A Piano Virtuoso, the MSO and Many Dancers

All in the Friday Five for Feb. 6.

  #5: Carmen Knoll at the Polish Center of Wisconsin.

Why? Because it’s Chopin, Chopin, Chopin. The Piano Arts North American Piano Competition gives some love to Knoll, the 17-year-old virtuoso who won last year’s prize with a dazzling reading of Saint-Saens Second Piano Concerto. Here, she performs a solo recital of works by Frederick Chopin, including everything from a sonata to a few nocturnes. The concert includes two “champagne intermissions,” where glasses of bubbly will be available. We might have preferred kielbasa and Schlitz, but you can’t have everything.

#4: Splinter Group’s Three for the Road at the Marian Center for the Arts.

Why? Because Jim Farrell and company have been making some great theater down in St. Francis, and the second show of season should be a good one, with just the right February vibe. A world premiere by Tony DiMurro tells three interconnected stories of “isolation and abandonment.” Diane Lane, Philip Sletteland, and Robert W.C. Kennedy headline the cast.

#3: Winterdances at UW-Milwaukee’s Mainstage Theatre.

Why? Because UWM’s annual mixed repertory program features choreography by some of the area’s finest dancemakers, including Simone Ferro, Luc Vanier and Darci Wutz. But the highlight should be the restaging of one of the classics of postmodern dance, Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset. Former Brown company member Melinda Myers is setting the dance on UWM students, and Leslie Vansen provides the visual art to accompany the movement.

#2: The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with William Wolfram at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because the New York City Ballet doesn’t mess around. And when it needed a new music director (to replace Andrews Sill, who is also the music director of the Milwaukee Ballet), it turned to Andrew Litton, who has been called one of the leading conductors of his generation. He steps to the podium this weekend with the MSO, conducting a challenging 20thcentury program: Sergei Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety,” which will feature pianist William Wolfram. For a double dose of Wolfram, come to Wauwatosa Tuesday night to hear him accompany Frank Almond in Frankly Music’s 300th  birthday celebration for the Lipinski Strativarius.

#1: The Milwaukee Ballet’s Genesis at the Pabst Theater.

Why? Because it’s a heady dose of rock-‘em, sock-‘em contemporary choreography, set on the technically savvy and emotionally powerful dancers of the Milwaukee Ballet. Artistic Director Michael Pink selected three choreographers after reviewing submissions from around the world. Each of them were randomly assigned MB company members, and given a few weeks to create a dance. This year, the finalist are Riccardo De Negris, Garrett Smith and Matthew Tusa. Watch for my review on this page later today.



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.