James Huschka, STAFF WRITER

E. M. Levinson, STAFF WRITER


Shad Wenzlaff, STAFF WRITER

Kirstin Roble, STAFF WRITER

Stacy Regehr, STAFF WRITER


The Courage To Leap

The Courage To Leap

We all want to be creative, unique, and trendsetting people  I truly believe that all of us have a gift to share with the world.  Unfortunately, not all of us have the guts to take action and see where ideas lead.  The difference between the masses and Iva Ugrćič and Laura Medisky? They took the bold move to leap.  Legends are built upon an origin story.  Batman & Robin, Salt & Pepper, Serena & Venus Williams all have that moment when the spark ignited greatness.  The LunART Festival isn’t any different.  The idea was born from a conversation with six women in a Panera.  That’s how all epic origin stories should begin.

For two years, Iva had the idea of starting a arts festival for woman stirring in her thoughts.  During that fateful day in a Panera in Appleton, Wisconsin the fire was ignited. “That breakfast we had was empowering.  We all had slightly different versions of the same story,” Laura recounted.  Iva went on to add, “Women have problems getting their works recognized.  If you’re over forty, not married, and freelancer, you’re automatically labeled and you have to fight that uphill battle. The reaction and approval I received from my peers made me fully realize I need to do this festival.”  

Madison is a hot bed for the arts.  You would almost imagine that this type of festival would already exist.  It’s a fine line that you walk when you present something new.  As an organizer, you want to leave a lasting impression in hopes that you will be able to do it again, however, you want to be fiscally responsible and not get over your head to the point that you crash and burn.  Breathing life into a new festival can be like parachuting without a back-up chute.  You get one opportunity to nail it.  “As musicians, our projects are our identities, Laura explained.  “It’s a reflection on us and who we are as artists.”

“This festival will raise awareness of the position of women in the arts through engaging, accessible concerts and events,” Iva commented.  “The LunART Festival will offer diverse programs representing current and relevant women in the arts, and we are committed to expanding and strengthening community ties through public performances and exhibitions. As we establish the festival’s reach into our local community and beyond, we see tremendous potential for growth in future years, with opportunities to expand our vision to theater, dance, opera, and visual arts, creating an interdisciplinary festival dedicated to women in all the arts.”

Over the course of planning this huge undertaking, it’s been a nonstop wild ride.  Iva’s and Laura’s enthusiasm for their vision was infectious. As we sat there at a coffee shop on the east side of Madison, their excitement for the project gave me goosebumps.  “The idea took off so fast that I was running after the festival.  I didn’t have to push it,” Iva said with a spark in her eyes.  Laura can remember walking around the Seattle Museum of Art on the phone with Iva while Iva was in Philadelphia and asking for her social security number so they could finish applying for a grant that day. “There were times where would hang out more on a Google docs than we would in person,” Laura said. “I would go from practicing, to teaching, and then right back at grant writing when I got home.  We just found a way to fit our passion for the festival into our lives.”

Legendary duos know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work together in a way that are awe inspiring.  Honoring the vision while trying to successfully implement and launch a festival is a lofty endeavor even in the best of circumstances.  “We don’t agree 100% on everything, but we work amazingly together and have constructive conversations,” Iva said.  “We trust and respect each other beyond measure.  To have a partner that’s going to support you and an idea such as this festival is invaluable.”  

The LunART Festival takes place this week starting on Thursday, June 28th. It’s going to be one colossal week of amazing music.  I had the opportunity to get a taste of the music at the Classical Hive open mic night this past week and I was blown away.  Below is a blow by blow account of everything you can look forward to.  For additional information please visit

Thursday, June 28th

From Page to Stage: Emerging Composers Masterclass

JUNE 28th @ 9AM-12PM | First United Methodist Church  

“From Page to Stage” supports emerging women composers in gaining a clearer understanding of not only expressing their creativity, but also creating clear scores, cultivating relationships with performers, and the art of collaboration. The master class with festival composer-in-residence Jenni Brandon will explore works submitted by participants, while talks about collaboration and the role of the independent composer will offer participants a well-rounded approach to growing their own careers.


Beyond the Muse: Women's Musical History - Lecture

JUNE 28th @ 6PM | Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Andrea Fowler, musicologist Highlights the varied roles that women play in the music industry. Woman can be performers, composers, and scholars, but also pedagogues, consiglieri, critics, and administrators, not to mention conductors, librarians, and educators. The goal with this talk is to explore some examples of these roles and to demonstrate how women's cultural agency is a vital part of music in the 21st century."


Moon Dances - Gala Concert

JUNE 28th @ 7PM | Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Join the LunART Festival in celebrating women in the arts! Enjoy this opening event featuring music by Composer-in-Residence Jenni Brandon; 2018 Call for Scores Winners Katy Abbott & Veronika Krausas; Valerie Coleman and Cecilia McDowall; with special guests Katie Schaag, writer and Zhalarina Sanders, hip-hop artist.

Friday, June 29th

The Woman with the Unfathomable Eyes - Gala Concert

JUNE 29th @ 7PM | Promenade Hall - Overture Center

Join the LunART Festival in celebrating women in the arts! Enjoy this special event with music by Composer-in-Residence Jenni Brandon; 2018 Call for Scores Winners Xinyan Li; Doina Rotaru & Galina Ustvolskaya; with special guests Liz Sexe, dancer and Katrin Talbot, poet.

“That's What She Said”

JUNE 29th @ 9.30PM | Bos Meadery

That's What She Said is a story-share production in which local women share real stories about their fears, their joys, their lives. Created in 2014, it is produced by The Bricks Theatre (Madison, WI) and directed by Molly Vanderlin (Owner/Producer, The Bricks Theatre). It has received great reviews, and after fifteen shows, The Bricks Theatre has decided it might have a great idea!


Saturday, June 30th

Collaboration in the Arts - Panel Discussion

JUNE 30th @ 10AM-12PM | Bubbler Room - Madison Public Library

Led by Jenni Brandon, Katie Schaag, and Kelly Parks Snider This engaging panel discussion is for anyone interested in arts entrepreneurship, and for those who want to learn how artists work together. Participation from attendees is encouraged.


From Page to Stage: Emerging Composers Concert

JUNE 30th @ 2PM | Capitol Lakes Grand Hall

We are extremely excited to welcome our 2018 participants to LunART's educational program "From Page to Stage: Emerging Composers!" These 6 talented composers will participate in a master class and private composition lessons with composer-in-residence Jenni Brandon, as well as workshop their music with festival musicians. The program culminates with a concert showcasing their works!


Women's Voices - Gala Concert

JUNE 30th @ 7PM | First Unitarian Society

Join the LunART Festival in celebrating women in the arts! Enjoy this event featuring music by Composer-in-Residence Jenni Brandon, 2018 Call for Scores Winner Ingrid Stölzel, and Abbie Betinis, Hildegard von Bingen, Linda Kachelmeier, Elizabeth Alexander, Marilyn Bliss, Brianna Ware, Madeleine Dring, & Amy Beach. Featuring the LunART Festival Women's Choir conducted by Kathy Otterson. With special guests: visual artist Kelly Parks Snider and photographers Jennifer Bucheit & Katrin Talbot.

Starry Night performance

JUNE 30th @ 9.30PM | Robinia Courtyard

Come enjoy our fabulous guest artists, singer-songwriter Helen Avakian and Tiny Dinosaur, and join us in celebrating the end of our inaugural 2018 season!


Of Champagne, Mistaken Identities, and Understudies

Of Champagne, Mistaken Identities, and Understudies

University Opera tells a tale of love and loss in their new production of Puccini’s La Boheme

University Opera tells a tale of love and loss in their new production of Puccini’s La Boheme