Emily Bright / WXPR News


  More than any other instrument, violins have a mystique. We assume the best violins were made centuries ago—so when in recent studies, blindfolded violin masters preferred modern instruments over multi-million dollar Stradivari, many people were shocked. WXPR’s Emily Bright spoke to one Wisconsin luthier who wasn’t surprised at all.   

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A Madison-based songwriter is performing on the Nicolet stage on Friday.  WXPR is hosting the Corey Mathew Hart band.

Hart grew up in Wisconsin lived for some time in North Carolina before returning to Madison. 

WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with Hart to find out more about his life and music.  

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The Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is opening a photographic exhibition this weekend featuring the work of Dick Blau from Milwaukee. 

Blau was a collaborator on a book in 1992 called Polka Happiness, and his latest public work is a series of large photographs capturing Wisconsin's polka scene. Blau and longtime polka chronicler Rick March stopped by 25 dances in 2013. That journey led to this rare photo display,  polka style. Blau talked to Ken Krall about the challenges and pure joy he experienced doing the work.

It’s common to find artwork created by children in the schools, but how often do students have the chance to create music? As Emily Bright found out, a program at the SOAR Charter School in Land O’Lakes allows students to do just that.The SOAR charter school is one of four schools in the country to take part in Very Young Composers, a week-long program that offers middle school students the chance to compose their own music. Students pair with local professional musicians. Northland Pines Band Director Forrest Mann says no formal music training is required. 

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The months after high school graduation are a big adjustment for any 18-year old. WXPR’s Emily Bright has the story of one local girl who used the time to launch a singer/songwriter career.

Seven months after graduating from Northland Pines High School Madeline Consoer was back in her old auditorium, playing piano and singing a two-hour concert Friday that included her original songs. It’s been a busy few months, says Madeline.

Courtesy of Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin.

A UW Madison professor is producing a collection of archival field recordings performed by musicians from northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan more than 70 years ago. The music ranges from polkas to waltzes and fiddle tunes.  

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An opera singer is performing in the Northwoods Thursday.  

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek has a sold-out holiday performance at the Essenhaus in Wabeno.  It’s part of a monthly program called Third Thursday Theater.  For this week’s arts feature, WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with him about his musical background.

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If you love to sing with others, where do you go? Church choir perhaps? What if you want to sing more challenging music, or nonreligious music? For some people living throughout the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the U.P., the answer is the Northwoods Singers.

It’s a snowy evening, and about 40 choir members ranging in age from their 40s to 80s are waming up in the Congregational church in Eagle River for their last regular rehearsal of the season. Northwoods Singers co-founder Norma Yaeger said it’s quite a commitment for some of the members to make the drive.

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A pair of Finnish musicians are in town and stopped by the studio Wednesday. 

Arto and Antti Jarvela are from the western part of Finland called Kaustinen, which has a well-known fiddling tradition.  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with the two cousins about their music.

The music of western Finland is coming to Rhinelander next week. 

Arto and Antti Jarvela are a Finnish fiddle and guitar duo.  

They play in a Kaustinen or Ostrobothnian style from the western part of Finland on the Baltic Sea.  The Jarvela family has been musicians for generations and can trace that legacy back to the 1700s. 

Show organizer Mary Kinnunen says it’s a distinct style. 

Weinstock via

Last month a group of jazz musicians from all over the country gathered for a long weekend outside of Rhinelander.  Eight of them were professional musicians, and a dozen of them were students…at Holiday Acres’ annual Northwoods Jazz Camp. 

WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski went to talk with some of the teachers and students…and came away with a few tips on how to learn to be a jazz musician.       

 You heard from instructors Kim Richmond, John Harmon, Clay Jenkins and Scott Whitfield.  And students Connie Fellman and Joe Swierczek.  

Randy Sabien

WXPR’s Fall Concert and Auction is coming up this weekend.  It features music by Randy Sabien, accompanied by cellist Ed Willet.  

  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski called up Sabien to find out a little more about his musical style and history.

More from our conversation with Randy Sabien: On the importance of teaching, and how he was influenced by Western Swing music.

Matt Clark

Rhinelander is about to get hit with a wave of country music fans, during the area’s biggest tourism event. 

  The four-day Hodag Country Festival begins Thursday, and tens of thousands of people are expected to attend.  Director of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Lara Reed says the economic impact on the region is huge.

“We say for every visitor that spends the night in our community, it’s $180 a day. So if we say there’s 20,000 people for Hodag Country Fest, it’s a $3.6 million impact a day for the duration of the festival.”