25 Years
with John DeMain

2018-2019 Symphony Season Concerts

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AX IS BACK! photo

Season Premiere: Ax is Back!

September 28, 29, 30, 2018
John DeMain, Conductor
Emanuel Ax, Piano

Higdon, Fanfare Ritmico
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet Suite
Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2


  • A contemporary piece, written on the eve of the new Millennium, reflecting on the rhythm and speed of modern life.
  • Excerpts, created by John Demain, pulls together highlights from across the work to create one breathtaking orchestra piece.
  • A collaboration between John and one of the world’s greatest pianists, Emanuel Ax, to showcase a work known to blend beauty with fire, tenderness with drama.

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Epic Romance

October 19, 20, 21, 2018

Tania Miller, Conductor
Zuill Bailey, Cello

Michael Oesterle, Home
Elgar, Cello Concerto
Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5


  • An homage to the great geographical ebb and flow of humanity, also known as the immigrant experience. Presented by a dynamic guest conductor.
  • This piece did not achieve wide popularity until the 1960’s, when a recording by Jacqueline du Pré caught the public imagination and became a classical best-seller.

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Remembering Lenny

A celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein
November 9, 10, 11, 2018

John DeMain, Conductor
Christopher Taylor, Piano

Bernstein, Overture to Candide; Three Dance Episodes from On The Town; Symphony No. 2, Age of Anxiety
Beethoven, Symphony No. 7


  • Celebrate 100 years of Leonard Bernstein and John’s unique work with this great American musician.
  • The first half of the concert celebrates Lenny the composer in three works. On the Town is a dance-centric musical based on Jerome Robbins’ 1944 ballet Fancy Free, while Age of Anxiety dazzling and at times jazzy part for the piano and carries with it still a timely social statement.
  • The second half features Symphony No. 7, the last piece Lenny conducted. The Symphony’s dance elements, vitality and sense of celebration are conveyed principally through rhythm.

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A Madison Symphony Christmas

Friday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 1, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2:30 p.m.

John DeMain, Conductor
Cecelia Violetta Lopez, Soprano
Kyle Ketelsen, Baritone
Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director
Madison Youth Choirs, Michael Ross, Artistic Director
Mount Zion Gospel Choir, Tamera and Leotha Stanley, Directors

Sneak peek into the concert

  • The beloved kickoff to the holiday season, full of family friendly traditions and wonderful memory making opportunities.
  • Featuring an audience sing-along and festive favorites, the holiday concerts are the most popular of the year.

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Beyond the Score®: Mendelssohn–Symphony No. 4: Why Italy? photo

Beyond the Score®: Mendelssohn — Symphony No. 4: Why Italy?

January 20, 2019 (single performance)

John DeMain, Conductor
Sarah Day, Johnathan Smoots, Nate Burger, American Players Theatre Actors

Beyond the Score® is a multimedia presentation featuring actors, stunning visual projections, and musical examples.

Join Mendelssohn on his travels across the historic cities of Italy and discover how the country became the inspiration for this buoyant symphonic work. Incorporating the composer’s own letters and writings, this program presents the historical context behind this masterpiece.

This concert is separate from the 2018-2019 subscription. First-choice advance tickets are only available to MSO subscribers before single tickets go on sale to the general public on August 18, 2018.

Beyond the Score® is a production of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Gerard McBurney, Creative Director for Beyond the Score®.

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Pictures at an Exhibition

February 15, 16, 17, 2019

John DeMain, Conductor
James Ehnes, Violin

Harbison, The Most Often Used Chords
Brahms, Violin Concerto
Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)


  • Madison native John Harbison’s 80th birthday is the perfect excuse to showcase his satirical work.
  • James Ehnes, one of John’s favorite guest artists, brings the Brahms violin concerto.
  • Composed in memorial to Mussorgsky’s friend, Russian artist Viktor Hartmann. The suite consists of 10 movements — each a musical depiction of 10 paintings by Hartmann — interspersed with a recurring promenade theme that represents a visitor strolling through the exhibition.

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Orchestral Brilliance: THREE VIRTUOSI photo

Orchestral Brilliance: Three Virtuosi

March 8, 9, 10, 2019

John DeMain, Conductor
Naha Greenholtz, Violin
JJ Koh, Clarinet
Joshua Biere, Tuba

Schubert, Symphony No. 8, Unfinished
Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2
Debussy, Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra
Vaughan Williams, Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra
Gershwin, An American in Paris


  • Zoom in on the remarkable musicians of the Madison Symphony, both collectively and individually.
  • Hear solos from concertmaster Naha Greenholtz, principal clarinetist JJ Koh, and principal tuba player Joshua Biere.
  • The concert concludes with a crowd favorite, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, chosen by John as a vehicle to showcase the orchestra in all its brilliance.

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An Auspicious Debut: Marc-André Hamelin

April 12, 13, 14, 2019

John DeMain, Conductor
Marc-André Hamelin, Piano

Mozart, Symphony No. 38, Prague
Strauss, Burleske
Ravel, Piano Concerto in G
Debussy, La Mer


  • Two of the greatest German composers and two great French impressionists, featured side by side
  • Grammy Award-winning pianist Marc-André Hamelin’s Madison Symphony debut
  • Travel the world in one evening: from the Bohemian folk music of Prague, to a piano concerto influenced by the cabaret music of 1920s US, and finally culminating in a rich depiction of the ocean.

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A Symphony of a Thousand

Friday, May 3, 4, 5, 2019

John DeMain, Conductor
Alexandra LoBianco, Soprano
Emily Birsan, Soprano
Emily Pogorelc, Soprano
Milena Kitic, Mezzo-Soprano
Julie Miller, Mezzo-Soprano
Clay Hilley, Tenor
Michael Redding, Baritone
Morris Robinson, Bass
Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director

Mahler, Symphony No. 8

Sneak peek into the concert:

  • 8 singers, 3 choruses, 500+ artists on stage
  • A show-stopping epic conclusion to the silver anniversary season

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