STEPHANIE JUTT AND JEFFREY SYKES - ARTISTIC DIRECTORS

History of Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society

BDDS Season Archives | Big Bang Awards

One spring day in 1992, Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes asked each other over lunch, “What are you doing this summer?” “Not enough playing,” they both agreed. So they set about creating a new chamber music series in Madison. They wanted to play great music with great players. They wanted music hot off the press mixed with the classics. A touch of theater. Artistic challenge. An engaged audience. Fun.

They also knew the name they wanted for their festival….

Some years ago Stephanie had played in a jazz and classical music series in Half Moon Bay, California, that had been christened the “Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society” after audience members on one memorable evening were inspired to dance on the beach to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and set off fireworks after the performance. With a blessing from California, Stephanie and Jeffrey borrowed the name and determined to recreate the spirit of spontaneous fun and the incredible music that made you want to dance.

Stephanie and Jeffrey then wooed four musician friends with their vision (and with margaritas, frozen custard, and lunches at their favorite restaurant), and all agreed to perform for free. The Madison Civic Center provided performance space and publicity for two free concerts. And crowds turned out for their first experience of BDDS’s “serious fun.” Each night more than 200 people packed the room, and dozens more stood outside the doors listening in. Stephanie and Jeffrey placed an open cello case near the exit and made a plea for spare change. That “spare change” added up to more than $1,500 on those hot summer evenings. With that nest egg and with help from a growing group of fans, they have made their artistic vision a reality.

BDDS is now in its third decade. It has become abundantly clear that our vision has been enhanced by those who have invested their wisdom and talent in extraordinary measures. In 2001 we inaugurated our Big Bang award to honor such people. We thank those whose spirits have not only sustained ours but have expanded our gratitude to bursting.


Big Bang Awards:

  • 2019: Norma Sober
  • 2018: Ellen White & Eric Sutter
  • 2017: Wiley & Virginia Sykes
  • 2016: Debi Morton & Michael Dearing
  • Anne T. Wadsack
  • John Beutel
  • 2015: Kris Knight
  • 2014: Dick Ainsworth
  • 2013: Carla Love
  • 2012: Distillery Design
  • 2011: Effi Casey
  • 2010: Anne Stoelting
  • 2009: Tom & Jan Terry, Hathaway Dilba, David Wells
  • 2008: John Wiley
  • 2007: Lynne Eich
  • 2006: Pat Alea
  • 2005: James Crow
  • 2004: Toni Sikes and Bill Kraus
  • 2003: Susan Jacobs Lockhart
  • 2002: Lindsay, Stone & Briggs
  • 2001: Fan Taylor

Trumpet MATTHEW ONSTAD A Wisconsin native, Dr. Onstad serves as assistant professor of trumpet at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches applied trumpet, coaches chamber music, and performs with the Whitewater Brass Quintet. While earning his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from UW-Madison, Dr. Onstad performed with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a faculty ensemble-in-residence. He holds the rank of staff sergeant in the 132nd Wisconsin Army National Guard Band and has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Iowa, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and the Isthmus Brass. He held the position of principal trumpet with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra from 2016-2021. Dr. Onstad has previously taught trumpet at St. Ambrose University, UW-La Crosse, and UW-Oshkosh. He has served as a master clinician with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the 132nd Army Band, and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Onstad received his Bachelor of Music degree from UW-Oshkosh. matthewonstad.com

Violinist Paran Amirinazari, an avid chamber musician, is a founding member and artistic drector of the Willy Street Chamber Players. She is a former member of the Hunt String Quartet and has recently earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Cello TRACE JOHNSON, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, has appeared as a chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral musician in a wide variety of settings in the U.S. and around the world. He is a cellist in the Sarasota Orchestra in Sarasota, Florida, and recently performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Madison Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed in chamber recitals with faculty from SUNY Purchase, the University of Toronto, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Florida International University, Shenandoah University, and Queens College in New York City. traceljohnson.com

Conductor KENNETH WOODS was appointed artistic director and principal conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra in 2013, and was recently appointed artistic director of both the Elgar Festival in Worcester, England, and the Colorado MahlerFest. As a guest, Mr. Woods has conducted ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the English Chamber Orchestra; has been featured on broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, National Public Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; and has appeared at music festivals such as Aspen, Scotia and Lucerne. Under Mr. Woods’ leadership, the English Symphony Orchestra responded to the2020 Covid-19 lockdown, “Music from Wyastone," a series of virtual concerts including dozens of world-premieres of new works and new arrangements, such as a chamber version of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Mr. Woods’s blog, “A View from the Podium,” is one of the 25 most popular classical blogs in the world. He has spoken on Mahler on NPR’s All Things Considered and is a regular speaker on BBC radio programs. Kennethwoods.net

Bass NICK MORAN, a veteran of the Madison, Wisconsin, music scene, performs on both electric bass and the double bass in varied genres including jazz, Afro-Latin, hip hop, reggae, and funk. Mr. Moran has toured internationally and performed with a diverse collection of acts, including Ben Sidran, Lee ‘Scratch‘ Perry, Clyde Subblefield, and David ‘Fathead‘ Newman (Ray Charles’s sax player). He has also worked with such Madison music institutions as Harmonious Wail, the Gomers, Tony Casteneda, Anna Laube, Joy and the Boy, and the Tim Whalen Nonet. As a freelance bassist, Mr. Moran has recorded tracks and albums for a wide-ranging roster of artists including Gerri DiMaggio, University of Wisconsin-Madison music professor Les Thimmig, Clyde Stubbelfield, Hanah John Taylor, and reggae giants Natty Nation. His playing can also be heard in various Afro-Cuban, hip hop, R&B and funk loop libraries from Sony Music and Apple. In addition to his music career, Mr. Moran works as a production and development consultant for the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium. In 2014, he was named "Jazz Personality of The Year" at the Isthmus Jazz Festival by mayoral proclamation. In 2016, he joined the UW-Madison School of Music as jazz bass instructor.

Cellist KENNETH OLSEN joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal cello in 2005. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and a winner of the school's prestigious concerto competition. His other awards include first prize in the Nakamichi Cello Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and second prize at the 2002 Holland-America Music Society Competition. His teachers have included Richard Aaron at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Joel Krosnick at New York's Juilliard School of Music and Luis Garcia-Renart at Bard College. He also has been a participant at the Steans Institute for Young Artists (the Ravinia Festival's professional studies program for young musicians) and at Boston University's Tanglewood Institute. A native of New York, Kenneth Olsen is a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless string orchestra comprised of young musicians from orchestras and ensembles all over the country.

Baritone TIMOTHY JONES has performed in opera houses and with symphony orchestras in the U.S., Ecuador, Mexico, and the Czech Republic. He has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and the Jacksonville Symphony. In opera houses he has performed leading roles in "The Marriage of Figaro," "Carmen," Die Zauberflöte," "Cosi Fan Tutte," "Don Giovanni," "Don Pasquale," "La Boheme," "Falstaff," "Macbeth," and "La Traviata." He has been a frequent guest with the Victoria Bach Festival, New Texas Festival, Round Top Music Festival, Ars Lyrica Houston, Cactus Pear Music Festival, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. As a committed performer of contemporary music, Mr. Jones has commissioned and premiered numerous compositions by leading composers of our time. He currently lives in Houston, where he serves on the faculty of the University of Houston.

Violin SUZANNE BEIA is co-concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and second violinist in the Pro Arte Quartet. A native of Reno, Nevada, she began her musical studies on the viola at the age of ten. Three years later, she shifted her attention to the violin and made her solo debut at the age of fourteen with the North Lake Tahoe Symphony. Since that time, she has performed as a soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Germany. Before coming to Madison, Ms. Beia held the position of principal second violin in the Wichita Symphony and has held concertmaster positions with the Reno Chamber Orchestra, Bay Area Women's Philharmonic, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and Chamber Symphony of San Francisco. She also held the assistant concertmaster position in the New World Symphony. Her chamber music experience has been extensive: she has performed at festivals such as Chamber Music West, Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Token Creek, Festival de Prades, and Chamber Music at the Barn. Ms. Beia has served on the faculties of the Rocky Ridge Music Center and Florida International University.