September 21, 2023

Madison Symphony Orchestra Music Director John DeMain to Pass the Baton at the Conclusion of the 2025–2026 Season


Madison, Wis. – Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) announced today that John DeMain will step down as Music Director at the end of its 2025–2026 centennial season. A Search Committee will be formed to identify a new Music Director. MSO’s 23/24, 24/25 and 25/26 seasons will celebrate John’s leadership, the Symphony’s legacy, and feature appearances by several guest conductors.

“It has been, and continues to be, a great privilege and honor to serve as the MSO’s Music Director since the 1994/95 season,” John DeMain expressed. “I am proud to have been a part of this orchestra’s amazing growth over the last 30 years. The centennial season, in a way, is the climax of my tenure here, and what a better way to begin the orchestra’s 101st season than with a new music director. I anticipate being available to continue an association with the MSO after I step down, to step in as needed. I love and cherish the musicians in the orchestra, and admire deeply the administrative staff, and look so forward to our next three celebratory seasons of making music together.”

“It has been a true honor to work alongside Music Director John DeMain,” said Robert A. Reed, Executive Director of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. “Over the past 30 years, DeMain has raised the artistic level of the Symphony, hired first-class musicians to become members of the MSO, created dynamic musical programs, brought renowned guest artists to Madison, connected the MSO with the community, and has made the Madison Symphony Orchestra an important part of the arts ecology in Dane Country. The Madison Symphony Orchestra is a strong and vibrant organization because John DeMain envisioned it and has done all that he can to make that a reality.”

“We treasure our anticipated and extraordinary thirty-two years with John DeMain,” exclaimed MSO Board Chair Ellsworth Brown. “The quality of the Madison Symphony Orchestra under his leadership is unsurpassed. His vision, imagination, community connections, and skills, will leave indelible marks on a treasured Madison asset.”

John DeMain’s impact on the MSO and Madison cultural arts community is extensive. John is only the fourth music director in the Symphony’s 98-year history. He has helped the MSO grow to be an orchestra that is admired for its financial position and artistic growth among peers in the symphony world and with people in Madison. John also serves as the Madison Opera’s artistic director.

From the introduction of blind auditions to MSO’s debut in Overture Hall in 2004, John has been an integral part of the organization’s success. He is known for continuously raising the quality and virtuosity of the orchestra and expanding the repertoire including the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler. He was also instrumental in the initiative to bring Overture Center for the Arts to life and the Overture Concert Organ to Overture Hall. The Symphony is unique among orchestras of its size — growing to offer three performances of each subscription program.

John DeMain is known as world-class opera and symphony conductor with more than three decades of extraordinary contributions to music. His career has taken him to stages throughout the world. John DeMain led a history-making production with the Houston Grand Opera of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, winning a Grammy Award, Tony Award, and France’s Grand Prix de Disque for the RCA recording. In 2014, the San Francisco Opera released an HD DVD of their most recent production of Porgy and Bess conducted by John DeMain. John received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023 from the National Opera Association, the NOA’s highest award.

Executive Director Robert A. Reed along with the Search Committee will lead the process of researching and securing a new Music Director. Inquiries about the search may be directed to Mr. Reed. rreed@madisonsymphony.org.

About the Madison Symphony Orchestra
The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 98th season in 2023–2024. 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 symphonic repertoire and top-tier guest artists from around the world. 2023–2024 is Music Director John DeMain’s 30th anniversary season. The MSO’s 100th anniversary season celebration will take place during the 2025–2026 season. Learn more at madisonsymphony.org

Contact for inquires about the Music Director Search:
Robert A. Reed, Executive Director

Press Contact:
Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing
Phone: (608) 260-8680 x226
Mobile: (415) 713-0235
Email: prodgers@madisonsymphony.org

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