The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: The Madison Symphony Orchestra announces its new season for 2011-12

March 22, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

On Monday, the Madison Symphony Orchestra officially announced its 2011-12 season—its 86th season — complete with guest artists and programs that run from Haydn and the Classical era to two contemporary composers.

Music director and conductor John DeMain, now in his 16th season, also said that most of the works are either receiving their Madison premiere or have not been played by the MSO in a decade or more.

Prominent in the new season, which opens Sept. 16 and closes May 13, are the appearances of internally renowned violinist Midori (below, in a photo by Timothy Greenfield Sanders) in Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1; the young violinist Augustin Haidelich in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. All making their MSO debut, as will guest conductor Ward Stare of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Soprano Laquita Mitchell (below top) and baritone Eric Greene (below bottom), who have worked before with DeMain, will also perform in an all-Gershwin tribute.

For the first time in 25 years, the MSO will also feature a new concertmaster  who will be announced in May at the end of the current season. Three candidates — all women — have tried out during the current season.

Returning soloists and guest artists include pianists Andre Watts (below, in a photo by Steven J. Sherman) and Philippe Bianconi, cellist Lynn Harrell and conductor Carl St. Clair as well as several singers including soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine and local bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen.

Local artists to perform, both at the opening and at the traditional Christmas Spectacular, will include the Madison Symphony Chorus, the Madison Youth Choirs and the Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.

Especially noteworthy programs include a 10th anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composition “On the Transmigration of Souls” by John Adams (below) and a season-closing all-Gershwin program conducted by MSO music director and conductor John DeMain, who won Grammy, Tony and Grand Prix du Disque awards for his pioneering recording of “Porgy and Bess” with an African-American cast.

Besides the John Adams work, another contemporary work is featured: “Inspiring Beethoven” by Kevin Puts (below, in a photo by Andrew Shapter).

Hard economic times continue to take their toll: The MSO is still offering eight subscription concerts, reduced for the past couple years from nine. MSO officials said they hope to return to nine concerts in the 2012-13 season.

But despite a still recovering economy, each program will still be performed three times in Overture Hall: on Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

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 option, allowing new subscribers to choose just five concerts at a 40% discount.

New subscriber packages start at $56 for five concerts. There is no deadline for new subscriptions; however, you are encouraged to order early for the best available seats.

Renewing subscribers save up to 25% off the price of single tickets and must renew by May 9, 2011 to keep current seats or request a priority upgrade.

Flex-Ticket Packages make an attractive alternative to regular subscriptions; they come in booklets of 10 ticket vouchers, good in any combination to any concert in the 2011-2012 Season.

Details are available at at


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 10-12, 2011.

Call (608) 257-3734 with any questions or to be added to the MSO’s mailing list.

Or visit:

Here is the complete schedule of concerts for the 2011-12 season:

SEPTEMBER 16 17 18
John DeMain, Conductor
André Watts, Piano
Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director
Madison Youth Choirs, Michael Ross, Artistic director
Adams, On the Transmigration of Souls
Grieg, Piano Concerto in A minor
Beethoven, Symphony No. 5

OCTOBER 14 15 16
Ward Stare, Conductor
Lynn Harrell, Cello (below, in a photo by Christian Steiner)
Rossini, Overture to The Barber of Seville
Lalo, Cello Concerto in D minor
Sibelius, Symphony No. 2

NOVEMBER 11 12 13
John DeMain, Conductor
Midori, Violin
Haydn, Symphony No. 104 (London)
Ravel, La Valse
Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No. 1

Christmas Spectacular
John DeMain, Conductor
Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Soprano (below top, in a photo by Peter Konerko)
Kyle Ketelsen, Bass-Baritone (below bottom, in a photo by Dario Acosta)
Madison Symphony Chorus
Beverly Taylor, Director
Madison Youth Choirs (below)
Michael Ross, Artistic Director
Mt. Zion Gospel Choir
Leotha Stanley, Director

JANUARY 20 21 22
John DeMain, Conductor
Augustin Hadelich, Violin (below)
Debussy, Images No. 2: Ibéria
Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2
Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 2 (Little Russian)

MARCH 9 10 11
Carl St. Clair, Conductor
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (below)
Brahms, Symphony No. 3
Rodrigo, Concierto Andaluz
Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio Espagnol

John DeMain, Conductor
Philippe Bianconi, Piano (below)
Kevin Puts, Inspiring Beethoven
Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4
R. Strauss, Ein Heldenleben

MAY 11 12 13
John DeMain, Conductor
Martina Filjak, Piano (below top)
Laquita Mitchell, Soprano (below middle)
Eric Greene, Baritone (below bottom)
Madison Symphony Chorus
Beverly Taylor, Director
Gershwin, Cuban Overture
Gershwin, An American in Paris
Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin, Excerpts from Porgy and Bess

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

Of the guest conductors and soloists?

Of the programs?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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