The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: The Madison Symphony Orchestra announces its 2010-11 season

March 19, 2010
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The Madison Symphony Orchestra has announced its 85th Season.

Maestro John DeMain, who will be marking his 17th season in Madison, will conduct all eight concerts. He often guests conducts around the nation and world.

For its size and city, the MSO has gained a unique reputation among comparable orchestras  for its performance of triple subscription programs and its high subscriber renewal rate.

Season brochures arrived in the mail last week and online subscription ordering began last Saturday

For more information, or to be added to our mailing list, visit

Performances will be Overture Hall on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.


Here, taken and modified from a MSO press release,  is the season line-up:

October 15-17, 2010: Pianist Olga Kern (below), a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medalist, will headline. The first woman to win the legendary competition in more than 30 years, Kern captivated MSO audiences in her Madison debut last season.

Kern will perform Rachmaninoff’s most popular work, the Piano Concerto No. 2, a melodic tour de force that marks Rachmaninoff’s triumphant return to composing. These concerts open with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and will close with Bartók’s orchestral masterpiece, Concerto for Orchestra, a work that will highlight the virtuosity of every section of the MSO.

November 12-14, 2010: The MSO welcomes celebrated composer John Harbison of MIT and Token Creek fame for prelude discussions and a suite from the opera he wrote for the Metropolitan Opera, The Great Gatsby. Richard Strauss’ orchestral romp, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, follows.

After intermission, cellist Alisa Weilerstein (below) will make her MSO debut. New York Magazine said, “At 26, Weilerstein is arguably Yo-Yo Ma’s heiress apparent as sovereign of the American cello.” Her musical personality is positively magnetic, and she’ll illuminate Dvořák’s beloved Cello Concerto.

Dec. 3-5: Christmas Spectacular, Madison’s most anticipated holiday tradition, follows on  with Metropolitan Opera star, soprano Angela Brown (seen below as Aida at the Met). “It is says that big voices win out at the Met. Ms. Brown has one, but her real secret is a purity and presence that can send even the quietest passages floating out to the back of the house,” said The New York Times of the MSO’s Christmas angel.

The Madison Symphony Chorus under the direction of Beverly Taylor, the Madison Youth Choirs under the artistic direction of Michael Ross and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir under the direction of local celebrity Leotha Stanley round out the season’s offerings. Traditional Christmas caroling in Overture Lobby will again preface these concerts.

January 14-16, 2011: The Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud (below), who wowed MSO audiences last season with his stunning interpretation of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, returns. This time he will perform Tchaikovsky’s popular Violin Concerto.

The concerts begin with Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of America’s great Romantic composer, Samuel Barber. After intermission, the concerts pay tribute the Robert Schumann’s 200th anniversary with his uplifting Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish).

February 18-20, 2011: The MSO welcomes the young pianist Simone Dinnerstein (below), who caused a sensation when she independently recorded and released her own debut album—Bach’s Goldberg Variations—to instant world-wide critical acclaim in 2007. Her album earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart during its first week of sales, appeared on The New York Times’, The Los Angeles Times’ and The New Yorker’s “Best of 2007” lists and later received France’s prestigious Diapason d’Or Award. Since then, Dinnerstein’s concert debut with the New York Philharmonic and recital debuts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers have followed in quick succession.

She’ll be playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, the most poetic of all of his piano works. These concerts open with Elgar’s jaunty Pomp & Circumstance March, Op. 39, No. 1 (and no, this is not the one you heard at high school graduation). Prokofiev’s epic Symphony No. 5 will close these concerts with a joyous and dizzying swirl of music.

March 25027: MSO favorite, violinist Robert McDuffie (below, in a photo by Christian Steiner), returns to play Barber’s lush and melodic Violin Concerto. Dvořák’s Carnival Overture opens these concerts and the MSO will close with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (Eroica). A Beethoven symphony is always cause for celebration, but his Eroica is one of the truly revolutionary works of his repertoire. Its epic beauty captured the Romantic imagination and redefined the symphony ideal.

April 15-17, 2011: UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor (below) has carved out a unique place for himself in the world of classical music. “…He has emerged as the leading pianist of his generation,” said the Boston Globe. The New York Times goes even further, saying, “Those who know the pianist Christopher Taylor tend to speak of him in the hushed, reverent tones typically reserved for natural wonders, if not the otherworldly. Colleagues trip over words like ‘innocence,’ ‘fervor,’ ‘beauty,’ and ‘vision’ in an attempt to capture his elusive personality.” He joins the MSO April 15-17, 2011 for Schumann’s effervescent Piano Concerto in A minor.

Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, featuring the Madison Symphony Chorus, opens these evocative concerts. After intermission, in place of the traditional symphony, John DeMain has chosen the hushed melodies of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Francesca da Rimini, a work that tells the story of star-crossed lovers forever trapped in the storm of Dante’s Inferno.

May 6-8, 2011: The season’s finale brings together two of the greatest composers of all time. MSO Principal Flute Stephanie Jutt (below top) and Principal Harp Karen-Beth Atz (below bottom) will solo for Mozart’s beguiling and delicate Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra.

After intermission, Mahler’s explosive Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) brings together UW soprano Julia Faulkner (below), mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck and the Madison Symphony Chorus. Mahler said of this piece: “One is battered to the ground and raised on angel’s wings to the highest heights.” The work will provide a dramatic conclusion to another MSO season.


The MSO is continuing its popular new subscriber discount of 50% off single ticket prices for subscriptions of six, seven and eight concerts, and has added another new subscription option, allowing new subscribers to choose five concerts at a 40% discount. New subscriber packages start at just $53.

Renewing subscribers save up to 25% off the price of single tickets and will be entered for a chance to win a free subscription for up to two people if they renew by April 12.

Renew by April 30 to keep your current seats or request a priority upgrade.

There is no deadline for new subscriptions, however, you are encouraged to order early for the best available seats. In addition to subscriber discounts, unlimited ticket exchange and optional reserved subscriber parking in the Dane County Ramp, the MSO also offers an exclusive 10% discount on single tickets during Subscriber Courtesy Days, August 25-27, 2010.

What do you think of the new Madison Symphony Orchestra season?

What are your most favorite programs and soloists?

Your least favorite?

What would you like to see or not to see?

Which of the three performances for each program do you think is best to go to, and why?

The MSO wants to know.

And The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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