Venue: Overture Hall
Friday, November 17, 2023
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Sunday, November 19, 2023
$15 – $102
Only through the Overture Center Box Office, 201 State Street
November brings two great staples of the symphonic repertoire, Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony in our first performances in over twenty years, and another all-time favorite of mine, Schumann’s Piano Concerto. I am so looking forward to welcoming back the brilliant pianist Jonathan Biss who has a special affinity for this concerto. It is also with great excitement that we will perform William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony for the first time. This work, which was greeted with great acclaim when it premiered under the baton of Leopold Stokowski in 1934, was all but forgotten until recently, and has been heralded as a masterpiece. Using folk melodies and spirituals as its thematic source, the work is colorfully orchestrated and an absolute delight to listen to. I wanted to perform this work with the orchestra the minute I first heard it and so look forward to sharing it with you. – John DeMain, Music Director
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385 “Haffner”
Robert Schumann, Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
William Levi Dawson, Negro Folk Symphony
John DeMain, Music Director
Jonathan Biss, Piano
Watch video interviews with Jonathan Biss, John DeMain, and more!
Go behind the music of our November 17-19 concerts, Symphony Gems! We sat down with Guest Artist Jonathan Biss, Music Director John DeMain, and MSO Marketing Associate Sebastian Jimenez to discover more about this dynamic program and what you can look forward to hearing in Overture Hall. Plus, get a preview of the prelude discussions with Randal Swiggum, learn more about the MSO’s connection to Clara Schumann with Steve Kurr, and watch Jonathan Biss’ interview on NBC15 with Leigh Mills.
Take Note: Drinks Allowed in Overture Hall
As of this season, drinks are allowed inside Overture Hall during all Madison Symphony Orchestra concerts. Refreshments may be purchased at bars and concession stands located around the Overture Hall lobby before each concert and during intermission. Please enjoy food in the lobby and unwrap any candy or cough drops before the performance begins. Thank you!
Enjoy a 30-minute talk with Randal Swiggum starting one hour before each concert in Overture Hall. Free to ticketholders.
Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
Ronald J. and Janet E. Johnson
Sharon Stark, in memory of Peter Livingston
As this community’s energy company, MGE is pleased to sponsor the Madison Symphony Orchestra. We gratefully acknowledge the many individuals and organizations that continually contribute their time and talents to making Madison’s cultural arts district the best it can be. – Madison Gas & Electric Foundation, Inc.
Jonathan Biss is a world renowned pianist who channels his deep musical curiosity into performances and projects in the concert hall and beyond. In addition to performing with today’s leading orchestras, he continues to expand his reputation as a teacher, musical thinker, and one of the great Beethoven interpreters of our time. He is Co-Artistic Director alongside Mitsuko Uchida at the Marlboro Music Festival, where he has spent fifteen summers. He also recently led a massive open online course (MOOC) via Coursera, reaching an international audience of over 150,000. Biss writes extensively on his repertoire and has authored four audio- and e-books, including UNQUIET: My Life with Beethoven (2020), the first Audible Original by a classical musician and one of Audible’s top audiobooks of 2020.
Throughout his career, Biss has advocated for new music. This year he continues his ongoing Beethoven/5 commissioning project, in association with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, that pairs each Beethoven concerto with a new concerto composed in response. This season, he performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 paired with a piano concerto inspired by that work: Brett Dean’s Gneixendorfer Musik– Eine Winterreise in its U.S. premiere with the SPCO, as well as both concertos with the Melbourne Symphony. Biss has performed the Dean and fifth Beethoven concertos together in concerts with the Dresden Philharmonic, NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed the Dean concerto separately with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Among the earlier Beethoven/5 commissions are Caroline Shaw’s Watermark, inspired by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3; Timo Andres’s The Blind Banister (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music) inspired by the second piano concerto; Sally Beamish’s City Stanzas paired with Beethoven’s first piano concerto, and Salvatore Sciarrino’s Il Sogno di Stradella paired with the fourth. Prior to the Beethoven/5, project Biss commissioned Lunaire Variations by David Ludwig, Interlude II by Leon Kirchner, Wonderer by Lewis Spratlan, and Three Pieces for Piano and a concerto by Bernard Rands, which he premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also premiered a piano quintet by William Bolcom.
Biss’s endeavors represent his complete approach to music-making, and desire to imbue audiences with his own passion for music. Previous projects included an exploration of composers’ “Late Style” in various concert programs at Carnegie Hall, the Barbican Centre, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and San Francisco Performances. He also gave master classes at Carnegie Hall and published the Kindle Single Coda on the topic. His previous Kindle Singles also include Beethoven’s Shadow, and A Pianist Under the Influence, the latter of which coincided with his project Schumann: Under the Influence, a 30-concert exploration of the composer’s role in musical history, and recording of Schumann and Dvořák piano quintets with the Elias String Quartet.
Biss has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. His albums for EMI won the Diapason d’Or de l’Année and Edison awards. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program. He is also on the piano faculty of the New England Conservatory