September 2011

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play in the spotlight Musical Notes MSO chamber series underway The Madison Symphony Orchestra would like greater opportunity to explore classical music's more intimate works. To that end, Maestro John DeMain is considering creating an MSO chamber series. Classical Consistency and Colorful Contrast How Maestro John DeMain plans a season of musical riches By Michael and Jean Muckian When Maestro John DeMain, Madison Symphony Orchestra's artistic director, programs a season of classical music, multiple elements come into play. Despite a wealth of available source material, De- Main is careful in his considerations, which this year have resulted in a notable lineup. "The programming begins with the guest artists, who offer the works they're travel- ing with," says DeMain, who this month helps usher in MSO's 85th season. "Once I have those in place, I create programs of contrast and consistency around them." Consider pianist André Watts, the guest artist featured during the MSO opening salvo Sept. 16-18. Watts will perform Ed- vard Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A minor." The three-movement, mid-19th century work was Grieg's only concerto, and yet it's one of the Norwegian composer's most popular works and has been excerpted in various movies, shows and even for a Range Rover commercial. DeMain paired the work with Beethoven's equally familiar "Symphony No. 5" and John Adams' "On the Transmigration of Souls," the Pulitzer Prize-winning com- position commissioned as a requiem for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. DeMain chose the later work to honor the attacks' 10th anniversary. This year also marks the 150th anniversary 66 BRAVA Magazine September 2011 of composer Claude Debussy's birth, lead- ing DeMain to program "Images for Or- chestra No. 2: Ibéria," which falls into yet another category attractive to the maestro. "I am always fascinated by important musical works that haven't been played in 20 or 30 years," DeMain says. He combs past MSO performance archives to check the frequency with which a work has been performed. Those efforts led to the addi- tion of the Debussy work, Sergei Proko- fiev's "Violin Concerto No. 2" and Mau- rice Ravel's "La Valse," the latter of which the maestro calls a "little jewel." "'La Valse' calls for a huge orchestra, but so does Dmitry Shostakovich's 'Violin Concerto No. 1,' so I put them on the same program to get the most from the cost of the orchestra," he says. "It's like a jigsaw puzzle," he adds. "Building a program is not particularly hard, and in the end can be a lot of fun." For both DeMain himself as well as the lucky patrons he reaches. Visit Michael and Jean Muckian have covered the local food and arts scenes for over 25 and 15 years, respectively. Find their blog, Culturosity, at The series would feature a selection of the orchestra's accomplished musi- cians exploring in depth the chamber music of famous composers that doesn't find as much public exposure as their orchestral works. Performed in a more intimate setting than Overture Hall, the series would complement MSO's concerts while expanding listeners' musical knowledge. "I've gotten the OK to explore producing a chamber series and would love to introduce it next year, but it all depends on funding," DeMain says. We can't wait to see what comes of the idea. MSO's stars of autumn In addition to André Watts, Madison Symphony Orchestra concerts this season will feature the following stellar performers: Oct. 14-16: Cellist Lynn Harrell performs Edouard Lalo's "Cello Concerto in D minor." Nov. 11-13: Violinist Midori Goto performs Dmitry Shostakovich's "Violin Concerto No. 1." Jan. 20-22: Violinist Augustin Hadelich performs Sergei Prokofiev's "Violin Concerto No. 2." March 9-11: The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet performs Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto Andaluz." March 30-April 1: Pianist Philippe Bianconi performs Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 4." May 11-13: Pianist Martina Filjak joins a variety of guests in "Fascinat- ing Rhythms," a tribute to George Gershwin. Photo by Michael Brosilow

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