Hello, and welcome to our newly updated website! Whether you are a parent, a student, teacher, alumni, donor, prospective student, or just curious, there is much to find here. So please look around and explore.
Founded in 1990, the String Academy of Wisconsin (SAW) has become one of this country’s model schools, offering students between the ages of 4 and 18 a comprehensive musical education with a focus on the violin, viola or cello. Highly qualified artist faculty provide musical instruction based on the methods and philosophies of Mimi Zweig, Shinichi Suzuki, and Paul Rolland. The special training, experience, and expertise of the SAW faculty in the musical training of young people results in students playing with technical ease and musical sensitivity. SAW’s summer teacher training workshops are attended by string players from across the United States, Canada and Europe.
violinist Augustin Hadelich
We are very excited to announce the addition of another guest masterclass at the String Academy with international violin soloist Augustin Hadelich, to be held on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at the UWM Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall from 10:30-12:00. This is the third in series of classes sponsored by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the String Academy of Wisconsin and in collaboration with the Peck School of the Arts. The class will again be free and open to the public.
Mr. Hadelich will be in town to perform the Mozart Concerto No. 5 in A major with the Milwaukee Symphony on May 3rd and 4th. (Tickets may be purchased here.) You can learn more about Mr. Hadelich at his website.
- What: Augustin Hadelich Masterclass
- When: Saturday May 4, 2013, 10:30-12:00
- Where: Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall
- MSO Concert Dates: May 3rd – 11:15AM, May 4th – 8:00PM
We are again privileged to have some more incredible photography by SAW parent and professional photographer, Jonathan Kirn. Please visit kirnphotos.com
to find galleries from the winter Bayshore concert, as well as the most recent spring concerts and dress rehearsal. There are many more photos than the small sampling below, so you must
go see for yourself, and try to find your
favorite violinist or cellist!
As always, you may purchase prints or downloads at a greatly reduced rates from his website. Thanks again to Mr. Kirn for his special talents and time.
An exciting event is happening this Saturday, April 13 at 4:00pm.
I Cellisti is hosting a visiting group from the Western Springs School of Talent Education and the Naperville Suzuki School from Chicago.
Our joint concert will be in Greene Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 3347 N. Downer Ave.
It’s going to be an exiting event and we would love to have a big audience to welcome them to Milwaukee!! A reception will follow.
On Saturday, March 23, 2013 the String Academy of Wisconsin will present two Spring Concerts. We invite you to be our guest at one or both of these concerts. The first concert will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the second at 12 Noon, both taking place in the UWM Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall (located on the first floor of the Music Building). These concerts are FREE and open to the public. Each program is expected to be approximately one hour in length. Programs will feature violin and cello groups comprised of students, ages 4 to 18, ranging from beginners to the most advanced. In addition, two winners of this year’s SAW competitions, violinist Sabrina Zhong and cellist Lauren Simmons will perform works by Mollenhauer and Squire.
When: Saturday, March 23, 2013
Concert I – 10:00
Concert II – 12:00
Where: UWM Peck School of the Arts Recital Hall
by Alex Ayers
An orchestra audition is not too different from a competition or a college music school audition; all have a group of judges who make a decision about your playing. Is it in tune? Is it played with a beautiful sound? Is it rhythmically steady? Is it musically expressive? Is it good enough to get through to the next round? Preparing for an orchestra audition is a long, but necessary, process. The list of music you will need to prepare can sometimes seem a bit daunting. For the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra audition, I had to be ready to play the exposition of a major romantic concerto, the exposition of Mozart’s 4th or 5th concerto, one movement from a Bach solo sonata or partita, and 21 different orchestra excerpts! These repertoire lists change from year to year, but you can bet some of the usual suspects will always be on it. In fact, Alex Kerr, one of my teachers at Indiana University, has an “Excerpt Bible” of pieces likely to be on an audition list.
My first experience with orchestra auditions was at Indiana University. Every year, all the string players audition to get placed in one of five orchestras. This was the first time I had played Strauss’ Don Juan, the Scherzo from Schumann’s 2nd Symphony, the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the finale of Mozart’s Symphony #39. It took me a couple years and more than a couple lessons to get these excerpts in decent shape. As it got closer to my Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra audition, I played my excerpts for as many people as I could. Their reactions and advice helped me realize what I could still improve. Also, I found it extremely helpful to have a mock audition at home every day leading up to the audition. Running through 10 excerpts and my concerto without stopping or warming up in between gave me confidence that I could do the same at the actual audition. But this was only possible after many weeks of slow, careful practice!
Getting Ready: Alex Ayers with SAW students after performing for the class
At the preliminary round of the audition, I was number 87. I tried not to think about how the judges had heard 86 Don Juans before mine; all I had to do was play it just as I had in my mock audition. Most judges actually make their decision in the first 5-10 seconds they hear you. First impressions are (almost) everything, so it’s important to make yours a good one. After a solid run-through of my Tchaikovsky concerto exposition and four other excerpts, I was happy to be announced as a semi-finalist.
In the semi-finals, my attitude was slightly different than it was during the first round. Instead of just going for a solid run-through, it was time to stand out from the other 10 people. I was able to think that way because I had spent so much time getting my excerpts solid in the previous months. For this round, I tried to really exaggerate the specific character of each excerpt. They asked for solo Bach, and five different excerpts than the first round. When they announced me and one other person as finalists, my heart started racing.
We were given 15 minutes to rehearse both the romantic concerto and the Mozart concerto with a pianist. Just playing through both expositions took about 10 minutes, so the plan was to be flexible and responsive in my playing; there wasn’t time to rehearse every detail and transition. The final round consisted of the expositions of both concerti and about 7 more excerpts. After what seemed like an hour of the audition committee deliberating, I was relieved and thrilled to hear that they would love to have me join the MSO in September.
I am very grateful to the String Academy of Wisconsin for giving me the opportunity to perform my Tchaikovsky concerto, Mozart concerto, and Bach. Also, I am thankful for the support of David Anderson and Darcy Drexler, as well as everyone who listened to my excerpts. If you have an audition or competition sometime in the near future, I hope my experience will be helpful to you. Practice 150% beforehand, and when the big day comes, go for it!
-Alex Ayers, SAW alum
SAW violin student, Wentong Zhang, will be the featured soloist in the UWM Symphony concert this Friday, February 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helen Bader Concert Hall at the Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts. As the winner of the orchestra’s recent Young Artist Competition, Wentong will perform the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 with the orchestra. The program, entitled, Beautiful Scandinavia, will also feature Grieg’s Holberg Suite and Peer Gynt Suite, as well as Finlandia by Sibelius.Tickets are FREE for students under 18; $12 for adults. The box office is located on the lower level of the Zelazo Center.
When: 7:30, Friday, February 15, 2013
Where: UWM Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts
How much: FREE for students under 18; $12 for adults
More Info: UWM Box Office online
Wentong Zhang, a junior at Whitefish Bay High School, began playing the violin at the age of five. He has studied with Darcy Drexler at the String Academy of Wisconsin since the age of seven and currently plays in the Violin Virtuosi there. He has received numerous awards from the Wisconsin School Music Association’s Solo & Ensemble Music Festivals, performing both as a soloist and a chamber musician. He has also been a member of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra as well as the State Honors Orchestra.
This past summer, Wentong was selected to participate in the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, where he played on the Kennedy Center concert hall stage in multiple performances. In addition to playing violin, Wentong enjoys tennis as well as mathematics, and he hopes to become a mathematician in the future.
String Academy of Wisconsin at UWM
2013 Violin Competition
(Praeludium & Allegro)
Congratulations to all contestants on their performance!
A special thanks to MSO violinist Les Kalkhof for judging the competition.
Many thanks to pianist Steve Ayers for accompanying all twelve applicants.
SAW Alumna Sarah Kapustin
This Saturday, January 26th, the Rubens Quartet, from the Netherlands, will make a special “informance” for String Academy students. From 10:30-noon in the PSOA recital hall, the quartet will give an informal performance of some of their concert tour repertoire, as well as discuss some of the aspects of being in a professional chamber group, and answer questions. All students and parents are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Of special interest is violinist Sarah Kapustin, who is a native of Milwaukee and a graduate of the String Academy! We are very excited to welcome Sarah back and hear her perform.
As part of their U.S. concert tour, the Rubens Quartet will perform on Friday evening, January 25, 7:30 p.m., at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Pianist Stefanie Jacob, will also join the quartet.
The program will include:
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet Op. 18, No. 3
Joey Roukens: Visions at Sea
César Franck: Piano Quintet in f minor
To purchase tickets, click here
The Rubens Quartet will visit the String Academy on January 26th, 10:30, PSOA Recital Hall