The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This weekend, the Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates the legacy and works of Leonard Bernstein

November 5, 2018
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By Jacob Stockinger

This coming weekend, Leonard Bernstein (below, in a photo by Jack Mitchell) will be remembered, honored and celebrated by his friend and Madison Symphony Orchestra music director John DeMain in a “Remembering Lenny” concert that explores Bernstein’s musical contributions as an American composer and conductor.

Original works by Bernstein will be performed by the MSO on the first half of the concert. The MSO starts with the Overture to Candide, then moves on to On The Town, and, finally, performs his Symphony No. 2 “The Age of Anxiety,” featuring Van Cliburn Competition bronze medal winner and UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor.

The second half of the program features Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, the last work that Bernstein (1918-1990) ever conducted during a concert at the summer Tanglewood Festival of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Performances will be held in Overture Hall, 201 State Street, on this Friday night, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m.; this Saturday night, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m.; and this Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, at 2:30 p.m. Ticket information is below.

Says DeMain (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson): “To have my 25th anniversary with the MSO coincide with the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth is special for me personally because of the unique opportunities I had to work with this great American musician.” 

DeMain, who premiered Bernstein’s opera “A Quiet Place” in Houston, adds: “The first half of the concert celebrates Lenny the composer, culminating in the first performance by the MSO of his second symphony, The Age of Anxiety, which has a dazzling and at times jazzy part for the piano, and carries with it, still, a timely social statement. Christopher Taylor (below), a Madison favorite with whom I have often enjoyed collaborating, will perform the challenging and exciting piano part.”

DeMain describes the final work in the program: “The second half of the concert pays tribute to Lenny the conductor, and his life-long love of Beethoven. Since the Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92, was the last piece Lenny conducted, I thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate Lenny and his great contribution to American musical life.” (NOTE: You can hear Bernstein conduct the famous second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 during his last public performance, just two months before he died, in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is some more background:

Bernstein’s operetta Candide is based on the 1759 novella by French philosopher Voltaire. The well-known Overture is quick-paced, with a feverish excitement that begins from the first breath of sound. Many of the meters are in seven beats, or of other non-traditional types, and quickly change. Each player of the ensemble is required to perform with simultaneously the utmost virtuosity and togetherness.

On the Town is a dance-centric musical scored by Leonard Bernstein based on Jerome Robbins’ idea for the 1944 ballet “Fancy Free.” The story depicts three American sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City during wartime, where each man meets and quickly connects with the woman of their dreams. The musical is the source of the ubiquitously popular show tune New York, New York.

The Age of Anxiety was composed between 1948 and 1949, and is inspired by a poem of the same name by W.H. Auden (below). The 80-page poem follows four lonely strangers who meet in a wartime New York bar and spend the evening ruminating on their lives and the human condition. Subtitled “a baroque eclogue” (a pastoral poem in dialogue form), the characters speak mostly in long soliloquies of alliterative tetrameter, with little distinction among the individual voices.

Composed from 1811–1812, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 premiered with Beethoven (below) himself conducting in Vienna on December 8, 1813 at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau.

The symphony’s dance elements, vitality and sense of celebration are conveyed principally through rhythm. It is not the melodies that are so striking and memorable as the general sense of forward movement.

The Overture lobby opens 90 minutes prior to each concert. One hour before each performance, Randal Swiggum (below) will lead a 30-minute Prelude Discussion in Overture Hall to enhance concertgoers’ understanding and listening experience. It is free to ticket holders.

The MSO recommends that concert attendees arrive EARLY for each performance to make sure they have time to pass through Overture Center’s security stations, and so they can experience the Prelude Discussion.

Program notes for the concerts are available online. Go to:

Tickets can be purchased in the following ways:

  • Single Tickets are $18-$93 each and are on sale now at:\through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street, or by calling the Box Office at (608) 258-4141. Fees apply to online/phone sales.
  • Groups of 10 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information, visit,
  • Student rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two $15 or $20 tickets. More information is at:
  • Seniors age 62 and up receive 20% savings on advance and day-of-concert ticket purchases in select areas of the hall.
  • Subscribers to 5 or more symphony subscription concerts can save up to 50% off single ticket prices. More information is available about the season at:
  • Flex-Ticket booklets of 10 vouchers for 2018-19 symphony subscription concerts are available. Learn more at:

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.

Find more information at

The Presenting Sponsor for the November concerts is Steinhauer Charitable Trust. Underwriting for Christopher Taylor is provided by Sharon Stark, “to Peter Livingston with love.” Major funding is provided by: Stephen D. Morton, The Gialamas Company, Inc., Myrna Larson, Madison Symphony Orchestra League, and Nancy Mohs. Additional funding is provided by Robert Benjamin and John Fields, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., and Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Classical music education: The annual FREE Concert in the Park by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) marks its 15th anniversary this coming Wednesday night.

August 4, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following announcement to pass along:

“The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) is proud to be a part of Concert in the Park, hosted by The Gialamas Co., for another season.

“This year’s event will take place this coming Wednesday, Aug. 10, from 5 to 10 p.m. at Old Sauk Trails Park, 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive on the far west side of Madison.

WYSO Concert the Park Tent 4

“For eight consecutive years, WYSO has been invited by The Gialamas Company to be a part of this spectacular event. This special FREE concert is a highlight of the summer for concertgoers young and old.

“This particular year features the Youth Orchestra (below) and will celebrate several special anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of WYSO, the 40th anniversary of The Gialamas Company, and the 15th anniversary of Concert in the Park.

WYSO Concert in the Park, playing under Jim Smith 3

“WYSO’s Youth Orchestra will begin their performance at 7 p.m. The Youth Orchestra, under the direction of WYSO Music Director James Smith, will perform: the fourth movement of Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17, by Peter Tchaikovsky; Highlights from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt, featuring conductor Michelle Kaebisch; the first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, by Tchaikovsky featuring Aurora Greane (below top) on violin; “Our Town” by Aaron Copland; the fifth movement of Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70, by Dmitri Shostakovich; and an annual rendition of Over the Rainbow by Harold Arlen.

You can hear the Youth Orchestra under Maestro Smith perform Georges Bizet‘s suite from his opera “Carmen” in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Aurora Greane

WYSO Concert in Park 2016 cellos 2

“The evening will also see performances of “A Radiant Spirit,” which was composed in honor of WYSO’s 50th anniversary by Andrew Kinney, and of a stunning arrangement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, from his Symphony No. 9 “Choral,” arranged by Donald Fraser.

WYSO Concert in Park 2016 from backstage

“The evening will be capped off with a fireworks display.

“Before the event there will be an instrument petting zoo, face painting and an ice cream social. Tables, food and drinks are available for purchase.

WYSO Concert in the Park kids eating ice cream 2

“For more information, visit

“Be sure to stay after the event for a spectacular fireworks show. Set up lawn chairs, layout blankets and put out your picnic baskets as you enjoy all of the music and activities this FREE event has to offer.


“For additional information, please contact WYSO at (608) 263-3320 or e-mail”

Classical music: The seventh annual FREE Concert in the Park by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) is this coming Wednesday night in Old Sauk Trails Park.

August 7, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) write:

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras is proud to be a part of Concert in the Park, hosted by The Gialamas Co. for yet another season.

WYSO Concert  the Park Tent 4

For seven consecutive years, WYSO has been invited by The Gialamas Company to be a part of this spectacular event. This special FREE concert has recently become a highlight of the summer.

The Youth Orchestra, consisting of members ages 14–18, will perform this coming Wednesday night, Aug. 12 (NOT Aug. 9 as was first stated in error), in Madison’s far west side in Old Sauk Trails Park, 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive, from 5 to 10 p.m. The music starts at 7 and runs to about 9 p.m.

WYSO Concert in the Park

The Youth Orchestra, under the direction of WYSO Music Director James Smith, will perform six works: “Festive Overture” by Dmitri Shostakovich; Movements 1 and 4 from Symphony No. 1 by Sergei Rachmaninoff; excerpts from “Die Meistersinger” by Richard Wagner; the first movement from Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” by Franz Schubert; Suite from “The Incredible Flutist” by Walter Piston (at bottom in a YouTube video); and “Over the Rainbow.”

WYSO Concert in the Park, playing under Jim Smith 3

The evening is capped off with a marvelous fireworks display.


Before the event there will be an instrument petting zoo, face painting and Ice Cream Social. Tables, food and drinks are available for purchase. For more information, visit

Make sure to stay after the event for a spectacular fireworks show. Set up lawn chairs, lay out blankets and put out your picnic baskets as you enjoy all of the music and activities this FREE event has to offer.

WYSO Concert in the Park Photo aeriel view

For additional information, please contact WYSO at (608) 263-3320 or e-mail at


Classical music: The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Orchestra will perform a FREE concert of classics this Wednesday night at 7 at the Gialamas Company’s 12th annual summer Concert in the Park at the Old Sauk Trails Business Park. Here are details and the background.

August 12, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Think of it as the Seventh Concert on the Square – except that the 12th annual Concert in the Park (below, in an aerial view) is from from downtown, located instead on Madison’s far west side in the Old Sauk Trails Business Park, 1200 John Q. Hammons Drive.

WYSO Concert in the Park Photo aeriel view

After all, it is OUTDOORS. And it is FREE. And it is on a Wednesday night – in fact this Wednesday night, Aug. 14, from 5-9 p.m., with the music starting at 7 p.m. sharp.

It is all very familiar friendly and features food and treats, including an ice cream social and a fireworks show.

But the annual Concert in the Park also has a few differences.

Here are some details about the event that is becoming increasingly popular as it becomes increasingly established as a showcase for young talent and a good time for the public.

For one, it is performed by the Youth Orchestra of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) rather than the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Any funds raised will benefit the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), which has taught more than 5,000 young musicians from over 100 communities in Southcentral Wisconsin since it was a founded in 1966.

For more information about WYSO, here is a link to WYSO:

Also, the guiding financial support comes from the Gialamas Company, a real estate development firm headed by husband George and wife Candy Gialamas (below) as well as from other sponsors.

George and Candy Gialamas

For the fifth year in a row, the performers are extremely talented young students, WYSO’s premiere performing group (below) and who will perform under the baton of conductor James Smith, director of orchestras at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. And the repertoire is all classical music, drawn from the concert WYSO performances during its regular past season.

WYSO Concert in the Park, playing under Jim Smith 3


Here is the generous, varied and very accessible program, with the timing in minutes included in parentheses:

Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss Jr.  (9); Suite from the opera “Carmen” by Georges Bizet featuring “Les Toréadors,” “Prelude et Aragonaise,” “Intermezzo,” “Les dragons d’Alcala,” the famous “Habanera” and the “Bohemian Dance” (15); First movement from the Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra by Franz Joseph Haydn with oboist Lauren McNeel (10); the Allegro resolute, alla Marcia from Symphony No. 2, “Antar” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (5); INTERMISSION The second movement from Symphony No. 2, “Romantic” by Howard Hanson (14); Allegro Appassionato from the Concerto No. 2 in D Minor for Piano by Felix Mendelssohn with pianist Vivian Wilhelms (10); Music for Symphony Orchestra by Yasushi Akutgawa (12).

By way of introduction, conductor James Smith (below) writes:

“The concert is a wonderful exposure for the WYSO program, and the concert is presented with the utmost professionalism because of the financial support from the Gialamas Company.

“We perform for an audience that finds the orchestra far exceeds their expectations, and it gives the members of the orchestra another chance to feel appreciated for their musical talent.

“Naturally, our traditional audience is primarily family and friends of the musicians.  The Concert in the Park gives the orchestra a feeling of accomplishment and artistic validation.”



You can arrive around 5 p.m. to enjoy pre-concert activities, to socialize and to picnic. You can set up lawn chairs and blankets at that time.

Schoep’s Ice Cream and The Gialamas Company, Inc. will once again be partnering with the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund for the 5th Annual “Ultimate Ice Cream Social. All-you-can-eat ice cream is sold for $5 for adults, $3 for children, and $3 for a super scoop. Free face painting and coloring sheets are available for the kids. All the proceeds of this event go to keep the Heat and Power on for those most in need.

WYSO Concert in the Park kids eating ice cream 2


Appetizers, a picnic dinner and beverages are available from the concert caterers, Benvenuto’s Italian Grill or Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub. Food and drinks must be pre-ordered and placed with the restaurant of your choice prior to tomorrow, TUESDAY, August 13. Food is delivered to sponsor tables between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

If you do not have a reserved sponsor table but still wish to order food, you may pick up your order at the event. Menus and ordering information can be found online at

Sponsorships:  Are still available.  Contact for more information!

WYSO Concert  the Park Tent 4


Here is the history of the WYSO Concert in the Park as told by Candy Gialamas to Gialamas Company employee Erica Wiley:

How was the event started?  Whose idea was it?  How did the first year go?

It all began over 12 years ago. George and I went golfing with friends. The Clubhouse was closed by the time we were done, so one of our friends suggested a local restaurant that had an outdoor patio.

A group of musicians from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra was playing and after they were finished, Andrew Sewell, the conductor, came over and chatted with our table.  After Mr. Sewell’s departure from the conversation, one of our friends suggested that we should put on a classical Concert in Old Sauk Trails Park.

Shortly thereafter, George asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary … and I said an outdoor concert!

The first year, we only had one month to plan and orchestrate the entire event.  Our Construction Manager, Andy and I took care of everything and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performed.  We invited friends, family and our tenant and the first year, 800 people showed up.

The last few years, we’ve had audiences of 5,000.  The event continues to grow and flourish each year!

Do you or your children have a musical background or play an instrument?

Our entire family is very involved with numerous art and music organizations. George sang his way through college while attending Marquette University. Aris enjoys singing as well; Lana and Gina both took piano lessons as children.  All of the Gialamas children have followed in our footsteps and are involved with various art and music boards and fundraising.

What about symphonic music inspires you?  Why do you think everyone should experience a Symphony Concert?

The whole reason I wanted to start Concert in the Park was that music is a universal language and inspires feelings that everyone from any background and culture can relate to.

Symphony music can bring joy, sadness, excite or sooth and can inspire a range of emotions depending on the piece.  Since the beginning of time people have used musical expression to tell stories, document events, etc. Music is an integral part of history.

What do you think of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra performance as compared to a typical Symphony performance? (Editor’s note: You can hear WYSO perform the dramatic last movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s famous Fifth Symphony in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The last five years, we have asked the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra to perform at the event and could not be more pleased with their performance each and every year.

The talent that the youth musicians possess is absolutely amazing and inspiring.  They give such an exceptional performance and you can feel their excitement at playing an outdoor venue in front of such a large crowd.  The audience can truly see how much they enjoy performing.  They are a wonderful group of musicians and we are proud to support them.

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