Tag Archives: Music

“The Final Forte” 2017 Premieres Tonight!

Above, from left to right: Violinist Julian Rhee, harpist Naomi Sutherland, pianist Michael Wu and violinist Yaoyao Chen.

Join us tonight at 7 p.m. on-air and online as four Wisconsin musical prodigies perform with Maestro John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the 2017 Bolz Young Artist Competition.

This year, The Final Forte features violinist Julian Rhee of Brookfield, harpist Naomi Sutherland of Viroqua, pianist Michael Wu of Sun Prairie and violinist Yaoyao Chen of Menasha, who will vie for top honors in the 2017 competition. WPR’s Lori Skelton and Jim Fleming will co-host the event.

Continue reading “The Final Forte” 2017 Premieres Tonight!

The Journey to Overture Stage

For the finalists of the prestigious Bolz Young Artist competition, the journey to Overture stage is a long one that often takes years of determination, hard work and hundreds of hours of practice to achieve.

In the first stage of the competition a pool of 30-40 contestants perform in a preliminary round of auditions for a panel of three judges. Students are separated into three areas for the audition, Strings, Piano and Brass/Woodwinds/Percussion/Harp. Approximately eight students are selected at the end of the day to move on to the semi-final round two weeks later. The stakes are higher than ever in this round of auditions as it is open to the public and recorded by Wisconsin Public Television. A new panel of judges, including Madison Symphony Orchestra Maestro John DeMain preside over the semi-final round. The four lucky finalists are announced immediately after the second round of auditions to the anxiously awaiting contestants and their families.

Then it is a long two-month wait until the final round. Finalists continue to diligently practice their piece over and over again in anticipation for the big day.

Each finalist meets with Maestro DeMain in the weeks leading up to the final competition to review his or her performance piece together. Then the week of the final competition arrives. Monday brings a rehearsal with the full orchestra and Maestro DeMain for each finalist. This rehearsal gives each student a chance to hear their performance with the full orchestra playing when previously they may only have had a chance to perform with a pianist. The Maestro and each finalist rehearse the pieces, stopping to adjust tempos, dynamics of the orchestra and coordinating the end of cadenzas. Then Tuesday night is a full dress rehearsal, followed by Wednesday, the culmination of months, sometimes years of hard work for these young performers.

No matter the result the journey is a rewarding one. Robert Rockman, the winner of last year’s Final Forte, had this to say of the experience:

“This has been the best experience of my musical career, and for me, this was never about winning the competition but enjoying every second of this amazing process and opportunity. Not winning, but learning, giving, performing, and enjoying music. Not winning, but touching people and making them feel something. So let us all go support, play, and enjoy music.”

This year’s finalists are harpist Naomi Sutherland, a senior at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Pianist, Michael Wu, a 9th grader at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School.

Violinist Yao Yao Chen, a senior at Xavier High School.

And finally, violinist Julian Rhee, a junior at Brookfield East High School. If he looks familiar that’s because he was the winner of the 2015 Final Forte competition!

The Final Forte will be broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Television at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29th. Tune in on television or watch the live stream at wpt.org.

Quiz: Polka in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, polka is tied to our identity like beer, brats and cheese! But, how much do you actually know about the music and dance?

Test your knowledge with this 10-question quiz!

And tune in Monday at 7 p.m. for Polka! with musician and host Mollie Busta — better known as Mollie B. — as she explores the history and culture surrounding the often misunderstood dance, the memories it conjures, the people who enjoy it … and the fun it invokes across Wisconsin. Watch the preview and read our interview with Mollie B.

Ready to get out your dancing shoes? Find polka across Wisconsin by exploring this map that lists venues with weekly music and annual festivals.

Funding for Polka! is provided in part by the Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, International Polka Association, Wisconsin Dells Polka Fest, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Discover Polka! in Wisconsin

Did you know that polka is the official state dance of Wisconsin? (It’s the law – since 1993!)

In Wisconsin Public Television’s new hour-long documentary airing 7 p.m. on Monday, March 6, musician and host Mollie Busta — better known as Mollie B. — explores how European immigrants brought polka music and dance to the hills and shores of Wisconsin in the 19th century — and how the folk tradition is being kept alive in communities across the state.

Watch the film preview below and read our interview with Mollie B.

Polka is music made for getting together, being happy, and dancing! It’s time to get up, get out, and enjoy polka at venues and festivals across Wisconsin. Find a location near you and join in the fun all year long!

And if you live near Monroe, please join WPT and Mollie B. on Thursday, March 2 for a Polka! advance screening.

We are still adding events and locations to the map, so check back soon! Know of another place or event where people enjoy polka concerts and dancing not shown here? Let us know! Leave a comment or email jessica.lee@wpt.org — and we’ll add it to the map.

Funding for Polka! is provided in part by the Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, International Polka Association, Wisconsin Dells Polka Fest, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire Spotlights Young Performers

An Eau Claire jazz tradition that highlights the talents of young Wisconsin performers comes to WPT this Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. The full Jazz Fest in Eau Claire special, along with bonus musical content from the 50th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival, is also available online now.

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire takes you inside the festival to see students performing in venues across Eau Claire, as well as learning from experts in hands-on clinics.

Performances from the headlining concert at Eau Claire Memorial High School feature groups who received the festival’s highest honors, including the Whitewater High School Jazz Ensemble from Whitewater, the Waconia High School Jazz Ensemble from Waconia, Minn., the Black Elk Jazz Ensemble from Elk River, Minn., and Valley High School Jazz Ensemble from West Des Moines, Iowa.

World-renowned jazz artists Stefon Harris and Jimmy Heath also perform with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble I.

Enjoy the web exclusive below, featuring the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Jazz I Ensemble performing Duke Ellington’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” at the 50th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival. Then tune in Monday or watch the full program online now!

Jazz Fest in Eau Claire is part of WPT’s multiyear Young Performers Initiative, a statewide effort to raise the visibility of the arts, celebrate the creative achievements of Wisconsin’s young people and support the arts in education.

Funding for Jazz Fest in Eau Claire provided by David and Susan Manor in honor of Blaine and Loretta Manor, Holiday Vacations, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Remembering John Lennon In His Own Words

As we remember John Lennon, who died on this day in 1980, watch this animated Blank on Blank interview from PBS Digital Studios with Lennon and Yoko Ono talking about the complexity of love.

Then, watch Patina Miller’s stunning version of Lennon’s “Imagine” in this clip from Live at Lincoln Center.


Exclusive New Sneak Peek – Wisconsin Winter From the Air

Enjoy A New Exclusive Preview From the Show!
Wisconsin Winter From the Air is coming to Wisconsin Public Television 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30

Enjoy the newest sneak peek below from Wisconsin Winter From the Air, coming Nov. 30 to Wisconsin Public Television.

Loft above and climb aboard a dogsledding journey with Wolfsong Adventures through the snow-covered Northwoods of Wisconsin.

As with 2014’s visually stunning Wisconsin From the Air, take to the sky once again to capture the wonder of winter, a season that transforms the state’s landscape.

Enjoy this new sneak peek video below, mark your calendar for the premiere date and share this video with your friends. We’ll be sharing even more exclusive content from the show in the coming weeks!

See Wisconsin Winter From the Air on the Big Screen!
Free Community Screenings in November

Join us to experience Wisconsin Winter From the Air on the big screen this November.

All screenings begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Seating in each venue is available on a first come, first seated basis. Click here for full details and maps to each location.

Green Bay – Wednesday, Nov. 9
Neville Public Museum

Eau Claire – Thursday, Nov. 10
The Oxford at the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre

Madison – Tuesday, Nov. 15
Monona Terrace

Minocqua – Monday, Nov. 21
Minocqua Brewing Company

Wausau – Tuesday, Nov. 22
UW Center for Civic Engagement on the UW-Marathon County Campus

WPT Previews: Wisconsin Winter From the Air – Dogsledding

Celebrating Bob Dylan

A young Bob Dylan on the street with a tireTo some, the choice of Bob Dylan as the 2016 Nobel laureate in Literature might be surprising. To others, who have followed the path of his lyrics since before he went electric, it’s an honor many years in the making.

Public broadcasters have often captured Dylan’s long career in film and discussion. Here are some WPT-approved options for reacquainting yourself with the wide scope of Dylan’s life and legacy.

Got any stories about Bob Dylan and how his words have made an impact on your life? We bet you do. Please share them in the comments!

Continue reading Celebrating Bob Dylan

Five Incredibly Catchy PBS Theme Songs

My brain’s wonderful at sopping up theme songs, commercial jingles and mediocre 1990s pop songs like a sponge. Is it a talent? A curse? The judges are out.

When it comes to theme songs, PBS has delivered some true gems over the years. Here are five of those songs that you might have forgotten about … or might still be able to recite word-for-catchy-word.

Continue reading Five Incredibly Catchy PBS Theme Songs

Remembering the Late Merle Haggard With a Classic Austin City Limits Performance

We’re remembering Merle Haggard, one of country music’s greatest voices, who passed away today on his 79th birthday.

In a lifetime filled with great songwriting, influential musical partnerships and great performances, here is just one that we were lucky enough to enjoy on public television.

We dug into the endless vault that is YouTube to find this clip of Haggard performing “Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today” on a 1978 episode of Austin City Limits.