Our January 21-23 concerts, Premiere Debut, feature the Madison premiere of Wynton Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D. Learn more about this incredible composer and what makes Violin Concerto in D such a compelling piece!

We are excited to include the work of Wynton Marsalis for the first time in MSO history at our January concerts, Premiere Debut.

Wynton Marsalis is an internationally-acclaimed musician, composer and bandleader, an educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He was born in New Orleans in 1961 and became interested in music at a young age. His extraordinary talent was evident almost immediately and by the age of fourteen, he was performing with the New Orleans Philharmonic. He performed with several bands while in high school and at age seventeen, he became the youngest musician ever to be admitted to Tanglewood’s Berkshire Music Center.

In 1979 he moved to New York City to attend Julliard. Shortly after, Marsalis burst into the nationwide Jazz scene as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, though just a year later, he also won a Grammy Award for his recording of trumpet concertos by Haydn, Hummel, and Leopold Mozart.

Marsalis has had a long career touring with his own band, performing with leading orchestras, serving as the director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, hosting Marsalis On Music on PBS, and composing pieces in a wide variety of musical styles. He has won nine Grammys, for both jazz and classical awards, received honorary degrees from over 30 academic institutions, was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement, received The National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government, and became the first jazz musician ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

In the past 25 years, Marsalis has emerged as a leading American composer. Wynton Marsalis has composed across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to Bebop to modern jazz. He also composed a violin concert and four symphonies that introduce new rhythms to the classical music canon.

Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D, which Kelly Hall-Tompkins will be performing at our January concerts, debuted in 2015. The piece was composed for the Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who asked Marsalis to ‘invite a diverse world of people into the experience of this piece.” After its premiere in 2015 with the London Symphony Orchestra, Bendetti performed the work widely on tour and recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2019.

The concerto is in four movements, “Rhapsody,” “Rhondo,” “Blues,” and “Hootenanny.” Marsalis has explained the concerto as a whole as a representation of a dream, with each of its four movements “revealing a different aspect of [the] dream, which becomes reality through the public storytelling that is virtuosic performance.” Its fundamental character is Americana with sweeping melodies, jazzy orchestral dissonances, blues-tinged themes, fancy fiddling and a rhythmic swagger.

Read Michael Allsen’s program notes to discover even more about this and other pieces on our January program, and buy tickets for Premiere Debut to experience the captivating music of Wynton Marslis performed by Kelly Hall-Tompkins.

Listen to the four movements of Violin Concerto in D below.

Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D Major – 1. Rhapsody performed by Nicola Benedetti and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D Major – 2. Rondo Burlesque performed by Nicola Benedetti and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D Major – 3. Blues performed by Nicola Benedetti and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D Major – 4. Hootenanny performed by Nicola Benedetti and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Learn more about Premiere Debut, and buy tickets to hear Marsalis’s Violin Concerto in D live on January 21, 22, and 23.