The Madison Symphony Orchestra was joined by the MSO Chorus for an impactful performance of Verdi’s Requiem. Read reviews, see photos below, and more!


Madison Symphony Orchestra performs Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ on a grand scale

Matt Ambrosio, Special to the Cap Times

This weekend, the MSO continues to pull out all the stops in celebration of Maestro John DeMain’s 30th anniversary year with a piece on the grandest scale: Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem.”

Beyond its religious origins, the work makes a powerful humanist statement of endurance through troubled times, a message as appropriate now as it was during its conception towards the end of Italy’s turbulent Risorgimento period. The piece strikes a balance between moments of thunderous tempestuousness and those of warm serenity to play out a moving musical drama that, regardless of faith, prompts deep contemplation and reverence.

Written by one of history’s greatest opera composers, Verdi’s “Requiem” has an unmistakable operatic quality with aria-like numbers that, if interspersed with recitative and staged appropriately, could readily be set in an opera. This romantic characteristic received some criticism in the work’s early reception, particularly directed at the style of the female vocal soloists’ parts. Yet this quality is likely part of the reason the work continues to be an orchestral staple.

For this weekend’s concerts, the MSO is joined by the Madison Symphony Chorus, directed by Beverly Taylor, and four vocal soloists: Alexandra LoBianco (soprano), Margaret Gawrysiak (mezzo), Jonathan Burton (tenor), and Kyle Ketelsen (bass).

Along with an expanded orchestra, the compiled ensemble wielded the dynamic power necessary for the deeply penetrating musical moments throughout the grand work. This power was most effectively on display during the famous “Dies irae” (“day of wrath”) refrain, which sent shivers down my spine every time it returned.

Read the full review on The Cap Times’ website


MSO’s Requiem is Best of Season
By Bill Wineke // Madison Independent Arts Review

The Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is performing Verdi’s “Requiem” this weekend and, if you didn’t see it Friday, you really ought to make sure you have tickets for performances either tonight or Sunday afternoon.

It is the most moving and dynamic of this year’s symphony schedule and the performances of both singers and instrumental musicians is about as close to perfect as you’re going to find on this imperfect earth.
Which, of course, is what the “Requiem” is all about.

The Requiem is the Latin Mass for the dead and many composers have set the service to music. Giuseppe Verdi, whose composition was first performed in Milan, Italy in 1874, is best known for opera and his ability to invest music with both emotion and story line is well-suited for an epic poem about annihilation and, hopefully, resurrection.

Four soloists, soprano Alexandria LoBianco, mezzo soprano Margaret Gawrisiak. Tenor Jonathan Burton and baritone Kyle Ketelsen, who sings all over the world but lives in Sun Prairie, blended their voices seamlessly with the 125 or so singers of the Symphony Chorus.
“Seamless” doesn’t mean they were singing like a barbershop quartet. It’s just that a solo voice can pierce the emotion of a dirge and add a tension that furthers the emotion of the music.

Because a requiem mass is not the equivalent of a modern funeral service where everyone sings a joyful hymn and assures one another that our parents are now drinking beer together in heaven (sorry, I’ve got kind of a German Lutheran attitude).
The dominant theme of Verdi’s “Requiem” is that humankind faces a day of terror and the purpose of the prayer is to plead for mercy.

It is not a happy piece, but it is beautiful.

And it is compelling. The “Requiem” is the only composition on the performance schedule and it goes on without intermission for 83 minutes. If you’re in the audience, it seems more like 20 minutes.

But it is not 20 minutes. The orchestra and chorus are on stage and in performance for an hour and a half full speed ahead.
So is conductor John DeMain, who is the only person in the room who doesn’t get to sit down during the performance. He has to stand on the podium, direct the musicians in constant motion and, perhaps more important, listen to every measure of music, keeping in spirit with each of the musicians.

The more I attend these concerts the more awe-struck I am that anyone can do that and DeMain has been doing that here for 30 years.

Like I said, if you can find a ticket, go see the “Requiem.” You will never regret doing so.


Hear what the audience had to say…

“The Verdi Requiem is a tour de force and I love it. John DeMain and the MSO unleashed the power and beauty of the work.”
“From the very beginning, the Verdi requiem “drew me in” and never let go! By mixing up the singers instead of grouping them in SATB sections, Beverly Taylor and the symphony chorus achieved an incredible presence and intensity that was well-matched throughout by the soloists and orchestra. Bravo!”
“Verdi’s Requiem is one of my favorite pieces, and the MSO did not disappoint. I have been coming to MSO concerts for 30 years. The orchestra has always been good, but I feel that under Maestro DeMain, it has become outstanding. I have also sung the Requiem (in a choir). I really appreciated the emotion (and diction) of the chorus. Finally, I appreciate that the orchestra shares the stage with renowned soloists. I can experience the world’s best without leaving Madison.”
“The music (duh). It was so beautiful, intense, well-played and sung, insistent, and exciting. The bass drum! Seeing the English translation was very helpful.”
“The full orchestra and choir together was beautiful! You add the guest vocalists and that put it over the top 😊”