Classical Gas

The music season isn’t over yet, as a trio of great events demonstrates.

Soprano Kirsin Roble
Soprano Kirsten Roble.

#3: Piano Arts’ Music in Vienna at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Why? A classical feast to be sure. The opening concert of The Wisconsin Youth Piano Competition features a recital that includes pianist Stefanie Jacob, soprano Kirsten Roble, and former Piano Arts winner, Tyler Wottrich, all playing music by composers who hung out in 19th-century Vienna. Later in the weekend, pianists from around Wisconsin, ages 10-16, will perform concertos and chamber music with members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

#2: The Fine Arts Quartet at UW-Milwaukee’s Zelazo Center

Why? More classics from Milwaukee’s own great ensemble with a special guest star. Dominique de Williencourt is one of France’s premiere cellists, and here he joins the quartet for a reading of Schubert’s great and familiar string quintet in C Major. While he’s in town, Williencourt gives us a sample of one of his own composition, Echmiadzin et le Mont Ararat, Op.3, a piece for solo cello based on melodies he heard while visiting the Christian abbey at the foot of Mount Ararat, which is said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. The concert opens with the quartet playing Haydn’s middle-career quartet, “The Frog.”

Nicholas McGegan. Photo by Steve Sherman.

#1: Nicolas McGegan and The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center

Why? He’s charming, effusive, and one of the world’s great interpreters of the Baroque and Classical (capital-“C”) repertoire. And he’s a regular visitor here. Two years ago, he presented a stellar program of Handel arias. Another time, he teamed with Frank Almond for a dazzling reading of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. This time, it’s Associate Concertmaster Ilana Setapen’s turn, who will play the “Spring” and “Summer” sections of Vivaldi’s masterpiece with the orchestra. As if that weren’t enough wit and good feeling for one night, McGegan surrounds it with one of Handel’s Water Music suites, and an early and late symphony of Haydn. Don’t spoil the “Surprise.”



Paul Kosidowski is a freelance writer and critic who contributes regularly to Milwaukee Magazine, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio and national arts magazines. He writes weekly reviews and previews for the Culture Club column. He was literary director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater from 1999-2006. In 2007, he was a fellow with the NEA Theater and Musical Theater Criticism Institute at the University of Southern California. His writing has also appeared in American Theatre magazine, Backstage, The Boston Globe, Theatre Topics, and Isthmus (Madison, Wis.). He has taught theater history, arts criticism and magazine writing at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.