Summer is nigh. No, really. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra's announcement of its 2011 Concerts on the Square season provides scientific confirmation that despite the wild meteorological mood swings of recent weeks, summer will indeed grace Wisconsin's Capitol a couple months hence.
In the wake of this spring's stormy grass-roots people's repertory -- dominated by drum circles, classic labor and protest songs voiced by a spontaneous choral union numbering in the thousands, and guest artists including Tom Morello, Michelle Shocked and Peter Yarrow -- the WCO's contrasting 28th season of al fresco concerts on the Capitol Square promises a more staid tradition on Wednesday evenings starting June 29, little more than a week after the summer solstice heralds the season's formal arrival.
That first night, music director Andrew Sewell raises his baton at 7 p.m. on the Capitol's King Street corner, for a program that promises to blanket the Capitol grounds with works by Grieg, Mendelssohn, Ravel and Tchaikovsky, abetted by guest artists including pianist Amy Hua (winner of the 2011 young Artist Concerto Competition) and the Madison Ballet.
The following Wednesday, July 6, the bluegrass band Above the Town joins the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for "A Down Home Fourth of Juy," featuring compositions by Copland, Tchaikovsky, Ungar and Wendel.
"Film Noir Classics" are the centerpiece of the July 13 concert, with guest conductor Huw Edwards raising his baton on soundtrack excerpts from such dark cinematic fare as Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, themes from the James Bond movies, and Steiner's Casablanca Suite. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...
The ABBA tribute band Arrival brings a Swedish pops accent to the Capitol on July 20, joining the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for a program including "Fernando," "Waterloo" and enough of the palindromic quartet's other hits to provoke the audience to exclamations of "Mamma Mia!"
On July 27, guest artist Susanna Phillips raises her soprano voice to the service of "American Heroes," a program featuring Bernstein's West Side Story overture, along with works by Copland, Gershwin and others.
The finale grande comes Aug. 3 during "Espana," in which violinist Suzanne Beia joins the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra as guest artist for a program highlighted by works on an Iberian theme from the likes of De Falla, Rimsky-Korsikov and Rodrigo. Muy bueno, si?