September 29, 2020

Madison Symphony Orchestra Inc. Commits $184,000 to Launch Musicians’ Relief Fund


Madison, Wis. The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) announced that a Musicians’ Relief Fund has been established with the goal of securing $355,000 to cover 100% of the orchestra payrolls for the canceled September through December 2020 subscription concerts. This initiative is in addition to the compensation already provided to its musicians for canceled services from April 2020 to date.

To launch the fund, the MSO Board of Directors has committed current Symphony resources to guarantee 52% of the $355,000 total and has informed the orchestra that the September and October orchestra payrolls will be paid in full. MSO is seeking community support to help raise another $171,000 to assure the orchestra’s compensation for the canceled November and December 2020 subscription concerts. All contributions to this effort will directly support the musicians. An Anonymous Donor has launched the appeal with a $50,000 lead gift. The campaign seeks to raise the additional funds by November 5, 2020.

All contributions to the MSO Musicians’ Relief Fund are tax-deductible and will be used for musician compensation. Donations can be mailed to the Madison Symphony Orchestra, 222 W. Washington Ave., Suite 460, Madison WI, 53703. An online donation form is found at madisonsymphony.org/relief-gift. To contribute gifts of appreciated stock or to discuss other options, contact Jeff Breisach, Manager of Individual Giving, at .

“The ninety-one members of the Symphony are a core cultural asset of the greater Madison community,” MSO Board President Ellsworth Brown stated. “We are committed to doing all we can to assist them through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“While some MSO musicians have other day jobs, many rely heavily on the wages they earn performing with this Symphony, as well as other orchestras and ensembles in the region,” said MSO Executive Director Rick Mackie. “The cancellations of services have caused stress and anxiety for our artists.”

The MSO has demonstrated support of our musicians since April of this year, compensating the orchestra for all canceled rehearsals and performances. Generous donors, strong financial management and a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Loan enabled the Symphony to pay 100% of the orchestra payrolls for the April and May subscription concerts, the spring youth education programs, HeartStrings®, Madison Opera and Overture Presents engagements, and Concert on the Green. These unexpected paychecks provided relief to the Orchestra, and our musicians were forthcoming with their individual appreciation.

Musicians of the Madison Symphony express their gratitude for compensation relief.

“I am very grateful that our organization values the health of its musicians and patrons yet also understands the financial difficulty imposed on musicians by being unable to work due to the pandemic. The MSO is a gem of an organization, and if you haven’t heard it enough lately, please let me reiterate my gratitude.”

“WOW! I am humbled to be a part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Thank you so much for valuing the musicians and honoring us with payment for cancelled rehearsals and performances. The news made me cry.”

“… this is INCREDIBLY good news, you could have knocked me over with a feather.”

“This actually made me cry, last night when we got the good news, and just now re-reading it, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! THANK YOU, to you and all the MSO management and board who continue to support MSO musicians during these strange and challenging times!”

“I am so grateful for the tireless work that you and everyone else have done at the MSO on behalf of everyone. Words can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for this.”

“As someone who makes a living totally from teaching and playing, this has been an incredibly difficult time. I lost half of my students, because they do not want to study online, and of course, all gigs were cancelled. I am truly grateful to you for making this possible. You have no idea how much this will help not only financially, but mentally as well. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!”

“This is such unexpected, and welcome, news! Please express my thanks and appreciation to the entire MSO organization for their care, professionalism, and effectiveness during these difficult times (and, of course, during “normal” times as well). It means more than you can imagine to all of us that we belong to an organization that values every member from top to bottom.”

“The generosity of the Symphony has left me at a loss for words and moved me to tears. I truly can’t properly convey my gratitude for all that the MSO administration and staff have done to make this frightening and difficult time a little easier for the musicians. The actual income is *greatly* appreciated and will be incredibly helpful to many; but, the demonstration that the MSO is an organization that takes care of each other is worth even more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your efforts on our behalf.”


The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 95th season in 2020–2021. The MSO has grown to be one of America’s leading regional orchestras, providing Madison and south-central Wisconsin with cultural and educational opportunities to interact with great masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world. Learn more at madisonsymphony.org

View/download John DeMain and Madison Symphony Orchestra photos.
Madison Symphony Orchestra musicians photos: http://bit.ly/mso19-20musicianphotos

Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing
Phone: (608) 260-8680 x226
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