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Dr. J. Michael Allsen

J. Michael Allsen
is an Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  Previous professional appointments include teaching positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an administrative job with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.  While he was a faculty member at Whitewater from 1996-2018, Allsen taught Music History courses, World Music, classes in African American and Latin American music, and World of the Arts, an interdisciplinary arts course.  He has also directed the UWW Trombone Choir, and serves on the faculty of Whitewater's annual Trombone Day.  At various points in his tenure, Allsen earned College of Arts and Communication and university-wide Excellence Awards in Teaching, Research, Academic Advising, and Service.  In 2015 Allsen's advising work was honored with a Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).  He also served in various administrative capacities: as Chair of Whitewater's Music Department from 2006-2012, and subsequently as the department's Advising Coordinator, as Coordinator of the interdepartmental World of the Arts faculty, and as the College of Arts and Communication's Graduation Examiner.

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, choruses, wind bands, and chamner ensembles 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short historical articles celebrating the orchestra's 75th anniversary: extended versions of these articles and other historical documents appear on this site.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's research interests are primarily in the field of late medieval music.  Beginning with his dissertation research, he has worked intensively with the  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, particularly in the history of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.  Allsen has also been on the faculty of the the Madison Early Music Festival since 2002, performing on sackbut, and serving as guest historian and program annotator.

Allsen is a professional trombonist, and performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for 35 years (1983-2018), playing bass trombone from 1990 onward. 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 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. (Allsen, his wife, and his son still perform with the group.)  In July 2006, he served as Trombone Choir Director at the Moravian Music Festival in Columbus, OH. 

Allsen resides in Madison, WI.
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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 5/19/18

Madison Symphony Orchestra low brass on on stage in Overture Hall, October 2014: Left to right: Joyce Messer, Benjamin Skroch, Maestro John DeMain, Michael 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).