A unique feature of the University of Wisconsin’s campus is that it seamlessly blurs into State Street and the rest of downtown Madison.
Historically, Madison’s local music scene boasts varieties of genres and hundreds of live music venues that host local bands and nationwide tours. Music is a significant pastime of both students and city residents, and we interviewed and researched different venues to see what live performances will look like this fall in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Overture Center is a stunning architectural landmark in the heart of Madison, located on State Street. The Overture Center is both an art gallery and performance arts center that also hosts private events.
Overture Hall, with its magnificent concert organ, is capable of housing more than 2,000 people. Due to the pandemic, the Overture Center will suspend live performances until at least November 2020.
This is because most groups that were supposed to be performing will no longer be touring this fall. The Overture Center is still considering holiday programming. In addition, art exhibits will still be available virtually.
The Hamel Music Center is a new performance venue built for the UW-Madison Mead-Witter School of Music. The HMC officially opened in 2019 as a “state of the arts performing and teaching facility” and hosted recitals, concerts and masterclasses.
Like the rest of campus, the HMC is following the Smart Restart directive announced by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
“Our faculty and staff have been working closely with our dean and chancellor as we continue to prepare for the fall,” Communications Coordinator for the School of Music Eric Murtaugh said. “The health and safety of the entire MWSoM community is our number one priority.”
The Bur Oak, previously known as the Winnebago, is an independently run event venue and coffee shop. They have been open since June with a “socially distant setup” for shows.
The venue reported that the system was “pretty seamless and safe and was quite effective in keeping people distant during the shows [the Bur Oak] did hold.” All tables are at least 6 feet apart, but typically further. High touch surfaces like the bar and doors are sanitized throughout the evening.
A mobile phone app called NOBLE allows customers to order food or beverages from their seat and pick up at the bar so there are no lines to deal with.
Currently there is a mask ordinance in place for Madison, so they also anticipate that there will still be masks needed on upon entering this fall. Some upcoming performances at this venue to look out for include:
9.10 — Peter Mulvey
10.5 — Jackie Venson
10.13 — Jon McLaughlin
10.15 — Dana Perry
10.17 — Mo Lowda & the Humble
The Sylvee, named after Sylvia “Sylvee” Frank, opened in 2018 as a “new venue for emerging artists, established cultural icons and community events … [rising] in the heart of a Madison renaissance.”
The box office has been reopened since June 19, and though many shows have been either canceled or postponed until next year, there are still some events to look forward to this coming fall semester:
10.31 — Dillon Francis x Yung Gravy
12.12 — Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Keller Williams
The Wisconsin Unions on campus have a dedicated committee that provides free music and movies to students, faculty, staff and Wisconsin Union members.
The Memorial Union Terrace, with its multicolored chairs, are recently reopened for reservation only, and currently both the Memorial Union and Union South remained closed.
But, the WUD calendar shows that there are still musical events scheduled for the fall. Some of the upcoming concerts include:
10.03 — Roomful of Teeth
10.24 — Reneé Fleming
11.07 — Camille Thomas
The Majestic Theatre in Madison opened in 1906 and is the oldest theatre and live music venue in the city. Though many shows are postponed or canceled due to the pandemic, there will be performances starting from late August, such as:
09.09 — Joywave – The Possession Tour
10.01 — Adelitas Way – The Habit Tour
10.18 — Waxahatchee
It is paramount to consider the health of both yourself and others when attending these events. Remember to follow safety guidelines outlined at the federal, state and county levels such as wearing a face covering when in public and staying at least six feet away from others.
Music plays a role of uniting people and bringing vivacity to life, especially during times of struggle. This makes it especially important to be considerate of others when out and about.