STEPHANIE JUTT AND JEFFREY SYKES - ARTISTIC DIRECTORS

Reviews

2016

“The second of six concerts last Saturday night was dubbed “Silver Threads Among the Gold,” but truly the results were more golden than anything else.”
— Jake Stockinger, Well-Tempered Ear

“And thanks to all of you talented ones who brought us sterling music making on a highly-polished silver platter! We loved it!”
— Audience member

“And so while we might wish for another 25, we happily begin to look ahead to just the 26th next year, knowing they will bring something to Madison’s musical life that at this point we just can’t do without. Bravi, one and all.”
— Greg Hettmansberger, What Greg Says

“Let’s have another 25, and maybe still another 25 after that — maintaining one of the happy mainstays of Madison’s summer musical life!”
— John W. Barker, guest review from the Well-Tempered Ear

“New attendees instantly love BDDS including the perfect Madison opportunity to be up close and totally embraced. I love that every time.”
— Audience member

“There have been recent discussions about the decline and death of Classical music — to me, the Bach Dynamite & Dancing Society is well nigh a perfect example of how to counter that trend. Tightly focused, innovative programming, targeted within a timeframe in which not much else is happening, multiple venues, an overarching theme that changes each year — these are marketing features that IMO other providers of Classical music need to more fully embrace. Another very good idea has been the multi-media presentations of given masterworks, placed in their historical perspective. I’m afraid that JUST the solo or orchestral concert by itself is no longer a sufficient guarantee of adequate support — those business models are getting dated.”
— Audience member

“Another one of my standard comments about BDDS concerts is that the performers’ joy is palpable.  This sentiment was echoed in John Barker’s review of the Mendelssohn octet.  I was seated to the performers’ right about five or six rows above the floor, and I loved watching each one give heart and soul to his or her highlight before passing the lead on to a colleague.  One of my mother’s memorable old sayings was, “The higher, the fewer.”  I saw this in action Friday night when those eight players who clearly are the higher and the fewer found such joy in making music.  It is the gift of a lifetime, both for them and for us who were there to hear them play.”
— Audience member

2015

“The Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society continues to be incapable of being boring, ordinary or mediocre. It’s just not in their genes or DNA.”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

Taking Music to Illegal Limits
“Beethoven stole a lot of music — from himself. Bach was imprisoned for having the gall to quit one job to take another. Mozart was a victim of artistic crimes, and died with debts while others became rich off his immense talents. Who knew such shadiness could be so much fun?”
— Gayle Worland, Wisconsin State Journal

“But nonetheless it is largely thanks to the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society that listeners can make their way through the 27 piano concertos by Mozart and the 104 symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn -– to say nothing of the many Baroque, Classical, Romantic and modern works that must already exist in similar arrangements or could be rearranged on demand.
To which The Ear simply says: Bravo! Do more of them!”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

2014

“Some people might refer to it as one of the highlights of the summer music season in Madison. The Ear prefers to think of it as a high point of the entire season in Madison. He waits all fall, winter and spring to find out the next theme, the next repertoire, the next performers…. And this summer series shows no sign of disappointing.”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

“Much of the BDDS concert format or formula will remain the same: familiar classics of the repertoire mixed in with rarely heard artists and works, including commissions and a world or local premiere; familiar local performers mixed in with imported top-flight imported musicians; and the signature atmosphere that combines chatty levity with serious first-rate music-making.”

“Am I excited? You bet! And should you be too.”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

“But you can check out the programs for yourself. I challenge you to find one that just doesn’t interest and impress you.”

“This summer, The Ear has yet to see a missed opportunity or hear a false note from the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, which seems headed for a perfect season.”

“I find the Bach Dancing and Dynamite programs extremely well planned and then extremely well executed. And I am not alone, as repeated standing ovations demonstrate. To miss music and performances as fine as these is to cheat yourself. And that just doesn’t make sense, does it?”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

2013

“If you love classical music, to miss these BDDS performances is to deprive yourself of great pleasure and great insight, of new exposure to works both well-known and neglected. Why would you want to do that?”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear

“On a warm summer night sparkling with fireflies, there is something magical about a BDDS performance.”
— Michael Muckian, Wisconsin Gazette

“Exquisite nuance, tender emotion and graceful expressiveness made this performance meaningful and moving, a true lost-in-the-moment experience. It is clear that these players adore their work. Each was thoroughly engrossed in the act of music making.”
— Marie Loeffler, Isthmus

“BDDS has been performing to audiences of increasing size in the lovely restored Stoughton Opera House for a number of years. It is a privilege to be able to attend these concerts right here in Stoughton.”
— John Beutel, Stoughtonite

“Trio in B-flat for piano and strings (Op.97), known as the “Archduke” is the grandest of Beethoven’s compositions. The San Francisco Piano Trio (Sykes with Axel Strauss and Jean-Michel Fonteneau) are long-established performing partners. Their performance was strong-limbed and communicative, an example of the level of excellence we have come to expect from Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society.”
— John Barker, Isthmus

“On Friday or Sunday we alternately head to a program at the Stoughton Opera House or to Hillside Theater at Taliesin. We can’t get enough of these talented musicians or the magically innovative programs they put together. Each year we wonder how they can possibly outdo themselves the next year. They always do. As their literature says, it’s Music with a Bang.”
— Dan Baumann, Spring Green

“Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society triumphs and gets a standing ovation from a full house for bringing dramatic story-telling to the romantic music of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.”
— Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear

“It is a rare and wonderful opportunity for Stoughtonites to have such great music played by such outstanding musicians of national reputation here in our community.”
— John Beutel, Stoughtonite

“I don’t know which tune to hum on the way out?”
— Middleton Glen resident

“The nine-day, six-program festival…simply continues to be an unbeatable mixture of world-class playing, stimulating repertoire and about as much fun as you’re likely to have at any classical event.”
— Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine

“Quite simply, BDDS amazes me in their unflagging and enthusiastic effort to bring chamber music of the highest caliber, which is performed by musicians nationally-known, to as wide an audience as possible. They perform a vital function for the Dane County Arts Scene.”
— John Beutel, Stoughtonite

2012

Classical music: Madison’s Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is Musician of the Year for 2012
“Even as so many other newer and younger groups are trying to innovate in untraditional ways and untraditional venues in the hopes of drumming up new and younger audiences for classical music […] BDDS has been trying to achieve the very same goal for 21 years now. And they do it successfully…”
“Still young at heart and rebellious, BDDS nonetheless has a history, a long and distinguished record…”
Read the full review…
Jack Stockinger, Well Tempered Ear blog, December 31, 2012

Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society again mix it up masterfully
“It’s too easy to come up with metaphors that extend the mixology theme — we can raise a glass to BDDS’s musical accomplishments, compare the group to a wine that’s aging well, or note that like a good cocktail, their performance is complex and multi-faceted, a little sweetness here a little unexpected punch there. So be it. All of those things are true.
Read the full review…
Jessica Courtier, Capital Times, June 30, 2012

Stage Presence: Flutist finds inspiration in classical, pop music
“Most inspiring moment on stage: Most recently, at BDDS, we’ve performed Astor Piazzolla’s music with live tango dancers in front of a beautiful stage set designed by Carolyn Kallenborn. The combination of incredible lighting, the dancers, the set design and Piazzolla’s music was one I’ll never forget. It brought the house down.”
Read the full review…
Gayle Worland, Wisconsin State Journal, June 16, 2012

Blockbuster Tchaikovsky trio opens Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society series
“I must say that many of the most memorable performances of chamber works I have ever heard have been at BDDS programs…”
Read the full review…
John Barker, Isthmus, June 16, 2012

2011

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Performs Bach, Vaughan Williams, Bermel, and Haydn in Striking 20th Anniversary Series Opener
Read the review…
Isthmus
by Sandy Tabachnick

Look Who’s Bach In Town: Chamber Festival Celebrates 20 Years
Read the review…
Wisconsin State Journal
by Lindsay Christians

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society Knows How to Reel Them In
Read the review…
Wisconsin State Journal
by Jessica Courtier

Sounds of the Summer
Read the review…
Isthmus
by John Barker

Classical Connections: Bach to Bach Explosions
Read the review…
and
Twenty Candles, Please: “Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society” Celebrates Two Decades
Read the review…
Dane 101
by Greg Hettmansberger

Art Smarts
Read the review…
Madison Magazine
by Katie Vaughn

2010

“Real people are creating art right in front of you. No re-mixing. No dubbing. No second chances. Each musician has practiced and trained. Every audience is different. Each concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, valuable, and fleeting.
Audiences can be coaxed, coached, stretched, and delighted simultaneously. Their music changes lives for the better.”
—Pat McCorkle, audience member

“…each time, the BDDS concert proved a winner – offering a superbly planned and well executed event that should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about the artistic merits and audience pleasures offered by the BDDS. BDDS is, in a word, first-rate.”
“BDDS’ trademark informal approach to serious art couldn’t have worked better.”
“The BDDS concerts must now be considered as a highlight on the entire concert season. Period. Winter or summer, it doesn’t matter. BDDS easily stands comparison with the best classical music-making you’ll find in the Madison area.”
—Jake Stockinger, The Well-Tempered Ear Blog

“This was a very impressive concert, no surprise for BDDS. BDDS presents a diverse array of chamber music in a very welcoming, friendly context… They consistently provide outstanding musical and artistic experiences and make classical music very accessible.”
—audience member

“What separates the Milwaukee Symphony from the Madison Symphony? I’d venture the names of two mesmerizing Milwaukee musicians as the difference: Frank Almond and Joe Johnson. Violinist Almond and cellist Johnson (who’s since moved on to the Toronto Symphony) are elite musicians, and it’s why I so anticipated their appearance with BDDS’ regulars Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes. Wow! Almond, who has a star’s haughty confidence, captured the drama of Schumann’s Violin Sonata in D minor from the very first note, while the churning dynamics of Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet in B Minor had me on seat’s edge. String ensembles never sound as good recorded as they do when the music swirls up in a live moment like this.”
—Marc Eisen, The Isthmus from “My 17 favorite concerts of 2010, from Milwaukee to Stoughton to Madison 14. Dynamite for sure Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, June 11, Stoughton Opera House”

2009

“Thanks for coming to Capitol Lakes! We truly appreciate your beautiful music!”
—Mary Hanson, Capitol Lakes Retirement Community

“From ‘Leapfrog’ to ‘The Dating Game,’ [BDDS] chamber music festival focuses on fun.”
—Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times

“We are SOOOOO spoiled!
—BDDS fan

“Dear Stephanie: I think about you and Jeffrey every day. The reason: you pulled my name out of the door prize basket at your concert in Overture!”
—Bea Dewey, Lucky Audience Member

“Once again, the stars came out and gave us a wonderful series of chamber music concerts… Not only was the music and the musicianship excellent, but the lighthearted banter that opens each half of the concert makes this a distinctively SUMMER chamber music series.”
—BDDS audience member

“Maurice Ravel’s Trio of 1914 was given a dashing performance by our three players, as a superb sendoff for the season ahead.”
—John Barker, Isthmus

“There is nothing else quite like it in Madison or the surrounding community.”
—BDDS audience member

2008

“Among the joys of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society’s annual operations has been their outreach beyond Madison. I love their performances at the Stoughton Opera House, a restored jewel.”
—John Barker, Isthmus

“If you want up-to-the-minute news on what composers are writing, a Bach Dancing & Dynamite concert is the place to start. But it’s not limited to au courant.”
—Sandy Rucker-Tabachnick, Wisconsin State Journal

2007

“The audience was in awe of the skill and passion evidenced in Saturday’s concert. Several curtain calls brought the musicians back before admiring fans. Chamber playing doesn’t get much better than this.”
—Sandy Rucker-Tabachnick, Isthmus

“And the people stood in noisy ovation after hearing duet and ensemble instrumentals played with such joy, dynamism, and skill as to rattle the pressed-metal ceiling in the old theater.”
—David Giffey, Home News, Spring Green

2006

“BDDS rocks!”
—Hillside Theater audience member

“BDDS’s formula for chamber music festivals has always been a volatile mix of highbrow artistry and sideways-brow attitude. That approach has earned it a reputation of a group that seesaws gleefully from the ridiculous to the sublime.”
—Kevin Lynch, The Capital Times

“BDDS continues to challenge us with a range of programming choices, bringing us an array of superlative performers both local and imported.”
—John Barker, Isthmus

“The emotion, the drama and the show-stopping beauties in these shows will come not from daytime drama, but from an eclectic range of musical scores.”
—Gayle Worland, Wisconsin State Journal

“The impact/public service value of the BDDS Festival centers around its essential inclusiveness. The Society aims to share music from all corners of the classical universe. It does this with infectious enthusiasm and without pretense.”
—Playhouse audience member/evaluator

2005

“Gripping? Exciting? Darn near exhausting? Yes, and that was just the music…”
—Jay Rath, Wisconsin State Journal

“With the joyous snap, crackle and bang that its name implies, this wonderfully entertaining and skilled group of classical musicians devoted its 2005 summer season to a ‘United Nations’ theme. The final program blew us away, thanks to the BDDS’ selections of “Presto II” and “Salon Buenos Aires” by Uruguayan-born composer Miguel del Aguila. And pow! – the composer was even in the audience.”
—Gayle Worland’s “A Top 10 List The Arts Can Be Proud Of” Wisconsin State Journal

“Whether they’re zany, brainy, old-world or au courant, their musicianship is near flawless and fans keep coming back for more.”
—Sandy Rucker-Tabachnick, Isthmus

2004

“What glorious music—spirited, reflective, joyous. Our five players dug into it with skill and dedication, expertly probing its textures and feelings. These Bach Dancing players truly love their work.”
—John Barker, Isthmus

“This gifted group invariably manages to produce compelling programs, by force of its prodigious collective talent and passion for lusty music making.”
—Kevin Lynch, The Capital Times

“The group’s stellar ensemble performance was rewarded with more shouts of ‘Bravo!’ and a standing ovation.”
—Michael Muckian, The Capital Times

“This year, as it seems every year, the quality of the music-making excels.”
—John Aehl, Wisconsin State Journal

2003

“This summer, Madison’s most interesting music isn’t found on the Square, in the park or at any of the major area music festivals. Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society is once again cutting new turf from a variety of small venues, producing chamber music with an attitude and ear to explore new aural frontiers.”
—Michael Muckian, Special to The Capital Times, 2003

“Expect passionate playing, striking stage visuals and offbeat surprises.”
—Kevin Lynch and Rob Thomas, Capital Times, 2003

“BDDS maintains superlative performance standards — and dares to be off-beat, conceptual, theatrical and entertaining, like the Kronos String Quartet without the quasi-punk attitude.”
—Kevin Lynch, Capital Times, 2003

“After twelve years, BDDS has become a Madison summer tradition.”
—Jacob Stockinger, Wisconsin State Journal, 2003

2002

“BDDS uses irreverence and flair to dust off the classics and broaden their appeal.”
—Jacob Stockinger, Capital Times, 2001

“Bach Dancing, in its 11th summer, still programs lovely and interesting music–and plays the music exceptionally. Very impressive.”
—John Aehl, Wisconsin State Journal, 2002

“[BDDS] left the audience justly wowed.”
—John W. Barker, Isthmus, 2002

2001

“BDDS is known for many things, but most of all for the spontaneity of its outstanding performances that highlight the tightness and vibrancy of ensemble playing. It is also known for exploring the corners of chamber music repertoire.”
—Jacob Stockinger, Capital Times, 2001

2000

“[BDDS] achieved that all too-rare perfection of ensemble and spirit that just carries one away and earned them shouts of ‘Bravo!’ at the end.”
—Jess Anderson, Isthmus, 2000

1999

“[The music] brought the house down in wild applause.”
—Jess Anderson, Isthmus, 1999

“As the massive work [Brahms] unfolded, increasing excitement seemed to grip the players, and by the end of the difficult finale, it’s amazing that everyone, including the audience, didn’t just keel over.”
—Jess Anderson, Isthmus, 1999

1998

“Simply breathtaking playing. It was everything it should be.”
—Jess Anderson, Isthmus, 1998

1997

“BDDS concerts have included some of the most virtuosic, subtle and memorable performances of chamber music I have heard anywhere at any time by any one–and that includes prize-winning recordings by superstar names. And I am hardly alone in my assessment. Critic after critic has praised the group for its top-notch performances as well as its ability to attract a crossover audience at a time when many classical music organizations–including major symphonies–are struggling to reverse a decades-long downturn in attendance, especially among young people.”
—Jacob Stockinger, Capital Times, 1997

1996

“Once again, BDDS’s blend of serious music-making and high spirits proved to be an irresistible combination.”
—Christopher Freitag, Capital Times, 1996

1995

“The ensemble [is] renowned for juggling on-stage high-jinks with high-grade, serious chamber music [and with] artistry that is a little eccentric, stubbornly personal, impassioned and committed to invigorating old traditions with an ever-youthful attitude.”
—Kevin Lynch, Capital Times, 1995

“Some think of them as the un-concerts–unusual, untraditional, unplugged. Actually, we’ve never seen chamber music that’s performed in such an unstuffy manner. Or that’s so much fun to participate in.”
—Jen Winiger, Madison Magazine, 1995

“It smoked. It sizzled. It was Brahms–played by BDDS. The cheers and immediate standing ovation from the near sell-out crowd…were well deserved.”
—Elizabeth Brixey, Wisconsin State Journal, 1995

1993

“As for the playing, I’m out of superlatives before I even start; it was just plain fabulous, and it only got better….The ensemble held us spellbound.”
—Jess Anderson, Isthmus, 1993

“While BDDS braved some rough waters, in choosing difficult and often unfamiliar pieces, true to the group’s purpose they brought each piece to life with great precision, great expression, and a little of the smell of ozone…. BDDS zipped into the music with a passion that left everyone in the audience gaping.”
—Pam Chickering, NewsRepublic, 1993