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Dr. J. Michael Allsen

J. Michael Allsen
joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1996.  Previous professional positions include teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an administrative job with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Past and present teaching duties at Whitewater include World of the Arts, Music History I, Music History II, Music History III, Survey of African American Music, Survey of Latin American Music, Survey of World Musics, Music as A World Phenomenon, Introduction to Classical Music, Renaissance Music, and New Student Seminar. Allsen has also directed the UWW Trombone Choir.  He was awarded a sabbatical in Spring 2006 to work on a critical edition for A-R Editions. In 1998 and 2005, he received the UWW College of Arts and Communication Excellence Award in Teaching, in 2004, he received the College's Excellence Award in Research, and in 2010 and 2014 he received the College's Excellence Award in Academic Advising, receiving a university-wide advising award in 2014 as well.  In 2015 Allsen's advising work was honored with a Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).  He served as Chair of Whitewater's Music Department from 2006-2012, and subsequent administrative work has included service as the department's Assistant Chair, as Coordinator of the interdepartmental World of the Arts faculty, and as the College of Arts and Communication's Graduation Examiner.

Allsen's research interests are primarily in the field of late medieval music.  Beginning with his dissertation research, he has worked intensively with the isorhythmic motet, among the most important polyphonic genres of the 14th and early 15th centuries.  In studying the motet repertoire, he has focused in particular upon the issues of musical style, intertextuality, genre, and compositional process.  Allsen has also worked on biographical problems, particularly in connection with the preeminent composer of the early 15th century, Guillaume Du Fay, and and his contemporaries Gilles Binchois, Arnold and Hugo de Lantins, and Johannes Brassart. Allsen has strong secondary interests in the fields of 17th-century instrumental music, the music of the Moravian Church, and in local (Madison, WI) music history.

Allsen has written program notes for the Madison Symphony Orchestra since 1984.  He has also written commissioned notes for dozens of orchestras, ensembles and festivals, as well as CD liner notes.  His program notes have been published by orchestras and choruses across the United States, and in Canada, England, Scotland, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Israel, and Zimbabwe.  During the 2000-2001 season he was commissioned by the MSO to write a series of short historical articles celebrating the orchestra's 75th anniversary: extended versions of these articles and other historical documents appear on this site.  He has also written feature articles on local music history for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Allsen is a professional trombonist, and has been associated with Madison Symphony Orchestra since 1983—he has been the orchestra's bass trombonist since 1990.  He has also performed with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and many other ensembles, including Sinfonia Sacra, the Madison Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Players Big Band,  the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, and the late Frank Sinatra, Jr..  Allsen was the co-founder of the Glenwood Moravian Trombone Choir, an amateur/community group in Madison that that he directed for nearly a quarter century (1983-2007) leading the group in some 500 performances.  In July 2006, he served as Trombone Choir Director at the Moravian Music Festival in Columbus, OH.  Allsen has been associated with the Madison Early Music Festival since 2001, performing on sackbut, and serving as guest historian and program annotator.

Education includes:
PhD in Musicology
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
     dissertationStyle and Intertextuality in the Isorhythmic Motet 1400 -1440 (advisor, Prof. Lawrence M. Earp)
     minor area:  Applied Music (trombone)
MM in Musicology
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984
BS in Music Education
- University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 1982

revised 6/11/16

Madison Symphony Orchestra low brass on on stage in Overture Hall, October 2014: Left to right: Joyce Messer, Benjamin Skroch, Maestro John DeMain, Mike Allsen, and Josh Biere

Bass Samuel Ramey and Madison Symphony Orchestra low brass, backstage at the Oscar Mayer Theatre.  This was during a May 2001 concert, where we brought in additional players for Boito's “Prologue in Heaven” from Mefistofele.  Left to right:  Katie Kretschman (MSO second trombone), Rick Seybold, Joyce Messer (MSO principal trombone), Brian Whitty, Samuel Ramey, Michael Allsen (MSO bass trombone), Bill Irving, Terry Sliester, Paul Haugan (MSO tuba, with cimbasso).