August 1, 2019 (updated, September 19, 2019)

The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 2019–2020 Season Premiere features Principal Organist Greg Zelek

“Love, Lust and Redemption” concerts, Overture Hall, September 27-29

Madison, Wis. Love, Lust & Redemption channels the power of the Colossal Klais as Principal Organist and Curator of the Overture Concert Organ Greg Zelek opens the season with Barber’s Toccata Festiva. The all-orchestral program also features the Madison Symphony Orchestra exploring the tonal sensuality of Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.

Performances will be held on Friday, September 27th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, September 28th at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, September 29th at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, at 201 State Street.

Maestro John DeMain shares his insights on the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s 94th Season. “Our opening concert is both festive and gorgeously romantic as we present our star organist Greg Zelek in his MSO concerto debut, playing Barber’s Toccata Festiva. We open with one of the most beautiful overtures ever written, Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and after intermission the great seventh symphony of Dvořák. In between is the little jewel by Debussy, his quintessential impressionistic masterpiece, Afternoon of a Faun. All are favorites of mine, and I look forward to making them favorites of yours, if they aren’t already.”

Wagner’s Tannhäuser: Overture and Venusberg Music is frequently performed as a separate work in orchestral concerts, the first such performance having been given by Felix Mendelssohn conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in February 1846. Wagner began revisions to the opera immediately, which resulted in two more versions: the Paris version in 1861 and the Vienna version in 1875. Members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra Chorus also perform in this piece.

The Toccata Festiva was written by Samuel Barber as an occasional work for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy pairing organ and orchestra. The piece celebrated the inauguration of a new organ for the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, a gift from longtime patron Mary Curtis Zimbalist who had also commissioned the new piece.

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun is a musical evocation of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem “Afternoon of a Faun,” in which a faun—a half-man, half-goat creature of ancient Greek legend—awakes to revel in sensuous memories of forest nymphs. Debussy begins the piece with a sinuous and well-known flute melody evocative of a graceful female form.

Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 was greatly influenced by Brahms. Dvořák decided to compose this symphony after hearing Brahms’s new Symphony No. 3. The piece is distinguished for its somber and dramatic atmosphere and its lack of Slav-inspired melodies, a characteristic with which the composer’s style is usually associated.

About Greg Zelek

Praised for his “effortless facility on the instrument” (South Florida Classical Review), Greg Zelek (27) is increasingly recognized as one of the most exciting young organists in the American organ scene. Greg has been the Principal Organist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Curator of the Overture Concert Organ Series since September 2017. Greg holds the Wayne Curtis & Maybelle Slavens Hall and Francis Vincent & Lettie von Kalweit Dunnebacke Curatorship, which is endowed by anonymous friends of the Symphony.

In addition to concertizing throughout the United States and with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Greg regularly performs with orchestras as both a soloist and professional ensemble member. In 2017, he performed with the Florida Orchestra and was the featured guest soloist with the Ridgewood Symphony in 2016. Greg was the organist in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2014 production of Faust. He also performed twice that year with the New World Symphony, including in a performance of Lukas Foss’s Phorion under Michael Tilson Thomas. In 2012, Greg played Strauss’s Alpine Symphony with the MET Orchestra in Carnegie Hall conducted by Semyon Bychkov and performed Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the Miami Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

A recipient of the inaugural Kovner Fellowship, Greg received his Bachelor’s and 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.

Concert, Ticket and Event Details

The lobby opens 90 minutes prior to each concert. One hour before each performance, Randal Swiggum 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/msosept19programnotes.

  • Single Tickets are $19-$95 each and are on sale now at: https://madisonsymphony.org/event/love-lust-redemption 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.
  • Groups of 10 or more can save 25% by calling the MSO office at (608) 257-3734. For more information, visit, https://www.madisonsymphony.org/groups.
  • 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.
  • Flex-ticket booklets of 8-10 vouchers for 19-20 symphony subscription concerts are available. Learn more at: https://madisonsymphony.org/flex
  • Subscriptions for the 2019–2020 season are available now. Learn more at: https://madisonsymphony.org/19-20

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

The Madison Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 94th season in 2019–2020 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. Learn more at madisonsymphony.org.

Major funding provided by Wisconsin State Journal and Madison.com, Diane Ballweg, Carla and Fernando Alvarado, and Elaine and Nicholas Mischler. Additional funding provided by Jane Hamblen and Robert F. Lemanske, James and Joan Johnston, Skorfronick Family Charitable Trust, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., and Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Link to photos of John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra: http://bit.ly/mso19-20orchestraphotos
Link to MSO 19-20 concert and artist photos: http://bit.ly/mso19-20symphonyphotos
Link to 19-20 Madison Symphony season website pages: https://madisonsymphony.org/19-20
Link to September “Love, Lust and Redemption” concerts: https://madisonsymphony.org/event/love-lust-redemption/
Link to photos for September “Love, Lust and Redemption” concerts: http://bit.ly/msosept19

Programs, dates, and artists are subject to change.


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

Additional information, detailed artist bios, and other photos available upon request.


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