Press Releases

FOR RELEASE March 15, 2017
Samantha Crownover, Executive Director

Chamber Music Festival, June 9 – 25, 2017:
3 weekends, 3 cities, 6 programs

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society (BDDS) presents its 26th annual summer chamber music festival, Alphabet Soup, June 9 – 25, 2017. This festival features 12 concerts over three weekends, each weekend offers two different programs. Concerts will be performed in The Playhouse at Overture Center in Madison, the Stoughton Opera House, and the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green. In a rousing three-weekend festival, you’ll hear great classical masterpieces and the best of contemporary works. A roster of musicians with national and international reputations guarantees fantastic performances. The venues are intimate: The Playhouse at Overture, the jewel box historic Stoughton Opera House, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green. Concerts are spiked with stories about the music, mystery guests, and even door prizes. It’s chamber music with a bang! Led by artistic directors and performers Stephanie Jutt, flute, and Jeffrey Sykes, piano, 19 guest artists will perform in the festival.

This season’s theme is Alphabet Soup, because it’s our 26th year and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. Each program is named after a combination of letters used in everyday language. Sometimes our musical interpretation of those letters is literal and sometimes it’s quite loose.

Musicians for week one include three amazing veteran string players: Naumberg Award-winning violinist Carmit Zori; Madison’s very own Sally Chisholm, viola; and the Toronto Symphony’s principal cellist Joseph Johnson. They will be joined by three young artists—participants in our newly-formed Dynamite Factory, a program for nurturing and furthering the talents of exceptional young musicians—Jeremy Kienbaum, viola; and Trace Johnson, cello.

In one of two “sandwich” programs this weekend, PB&J, Carmit Zori will play the haunting Violin Sonata in F minor by Sergei Prokofiev and the program includes the heavenly Piano Quartet in A Major of Johannes Brahms. The Dynamite Factory artists are featured in Gideon Klein’s emotional String Trio, a work he wrote at the Auschwitz concentration camp shortly before his death. PB&J will be performed at the Stoughton Opera House on Friday, June 9, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 11, at 2:30 PM.

A second “sandwich” program, BLT, features Benjamin Britten’s emotionally complex Cello Sonata (featuring Joseph Johnson), all of the artists working together in Haydn’s great “London” Symphony (as arranged by Haydn’s contemporary Salomon), and Tchaikovsky’s thrillingly beautiful string sextet Souvenir de Florence. BLT will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, on Saturday, June 10, at 7:30 PM, and at the Hillside Theater, Taliesin, Spring Green, on Sunday, June 11 at 6:30 PM.

Our second weekend of concerts feature the distinguished San Francisco Piano Trio (Axel Strauss, violin; Jean-Michel Fonteneau, cello; and Jeffrey Sykes, piano). They are joined by Madison’s piano star Christopher Taylor, the amazing soprano Emily Birsan (another Madison favorite), and internationally acclaimed clarinetist Alan Kay.

Two Bs or not Two Bs includes gorgeous, evocative songs by Maurice Ravel for soprano, flute, cello, and piano and an entertaining bouquet of earthy cabaret songs by composers Benjamin Britten, William (Bill) Bolcom, and Arnold Schoenberg, sung by Emily Birsan. The program also features Béla Bartók’s Contrasts for clarinet, violin, and piano, a work commissioned by the legendary jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, and Brahms’ epic Piano Trio in C Major, op. 87. Two Bs or not Two Bs will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, on Friday, June 16, 7:30 PM, and at Hillside Theater, Taliesin, Spring Green, on Sunday, June 18, 2:30 PM.

Special K is a showcase for Alan Kay, principal clarinetist of the renowned Orpheus Chamber Ensemble. It includes Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock for soprano, clarinet, and piano; Guillaume Conneson’s hip tour-de-force Techno Parade for flute, clarinet, and piano; and the Midwest premiere of Kevin Puts’ Living Frescoes for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. Many will remember that Kevin Puts was the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer we commissioned for the song cycle In At The Eye in our 25th season. The program is rounded out with Mozart’s piano trio in E Major and three beautiful songs by Erich Wolfgang Korngold sung by Emily Birsan, accompanied by Jeffrey Sykes. Special K will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, on Saturday, June 17, 7:30 PM, and at Hillside Theater, Taliesin, Spring Green, on Sunday, June 18, 6:30 PM.

The finale weekend we welcome back audience favorites Hye-Jin Kim, violin; Ara Gregorian, viola; Parry Karp, cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano; and Timothy Jones, bass-baritone. They are joined by violinist Soh-Hyun Park Altino, a new member of the UW-Madison music faculty.

Cs the Day includes the midwest premiere of Paul Moravec’s thrilling Cool Fire for flute, string quartet, and piano and Mozart’s great “Coronation Concerto” arranged for the entire ensemble. Timothy Jones will be featured in Gerald Finzi’s fantastic song cycle Let Us Garlands Bring, settings of carpe diem poems of Shakespeare. (Carpe diem is Latin for “seize the day” = “Cs the Day”—get it?) At the center of this program is Carl Czerny’s Sonata in C minor for piano four-hands. We’ll be suspending a camera over the keyboard so the audience can see how the hands of the pianists cross and interlock throughout this virtuosic masterpiece. Cs the Day will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts on Friday, June 23, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 25, at 2:30 PM.

Our final program of the season, R&B features Kevin Puts’ Rounds for Robin, a short work for flute and piano he wrote in memory of Robin Williams, and Boccherini’s bubblicious Flute Quintet in G minor. Ned Rorem’s Santa Fe Songs for baritone and piano quartet features the mesmerizing voice of Timothy Jones in one of the great American song cycles. Our 26th season concludes with Brahms’ towering Piano Quintet in F minor. R&B will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center, Madison, on Saturday, June 24; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 25, and 6:30 PM.

For the seventh year, BDDS will perform two free family concerts, interactive events that will be great for all ages. One event takes place at 11:00 – 11:45 AM, on Saturday, June 10, in The Playhouse. The other will be at the Central Library Bubbler, date TBA. This is a performance for families with children of all ages and seating will be first come first served. CUNA Mutual Group, Pat Powers and Thomas Wolfe, and Overture Center, generously underwrite these performances.

Photos by Dick Ainsworth of BDDS performances and behind-the-scenes will be on exhibit in The Playhouse Gallery, June 3 – Sunday July 9.

Locations: Stoughton Opera House (381 E. Main Street); Overture Center in Madison (201 State Street); Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Hillside Theater (CHY 23 in Spring Green).

Single general admission tickets are $43. Student tickets are always $10! Various ticket packages are also available starting at a series of three for $109.50, but only until June 1. First time subscriptions are ½ off. For tickets visit: For information visit or call (608) 255-9866. Tickets can also be purchased at Overture Center for the Arts, (608) 258-4141, (additional fees apply). Tickets are available at the door at all locations.

Chamber music with a bang. More bang for your Bach. What Bach would be doing if he were more fun and less dead. However you describe what we do, Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society always features great music played with joy, creativity, spontaneity, and a technique that is second to none. BDDS is aimed at people who are curious, open-minded, and up for anything. People who want to have serious fun.