After hiatus, original Ensemble Nouveau welcomes new members and prepares to perform

November 15, 2013
Left to Right: David Earll, Matthew Gregg, Keith Lienert, Corey Mackey, Dr. David Cooper, and Allen Cordingley

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — After a one-year hiatus, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville music program's faculty ensemble, Ensemble Nouveau, welcomes two new members and prepares to perform at high schools and other venues in the tri-state area.

The ensemble's performances will be held in the fashion of the quickly growing trend called “Classical Revolution,” where audiences are able to hear classical music in a setting that is different and more accessible than typical concert venues and settings. The group will perform in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings such as public schools, concert halls, churches, art festivals and other venues in the tri-state area and beyond.

The mission of the ensemble is to promote the group and its musicians through scholarly research, including performances, educational clinics, community outreach events and high school recruiting tours. Since the ensemble formed in 2009, it has performed at community centers, schools and radio stations in northern Illinois, Chicago, northeast Iowa, and all across Wisconsin.

“The novelty of the group is that each member plays at least four different instruments when we perform,” said Dr. David Cooper, associate professor of trumpet and chair of the Department of Performing and Visual Arts. “Another unique feature of the group is that we arrange all of our own music because no musical arrangements exist with parts written for our unique combination of instruments.”  

The group began as a quartet of four UW-Platteville faculty members and held its first concert in 2009. The group soon attracted the attention of Wisconsin Public Radio because of the quality of the members' musicianship.

Today, the group has grown to a sextet: Cooper, who plays Bb, C, Eb, flugel horn and piccolo trumpet; Matthew Gregg, associate director of bands, who plays French horn, mellophone, flugel and trumpet; Allen Cordingley, lecturer of saxophone and jazz studies, who plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; percussion instructor Keith Lienert, who plays an assortment of instruments including the drumset, marimba and steel pan; Corey Mackey, lecturer of clarinet, guitar, chamber music and music appreciation, who plays all members of the clarinet family, and David Earll, lecturer of music technology, chamber music and music appreciation, who plays different tubas and euphonium.

With its new configuration, Ensemble Nouveau now represents almost every musical member of a typical high school band program. Having this group perform with and for high school programs will be a valuable recruiting tool for the UW-Platteville music program.

Each of the group's members enjoys being part of the group for slightly different reasons.

“This group provides a personal artistic outlet for me,” said Cooper. “What could be better than playing chamber music with a group of good friends? I enjoy having ownership in the types of music we play and being an integral part of this group. I appreciate playing diverse types of music and the camaraderie I have with my fellow musicians.”

“I've never played with a group like this before – where the literature varies so much, from J.S. Bach to Stevie Wonder to Astor Piazzola,” said Gregg. “We can play a multitude of styles: jazz, classical, funk, Latin – you name it, we play it. Because of the musicianship and expertise of the group's members, we can do well in any genre.”

“I enjoy the challenge that comes from the uniqueness of the group,” said Cordingley. “This group is a small version of a concert band, involving all types of instruments and all types of music. During Renaissance times, consorts of musicians played in diverse locations. It almost feels like we're old time consorts playing contemporary music in our own diverse locations.”

"One of the joys of playing in an ensemble like this is the freedom to create my own parts,” said Lienert. “It is a unique challenge to constantly bring something different within the repertoire. This is why, during a given concert, you might see me perform on a variety of pitched and non-pitched instruments."

“With this group's level of talent and diverse instrumentation, we are able to get music out to many people very quickly,” said Mackey. “The group is also fairly mobile. It is our goal to make classical music more accessible to not only students but members of the community who do not have much access to this type of music.”

“This group provides an opportunity to play chamber music in a variety of locations – at the university, in area high schools and in other venues in the tri-state area,” said Earll. “I truly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the beauty of classical music. As members of this ensemble, we are all committed to and embody the ideal of classical revolution.”

Cooper sees the group as an attractive representation of what the UW-Platteville Department of Visual and Performing Arts has to offer.

“Usually faculty ensembles are part of the teaching load or qualify for a stipend,” said Cooper. “We are part of this ensemble because we want to be. This group has a sincere camaraderie that reflects our passion for music and our appreciation for the opportunities we have at UW-Platteville. The ensemble is also a clear example of entrepreneurship – taking a bizarre configuration and making it work in such a unique, creative way.”

“We want students at area high schools to know that they will have access to world class players, musicians and singers at UW-Platteville,” continued Cooper. “Because it is a smaller school, students will have more one-to-one interaction with professors who are renowned in their fields of expertise and deeply committed to teaching.”

“With smaller class sizes, students have opportunities to perform in settings that they may not have at larger schools,” said Cooper. “In the ensemble, we play instruments and music that appeal to all students to show them the wide variety of opportunities they will have if they pursue their education at UW-Platteville.”

“With budget cuts in public schools, the arts are often the first area to go,” added Cooper. “It's important to keep music alive. Ensemble Nouveau is going to do everything in its power to do that.”

Contact: David Cooper, Department of Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1021,
Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191,


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