The Madison Symphony Orchestra finished the season with a Fiesta Finale, featuring pianist Jorge Federico Osorio and Mariachi Los Camperos. Check out reviews, photos, and more below!


Music of Mexico takes the spotlight in MSO’s ‘Fiesta Finale’

Matt Ambrosio, Special to the Cap Times

The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates Mexican music and musicians with its season-closing concert, “Fiesta Finale,” perfectly timed for Cinco de Mayo weekend. This concert marks the first time the MSO has put on an all-Mexican concert, with Mexican performers joining the orchestra on stage and Mexican composers supplying the repertoire.

The MSO invited two guest artists this weekend: pianist Jorge Federico Osorio to play Manuel Ponce’s Piano Concerto no. 1 and the Grammy-winning Los Angeles-based mariachi ensemble Mariachi Los Camperos. Also featuring music by José Pablo Moncayo and Silvestre Revueltas, this concert displayed the breadth and depth of Mexico’s rich orchestral music output.

The MSO made a big stride to feature Mexican musicians and composers for a truly spectacular concert to close their 98th season, even including Spanish translations of the program and Spanish preshow announcements.

As they approach their second century, I hope that inclusions like this can move beyond specialty concerts and into the MSO’s more regular practices.

Read the full review on The Cap Times’ website


Mexican Finale Rocks MSO Season Closer
Bill Wineke // Madison Independent Arts Review

The Madison Symphony Orchestra completes its 2023/2024 season this weekend with its first all-Mexican concert, an extravaganza that blows the proverbial roof off the Overture Center.

Timed to coincide with the Cinco de Mayo, May 5, Mexican holiday celebrating Mexico’s triumph over Napoleon in 1861, the weekend concerts include a world-renowned pianist, a 12-piece mariachi band that a music scholar compares to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in terms of respect.

Given the moving parts and given the fact that all of the music was new to the MSO the chances for a less-than perfect concert were not minuscule. But a perfect concert is what happened at the Friday night opening performance.

The pianist, Jorge Federico Osorio, played a lilting version of Manuel Ponce’s “Romantico” Concerto No. 1, a piece that stood in contrast to the raucous and joyous tenor of the rest of the evening’s music. He has an elegance to his overall presence that transfers to his fingers and provides a beautiful 23 minutes of music.

The major orchestra work, “Las Noches de las Mayas,” by Silvestre Revueltas, is a truly raucous operation, one that features 12 percussionists.

It also features what the program calls a “synchronized imagery” created by MSO marketing director Peter Rodgers that deserves its own mention. Basically a slide show coordinated with the music, the work includes photos of Mexican landscapes, antiquities, architecture and sacred writings. It is the only such effort I have seen that actually enhances the emotional feeling of the music, rather than distracting the audience.

Then there’s the mariachi band.

Mariachi Los Camperos is not your stereotypical mariachi group providing background music in a Mexican restaurant.

Michael Allsen, professor emeritus of music at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, who delivers the pre-concert lectures this weekend, said the best way to understand the respect the band has in Mexico is to compare it to the reputation of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra here.

The band, which has been performing since 1961, is one of the most popular in the world and has won two Grammy awards.

It includes two trumpets, six violins and several guitars. The musicians also break into song and a couple of the tenors have voices that rival those of the opera stars who sang in Madison at last week’s performances of “Candide.”

Following the concert, the band reassembled in the Overture Center lobby and performed an impromptu concert that kept most of the audience clapping along for another half-hour.

It has been a hectic few weeks for the MSO staff and conductor John DeMain.

The orchestra performed Verdi’s “Requiem” on April 12. The Overture Concert Organ series ended with organist Greg Zelek and the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble on April 27. DeMain conducted the MSO opera orchestra for last week’s “Candide” and returns for this weekend’s concerts.

That’s one way to complete 30 years with the baton.

“Fiesta Finale” will be repeated tonight at 8 and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.


Hear what the audience had to say…

“One of the best concerts in a very long time. Lively and very different than regular classical performances. Everyone in the orchestra appeared to be having a great time and that translated to the audience.”
“The wonderful and new (to me) sounds of classical music from Mexico. The joy of Los Camperos, and of the orchestra and Demain listening to them. The amazing artistry of Osorio — the man had amazing finger strength to play the continuous arpeggios in Ponce’s lovely Piano Concerto.”
“Mariachi Los Comperos were so much fun! I loved that they played an extra 15 minutes in the lobby after the shows. It was fun to see something different. I also liked that the concert featured artists from Mexico because most of the composers featured are American and European, so it was nice to hear some music I wouldn’t otherwise hear.”
“It was such a creative program — aurally, visually, culturally. And a very interesting blend of classical music and Mexican culture. I love all things Mexico, so that’s what attracted me. But I always enjoy the symphony and John DeMain when I see them.”
“Suite from La Noche de los Mayas, especially because of the accompaniment of the art. I enjoyed all the selections of music I have never heard before, and admire the talent of Mr. Osorio. We’ve been subscribers since Overture opened 20 years ago, but this is the first time I have ever wanted to return the next day and watch the performance again.”
“This was a GREAT concert! I was not familiar with any of the pieces, and found it really refreshing not to have some warhorse (looking at you, Dvorak New World) on the program. DeMain picked a fantastic assortment of pieces/styles. Percussion in the Revueltas was SO interesting. Great piano concerto. Exciting opener. And then: Mariachi was so fun, and a great way to end the season. It seemed there was a large number of Spanish speakers in the hall, which I was glad to see/hear. I fully support the MSO reaching out to our entire diverse community this way.”