Tag Archives: Great Performances

Celebrate Women’s History Month 2019!

Birgit Nilsson performs the title role in Turandot, wearing a dramatic Chinese-themed trainFighters, feminists and “firsts” take the screen this month, showcasing the contributions of women in the modern world.

Wisconsin Public Television offers a full lineups of broadcast programs and online extras to enjoy, from American Masters to pledge specials featuring favorite musicians.

Read on to see what’s in store!

Continue reading Celebrate Women’s History Month 2019!

Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert

Watch Great Performances “Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2013” at 8 p.m. Friday, August 16 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Vienna PhilharmonicIt makes me sad to think that August is already half over and the end of summer is fast approaching. It’s not just the inevitable cold weather that makes it sad, the end of summer also means the end of summer concerts. I can’t believe it has already been two weeks since the last Concerts on the Square here in Madison.

Luckily there are still many fine concerts and performances scheduled to air even after we’ve all given up on trying to enjoy the outdoors. It might not be the same experience to sit inside and watch these stellar performances on TV, but even with cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine, sitting out on the Capitol lawn for a live concert in the dead of winter doesn’t sound very enjoyable.

For now my goal is to make the most out of the weeks we have left and make it to as many concerts, fairs and state parks as possible. Then I suppose it will be time to start looking into what interesting programs will be coming out this fall to help pass the months of limited daylight. What exciting plans do you still have on your calendar? Any new shows you’re already looking forward to?

Online Videos to Get You Through the Blizzard

My original angle for this post was to pick some online video gems to watch during your free time this holiday season. But, it seems much of southern Wisconsin is going to have lots of free time waiting for Blizzard Draco to pass, so here are a few picks from the WPT Video player to get you through the blizzard (and the holidays).

Here and Now “Sand Mining Industry Booming in Western Wisconsin”
The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) business of extracting natural gas from shale hasn’t directly impacted Wisconsin like it has eastern states like Pennsylvania. For now we’re still the beer and cheese state. But could we add sand to that list? Indirectly, Wisconsin has been a big player in the fracking industry because our state is a hotbed for frac sand. What’s frac sand? UW-Extension explains in this map and info sheet. In short, it’s sand that is suspended in a concoction of chemicals that’s pumped into the ground to extract natural gas. Here and Now’s Frederica Freyberg filed an insightful report that weighs the benefits and costs of Wisconsin’s sand mining industry. It’s a slim 8 minutes long (an eternity online, I know), but that’s 8 minutes longer you can put off shoveling the driveway.

Under the Ice
Earlier this week we posted the January broadcast schedule, and as I browsed the new programs this title caught my eye. I half expected to find a nature show filled with ambient music and underwater dreamscapes. But despite it’s title, this film is all about the fishermen – above the ice – on Lake Winnebago as they try to catch a glimpse at what lurks under the ice. And in this film, the what is sturgeon.

Under-the-Ice-Movie-Wisconsin-Public-TelevisionThese aren’t no bluegills…they’re huge fish that require a 4’x6′ hole and a giant spear that would be fit for Disney’s King Triton. But what sounds like a real action-adventure sport actually entails a whole lot of waiting. One fishermen in the film has been fishing for 12 years and just saw (not caught) his first sturgeon last year. Nevertheless, the film offers an entertaining look at what goes on in the ice shanty while waiting to spear a fish. In addition to the people on the ice, you’ll meet the folks who go out to dine on the prehistoric fish and also meet advocates for sturgeon preservation.

This film by Michael Sternoff and Beth Bennett won a few awards when it hit the film festival circuit in 2010. Now it’s coming to Wisconsin Public Television, airing various times on The Wisconsin Channel in January. But why wait, you can watch Under the Ice online now.

Speaking of King Triton, if you’re looking for a steady stream of animation to entertain the kids who are home from school, check out the video player at PBSKids.org. The video player has great PBS KIDS videos featuring the Cat in the Hat, Curious George, Daniel Tiger and all of your child’s favorite PBS KIDS friends. Click on the snowflake icon for several games and activities that will entertain and educate all day long.

The Classics
Of course there are plenty of other classic PBS programs just waiting to be watched. If you simply can’t keep up with all the episodes from Frontline, Antiques Roadshow and POV, the online video player is a great way to catch up. On my Watch List are Nature “Christmas in Yellowstone” (for the second time this season), NOVA “Mystery of Easter Island,” and Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited.”. What will you watch as the snow flies this season?

A Look Ahead With WPT's Director of Programming

Read up on this month’s “don’t miss” programs selected by Director of Programming, Garry Denny.
You can find all the programs listed below and more on the WPT Schedule.

Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited”
I have to be honest: I’m a fair weather Beatles fan. I like the well-known hits, but have much less appreciation for deeper cuts on their albums and literally no appreciation for their films. To some of you that may seem somewhat sacrilegious, but c’mon those films are just plain dreadful. We are all quite familiar with A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, but in 1967 the band made a film titled Magical Mystery Tour. To say that the film was a complete departure from their previous work would be an understatement. When the film debuted on the BBC in Beatles-Magical-Mystery-Tour-PBSAugust 1967 a stunned British public was quite turned off by the film’s surreal, nearly imperceptible storyline and images of anarchy. The reaction was both swift and strong – most who saw it hated it.

In Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” the filmmakers set out to explore the origins of the film, why it was made and the circumstances in which it was made. There are interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as archival footage of John Lennon and George Harrison talking about the film, including outtakes from the film itself. “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” is a fascinating study of artist excess, hubris and lack of insight into audience expectations. Great Performances “Magical Mystery Tour Revisited” premieres 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 and is immediately followed by the Magical Mystery Tour film in its entirety at 11:30.

First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty
One genre that has become a staple of PBS programs is documentaries that have dramatic reenactments to help tell and propel a story laden with historical facts. Of course, if you tune around the dial you can see any number of cheesy documentaries with poorly acted and executed reenactments, but producers for public television deliver high quality productions. In our new documentary First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Freedom, the story of America’s founding fathers (and mothers!) struggle to make religious freedom a part of law comes to life. Using interviews with present day authorities on the subject of faith and American history, intertwined with historical dramatic reenactments, the documentary is an engaging film that successfully tells a little explored part of American history. During my preview of the film I initially felt like I wouldn’t make it to the end, but ultimately it not only held my attention, but also made me glad that I stuck with it. First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.


Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets
I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like breakfast. We all have been told it’s the most important meal of the day, but it can also be the most satisfying meal of the day. Several years ago producer Rick Sebak (A Hot Dog Program, A Flea Market Documentary) produced Breakfast Special in which he tantalized audiences with visits to cafes, restaurants and roadside eateries known for their breakfast food and atmosphere. A Breakfast Special 2 Lobster HashIt’s impossible to watch this parade of pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon and pastries and not instantly crave some breakfast. Well, luckily for our taste buds Sebak has returned with a sequel title Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets.  In the special Sebak visits more breakfast joints in search of unique menu items that keep locals coming back for more. Like the first special, I dare you to watch this new show without salivating and needing to get your breakfast fix. I don’t want to give away much more, but leave you with two words: lobster hash. Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets premieres 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 followed by the original Breakfast Special, which you can watch online now.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special
For fans of this breakout PBS series this is nothing but great news. The first season may have come and gone, but we have an all-new holiday special premiering 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. Also, I’m pleased to tell you that season two of Call the Midwife premieres on Wisconsin Public Television in late March 2013. We’re committed to this wonderful series and are glad that it has found a home on public television.

WPT Pledge Favorites

It’s that time of year again and we have plenty of great specials lined up for you. We have several new additions for you as well as some of your old favorites. With such a varied selection, there’s bound to be something for everyone to enjoy. Obviously you won’t be able to find the time to watch them all, but I hope you manage to sit back and enjoy at least a few of these great productions.

Here’s just a few of the great shows coming up, for a complete list, view our schedule here.

Saturday, Nov. 24
A night of music starting at 5 p.m. with Lawrence Welk’s Big Band Splash. Followed by Doo Wop and Folk Rewind.

Sunday, Nov. 25
6:30 p.m. Jackie Evancho: Music of the Movies

Tuesday, Nov. 27
8:30 p.m. Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time

Wednesday, Nov. 28
7 p.m. Jerry Apps: A Farm Story
8:30 p.m. Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries

Thursday, Nov. 29
10:30 p.m. Tony Bennett: Duets II

Saturday, Dec. 1
9 a.m. Sewing With Nancy: 30th Anniversary Special
9 p.m. Buddy Holly: Listen to Me – The Ultimate Buddy Party
10:30 p.m. Leonard Cohen Live in London

Sunday, Dec. 2
3 p.m. Great Performances Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park

Monday, Dec. 3
7 p.m. The Tenors: Lead With Your Heart
8:30 p.m. Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony

Saturday, Dec. 8
10:30 p.m. Simon and Garfunkel: Songs of America
12 a.m. Pegi & Neil Young’s Concert for the Bridge School

Music of the Movies

Watch Great Performances “Jackie Evancho: Music of the Movies” at 7 p.m. Monday, August 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Jackie EvanchoShe’s back! It’s been a year since we first brought you Jackie Evancho in concert with her debut album, “Dream with Me,” and now she’s back with yet another great performance.

Don’t miss her singing some of your favorite songs from the big screen… I for one can’t wait to hear a new version of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. You’ll also get to see Jackie perform tracks from films like The Lion King, Titanic and Moulin Rouge to name a few. You can find a full listing of the songs here.

I can’t see the schedule another year in the future, but I think it’s safe to say we will be seeing more of Miss Evancho in the years to come. Her talent speaks for itself.

Another chance to catch Phantom on WPT

We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for this month’s broadcast of Great Performances: Phantom of the Opera Live from London’s Royal Albert Hall. If you missed it, we’ve got great news — it has just been added into this Sunday’s schedule at 4:30 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Television.

Tune in and enjoy this brilliant production that was mounted for the musical’s 25th anniversary. Sing along with all of your favorite songs and even catch an appearance from show creator Andrew Lloyd Weber and original cast member Sarah Brightman.

Can’t wait? Watch a preview below!

Watch Clip from The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

A weekend of great music – Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and More

Tony Bennett and Lady GagaThe swinging  tunes will be flowing from TV sets across Wisconsin this weekend when Wisconsin Public Television airs a series of great music specials from the era of cool.

It all starts at 7 p.m. Saturday with Great Performances: Tony Bennett Duets II. The legendary jazz crooner teams up with contemporary performers like Lady Gaga, Andrea Bocelli, John mayer, k.d. lang and the late Amy Winehouse in her last recording session. Watch a few moments from the show now:

Watch Scenes from Tony Bennett: Duets II on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Then at 9, stay tuned for the premiere of Under the Streetlamp. This talented vocal group is made up of four former “Jersey Boys” cast members. Enjoy their vocal acrobatics on a collection of hits from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Intrigued?  Here’s a taste of what they have to offer:

Watch Under the Streetlamp | Preview on PBS. See more from pbs.

Then, come back at 6 p.m. Sunday for a dose of The Chairman of the Board. Enjoy Frank Sinatra’s Concert for the Americas — a 1982 show from the Dominican Republic featuring all of Sinatra’s biggest hits. Here’s one of those big songs from the show — “The Best is Yet to Come.”

A Look Ahead With WPT's Director of Programming

Garry Denny is Director of Programming for Wisconsin Public Television. He is responsible for the acquisition, scheduling and delivery of programming services on WPT, and each month, he gives you the inside scoop on the best new programs in his post “A Look Ahead.This month, he’s got a lot of music on the brain.

Great Performances “The Phantom of the Opera Live at the Royal Albert Hall”
Watch the Phantom of the Opera on WPTWhen it comes to programs that we broadcast as part of our fundraising drives, I usually find that for my taste it’s pretty much a mixed bag. For example, I’m not a practitioner of yoga (too hot and sweaty) so I would not be inclined to watch Easy Yoga for Easing Pain if it weren’t my job to do so. On the other hand, I’ve always been a big fan of our big, lush stage spectaculars like “Les Misérables in Concert.” For me, “The Phantom of the Opera” is just such a show. It’s grand, sweeping and visually stunning, and has so many great songs. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a funny looking gent, but he sure can write some amazing music. This lavish 25th anniversary presentation features special appearances by Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman and should be considered a must see of great television. Great Performances “The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall” premieres 7 p.m. Sunday, March 4. Visit the WPT Schedule to see a clip of Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Live from the Artists Den “Adele”
Watch Adele on WPTOn Sunday, February 12, I got a very jarring reality check while watching the 54th Annual Grammy Awards on CBS. It turns out that I’m just not as hip or popular culture aware as I once believed. Why? Because until that night I had no idea who Adele is – what she looks like, sounds like or even the names of her songs. Her amazing live performance of “Rolling in the Deep” that night on the Grammys quickly rid me of my ignorance. Frankly, it was just plain awesome, and even more entertaining because of the way in which the lyrics call out her jackass ex-boyfriend. Pure genius. On Live from the Artist Den Adele performs for a much smaller audience in Santa Monica, but she’s all there in great vocal form. She has an amazing voice with a great presence – truly a joy to watch and listen to. Trust me, you want to see this! Live from the Artist Den “Adele” premieres 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8. For now, enjoy this gorgeous clip from the program in which Adele performs “Someone Like You.”

Frank Sinatra: Concert for the Americas
Watch Frank Sinatra on WPTSpeaking of great singers you can’t go wrong with Ol’ Blue Eyes. I’ve been a Sinatra fan for a very long time and have been lucky enough to see him twice in concert. Both times were extraordinary experiences. In 1982, at the age of 66, Frank Sinatra performed an outdoor show in the Dominican Republic where he rocked the house. If the amphitheater had doors he would have blown them off. Sinatra was at his best that night performing his signature hits like “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “The Way You Look Tonight” (my favorite) and the iconic “Theme from New York, New York.” With a big band and orchestra behind him Sinatra was in fine form vocally, and he just had such incredible stage presence. They didn’t call him Chairman of the Board for nothing. Frank Sinatra: Concert for the Americas premiers 6 p.m. Sunday, March 11.

Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil’s

Watch Great Performances: “Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil Celebrate Gershwin” at 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I absolutely love classical music! I’ve always been a huge fan of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Moonlight Sonata. Not to say that I don’t also enjoy William Tell Overture and most of Mozart’s work as well. What I’ve found to be even better is classical music infused with something a little more modern. Now of course you can’t beat the classics when they are used properly in a movie or when you just want to sit around listening to some good music. However, when you’re going for concert quality, giving classical music a boost makes it even better.

Hands down, my favorite concert is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. The classical ballads combined with rock is just an amazing sound – not to mention the amazing show they put on. I can only hope that Gustavo Dudamel and Herbie Hancock can create the same amazing type of sound when they blend classical music with jazz and a symphony orchestra.