10 Concerts in 10 Days
A great lineup is led by concert featuring internationally-known classical guitarist Xuefei Yang.
Thanks to having a world class orchestra, as well as the many arts education programs in town, Milwaukee is blessed with a number of chamber music groups performing on a regular basis. The list includes the Fine Arts Quartet, Philomusica and Prometheus Trio chamber groups and varied programs with loyal patrons by Frankly Music, Early Music Now, Present Music, Piano Arts and the Milwaukee Symphony Salon series. However, the calendar can be very uneven. After a nearly two-month, winter holiday hiatus, the chamber music scene was crowded in February with concerts by each of these groups. Now there is another hiatus: None of these groups will play again until at least the middle of March.
How does one get a chamber music fix during the drought? Surprisingly, with some stretching of the category, I count at least ten concerts featuring professional musicians in the first ten days of March. These opportunities have been created by venues sponsoring less formal classical programs. With few resources, these programs attract much less attention. Yet there is good music to be heard here.
Here is the list of the concerts. Unless otherwise noted, these concerts are free – depending in some cases upon free-will offerings. (All addresses are within the city of Milwaukee.)
Sunday March 1 – 10:00-12:30 AM
Café Sopra Mare at Villa Terrace (2220 N Terrace). Enjoy pastries and coffee at this monthly series curated by inveterate chamber music champion Thalis Drake. Museum admission of $7 is required. Ensemble SDG (Soli Deo Gloria), a Madison duo specializing in Baroque music, will bring their harpsichord and baroque violin to the Great Hall. Expect an authentic early music experience.
Monday March 2 – 7:30 PM
Collectivo and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra collaborate on a monthly MSO Mondays series of free concerts at local cafe venues. This concert at the Collectivo Humboldt location (2999 N Humboldt Blvd) features the Prospect Quartet: Four MSO players including violinists Andrea Wagoner and Yuka Kadota, violist Erin Pipal and cellist Peter Szczepanek.
Tuesday March 3 – 7:30 PM
The UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts guitar program and the Milwaukee Classical Guitar Society continues a Women Classical Guitarist series begun this winter. Xuefei Yang (Fei) will play in the UWM Arts Recital Hall (2400 E Kenwood Blvd) at 7:30 PM. General admission tickets may be purchased for $10 from the Peck School Box Office, (414) 229-4308.
An internationally recognized guitarist now based in England, Fei has appeared in all the major concert venues including Philharmonie Berlin, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Konzerthaus Vienna, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, National Auditorium Madrid, Dvorak Hall Prague, Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center New York, plus the main venues across Asia.
St John’s Cathedral (812 N Jackson) Wednesday Noon Concert Series offers a short respite timed to fit the lunch break of downtown workers. This Wednesday’s concert will feature harpist Jim Mendralla, Director of Music at Debuque’s Saint Raphael Cathedral, cellist Doreen Deen who performs and teaches in Northern Illinois, and soprano Emily Spencer, also of Debuque but who has often sung in the Milwaukee area. Their recital features contemporary sacred songs that are very deeply rooted in spirituality. Most works adapt music written for piano or harpsichord to the harp.
Thursday March 5 – 7:30 PM
The Skylight Music Theater continues a monthly series, Opera 101, exploring music to be performed at the Skylight at Hotel Foster (a popular bar at 2028 E North Ave). The Skylight offers “an out of the box look at Opera; how it works and why it matters … a little culture with your brewski” featuring Artistic Director Viswa Subbaraman and guest singers. This evening features “Asian influences in opera” anticipating a world premiere opera at the Skylight – The Snow Dragon. (Sarah RS Miller previewed the inaugural offering for DIAL in September 2013.)
Friday March 6 – 5:00 PM
Grace Lutheran (1209 N Broadway) First Fridays at Five Concerts features flutist Rosemary Bennett and pianist Maggie Rebers in a program including “Flute Sonata in C Major” by J.S. Bach as well as the bright and lovely modern “4 Little Movements” by Blaz Pucihar along with other flute solos.
Friday March 6 – 7:30 PM
The UWM Peck School of the Arts faculty recital at the UWM Arts Recital Hall (2400 E Kenwood Blvd.) Faculty member baritone Kurt Ollmann brings the ideal voice for 19th century romantic lieder. He and pianist Jeffry Peterson will be performing the full Franz Schubert song cycle “Die Winterreise.” The dramatic sequence is summarized in Wikipedia. “In the course of the cycle the poet, whose beloved now fancies someone else, leaves his beloved’s house secretly at night, quits the town and follows the river and the steep ways to a village. Having longed for death, he is at last reconciled to his loneliness. The cold, darkness, and barren winter landscape mirror the feelings in his heart, and he encounters various people and things along the way which form the subject of the successive songs during his lonely journey. It is in fact an allegorical journey of the heart.” A deeply melancholic set of songs – best savored on a cold winter’s night – this work is considered among Schubert’s best.
Saturday March 7 – 8:00 PM
With no “chamber” option this evening, enjoy a larger scale event featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus at Uihlein Hall (929 North Water St) in a tribute to the songs of Les Misérables composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg – Do You Hear the People Sing? (Also on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.)
Sunday March 8 – 3:00 PM
The UWM Peck School of the Arts faculty recital by the Florestan Duo pianist Jennie Yu and cellist Stefan Kartman at the UWM Arts Recital Hall (2400 E Kenwood Blvd.) Kartman mentors chamber music students at UWM. Yu appears frequently in the region as the “go to” pianist for other instrumentalists seeking a sonata piano partner. The Florestan Duo will perform a Haydn Divertimento and works by Brahms and Cassado. Kartman will perform Bach’s “Suite for Solo Cello in C minor.”
With limited promotion, the Florestan Duo has received much less attention than they deserve.
Sunday March 8 – 4:00 PM
St. Casimir Concert Series (2600 N Bremen St) offers a Bach Cantata No. 82: “Ich have genus,” sung by baritone soloist James Sampson, with chamber orchestra conducted by Gary Wood at the organ.
Tuesday March 10 – 7:30 PM
Church of the Gesu (12th St and Wisconsin Ave) monthly Organ Concert series features Christopher Berry – Director of Music and Organist for the Basilica of St Josephat. Berry will play Marcel Dupré’s major work “Le chemin de la Croix (Stations of the Cross).”
Among the largest in the region, the Schantz-built pipe organ contains 115 ranks/6,804 pipes divided into 90 stops in six divisions, and a 4-manual console. Gesu’s cavernous interior can create a profound experience. Dupre’s romantic work will fit the venue well.
As noted, many of these venues offer monthly concerts. Follow their links for future schedules. And there is more. This list does not include a wide variety of advanced student performances at local universities.