News Column

International flair, summer fun is all part of Bach Dancing

June 6, 2014

By Gayle Worland, The Wisconsin State Journal

June 06--It's June -- so lighten up.

That's the long-held philosophy of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, a three-week concert series that presents chamber music from around the world -- but always with a clever twist. This year's BDDS theme is "23 Skiddoo," a nod to the group's 23 years of presenting world-class music in a way that's a refreshing way to skedaddle into summer.

The series, founded by co-artistic directors Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes, brings in top-notch musicians for six eclectic programs the weekends of June 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29.

The musicians rehearse for a week before performing at venues such as the Playhouse at Overture Center, Stoughton Opera House and the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green.

"I think Stephanie and Jeffrey want this to really get you excited, so they're going to pick the people who are super-passionate about what they do and are at the top of their game," BDDS executive director Samantha Crownover said of the musicians invited to take part.

"They hang out all day, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., rehearsing and preparing" for the week before a performance.

The programming for "23 Skidoo" offers a range of music, from Latin to classical to themes that will intrigue any movie buff. A few highlights:

--The programs in week one include pianist Sykes and UW-Madison professor and pianist Christopher Taylor performing Maurice Ravel's "Bolero for Two Pianos" and Witold Lutoslawski's "Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Two Pianos." Canadian harpist Heidi Krutzen and Icelandic/Metropolitan Opera singer Disella Larusdottir will be featured in Aaron Jay Kernis's "L'arte della danssar" for flute, viola, harp, percussion and soprano.

--Week two combines Mozart's Piano Concerto in A Major, No. 23 with tangos by Astor Piazzolla performed by Uruguayan-born pianist and Piazzolla expert Pablo Zinger. Klezmer clarinetist Alan Kay of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will be center stage in Osvaldo Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" for clarinet and string quartet.

--Week three gives a nod to film music, with a trio for flute, violin and piano by Fellini film composer Nino Rota, and William Hirtz's "Fantasy on Themes from 'The Wizard of Oz'" -- featuring Sykes and pianist Randall Hodgkinson at the same keyboard. The two pair up again for Darius Milhaud's "Le Boeuf sur le Toit," written for four hands at the piano. That piece will be accompanied by a screening of the short film it was composed for, Charlie Chaplin's "The Count."

--BDDS also performs a free family concert from 11 to 11:45 a.m.June 14 at the Playhouse in Overture Center.

"The whole direction of Bach Dancing and Dynamite over the years has been to have something for everybody," said Jutt, professor of flute at UW-Madison.

"It's a mix of old and new. We're not a new music festival; we're not an old music festival. We're an everything festival," she said. "And we have some of the greatest musicians probably in the world coming to Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society to play with us. So we're bringing a quality of music-making that's on a level of anything you could hear in Paris or New York or London, or anywhere else."


(c)2014 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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Source: Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)

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