Press Releases

FOR RELEASE February 1, 2018
Samantha Crownover, Executive Director

Chamber Music Festival, June 8 – 24, 2018:
3 weekends, 3 cities, 6 programs

Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society (BDDS) presents its 27th annual summer chamber music festival, Toy Stories, June 8 – 24, 2018. 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.

Toys have sparked our imagination as children and we’re still inspired! Chamber music is a great vehicle for recapturing that spirit of imaginative play that came to us so easily as kids. Each of our programs is organized around our quirky take on iconic toys. And in celebration of our 27th season, we’ve scattered various “27s” across our programs.

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, 23 guest artists will perform, and one visual artist, will participate in the festival.


The slogan of TED Talks is “ideas worth spreading.” One of BDDS’s slogans could be “music worth hearing”—in the case of our first-week program TEDDY TALKS, music that’s connected to all sorts of Teddies. We start with Haydn’s great “Bear” Symphony, so named because its last movement evokes dancing bears. We play it in a sextet arrangement made by Haydn’s impresario and concertmaster Johann Salomon. Theodore (Teddie) Dubois, one of the most influential French composers of the late 19th century, is represented by two opulently sumptuous (one might say over-stuffed) works for flute, violin, and piano. Our program closes with Brahms’ String Sextet in B-flat Major, one of his most glorious pieces, in a masterful arrangement for piano trio made by his friend Theodore (Teddy) Kirchner. Our “27 feature” is Mozart’s 27th violin sonata, possibly the most beautiful one he ever wrote. Teddy Talks will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, Friday, June 8, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 101, at 2:30 PM.

Our first week continues with AMERICAN GIRLS, a program named after the fantastic multi-ethnic dolls that were originally made in our own corner of Wisconsin. Each doll came with a book telling her story. Our American Girls are multiethnic, too, and they have incredible stories to tell through their music: Amy Beach, America’s first major female composer, is represented by gorgeous violin and piano duets from the late 1800s. Chen Yi, a Chinese immigrant, wrote Qi in an effort to merge her Chinese and American voices. Rebecca Clarke, an immigrant from England, wrote her Piano Trio in passionate response to the first World War. And Gabriela Lena Frank—whose father is an American of Jewish Lithuanian descent and whose mother is a Peruvian of Chinese descent—draws on her multicultural background in her Sueños de Chambi, a musical interpretation of a famous photo album of the Andes. Haydn’s virtuosic 27th piano trio is our nod to the 27th season. American Girls will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, Saturday, June 9, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 10, at 6:30 PM.

Violinist Yura Lee, winner of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, will be joining us for both programs, as well as cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau of the San Francisco Piano Trio. Local violinist Leanne League and local violist Sally Chisholm round out the program. We’re especially excited to be expanding our Dynamite Factory young artist program to all three weeks of our season. In our first week, pianist Jason Kutz, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be our Dynamite Factory artist.


When we were kids, we sculpted entire worlds out of Play-Doh, a simple clay that’s infinitely malleable. Similarly, the key of C major or minor—the most basic of keys, the ”do” of “do-re-mi,“ in musical jargon—has proven to be infinitely malleable in the hands of great composers. PLAY DO(h), one of two programs our second week, features an incredible variety of music all in the key of C. Telemann’s gorgeous Trio Sonata in C minor for flute, oboe, and continuo opens the program. Slavic composer Bohuslav Martinu is represented by the jazzy suite in C Major from La revue de cuisine, a ballet in which kitchen utensils come to life, performed by a sextet of instruments and a dancer. The program concludes with Poulenc’s wild and crazy cantata Le bal masqué, based entirely in C, the work he considered his favorite. Play-Do(h) will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, Friday, June 15, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 17, at 2:30 PM.

Many composers wrote music about soldiers or were soldiers themselves; GI JOE is our second-week program dedicated to their music. Francis Poulenc served in the French army in WW I, but you’d hardly know it from listening to his rambunctious Trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano written shortly after his service. Kevin Put’s solo cantata Einstein on Mercer Street is a modern masterpiece about the most important scientist of the 20th century. Einstein’s work was seminal in the development of the nuclear bomb, though he himself was an ardent pacifist. He complained bitterly “they say even the bomb was my idea.” The program closes with a complete performance of Stravinsky’s masterpiece A Soldier’s Tale, a work that is “to be read, played, and danced,” featuring three actors and a dancer accompanied by a septet of instruments. GI Joe will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, Saturday, June 16, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 17, at 6:30 PM.

We’ve assembled an all-star cast for week two led by the astounding violinist Axel Strauss, winner of the Naumberg Award. Other notable guest artists include Calum Cook, principal cello in the Chicago Lyric Opera; clarinetist Alan Kay of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; and bassoonist Adrian Morejon from the Dorian Wind Quintet and the Curtis Institute. Bass-baritone Timothy Jones, an audience favorite, will be singing the cantatas of Poulenc and Puts and reciting in A Soldier’s Tale. We have two Dynamite Factory artists, pianist Satoko Hayami from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and newly-appointed principal oboe Noah Kay from the Colorado Spring Philharmonic. We’ll be joined by special guest Blake Washington, an award-winning hip-hop dancer.


Just ask Ernie from Sesame Street: there’s nothing like a rubber ducky to transform bath time into fun time. Our week-three program RUBBER DUCKY, YOU’RE THE ONE makes concert time fun time, too, featuring music connected (sometimes obliquely) to waterfowl. This theme might seem unpromising, but in fact is the inspiration for a great program of chamber music. We start with Prokofiev’s whimsical settling of The Ugly Duckling for soprano and piano. Naturally, we include The Swan, Saint-Saëns famous work for cello and piano. The British impressionist composer Eugene Goossens (get it?) is represented by Four Sketches, a beautiful work for flute, violin, and piano. We include Ravel’s Mother Goose, a masterpiece of the four-hand piano repertoire, as well as a set of songs about ducks, geese, and swans by composers as varied as Orlando Gibbons, Gian Carlo Menotti, Emmanuel Chabrier, Gabriel Fauré, and Samuel Barber. In honor of our 27th season, the program concludes with Mozart’s 27th piano concerto, one of his greatest works. Rubber Ducky will be performed at the Stoughton Opera House on Friday, June 22, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 24, at 2:30 PM.

Have you ever seen kids playing with Transformers? It is amazing what a few twists and turns can do to those unassuming pieces of modular plastic. With apologies to Hasbro, composers are TRANSFORMERS to the nth degree, turning pedestrian musical building blocks into deeply expressive sound sculptures. Our final program for our 27th season includes the brilliant Flute Concerto in D minor by C.P.E. Bach, the single composer most responsible for transforming the light rococo style into the high classical style later perfected by Mozart and Haydn. In his Hermit Songs, Samuel Barber took scribblings, doodles, and marginalia from medieval manuscripts and spun them into one of the masterpieces of art song—a transformation if ever there was one. And our season closes with Schumann’s monumental Piano Quintet, a work that transformed the world of chamber music. Quintet uses thematic transformation to connect its movements, creating a unified musical edifice. Transformers will be performed at The Playhouse, Overture Center for the Arts, Saturday, June 23, at 7:30 PM; and Spring Green at the Hillside Theater, Sunday, June 24, at 6:30 PM.

Our third week features radiant soprano Emily Birsan, an audience favorite, singing the Prokofiev and Barber songs as well as Richard Strauss’ op. 27 songs. Local favorites Suzanne Beia, violin, and Leanne League, violin, will be joined by Dynamite Factory artists Jeremy Kienbaum, viola, Trace Johnson, cello, and Satoko Hayami, piano.

Visual artist Jeff Repko will create a 3D stage installation for all performances in The Playhouse.

New this year, BDDS will perform a free in-depth look at our third week of concerts, for “adults of all ages.” The event takes place at 11:00 AM – noon, on Saturday, June 23, in The Playhouse. This performance will feature our emerging talent—the Dynamite Factory artists. We’ll demystify chamber music and invite feedback from the audience. Seating will be first come first served. Pat Powers and Thomas Wolfe and Overture Center generously underwrite these performances.

An in-depth look at music will be held at the Arts + Literature Lab on Thursday, June 20th at 7:00pm. A performance and discussion of American Haiku for viola and cello will feature Jeremy Kienbaum, viola and Trace Johnson, cello. Two members of the Dynamite Factory will feature this work written by Brooklynite Paul Wiancko, in 2014.  This richly-textured duo for viola and cello incorporates Appalachian fiddling, percussive patterns, and Japanese folk-inspired melodies.  Suggested donation $5. Arts + Literature Lab is located  2021 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704

Also new in Spring Green: Enos Farms box dinners can be pre-purchased for enjoying on the Hillside Theater grounds or in the Taliesin School’s Dining Room between Sunday concerts. Also, first time River Valley Residents can get 50% off their ticket price for Sunday 6:30 performances.

New in Stoughton: Tacos per vida! El Grito Taqueria will be parked right in front of the Stoughton Opera House from 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM, Friday, June 22. Swing by for a taco inspired by regional Mexico cuisine and food cultures from around the world.

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).

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.

Single general admission tickets are $43. Student tickets are always $10!

First time single ticket buyers who are River Valley Residents can purchase ½ off single tickets for the Sunday 6:30 performances. All single tickets must now be purchased from Overture Center for the Arts, or (608) 258-4141 (additional fees apply), or at the box office.  For information visit or call (608) 255-9866. 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.