Wednesday, August 27, 2008

All in the Family

The start of the university’s fall semester means one thing to a very musical Madison family: the annual Karp Family Concert, the performance that kicks off the UW School of Music’s Faculty Concert Series.

“We’ve been doing the opening concert since 1976,” says Parry Karp, a professor of cello at the School of Music and cellist with the Pro Arte Quartet.

The Karp family of performers includes Parry on violoncello, as well as his wife Katrin Talbot on viola, brother Christopher Karp on violin, and parents Howard and Frances Karp on piano.

The series started in 1976 when Parry began teaching at UW, the school his father was already at teaching piano. Howard Karp is now professor emeritus of piano at the School of Music.

Labor Day weekend—the days before the fall semester begins—was chosen as the performance date because it meant students were in town but wouldn’t be busy with homework yet.

As impressive as a family that’s been able to work and perform together for over three decades is the fact that they’ve always played different works.

“We haven’t repeated a piece in thirty-two years,” Parry says.

They choose pieces that feature the instruments family members play and also “pieces we believe in,” according to Parry. “I’d say we’ve played everything from Bach to things being written today,” he says, adding that they’ve done a good deal of Beethoven and Brahms.

Changing the repertoire keeps the family concerts exciting, Parry says, and it’s a good creative challenge to come up with a new program each year. One general guideline that’s been maintained over the years is to play masterpieces as well as works by “unjustly neglected” artists.

This year’s opening concert—which features Linda Bartley on clarinet—is a good example. It combines works by Beethoven (Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 70, No. 2) and Tchaikovsky (Andante cantabile for cello and piano, Op. 11) with music by lesser known Robert Kahn (Quintet in C minor for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano, Op. 54) and Charles-Marie Widor (Sonata for cello and piano in A major, Op. 80).

Kahn, a disciple of Brahms, is a relatively unknown artist, but Parry’s been playing his work in the roughly three years since discovering him. And Widor was a French organist who was prolific in a lifetime that stretched from the 1844 to 1937, he says.

Parry looks forward to presenting the music selections to audiences. “We hope they enjoy the music and that it’s a nice way to start the school year and faculty series,” he says. 

The concert takes place September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Mills Hall in UW–Madison’s Humanities Building. Advance tickets are recommended, though may also be purchased at the door. Tickets are $11 general admission, $8 for seniors and students, and free for UW–Madison students with valid ID. The School of Music hosts a reception following the concert for the audience in the Humanities Courtyard.

The 2008–2009 Faculty Concert Series is as follows:

Stephanie Jutt, flute, and Christopher Taylor, piano: September 13, 8 p.m.
Linda Bartley, clarinet, and Friends: September 18, 7:30 p.m.
Pro Arte Quartet: September 20, 8 p.m.
Martha Fischer and Bill Lutes, piano: September 27, 8 p.m.
Wisconsin Brass Quintet: October 4, 8 p.m.
Paul Rowe, baritone, and Christina Lalog, piano: October 18, 8 p.m.
Anthony Di Sanza, percussion: October 23, 7:30 p.m.
Tyrone Greive, violin, and Ellen Burmeister, piano: October 25, 8 p.m.
Mark Hetzler, trombone: November 1, 8 p.m.
Marc Vallon, bassoon: November 6, 7:30 p.m.
Parry Karp, violoncello, and Eli Kalman, piano: November 8, 8 p.m.
Uri Vardi, violoncello: November 13, 7:30 p.m.
Pro Arte Quartet: November 16, 7:30 p.m.
Wingra Woodwind Quintet: November 20, 7:30 p.m.
John Stevens, tuba, and Friends: December 6, 8 p.m.
Christopher Taylor, piano: January 22, 7:30 p.m.
Julia Faulkner, soprano, and Martha Fischer, piano: January 24, 8 p.m.
Marc Fink, oboe, and Friends: January 29, 7:30 p.m.
Javier Calderon, guitar: February 5, 7:30 p.m.
Wingra Woodwind Quartet: February 12, 7:30 p.m.
Parry Karp, violoncello, and Howard and Frances Karp, piano: February 14, 8 p.m.
Jessica Johnson, piano, and Friends: February 19, 7:30 p.m.
Pro Arte Quartet: February 21, 8 p.m.
Paul Rowe, baritone, and Christina Lalog, piano: February 26, 7:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Brass Quintet: February 28, 8 p.m.
Les Thimmig, woodwinds: March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Pro Arte Quartet: March 28, 8 p.m.
Mark Hetzler, trombone, and Martha Fischer, piano: April 9, 7:30 p.m.
Marc Vallon, baroque bassoon: April 16, 7:30 p.m.
Suzanne Beia, violin, Parry Karp, violoncello, and Eli Kalman, piano: April 17, 8 p.m.
Sole Nero, Jessica Johnson, piano, and Anthony Di Sanza, percussion: April 23, 7:30 p.m.

The Faculty Concert Series is only one component of the School of Music’s annual offerings. Says concert manager Richard Mumford, “The School of Music presents more classical music concerts than any other arts organization in Madison. With more than thirty faculty concerts, ten to fifteen guest artists, three opera productions, several orchestras, five bands, seven choirs, specialized instrumental ensembles and student recitals, there’s more than enough to keep even veteran concert-goers busy.”

Visit for a full schedule of events, call the Concert Line at 263.9485 for a weekly recorded message, or send your email address to to be placed on the weekly Digest email summary.

Photo, courtesy of the School of Music, features (clockwise from left) Christopher Karp, Katrin Talbot, Parry Karp, Howard Karp and Frances Karp.

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