​con vivo!…music with life, Madison’s professional chamber music ensemble, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary season with a special concert featuring Madison Symphony Orchestra Music Director John DeMain conducting 16 musicians in works by Wagner and Dvořák. The concert, entitled “Celebration!”, is on Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Maestro DeMain will conduct the chamber music gem Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner in its original version, followed by Antonin Dvořák’s masterpiece the Serenade for Winds, Op. 44. Audience members are invited to join Maestro DeMain and con vivo! musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss this chamber music literature.

con vivo! recently spoke with John DeMain about his upcoming appearance with the chamber music ensemble:

cv!: Maestro DeMain, you have spent most of your career conducting large symphony orchestras and operas. How does conducting a small chamber ensemble differ from the larger groups?
DeMain: “I have conducted smaller groups, chamber orchestras in St. Paul and Texas, that are the size of Haydn’s orchestras of 23 musicians. With even smaller ensembles like con vivo!, the conducting must be clean, neat and more precise, rather than using a lot of big gestures. It’s more about helping to coordinate the music and letting the musicians just play.”
cv!: Your appearance with con vivo! for their 20th Anniversary concert in June will be your fourth time conducting these musicians. What appeals to you about these collaborations?
DeMain: “I love working this close to one on one with musicians and don’t get to do this very often. I enjoyed playing chamber music with musicians in St. Paul because you are one among equals. It’s a collaboration rather than the ‘big maestro!’”
cv!: Tell us about what draws you to the repertoire on this concert. (Dvořák’s Serenade for Winds and Siegfried Idyll in its original version by Richard Wagner)
DeMain: “I love, Dvořák, one of great composers! I’m always blown away by the depth and variety in his music. Siegfried Idyll is one of the most beautiful pieces, and this is a rare opportunity to perform it in its original form for chamber ensemble. It’s terrific to have the chance to perform these pieces with con vivo! I congratulate them on 20 years of intimate chamber music making and wish them the best for many more years. I’m honored to be part of this celebration!”