October 6, 2021

The Symphony returns with “Ravishing Rhapsody” featuring pianist Olga Kern, October 15-17, 2021
The first Overture Concert Organ performance features Greg Zelek on October 19, 2021

Madison, Wis. – The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) makes its long-awaited return for the 2021-22 Symphony subscription season with Music Director John DeMain conducting the full orchestra featuring music from Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven. Principal Organist Greg Zelek also opens the 2021-22 Overture Concert Organ series playing works by Elgar, Bach, Satie and Widor.

“Ravishing Rhapsody” features the return of esteemed pianist Olga Kern in a mesmerizing performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – for her fifth appearance with the MSO. Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat minor, “Eroica” complete the program.

“October not only launches our belated celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, but also brings us the much-anticipated return of pianist Olga Kern,” Music Director John DeMain expressed. “Ms. Kern has delighted our audiences over the years with her dazzling piano technique and her outstanding musicianship. Our program opens with Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso or “Morning Song of a Jester.” Ravel was a master orchestrator and here is a shining example of his prowess. Beethoven was a musical revolutionary. His “Eroica” is a shining example of his originality.”

The MSO will perform the Ravishing Rhapsody concerts on Friday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 16 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 17 at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, 201 State Street.

Principal Organist Greg Zelek also makes his return on the Mighty Klais by opening the the 2021-22 Overture Concert Organ series with a dynamic program featuring Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ from Enigma Variations and Widor’s Organ Symphony No. 6 in G minor.

“Charles-Marie Widor’s Sixth Organ Symphony is one of his most famous, and for good reason,” Principal Organist Greg Zelek exclaims. “This five-movement masterpiece includes two of his most performed movements of all of his symphonies (other than his often-played Toccata) and is a work of grand symphonic proportion. Before diving into this tour de force, I open the concert with a transcription of Elgar’s Nimrod from his Enigma Variations in reflection of the challenging past year.”

Greg Zelek will perform on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, 201 State Street.

Concert, Ticket and Event Details

The lobby opens 90 minutes prior to each concert. The Symphony recommends concert attendees arrive early for each performance to make sure they have time to pass through Overture Center’s security stations. A Prelude Discussion takes place one hour before each Symphony concert by Randal Swiggum that is free to all ticketholders (there is no pre-concert discussion for organ concerts).

Single tickets for all Symphony and Organ concerts are on sale now through the Overture Center Box office. Tickets can be purchased online at overture.org, in-person or by phone by calling (608) 258-4141 during Box Office hours (visit overture.org for current schedule).

Three performances of the Ravishing Rhapsody concerts will take place and ticket prices range from $20 to $98. More information about the October 15-17 “Ravishing Rhapsody” concerts at madisonsymphony.org/kern. Greg Zelek will perform one concert and all tickets are $20. Learn more about the October 19 “Greg Zelek” performance at madisonsymphony.org/zelek.

Health & Safety precautions

The Symphony has received overwhelming positive response to the comprehensive safety measures that Overture Center for the Arts, and Overture Resident Companies have put in place, that include proof of vaccination or negative test and wearing masks. Water will be available for purchase as refreshments before the concerts, and during intermission (no intermission for the organ concert). More information about the many safety protocols can be found at overture.org/health, and madisonsymphony.org/faq.

Money Back Guarantee

The MSO will continue to offer a refund for tickets to any concert that cannot be performed for any reason. The MSO will adhere to all public health guidelines and cooperate with Overture Center for the Arts to assure the safety of its audiences, musicians and staff. Programs, dates, and artists subject to change.

About Olga Kern

Russian-American Pianist Olga Kern is now recognized as one of her generation’s great artists. Born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, she began studying piano at the age of five, and jumpstarted her U.S. career with her historic Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, TX – the first woman to do so in more than 30 years. Ms. Kern frequently gives master classes and since September 2017 has served on the piano faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed in famed concert halls throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the Chatelet in Paris. She has previously performed with the MSO in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2017.

About Greg Zelek

Greg Zelek has been the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Organist and the Elaine and Nicholas Mischler Curator of the Overture Concert Organ since 2017. Praised for his “effortless facility on the instrument” (South Florida Classical Review), Greg Zelek is increasingly recognized as one of the most exciting young organists in the American organ scene. A recipient of the inaugural Kovner Fellowship, he received his Master’s degrees, as well as an Artist Diploma, from the Juilliard School. A native of Miami, Florida, Greg was most recently the Music Director and Organist at the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy in New York City. Greg, who is Cuban-American and a native Spanish speaker, became the Music Director and Organist of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Miami at age 15, and has served as the summer organist for San Pedro Apostol Church in Ramales de la Victoria, Spain.

About the Madison Symphony Orchestra

The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 96th season in 2021–2022. 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 masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world. Learn more at madisonsymphony.org

Major funding for the October symphony concert is provided by: Myrna Larson, Marvin J. Levy, Fernando and Carla Alvarado, Boardman + Clark LLP, The Gialamas Company, Inc., Ann Lindsey and Charles Snowdon, Fred and Mary Mohs, Nancy Mohs, Cyrena and Lee Pondrom, Peggy and Tom Pyle, and Kay Schwichtenberg and Herman Baumann.

Additional funding is provided by James and Joan Johnston and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

MSO’s Hamburg Steinway piano is the gift of Peter Livingston and Sharon Stark, in memory of Magdalena Friedman.

Funding for the October Overture Concert Organ concert is provided by: Gale Meyer, Jane Hamblen and Robert Lemanske, and Gerald and Shirley Spade.


The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 96th season in 2021–2022. 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 masterworks and top-tier guest artists from around the world. Learn more at madisonsymphony.org

Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing
Phone: (608) 260-8680 x226
Mobile: (415) 713-0235
Email: prodgers@madisonsymphony.org
Link to “Ravishing Rhapsody” October concert photos: https://bit.ly/mso2021octsymphony
Link to “Greg Zelek” October concert photos: https://bit.ly/mso2021octorgan

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