Early Spring Concert
Middleton Performing Arts Center
2100 Bristol St
Middleton, WI 52562
April 3, 2024 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Eleanor Bartsch, violin
James Waldo, cello
Oriol Sans, guest conductor
Brahms: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102 (1887), featuring Eleanor Bartsch and James Waldo
Hailed for her “clarion tone and technical aplomb” (Chicago Classical Review), Chicago-based violinist Eleanor Bartsch enjoys a diverse and vibrant career as a chamber musician, orchestral musician, concertmaster, soloist, educator, concert curator, and entrepreneur. In 2018, she was appointed first violinist of the critically acclaimed Kontras Quartet. She is additionally Associate Concertmaster of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and a performing member and frequent principal player of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra where she also serves on the board of directors. Bartsch is professor of violin and head of strings at Elmhurst University and appears regularly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Joffery Ballet.
In addition to national and international appearances and tours, the Kontras Quartet maintains dedicated to the vibrant Chicago music scene, appearing as regular guests on 98.7 Classical WFMT radio and on all local chamber music series. The group served as Artists in Residence at Western Michigan University from 2018-2020 and Art of Elan in San Diego, CA from 2018-2022.
Kontras also enjoys a unique and ongoing collaboration with the bluegrass ensemble, the Kruger Brothers, and has championed a wide array of classical/bluegrass crossover chamber works. Fall 2023 will see therelease of the Kontras/Kruger pairing’s next album collaboration, “The Moonshine Sonata” on Double Time Records and a European tour.
Additional chamber projects for Bartsch include appearances with Eighth Blackbird, the Spektral Quartet, the Pro Arte Quartet, and many others. Bartsch co-founded Madison, Wisconsin’s Willy Street Chamber Players, an award-winning ensemble and summer festival with an emphasis on creating community through classical music, in 2015.
As a soloist Bartsch has concertized with the Chicago Philharmonic (Bach Concerto for Two Violins with the Miami City Ballet, 2019), the Elgin Symphony, the Dubuque Symphony, the Minnesota Sinfonia, and others. Solo highlights of the 2022-2023 season include Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” with the Middleton Community Orchestra and the world premiere of Laura Schwendinger’s “Nightingales” for two violins and orchestra in consortium with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra.
A sought-after orchestral performer and leader, Bartsch was Concertmaster of the Dubuque Symphony from 2016-2023. She has served as Concertmaster of the Chicago Philharmonic, Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater Orchestra, and many others. She has appeared regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, and the Knights. Bartsch was a tenured member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for 8 seasons and 5 seasons, respectively.
A passionate educator, Bartsch was appointed professor of violin and head of strings at Elmhurst University in 2023. She has given masterclasses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of California-San Diego, University of Chicago, Western Michigan University, and others.
Bartsch began her violin studies at the age of 4 in her hometown of St. Paul, MN at the Northern Lights Suzuki School for Strings where she studied with Ellen Kim and went on to study with Young-Nam Kim. She received her master’s degree in violin performance with a certificate in business entrepreneurship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the tutelage of David Perry and Felicia Moye as a Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellow. Bartsch also received her bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison, during which she was a recipient of the Kato Perlman chamber music fellowship and spent three summers at the Aspen Music Festival studying with Paul Kantor.
Cellist James Waldo is an avid chamber musician, recitalist, and educator. Currently serving as lecturer in Cello at University of Wisconsin-Madison, James and his spouse Alyona A. Waldo concertize regularly as the A.W.Duo, a cello-piano recital team performing around the United States and China, with appearances at Lincoln Center, NYC; Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC; and the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival in Highlands, NC. James performs regularly with the Madison Bach Musicians, Midsummer’s Music, LunART Festival, Edgewood College Chamber Orchestra, and the Just Bach series. Before relocating to Madison, WI in 2017, James lived and worked in New York City for a decade, where he received a Master of Music degree from Mannes College under the tutelage of Timothy Eddy. While in NYC, James served as principal cellist of the Cecilia Chorus of NY from 2015-2019, and co-founded the Listen Closely Chamber Music Initiative, a collective of locally-based musicians giving free live chamber music performances in the public spaces of uptown Manhattan.
As a period-instrument specialist, James has performed with such notable figures as Monica Huggett and Brandon Acker, and was a founding member of LeStrange Viols, whose recording William Cranford: Music for 4, 5, and 6 Viols received honorable mention in The New Yorker for best releases of 2015. Highlights for this coming spring include performances of the Op. 5 Beethoven Sonatas on gut strings with fortepianist Trevor Stephenson in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, and chamber music appearances with world-renowned period Clarinetist Eric Hoeprich.
James recently completed a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was recipient of the University Graduate Fellowship, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Russian language), and held teaching assistantships for Music Theory, Western Music History, and History of the Delta Blues. Beyond classical music, James performed regularly with acclaimed band The Brilliance from 2014-2017, and he toured as cellist and arranger with the orchestral folk ensemble Spirits of the Red City from 2008-2014. James has performed in jazz settings including Jazz at Lincoln Center, and his playing can be heard in the soundtracks of numerous independent films. A passionate educator, James has worked with cello students of all ages and levels of experience for over 20 years.