The Madison Symphony Orchestra welcomes three incredible female guest artists to the stage during our 21/22 Symphony Season. Learn more about their accomplishments and other exciting competitions and events hosted by and for women in music!




Kelly Hall-Tompkins

Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the Smithsonian Museum for African-American History, Ms. Hall-Tompkins is a violin soloist entrepreneur who has been acclaimed by the New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive,” for her “tonal mastery” (BBC Music Magazine) and as New York Times “New Yorker of the Year.” A dedicated humanitarian and social justice in the arts pioneer, Ms. Hall-Tompkins founded and directs Music Kitchen-Food for the Soul, which has, to date, brought over 100 chamber music performances to an estimated 18,000 homeless shelter clients nationwide and abroad.

We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Hall-Tompkins for her Madison Symphony Orchestra debut in January for the premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ Violin Concerto, a tour de force exhibition from the hand of America’s foremost jazz and classical artist. The concerto is in four movements, “Rhapsody,” “Rhondo,” “Blues,” and “Hootenanny.” Marsalis has explained the concerto as a whole as a representation of a dream, with each of its four movements “revealing a different aspect of [the] dream, which becomes reality through the public storytelling that is virtuosic performance.” Its fundamental character is Americana with sweeping melodies, jazzy orchestral dissonances, blues-tinged themes, fancy fiddling and a rhythmic swagger. 

Learn more about Kelly Hall-Tompkins on her website at http://www.kellyhall-tompkins.com/ and explore her upcoming January 21, 22 & 23, 2022 performances with the Madison Symphony Orchestra now.

Naha Greenholtz

Naha Greenholtz is concertmaster of both the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. Additional performance highlights include guest concertmaster appearances with the Oregon Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, National Ballet of Canada, Omaha Symphony, and Memphis Symphony, among many others. She has also held positions with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, joining the latter as Associate Concertmaster. Ms. Greenholtz became concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra in 2011 at the age of 26. Her position is endowed by William & Joyce Wartmann.

Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in G major. It is laid out in the conventional three-section form, beginning with a fast movement (Allegro moderato). The orchestra lays out a pair of relaxed, genial themes, which are then picked up in decorated form by the solo violin. The solo line develops these themes with several surprising turns to the minor, before a full recapitulation, and a solo cadenza. The movement ends with a short coda. The Adagio is simply lovely, with a lyrical theme and gentle accompaniment laid out by the orchestra before being taken up and embellished by the solo violin. The middle section begins with a brief moment of uneasiness, and culminates in a short solo cadenza, before the orchestra returns to the opening music. The good-humored finale (Allegro) is tied together by a lively theme heard at the beginning, this alternates with contrasting material, including some brilliant passages for the soloist.

Learn more about Naha Greenholtz’s upcoming April 8, 9 & 10, 2022 performances with the Madison Symphony Orchestra now.

Olga Kern

Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is now recognized as one of her generation’s great artists. With her immaculate stage presence, confident musicianship and extraordinary technique, the pianist continues to captivate fans and critics alike. After starting piano lessons at the age of five, Ms. Kern was the first woman in more than thirty years to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, TX. This accomplishment is highlighted in a documentary about the 2001 Cliburn competition, which you can learn more about by reading our Guest Artist Spotlight story on Olga Kern.

Ms. Kern joined us in October for a thrilling start to our 2021/2022 season with the performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody.

Learn more about Olga Kern on her website at https://olgakern.com/ and look back on her October performances with the Madison Symphony Orchestra now.



La Maestra

La Maestra is an all-women’s conducting academy and competition started in 2020 by Claire Gibault. A French conductor herself, Gibault launched La Maestra due to the small number of women in the field and the limitations on existing opportunities for competition and professional advancement for women conductors. The organization is a collaboration between the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Opera — also co-founded by Gibault in 2011 in order to provide performance and educational opportunities for various levels of musicians in Paris.

In addition to her work with La Maestra, Gibault hosts her own conducting masterclasses that have been running in Paris for the last four years, and is the first woman to conduct the Filarmonica della Scala and the Berlin Philharmonic.

The second La Maestra Competition will take place in March 2022. To learn more, visit La Maestra’s website and check out NPR’s take on the event here.


Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship

According to the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship website, “Of the 537 music directors with US orchestras, just 60 are women,” and of the top 24 highest-budget orchestras, only one has a woman music director. The Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship was created in 2002 by Marin Alsop and her long-term collaborator Tomio Taki in order to provide more opportunities for women in the male-dominated field of conducting.

The Fellowship consists of a two-year award that includes extensive training directly with Marin Alsop in addition to other industry-leading professionals. Since 2003 the Fellowship has selected 24 women conductors for participation in the program.

Alsop has received multiple Gramophone Awards and holds honorary doctorates from institutions including Yale University and The Juilliard School. She is also the only conductor to ever receive the MacArthur Fellowship. In addition to these accomplishments, Alsop is also the first woman to become the Music Director of a major American orchestra (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Music Director of a Brazilian orchestra (São Paulo Symphony Orchestra), Principal Conductor of a British orchestra (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra), and Chief Conductor of a Viennese orchestra (Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra).

To learn more about the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, please visit https://takialsop.org.



National Women’s Music Festival

The National Women’s Music Festival celebrates its 46th annual festival June 30 through July 3, 2022. The event is hosted in Middleton, WI and encompasses performances, workshops, recitals, and more. The celebration is hosted by Women in the Arts, Inc.; a nonprofit organization working to promote women in the arts. For more information and to attend the festival, visit https://www.nwmf.info/.


Women in Classical Music Symposium

Presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Women in Classical Music Symposium features talks and panel discussions on topics relevant to women in the classical music industry. The Symposium includes networking events, performances and opportunities for peer engagement on the unique experiences of women in classical music. This the 2021 event took place November 7 through 10. Learn more about the Women in Classical Music Symposium on their website at https://www.womeninclassicalmusic.com/.

Bonus: Project 19 with the New York Philharmonic


Project 19 with the New York Philharmonic

American women gained the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In 2020, the New York Philharmonic introduced Project 19 — a multi-season initiative to commission and premiere 19 new works by 19 women composers — the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history. In the 2021–22 season the Orchestra premieres the commissions by Joan Tower and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The remaining works will be unveiled in 2022–23 and beyond. Check out their website for more information on this project: https://nyphil.org/concerts-tickets/explore/series-and-festivals/project-19#composers>