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The Green Room

The Classical Series Centumquinquennium

Posted: 05/08/24

The Classical Series Centumquinquennium

By Amanda Stezenski

The Wisconsin Union Theater’s Classical Series, originally named the Concert Series, is celebrating its 105th season. 

Dating back to 1920, the first Classical Series included three world-class artists: soprano May Peterson, violinist Fritz Kreisler and pianist Benno Moisewitsch.

Over the decades, the Classical Series has graced various campus venues, from the University Armory, or Red Gym (built 1894), the UW Stock Pavilion (built 1909) and Music Hall (built 1878). In 1939, the Classical Series found its forever home and passionate community of staff and patrons at the Wisconsin Union Theater and is also occasionally presented at the Hamel Music Center in partnership with the Mead Witter School of Music.

Historical photo collage of the Red Gym

  Clockwise: Armory and Gymnasium (UWDC) | 'Sousa and his Band' concert poster (1907, UWDC) | Red Gym (ca. 1900, UWDC)

  Clockwise: Musical performance in Stock Pavilion (May 1939, UWDC) | Sergei Rachmaninoff concert (February 1927, UWDC) | Stock Pavilion (ca. 1925, UWDC)

Historical photo collage of Music Hall.

  Clockwise: Auditorium, Music Hall (ca. 1914, UWDC) | Music Hall stage (ca. 1940-9, UWDC) | Music Hall, U.W., Madison, Wisconsin (ca. 1915, UWDC)

Throughout its early years, the Classical Series welcomed many world-changing artists such as Percy Grainger (1925), Sergei Rachmaninoff (1927) and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1935). To keep up with growing demands, the Classical Series expanded its subscription model in 1960, introducing the Red and White Series.

Scan of Wisconsin Union Concert Series subscription form.

  Concert Series brochure (1968-9)

Last year, we were treated to mesmerizing performances by UK’s cello virtuoso, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, UW-Madison alumna and opera star Brenda Rae, and the esteemed National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine.

Now, as we embark on the 105th season, our team of talented students from the Wisconsin Union Directorate Performing Arts Committee has curated an equally thrilling lineup for the centumuinquennial Classical Series.

Highlights include:

Eighth Blackbird | Thursday, Sept. 26
This GRAMMY-winning sextet embodies the contemporary ensemble with a talented creative team of musicians, visual artists and entrepreneurs. Eighth Blackbird has been described as “a brand-name defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality” (Detroit Free Press).

Benjamin Grosvenor, piano | Friday, Nov. 1
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor commands masterpieces with unmatched sensitivity. Following his acclaimed 2023 BBC Proms Recital, The Spectator hailed him as “a genius at the height of his interpretative powers."

Roomful of Teeth | Wednesday, April 9, 2025
GRAMMY-winning Roomful of Teeth fearlessly explores every facet of the human voice, from sonorous chords to rhythmic sounds, shattering norms and pushing the boundaries of a cappella music.

You aren’t going to want to miss out on this year’s packed Classical Series lineup. Read the full schedule here, and remember to take advantage of 20% off of tickets with a subscription, on sale starting May 28.

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