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Harmonious History: The Wisconsin Union Theater’s Concert Series Celebrates its 100th Year

The curtains will soon open on a historic event in the Wisconsin Union Theater: the 100th Anniversary Concert Series.

As it has done every year for a century, the Series will bring world-renowned classical musicians to Madison, Wis., for its 100th season. The centennial anniversary concerts reflect the historic breadth represented throughout the series’ history.

The full series lineup is as follows:
Oct. 6, 2019 – Chanticleer
Nov. 2, 2019 – Emanuel Ax
Dec. 6, 2019 – Kalichstein – Laredo – Robinson, Piano Trio
Jan. 25, 2020 – Escher String Quartet, featuring David Finckel
March 5, 2020 – Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, featuring David Finckel, Wu Han, Paul Neubauer and Arnaud Sussman
March 7, 2020 – Wu Han with the UW Symphony Orchestra
March 28, 2020 – Gil Shaham with Akira Eguchi
May 2, 2020 – Renée Fleming special gala concert

Acclaimed singer Renée Fleming

Celebrated musicians Wu Han and David Finckel along with student leaders in a programming entity called the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Performing Arts Committee and leaders from several arts organizations curated this distinguished list of performers. Throughout the planning, lineup planners aimed to include artists of many ages, race and ethnicity and to feel inspired by each performance.

The series has fostered a sense of community for decades as one of the longest running classical concert series in the Midwest. It actually began even before the Wisconsin Union’s Memorial Union was built.

“To recognize this history, we knew we had to find a curatorial vision that was going to recognize the community and also connect to the community,” Amanda Venske, the 2017-18 concert series associate director, said.

Recitals and chamber music make up the core of the classical series, and, in the past, featured artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Hilary Hahn and Artur Rubinstein. Our past and our present at the Wisconsin Union have never looked or sounded better.

As part of the 100th series, Renée Fleming, a celebrated opera singer and soprano, will make her debut at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall in May 2020, but you may recognize her as the Super Bowl 2014 National Anthem. She has even sung for Queen Elizabeth at Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

Whether you love Grammy award-winning artists (We have more than one coming to the Theater.) or simply love basking in the elegance of classical music, the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Concert Series’ 100th anniversary will satisfy all musical cravings. It will offer both historical charm and modern twists.

In total, the series’ centennial anniversary showcases eight performances. The 2019-2020 season begins on Oct. 6, 2019, with Chanticleer, the “world’s reigning male chorus,” and concludes May 2, 2020, with a special gala concert featuring Renée Fleming. Chanticleer’s performance will take place in the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall in the brand new Hamel Music Center.

Those interested in experiencing these performances may purchase a subscription to the concert series beginning March 18, 2019. Subscribers’ benefits include access to the best seats, 20 percent off the price of single tickets, no order fees, a complimentary ticket to a performance by celebrated pianist Wu Han with the UW Symphony Orchestra and the opportunity to be the first to purchase tickets to Fleming’s 100th Anniversary Gala Concert.

For more information about these concerts, including how to purchase a subscription, visit the series website.

Click here to listen to an episode of the Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Midday,” which featured cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han speaking about the series.

Author: Katherine Kermgard

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