Summer is back in Madison, and that means Concerts on the Square will return for six Wednesdays starting on Wednesday, June 27. Maestro Andrew Sewell is preparing to lead Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO) into its 35th season on the Square, a growing tradition he takes seriously.
“From humbling beginnings of just providing free concerts to the public, today it has grown to upwards of an audience of 30,000 to 40,000,” Sewell said. “We now have generations of people returning with the children.”
While Sewell is proud of the series' history, the orchestra has found a new way in 2018 for audiences to connect with Concerts on the Square. The new Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra app lets people view programs, check the weather for upcoming performances and donate to WCO.
Sewell is also the Symphony Music Director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony in California, and is going to be busy before he heads off to the west coast.
The first concert’s theme next Wednesday is "Carnival," and it features music by Dvorak, Shastakovich and Smetana with guest performer Matthew Udry on cello. Udry is the winner of the chamber's 2018 Young Artist Concerto competition.
A patriotic July 4 performance includes guest conductor Huw Edwards in the appropriately named program "American Salute." WCO will be performing “American Salute,” “Peace Corps” from “Rockwell Reflections,” “Armed Forces Salute” and “Wisconsin Forward Forever.”
On July 11, audiences will get a taste of Eastern Europe from "Slavic Dances" featuring Glazunov, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Joining WCO for the evening are 11-year-old Miriam K. Smith on cello and the Middleton High School Choir.
“This is a way we can collaborate with local groups (Middleton High School Choir), and feature the talent in the community,” Sewell said.
July 18 is a date Queen and Journey fans want to mark on the calendars, because WCO is accompanied by Jeans ‘n Classics as they take on fan favorites “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It,” “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“People love these popular programs, and they do a great job of emulating these very popular bands,” Sewell said.
Guitarist Colin Davin takes the Capitol Square stage on July 25 for "Spanish Fire" with music by Rodrigo, Sierra and Ginastera.
Concerts on the Square come to an end on Aug. 1. "Music of the New World" includes baritone Jubilant Sykes. Music by Halvorsen, Augusta Holmes and Dvorak end the season with a flourish.
“The last two programs feature a fantastic solo guitarist and a world-class baritone, Jubilant Sykes. The first one has Spanish flavor, and our grand finale gives us an opportunity to a complete symphony,” Sewell said.
Sewell feels Concerts on the Square provide the public with a unique opportunity.
“Concerts on the Square is the sustaining six-week program, and it’s not only unusual it goes on for that length of time, but more importantly it’s free to the public,” Sewell said. “Concerts on the Square are an opportunity for the public to hear live, orchestral music in the beautiful setting of the Capitol.”
The concerts begin at 7 p.m. and a variety of vendors sell food and drinks on site.