Those who attended our performance of Grand Panorama enjoyed an immersive experience together in Overture Hall with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and guest artist, Thomas Mesa. The program began with an exciting performance of Honegger’s Rugby. Cellist Thomas Mesa accompanied the orchestra for an extraordinary performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor. After intermission, the orchestra played George Walker’s Lyric for String Orchestra, a lovely work written as a memorial to his grandmother. The concert ended with Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite accompanied by synchronized imagery provided by Stephen Lias. Read the reviews and view photos from the weekend to find out what made this concert so memorable!


Matt Ambrosio / Capital Times: “MSO’s varied program hits the right notes”

“Featuring impressive virtuosic playing, amusing programmatic pieces, referential music and a multimedia experience, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Friday evening concert was wonderfully varied, and the contrast from piece to piece kept the audience captivated and entertained.”

“The second piece on the program, Dvorák’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B minor featuring cellist Thomas Mesa, was an absolute hit. The work is extremely virtuosic, and Mesa was well up to the task. Mesa blended wonderfully with the MSO and shined during solo moments.”

“The audience enjoyed so much Mesa’s performance of the first movement that they felt compelled to applaud directly afterward, unable to contain their excitement until the final movement.”

“The second movement was a highlight of the evening. It features gorgeous orchestral colors, especially between the horns and orchestral cellos, and long, gorgeous melodies. “

“Throughout the Adagio, Mesa displayed great rhetorical prowess with his artful phrasing. His virtuosity reached a peak when, during one passage, his right hand bowed while at the same time his left hand both stopped a string and plucked another.”

“The MSO strings found brilliant balance through delicate textures, most effectively at the climactic moment when, in a pairing both complementary and contrasting, the high end of the violins sound together with the low end of the basses.”

“The concert ended with an exciting multimedia experience: Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite paired with images of the title landmark by Stephen Lias.”

“The synchronized images were most impressive, though, during the final movement, “Cloudburst.” Breathtaking images of lightning over the Grand Canyon filled the screen with dramatic scenes and vibrant colors, matching the Sturm und Drang music.”

Read the full review


Bill Wineke / Channel 3000: “Cellist Works; Grand Canyon Not So Much”

“Mesa was back in town over the weekend to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, minus the organ and minus the banter but with his formidable talent with the cello very much at the fore.”

“He played Antonin Dvorak’s “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra,” a 40-minute work that kept him in sync with conductor John DeMain and the orchestra through three tough movements and brought the audience to its feet for extended cheers.

He will, undoubtedly return often.”

“The other highlight of the weekend concerts was a performance of Ferde Grofe’s ‘Grand Canyon Suite.'”

“One thing did work, however, and that was a beautiful solo by concertmaster Naha Greenholtz, who proves at every concert that we’re lucky to have her.”

“The other is by African American composer George Walker, “Lyric for Strings.” This was published in 1947 and is, also, six-minutes long. But this piece is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard in concert and seemed to end far too soon.”

Read the full review


John Stofflet / NBC15

Watch Thomas Mesa’s interview with John Stofflet for NBC15 from Thursday, October 11.

Watch the video


Hear what the audience had to say…

The afternoon performances just kept getting better. I have never heard the Grand Canyon Suite played more exquisitely. Our orchestra, maestro, and concert master are incredible.

Our first return to hear the symphony since COVID. Honestly it was quite emotional & absolutely wonderful

The orchestra with the synchronized projection of Grand Canyon. Stunning- I was in awe of total performance of this orchestra/media Experience. The Orchestra is OUTSTANDING.

I am always blown away by the mere thought of such a large group of people performing in such a highly coordinated way. It is literally mind boggling!

Loved the grand canyon suite. The excellent multi media visuals enhanced the incredible performance by the orchestra, who outdid themselves. The wood winds were particularly incredible, but so we’re all the musicians.

This was my first concert since before COVID, and it was wonderful to be in the audience again, listening to the beautiful, live music. The cello piece was amazing.

The Dvořák was a stunning piece! Not only was Mr. Mesa in fine form, but the orchestra had glorious music with many principals having solo opportunities.

Thomas Mesa was spell binding! Listening to the live Orchestra in over a year brought tears to my eyes.

Mesa’s performance of the Dvořák blew me away. The many different techniques that were used were incredible.

Thomas Mesa’s performance plus his Bach encore. The virtuosity of Naha Greenholtz with Mesa and in Grofe’s “On the Trail.” The incredible breadth and depth of the orchestra’s performance, which can also be attributed to our amazing conductor. What a wonderful afternoon!!!

Great music- Walker’s Lyrics for Strings was the best!

I came for the Grand Canyon Suite as I had never heard a live performance before but was very impressed with Thomas Mesa and the Dvorak cello piece. So both pieces were lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

The cellist was fantastic and we loved the Bach Prelude encore. The multimedia was amazing and the bass clarinet solos in Grand Canyon Suite were superb.

Mr. Mesa’s playing was superb. But I confess the multimedia presentation alongside Grofe’s Grand Canyon was terrific! The informative program notes were much appreciated. And I also enjoyed that unexpectedly fun Honegger piece and the delightful Walker work.

The Dvořák cello concerto was one of the most wonderful cello performances I have ever heard. It moved me to tears.

The Dvořák cello concerto was beautifully performed with plenty of energy while still maintaining great musicality. The violin solos in the grand canyon piece were particularly charming, playful, and exquisitely played by Ms. Greenholtz.

Mr. Mesa’s performance of the Dvořák was incredible – amazing musician, plays with deep feeling, and I thoroughly enjoyed the piece.