March 26, 2019

“An Auspicious Debut: Marc-André Hamelin” concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 12–14, Open Rehearsal on April 11th, and special “Out at the Symphony” event on April 12th.

Madison, Wis. – The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) 2018-2019 Silver Anniversary Season celebrating 25 years of great music with Music Director John DeMain continues with Marc-André Hamelin making his Overture Hall debut performing both Richard Strauss’ Burleske, and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. The program opens with Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, Prague, and closes with Debussy’s La Mer.

Performances take place on Friday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 13th at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, April 14th at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, at 201 State Street. 

An Open Rehearsal will be held on Thursday, April 11th — free and open to the public. Limited space is available (RSVP required). Patrons must arrive by 6:45 p.m.

A special Out at the Symphony special event happens on Friday, April 12th that includes the Concert and After-Party immediately following the concert with hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the second-floor Promenade Lobby. The is a chance for attendees to meet MSO musicians, Music Director John DeMain, special guests, and connect with members of the LGBTQ community and friends age 21 and above. Space is limited. Reservations are due by April 4, 2019.

Maestro John DeMain shares insights about the concerts. “Marc-André Hamelin is one of the major pianists of our time. This program features two of the greatest German composers and two great French impressionists. Always inspired by Mozart, I am delighted to open with his Prague symphony. Then comes Strauss’ Burleske with Marc-André performing a virtuosic and delightful musical fare. After intermission comes another favorite of mine, Ravel’s Piano Concerto with its sultry, cabaret-like slow movement that climaxes with a raucous-but-fun last movement. The concert closes with Debussy’s La Mer, his amazing tone poem that conjures up images of the sea both raging and calm, placing ultimate demands on the orchestra and creating an aural thrill for the audience.”

Composed in 1786, Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, Prague premiered in Prague during Mozart’s first visit to the city. The lavish use of wind instruments pays tribute to the wind players of traditional Bohemian folk music and represents a major advance in Mozart’s symphonic technique, imitated in his later symphonies. 

Richard Strauss’ Burleske was originally titled “Scherzo in D minor” and written for Hans von Bülow and the Meiningen Orchestra of Germany. Strauss renamed the piece Burleske, and it eventually became one of his favorite works. The piece starts with a theme introduced on timpani and answered by the orchestra. The piano then enters in a state of high excitement. A second, more lyrical Brahmsian theme emerges, followed by waltz-like measures not unlike the waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier. The work ends quietly, again on the timpani. 

Piano Concerto in G, composed between 1929 and 1931, is heavily influenced by the jazz music Ravel encountered while on a concert tour of the United States in 1928. The Concerto’s livelier themes emerge from Ravel’s fixation of the piano’s percussive qualities, while the languorous melodies showcase his ear for jazz. The work was always intended to be frivolous; in contrast to many of the concertos of his day, Ravel was aiming to write something light and fanciful. This piece is a favorite of John DeMain’s and contains a sultry, cabaret-like slow movement that climaxes with a raucous-but-fun last movement. 

Composed between 1903 and 1905, La Mer was not initially well received, but soon became one of Debussy’s most admired and frequently performed orchestral works. La Mer is often considered a masterpiece of suggestion and subtlety in its rich depiction of the ocean, which combines unusual orchestration with daring impressionistic harmonies. The work has proven very influential, and its use of tonal colors and its orchestration methods have influenced many later film scores. 

About Marc-André Hamelin 

The Oregonian summates the featured musician concisely: “Is there anything Marc-André Hamelin can’t do at the piano?” Pianist Marc-André Hamelin is known worldwide for his unrivaled blend of consummate musicianship and brilliant technique, as well as for his exploration of the rarities of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries — in concert and on disc. Although primarily a performer, Mr. Hamelin has composed music throughout his career. He was a distinguished jury member of the 15th Van Cliburn Competition in 2017, where each of the 30 competitors in the Preliminary Round were required to perform Hamelin’s “L’Homme armé.” It marked the first time the composer of the commissioned work was also a member of the jury. He was honored with the 2014 ECHO Klassik Instrumentalist of Year (Piano) and Disc of the Year for his three-disc set of Busoni: Late Piano Music. An album of his own compositions, Hamelin: Études, received a 2010 Grammy nomination and a first prize from the German Record Critics’ Association. Hamelin is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the German Record Critic’s Association. Hamelin notably took on the challenge of transcribing famed classical pianist Alexis Weissenberg’s “Mr. Nobody” arrangements of six songs by French singer-songwriter Charles Trénet, and recorded them himself on disc: In a State of Jazz.

Concert and Ticket Details

The lobby opens 90 minutes prior to each concert. One hour before each performance, Michael Allsen will lead a 30-minute Prelude Discussion in Overture Hall to enhance concertgoers’ understanding and listening experience. It is free to ticketholders. The Symphony recommends concert attendees arrive early for each performance to make sure they have time to pass through Overture Center’s security stations, and so they can experience the Prelude Discussion. Program notes for the concerts are available online: http://bit.ly/april2019programnotes

  • Single Tickets are $18-$93 each and are on sale now at: https://madisonsymphony.org/hamelin
    through the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street, or by calling the Box Office at (608) 258-4141. Fees apply to online/phone sales.
  • Student rush tickets can be purchased in person on the day of the concert at the Overture Center Box Office at 201 State Street. Students must show a valid student ID and can receive up to two $15 or $20 tickets. More information is at: https://www.madisonsymphony.org/studentrush 
  • Seniors age 62 and up receive 20% savings on advance and day-of-concert ticket purchases in select areas of the hall.
  • Out at the Symphony tickets include a seat in the Circle level of Overture Hall (regular price ($70-93), plus the after-party, for $45. Reception-only tickets are available for $25 each. Learn more at: https://madisonsymphony.org/out

Discounted seats are subject to availability, and discounts may not be combined.  


The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 93rd season in 2018–2019 and its 25th season under the leadership of Music Director John DeMain. 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. Find more information at madisonsymphony.org

Presenting sponsorship provided by the Kelly Family Foundation. Major funding provided by Madison Magazine, Louise and Ernest Borden, Scott and Janet Cabot, and Elaine and Nicholas Mischler. Additional funding provided by von Briesen & Roper, s.c., and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing
Phone: (608) 257-3734 x226
Email: prodgers@madisonsymphony.org
Web: madisonsymphony.org
Photos: http://bit.ly/msofeb19

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