PHOTO: Darren Hauck, from the March 2019 Madison Magazine Story by Greg Hettmansberger


Dear friends of the Madison Symphony,

I thought I might let you know what I’ve been up to since we have had to distance ourselves from each other. Many of you know I was scheduled to conduct the new opera, Blue, at the Kennedy Center. We were to have opened on March 15th, but the Kennedy Center closed its doors on March 12th for the complete period that we would have been performing. I decided to rent a car and drive home rather than fly. I stopped in Chicago to see my wonderful daughter Jennifer, and then came back to Madison.

To be on the safe side, since I have returned from Washington, I have basically self quarantined myself and so far am feeling great. I play the piano every day, work on a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, cook, and play with my dog Max. My home is filled with the creative spirit and beauty of my late wife Barbara who is constantly in my thoughts and in my heart.

I do hope that all of you are coping and feeling well during this very challenging time, and continue to draw on great music to help sustain your spirit. I’m so disappointed, though, not to be able to bring you the beautiful Dvořák Requiem next week. The chorus and soloists have been preparing their music for several months, and, in my studies, I had grown deeply fond of the intrinsic beauty of the work. Perhaps I’ll program it in one of our future seasons.

I know how much the musicians of the MSO miss being able to play for you, and I know you miss them as well. While it’s too early to know how soon we can return to a more normal life, I’m still thinking about our upcoming performances, and greatly anticipating our 2020/21 season. I worked really hard to make this one of the most unique seasons in our history, because of my deep love for Beethoven, and a chance to celebrate him in a really big way. In fact, we have a few surprises up our sleeve to expand our 250th anniversary which we will share with you once the season begins. In the meantime, know that we are thinking of you, wanting to make music together with and for you, and pray that you are safe, healthy, and cooperating with the guidelines that have been set before us.

John DeMain signature



John DeMain, Music Director