Works by late poet Lorine Niedecker inspire music performed by ensemble

Originally posted on Daily Union on June 18, 2013. MADISON — The Isthmus Vocal Ensemble of Madison, under the direction of Scott MacPherson, celebrated its tenth anniversary by commissioning a piece from composer Jerry Hui. The piece is made up of three parts based on three poems penned by the late Fort Atkinson poet Lorine Niedecker. “When we heard about this performance, several of us traveled to Madison to hear it. We were not sure what to expect,” Friends of Lorine Niedecker President Ann Engelman Continue reading →

On the Aisle: Isthmus Vocal Ensemble reflects on a decade of music

By Lindsay Christians Originally published on 77Square; August 5, 2012 The Isthmus Vocal Ensemble has been picking up a full program of challenging works and performing them with just two weeks’ rehearsal for more than 10 years now. That doesn’t make it any less impressive when, as recently occurred, the ensemble strings together pieces in German, Latin and Hebrew, then adds Sanskrit, Pali and Avestan (the language of Zoroastrian scripture) just to keep things interesting. Directed by Ohio-based conductor Scott MacPherson for a few weeks Continue reading → Continue reading →

Classical music review: University of Wisconsin-Madison composer Jerry Hui’s new chamber opera “Wired for Love” is hardwired for success.

By John W. Barker I had to miss the official “world premiere” performance of the new comic opera “Wired for Love” by Jerry Hui (below) on Friday night, but I was able to catch the follow-up performance the next evening at Music Hall. As readers of The Ear have already been informed, it is a one-act chamber opera, running about 70 minutes and is Hui’s dissertation project for his doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.  It calls for four singers, and Continue reading → Continue reading →

Classical music review: Jerry Hui is the Steve Jobs of classical music in Madison

By John W. Barker; originally posted on Well-Tempered Ear We hear much these days about the need for enterprising young innovators, ready to start from scratch and create successful new ventures. We have also been inundated by tributes to Steve Jobs (below), who started in a garage and built a unique and triumphant business empire before he died at 56 last week. Perhaps music would not be the realm in which to seek or expect such dramatic personalities.  But it can be just such. In that perspective, Continue reading → Continue reading →

Grisey “Prologue” (1976)

I was totally blown away by Grisey’s “Prologue” for solo viola. The entire fifteen minutes of the piece was gripping. Each moment seems to blossom from the previous one. I love how the viola began singing, ending the phrase with odd sounds or timbre. Gradually the odd timbre grows to subsume the melody. But this piece isn’t your usual battle of two extremes; in fact, the melodic and non-melodic aspects seem to co-exist smoothly, and complement each other very well. Without the interjecting non-melodic material, Continue reading →