MSOL Connect is a series of online events created during the pandemic to keep MSOL members connected and engaged. Each event is an informative and entertaining presentation related to classical music.
Click below to watch any of these outstanding MSOL Connect programs. Feel free to share with friends who also love classical music.
If you enjoy these programs and have not yet become a member, please consider joining the MSOL or consider making a donation. Donations benefit the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s nationally-recognized Education and Community Engagement Programs. Learn more about the benefits of MSOL membership.
MSOL Musicology Moment: Nutty Mozart
Mozart grew up in a musical family and composed 800 works from age four to his death at age 35. He enjoyed playing pranks on his family and friends and inserted this humor into his music. Watch this Musicology Moment to enjoy five of Mozart’s genius examples from throwing dice to dissonant humor in composition.
Featured at the MSO concerts January 19, 20, 21, 2024, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 Tickets available here
MSOL Musicology Moment: About Clara Schumann
What is the connection between the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Clara Schumann? Find out when you watch this Musicology Moments video featuring Clara Weick Schumann, one of the most brilliant pianists of the 19th Century.
Clara premiered the solo part of the Robert Schumann Piano Concerto, which the MSO performed.
MSOL Musicology Moment: What is TEXTURE in music?
What is TEXTURE in music? Our latest Musicology Moment explores texture and how it works as a compositional technique to enhance the listening experience. You’ll learn about texture and the words used to describe it and hear different examples, such as the musical effect created in the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor using texture. Musicologist Steve Kurr explains in this Musicology Moment.
MSOL Musicology Moment: Why Program Notes?
Join musicologist Steve Kurr as he explains the purpose of program notes and their value in contributing to a truly fulfilling concert experience. Knowing the history of a musical work, understanding the composer’s intentions, and identifying those elements or passages of particular interest can greatly enrich the listener’s enjoyment of a performance. As you will learn from Steve, reading program notes is time well spent!
MSOL Musicology Moment: Furiants and Scherzos
The third movement of Dvorak’s 6th symphony, which the MSO performs, is labeled “Scherzo (Furiant).” What does that mean? What does it sound like? Musicoligist Steve Kurr explains in this Musicology Moment.
MSOL Musicology Moment: Cadenzas
Musicologist Steve Kurr explains the history of cadenzas — a moment in a concerto when a soloist shows off their virtuoso skills. Sometimes, the soloist performs the cadenza as written by the composer, while other times it is improvised by the soloist on the spot!
November, 2022 MSOL Connect - Personal Favorite
Join musicologist Steve Kurr as he shares about the November, 2022, concert series.
9/3/22 — 1 New Executive Director + 1 New Symphony Season
Thursday, September 3, 7:00 p.m.
There are two great reasons to join the next MSOL Connect event on Thursday, September 1: the first is the opportunity to meet Robert Reed, MSO’s new Executive Director, and at the second is to hear Mr. Reed and Maestro John DeMain talk about the exciting new season about to begin. In addition to sharing details about the music and guest artists, they will touch on two future celebrations: John DeMain’s 30th anniversary and the Symphony’s Centennial.
5/5/22 — Symphony No. 5: So Many Good Examples!
Thursday, May 5, 7:00 p.m.
Join us on 5/5 as we talk about symphony No. 5s – Beethoven’s famous No. 5, to be performed by the MSO in May, and other No. 5’s from Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, and more. It’s a number that seems to be the sweet spot for composers! We’ll speculate why and listen to a few of these well-known “fives” with host Steve Kurr.
3/10/22 — Gil Shaham Plays the Beethoven Violin Concerto
Thursday, March 10, 7:00 p.m.
The inimitable Gil Shaham will perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in March. Learn more about our soloist and the concert at the MSOL Connect event presented by Steve Kurr. Mr. Kurr will also discuss the other works being performed during the concert weekend — the delightful Kodály Háry János Suite and the haunting Rachmaninoff tone poem Isle of the Dead.
1/20/22 — Western Art Music & Composers From the African Diaspora
Thursday, Jan. 20, 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by educator Steve Kurr, our first MSOL Connect event of 2022 will investigate, emphasize and celebrate musical composition by Black men and women. We’ll look at their contributions to western classical music, a field historically dominated by discussion of white male musicians.
11/10/21 — Grand Panorama: Conversations with Thomas Mesa & Stephen Lias
Wednesday, Nov. 10, 4:00 p.m.
In November, the Madison Symphony Orchestra will perform an engaging program of Arthur Honneger’s Rugby, Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, George Walker’s Lyric for Strings, and Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. Come learn about this wonderful repertoire from Steve Kurr and meet Thomas Mesa, our cello soloist, and Stephen Lias, who is providing beautiful imagery to accompany Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite.
9/23/21 — String Spirit
Thursday, September 23, 2021
The MSOL Connect featuring the September String Spirit program took place on Thursday, September 23, 4:00 p.m. The event celebrated the long-anticipated return of live performances from the Madison Symphony Orchestra by discussing their upcoming program (Elgar’s Introduction & Allegro, Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani, and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings), chatting with the evening’s organ soloist Greg Zelek (Principal Organist and Elaine and Nicholas Mischler Curator of the Overture Concert Organ), and setting these three works in a larger context of string orchestra repertoire.
5/20/21 — MSOL Virtual Annual Meeting
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Watch MSOL President Beth Rahko present a year-end wrap-up and see a special musical performance by Sophia Jiang, winner of The Final Forte 2021. Hear from Music Director John DeMain and Executive Director Rick Mackie as they recap the past year and talk about the season ahead. Also, find out the results of the Board election and introduce the 2021–2022 president. Hear from Symphony leadership and enjoy the music of our talented young winner — all from the comfort of your home!
4/22/21 — Movie Music — Its Beginnings, Its Evolution, and Its Composers
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Film scores have been a major part of popular culture for almost 100 years, and they also represent some of the most compelling musical work during the last century. We’ll explore the history, development, and composers of that rich world of movie music with our host Steve Kurr.
3/25/21 — The Development of our Modern Orchestra and its Instruments, Part 2
Thursday, March 25, 2021
The Madison Symphony Orchestra is part of a centuries-long tradition of instrumental ensembles in Western Classical Music. But how did we get to where we are now? Last November, Steve Kurr presented a fascinating talk tracing the development of the modern orchestra, from its roots in ancient music a thousand years ago, as well as the evolution of the instruments themselves. The Part One presentation brought us up through the mid-1700s (the Baroque and Classical musical eras). On March 25, Steve moved closer in time to the orchestra we have now and the (somewhat) standardized group of instruments we have seen on the Overture Center stage. Continue to explore the musical evolution at out next MSOL Connect that took place on March 25, when Steve Kurr presented “Part 2: The Development of our Modern Orchestra and its Instruments.”
2/25/21 — An Evening with Tamera and Leotha Stanley
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Leotha & Tamera Stanley, the husband-and-wife team who lead the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Choir, are fixtures in the Madison music scene. They conduct programs for local school music students, present the Gospel Carols Concert each year, and collaborate with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for the annual Christmas concert. Leotha and Tamera will present behind the scene insights about a variety of programs they have been engaged in, including MSO Christmas productions, Gospel Carols, MLK Community Choir “Lovely Day” production, their “Be A Friend Challenge” and more. Come spend an evening getting to know these incredibly talented and giving musicians.
1/28/21 — The Evolution of the MSO Education Program
Thursday, January 28, 2021
What are the origins, plans and innovations for the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s nationally-recognized Education and Community Engagement Programs? Look into the past and future with Music Director John DeMain, Education Director Kathryn Schwarzmann, and Associate Conductor Kyle Knox, who is taking over much of the youth concert conducting duties. They will discuss developments and new initiatives planned for the Symphony’s existing programs, how diversity will play a bigger role in MSO education efforts, and how the education programs are surviving and thriving during the pandemic. Kyle Knox, also Music Director of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, will talk about how WYSO helped keep talented young musicians engaged and motivated during this abnormal time.
11/19/20 — The Development of the Modern Orchestra and its Instruments
Thursday, November 19, 2020
The Madison Symphony Orchestra is part of a centuries-long tradition of instrumental ensembles in Western Classical Music. But how did we get to where we are now? Spend an evening tracing the Development of our Modern Orchestra: from its roots in ancient music a thousand years ago, through the evolution of the instruments themselves, and to the (somewhat) standardized group of instruments we have seen on the Overture Center stage.
10/22/20 — Humor & (Classical) Music: The 20th Century Parodists
9/24/20 — Music and the Brain
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Music and our Brains have a special relationship. Explore the fascinating connection between the two when Steve Kurr presents “Music and the Brain.” Learn about music’s effects on how we learn, interact and age, and on the growing field of music therapy.
8/20/20 — A Brief History of Music: A Review of The 6 Periods in Classical Music
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Music has come a long way since the Gregorian Chants of the Middle Ages, and our August 20th MSOL Connect will tell you how! Steve Kurr will present “A Brief History of Music: A Review of The 6 Periods in Classical Music,” and share what defines each period and how each contributed to the music we listen to today. Other resources from the evening:
7/23/20 — Performance and Q&A with Michael Wu
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Michael Wu, Bolz Young Artist Competition participant and winner of The Finale Forte 2020 shared a performance from his home this summer. This two minute work — ‘Country Gardens’ — is arranged for solo piano by Percy Grainger. It’s a traditional English folk tune that was collected by Cecil Sharp in the early 20th-Century. The piece was first shared at the July 23, 2020 Madison Symphony Orchestra League “MSOL Connect” Zoom event.
Watch Michael Wu’s performance:
6/29/20 — Humor & Classical Music
Monday, June 29, 2020
Humor & Classical Music was the second event, featuring the amusing aspects of classical music and how comedy is expressed in music. Steve Kurr led an exploration of the intersection of these seemingly separate subjects. Ranging from Medieval chant to modern parodies, he presented numerous examples of humor on several levels and helpful explanations of their musical and historical context.
6/15/20 — The Life, Music and Legacy of Beethoven
Monday, June 15, 2020
Beethoven 250 was the inaugural event and featured Steve Kurr, a dynamic instructor, musicologist and conductor. He narrated an hour-long tour of the Life, Music and Legacy of Beethoven, with an in-depth review of the context and significance of his symphonic works.