a principal in the Arquitectura design firm. For no particular reason and with no knowledge of Harry or the firm, I stopped in at the firm’s Capitol


Our Harry Van Oudenallen/Arquitectura Inc. kitchen.

Drive office and asked what it would take to have the firm remodel the kitchen of our Whitefish Bay home (since sold). At our prices, we were supposed to get interns, but Harry got involved personally. He was a charming, bigger-than-life guy, a pleasure to be around. He was proud of the fact that he spent years as a hands-on contractor and re-modeler and that he could pick up the tools and do the work himself, if he had a mind to.

Van Oudenallen was a sophisticated, international man. He was born in the Netherlands, lived in Singapore as a child, the Buenos Aires and finally Long Island, New York. He was fluent in Spanish. Van Oudenallen was educated at Harvard, where he played varsity football, and then at the University of Oregon. He served in Honduras with the Peace Corps. He landed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1979 and inspired generations of students. He and partner Nick Cascarano founded Arquitectura, Inc., in 1996. (The RiverCrest condominiums, on Commerce Street, are among Arquitectura’s projects.)

In the fall there will be a memorial service for Harry at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UWM. Donations may be made to the Harry Van Oudenallen Scholarship at the UWM Foundation, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee 53201.

On a happier note, the third annual Milwaukee Ukulele Festival is set for 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. Have you ever heard mournful uke music? Of course not. So cheer up and learn to play the uke. You could be up and running with it by the 24th, with a little practice. Details here.

I spent a lot of years craning my neck to see the frieze of the Story of Communication, from primitive carving to whatever, on my way to work in The Journal building at 4th and State. The motif was taken up charmingly in a mural in a waiting area on the fourth floor, with ship-to-shore radio being an emblem of modern invention. I noticed the other day that the exterior frieze is coming down; Journal Sentinel art critic Mary Louise Schumacher explained it all in a recent story. Seems the thing is disintegrating and will soon be replaced by some prefab concrete panels.  Nothing lasts forever, even if it’s carved in stone.

Jan Serr and John Shannon, patrons of both the Florentine Opera and Present Music, invited us to a brunch at their East Side home Sunday morning, the day


Composer Kamran Ince

after a big premiere of Kamran Ince‘s Still, Flow, Surge at Present Music’s remarkable Water concert Saturday night at the Marcus Center. Kamran was there, along with Florentine general director William Florescu and Present Music artistic director Kevin Stalheim.

They’re collaborating on Ince’s first opera, The Judgement of Midas, with a libretto by Philadelphia writer Miriam Seidel. (Seidel, as it happens, wrote the catalogue commentary for Serr’s big retrospective UWM alumni show this fall. Serr is a skilled, talented and uncommonly industrious artist in a variety of media.) I knew something was up on this opera project, as Ince told me of it last year, as I was working on the notes for his multi-disc collected works, now coming out on the Naxos label. But I had no idea the opera was this far along. Stalheim and Florescu were talking about staging its premiere as a co-production in the fall of 2012.



Be sure to bookmark Matthew Reddin’s TCD Performing Arts Guide, an invaluable resource.





Categories: A/C Feature 2

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