Have you ever met Norman Gilliland in person? Have you ever had the opportunity to talk with Norman, listening to his mellow, rich voice interacting with yours? Spinning off knowledgeable, creative remarks sparked by your simple comments about a musical selection?

If not, you can have a special opportunity on April 11th to listen, to ask questions, and to converse with Norman in the home of two of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s devotees. Yes, Norman will be with MSOL members; you can listen and then talk with him in person!

We have all heard Norman’s deep masculine voice on the Wisconsin Public Radio’s daily classical music programs. For several years, I imaged him to have the classic figure of an opera bass singer — nicely padded with a big barrel chest, rotund in the middle, and jovial in his expansive gestures. Then one evening I saw Norman on Wisconsin Public Television. I saw a tall, thin man talk with that rich sonorous voice. I exclaimed aloud — “Oh, my. That’s Norman!  How incredible. His voice is so different from his body. How does he produce those sounds?”

Months later, I had the good fortune to invite Norman by email to give a talk to MSOL. He responded immediately with a “Yes” to my invitation. And he said that he would like to bring his wife, Amanda, to the gathering. Ah, that beautiful name Amanda (Latin for ‘one who must be loved’). I named my only child Amanda. So, of course, I was delighted that Norman’s Amanda would also be with us.

My next “Aha” moment occurred when I looked on the internet to find Norman’s home address. I wanted to send him a physical note confirming his talk on April 11th. Aha! He lives in my neighborhood in Middleton. What a coincidence.

One more synchronicity occurred in December when I attended the Christmas concert of the Madison Bach Musicians at the Congregationalist Church (the wedding cake church). At intermission just before the music resumed, I suddenly noticed that Norman and Amanda were sitting in the pew in front of me, right on the aisle. I was in the middle of the long pew behind them. As I absorbed this amazing fact, I wondered if I could possibly manage to catch up with them after the concert and introduce myself. It was a long shot — six people in my pew would have to exit before I could get out. Sure, enough, Norman and Amanda scooted out quickly, and I was standing, waiting on my six folks who moved slowly. A golden opportunity missed.

So, like many of you, I am eager to be able to converse with Norman in person. Come to the MSOL Behind the Music: Pushing the Boundaries with Norman Gilliland on April 11th from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Listen, talk with Norman and Amanda and nosh on delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine. This event is free and open to all MSOL members. Your reservation may be made online here.

Janine Edwards
MSOL AVP Education, Behind the Music