Byron Schenkman
Byron Schenkman

I watched the original Addams Family TV series when it first ran 55 years ago. And I was so captivated by Lurch the butler playing the harpsichord that I willingly took piano lessons, with the dream of one day becoming a concert harpsichordist!

My dream died somewhere between basketball practice and discovering girls, but for Byron Schenkman it became a reality. I should mention that Byron is at least a generation younger than me, and was drawn to classical chamber music not by a ‘60s sitcom, but by hearing and experiencing the real thing.

“I always wanted to perform,” Byron said, “since I was 10 or 11 years old. I was drawn to early music played on historical instruments, especially in small ensembles. Classical chamber music became my focus.”

To say Byron is from a musical family is a bit of an understatement. His parents were musicians, of course, and you may recall his nephew, Teddy Schenkman, performed a viola concert here in Madison about a month ago. Now Byron is playing here this Friday at Trinity United Methodist Church as part of the Madison Performing Arts Foundation concert series.

“I like chamber music because it’s more intimate and social than larger orchestra performance,” Byron said. “It’s more about connecting with the audience. How often do you get a group of people together in a room all focusing intently on something beautiful?

“About half of my performances are on piano, and half on harpsichord. Harpsichords are delicate and obviously not as common as pianos. They don’t always travel well.” The harpsichord for this concert is coming from Cincinnati. It’s an exquisite reproduction instrument built in 1998.

“There’s a lot more variability in harpsichords than with pianos. The keys might be a different size, and the tone can be quite different. I have spent time with each new harpsichord and adapt to its unique character. It’s a collaboration between the instrument and the player.

Byron received an undergrad degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston, and a master’s from Indiana University. He’s played all over the world, but now calls Seattle home. “I helped start a Baroque orchestra in Seattle, and we run a chamber music series called Byron Schenkman & Friends.

“The Baroque period was late 17th and 18th centuries, and the most famous composer is probably J.S. Bach. I’ll also perform sonatas from the Italian master Domenico Scarlatti, and a female composer named Anna Bon who was a virtuoso from the 18th Century.

“But every concert is different. The room size, the acoustics, the instrument, and the energy of the audience. That’s what I really love, the dynamics and uncertainty of every new performance.” The concert this Friday is free, and begins at 7 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church.


Village Lights Salon

Concert on Nov. 15

Village Lights Bookstore is continuing its legacy of outstanding intimate salon concerts next Friday, Nov. 15. The concert, titled Drum and Wind, features master musicians Jamal Mohamed on percussion and Jonathan Jones on woodwinds. They explore melodies, textures, and improvisations, using an array of acoustic and electronic instruments. The duo has performed around the world using rhythms and melodic content from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as contemporary American music. Seating is extremely limited, so reserve your space by visiting the bookstore, or by calling 812-265-1800.


This weekend is a little bit quieter than last! The first annual Mad Hop Festival was a home run, and next year will be even better. That being said, we still have some great live music happening around town. The harpsichord concert Friday at Trinity United Methodist will be a standout. And, The Lighthouse down on the river has put up some wall curtains to keep things warm and toasty and has the Four Piece Chicken Dinner band on Saturday night. Kudos to Steve Fischer for making live music a priority at the Lighthouse.

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.


Thursday, November 7:

Off Broadway Taproom — Arlie Box

Friday, November 8:

Off Broadway Taproom — Jordan Wilson Coalition

Rembrandt’s — Leonard Miller at the piano

Trinity United Methodist — Byron Schenkman, harpsichord concert

Saturday, November 9:

Off Broadway Taproom — Remember Me Monday

Thomas Family Winery — The Chestnuts

Rembrandt’s — Leonard Miller at the piano

Lighthouse — Four Piece Chicken Dinner

Sunday, November 10:

Mad Paddle Brewery — Davy Harmon

Off Broadway Taproom — Davy or Daryl