–submitted by Linda Baldwin-O’Hern; photo by John Bonsett-Veal
Andrew Sewell, Artistic Director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, recalls this advice when he came to Madison 17 years ago. Sewell discovered that the audience at the Concerts on the Square were huge, unique and a tough crowd. More than 40,000 weekly concert goers are there to enjoy a picnic, their friends, the beautiful setting AND the music. Music selections are carefully chosen to entertain this diverse and loyal crowd. And week after week, audiences flock to the Capital grounds to take in the wonderful performances of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
As Mark Cantrell, Executive Director of the WCO, points out, these concerts are free to the public but not free to present. Each event costs $180,000 and Mark thanked the donors and patrons who support WCO for enabling these amazing community events. Cantrell reminds us that we are lucky to live in a community where great art takes place. Madison produces concerts and arts events at way above its size. And Concerts on the Square and events at Overture and the many other venues around the city build community by bringing people together to enjoy, be uplifted and learn.
The Concert this week is a special one celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Capitol building…and of course, audiences will enjoy Tchaikovsky’s rousing 1812 Overture…cannons and all. Sewell recalls an early concert when he cued the cannons and ….nothing !!! Trying it again, Sewell got his cannons and the show went on.
Cantrell and Sewell celebrated the Madison arts community, citing their own collaborations with other organizations and the arts community in general for doing a terrific job in bringing high quality performances to the community.
So this 4th of July celebration continues the centuries’ old tradition of bringing classical music to holidays and community celebrations.
As Gerald Bartell often said, “The Arts are for Everyone…Support and enjoy.”