The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) Season 2016-2017 will offer a full-range of classical music meant to move listeners to become “lost in the music and find themselves at the Symphony”, while uniquely including multimedia to accompany the music during two different concert weekends. Every concert also has one or two pieces of music that the MSO has never performed before (which you can see by the asterisk next to each new piece of music below).

Season 2016-2017 opens in Sept. 2016 with a spectacular presentation of Gustav Holst’s most popular work, The Planets, accompanied by a high-definition video of celestial images that The Planets’ musical themes suggest. And in Jan. 2017, the MSO will bring back the extremely popular Beyond the Score® (BTS) format for the spellbinding Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, featuring renowned actors James DeVita and Brenda DeVita, photos, video, and a full-performance of Scheherazade.

The new season will also feature many guest performers including:

  • Madison’s own Naughton sisters, pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton
  • Norwegian superstars Henning Kraggerud, violin, and Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet
  • English pianist Stephen Hough and French pianist Philippe Bianconi
  • Organist Nathan Laube, and,
  • Broadway and Metropolitan Opera soprano, Sylvia McNair


Sept. 23, 24, 25, 2016

The Planets: An HD Odyssey 

John DeMain, Conductor

Naha Greenholtz, Violin

Madison Symphony Orchestra

Madison Symphony Women’s Chorus

Beverly Taylor, Chorus Director

GEORGE ENESCU                    Romanian Rhapsody No. 1*

JOHN CORIGLIANO                 Chaconne from The Red Violin*

GUSTAV HOLST                       The Planets


  • A national hero in his homeland, Enescu rarely included hints of his Romanian heritage in his music, except when he composed the Romanian Rhapsodies as a teenager. Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 elicits the feeling of a Romanian folk song ending with an increasingly wild series of “Gypsy dances”.
  • In the Chaconne, American composer Corigliano draws the audience in with a foreboding and haunting signature tune. This piece inspired the score for The Red Violin, earning Corigliano an Academy Award in 1999 for his original music score.
  • Holst’s most popular work, The Planets, will be accompanied by a spectacular new high-definition film projecting celestial images above the main stage. Holst takes the audience around the solar system and back with sections of the piece highlighting the aura of each planet. The score begins with a savage 5/4 rhythm introducing the tumultuous planet Mars and ends with the same rhythm, but in a serene homage to the planet Neptune.

 *First-time performance for the Madison Symphony Orchestra.



Oct. 21, 22, 23, 2016

Beethoven’s Pastorale

John DeMain, Conductor

Henning Kraggerud, Violin

EDWARD ELGAR                     In the South (Alassio)*

MAX BRUCH                            Violin Concerto No. 1

HENNING KRAGGERUD           Three Postludes from Equinox*

No. 2 D minor (Prague)

No. 9 A flat Major (Hangzhou)

No. 19 A Major (New Orleans)

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN     Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale)


  • While escaping a drab English winter, Elgar, inspired by the Italian Riviera and his realization of the human cost of war, wrote In the South – an overture that begins and ends in a stormy mood.
  • Austrian virtuoso, Joseph Joachim, cited Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 as one of the “four German violin concertos” – alongside the concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mendelssohn – calling it the “richest, most seductive” of the four composers.
  • Norway’s star solo violinist Henning Kraggerud has played with some of the world’s greatest orchestras. In this concert he showcases his ability as a composer, sampling a few of his 24 Equinox postludes.
  • Pastorale, Beethoven’s tribute to country life, has been adored by millions after it was popularized during the Disney-animated classic film,Fantasia.  Formally innovative, it suggests images of a babbling brook, bird songs, and thunder among other visual and musical themes in the piece.



Nov. 11, 12, 13, 2016

Paired to Perfection

John DeMain, Conductor

Christina and Michelle Naughton, Piano duo

CLAUDE DEBUSSY                               Le Printemps*

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART       Concerto for Two Pianos*

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH                     Symphony No. 5


  • One of the most prominent figures associated with “Impressionistic” music, Debussy originally scored Le Printemps for an orchestra and wordless chorus. The colorful piece is divided into two parts telling the story of life’s gradual blossoming and the eventual joy of passing into a new life.
  • Mozart composed The Concerto for Two Pianos originally for himself and his sister Anna Maria. Initially performed by both of them, most likely in Salzburg around 1780, the piece is full of wry humor and unexpected harmonic moments that leave the listener imagining a smile or wink between the two siblings.
  • Written and performed in 1937, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 was a direct response to earlier disapproval from Soviet critics, who had asserted that Shostakovich had pushed beyond the limits of what was expected of artists in Stalinist Soviet Union. Shostakovich himself subtitled the work “the practical answer of a Soviet artist to justified criticism”. Its debut was a huge success, and the ovation supposedly lasted for over a half hour!



Dec. 2, 3, 4, 2016                            

A Madison Symphony Christmas

John DeMain, Conductor

Sylvia McNair, Soprano

Madison Symphony Chorus

            Beverly Taylor, Director

Madison Youth Choirs

            Michael Ross, Artistic Director

Mount Zion Gospel Choir

            Tamera and Leotha Stanley, Directors

  • Filled with traditions, from caroling in the lobby with the Madison Symphony Chorus to vocal performances by hundreds of members of Madison’s musical community, A Madison Symphony Christmas is a joyous time for all. Christmas classics are interwoven with enchanting new holiday music. The culminating sing-along, where John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra don their Santa hats, is Madison’s unofficial start of the holiday season!



Jan. 15, 2017

Beyond the Score®: Scheherazade

John DeMain, Conductor

James DeVita, Actor, as Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Brenda DeVita, Actor, as the Storyteller



  • Created by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Beyond the Score®: Scheherazade is a musical experience that involves a multimedia examination of the music with live actors in the first half of the program with a full performance of Scheherazade in the second half.
  • Inspired by the tales of A Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s musical narrative of fairy-tale wonders.
  • In the first half, acclaimed American Players Theater actors James DeVita and Brenda DeVita portray Rimsky-Korsakov and the Scheherazade storyteller, respectively, while photos, images, video and live musical excerpts demonstrate the colorful and exotic Scheherazade: its context in history, how it relates to other composers, and the events of Rimsky-Korsakov’s life that influenced its creation.
  • The captivating music of Scheherazade evokes images and passions with a solo violin representing the intoxicating storyteller – Scheherazade. Based on an ancient Persian legend, Sheherazade staves off her death at the hands of her cruel Sultan husband, by regaling him with stories for 1001 nights until he falls in love with her. Rimsky-Korsakov evokes the moods of her various tales with memorable and haunting melodies.
  • Beyond the Score® is designed for classical music aficionados and newcomers looking to delve deeper into the world of classical music.
  • The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s prior Beyond the Score®: New World Symphony was a sold-out performance in Jan. 2014.



Feb. 17, 18, 19, 2017

Ultimate Tchaikovsky: The Last Symphony

John DeMain, Conductor

Stephen Hough, Piano

SAMUEL BARBER                    Second Essay*

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS            Piano Concerto No. 5 (The Egyptian)*

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY   Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique)


  • Barber, a preeminent 20th century American composer, structured the Second Essay much like that of a literary work; various melodic ideas are derived from a single theme, spun out by the solo flute.
  • Saint-Saëns, a musical prodigy, performed his first concert at age ten and was once called the “Beethoven of France”. The Egyptian was written during his time living in Luxor, Egypt and was ostensibly inspired by a melody he heard sung by boatmen on the Nile.
  • Tchaikovsky’s last major work, Symphony No. 6, was the most biographical and “open-hearted” of his music. Only nine days after he successfully conducted its premier in St. Petersburg, Tchaikovsky was dead. A passionate final farewell, this symphony gives the audience a window into the deep internal struggles of Tchaikovsky’s mind.



Mar. 10, 11, 12, 2017

Peak Performance

Carl St. Clair, Conductor

Tine Thing Helseth, Trumpet 

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN     Egmont Overture

JOHANN HUMMEL                  Trumpet Concerto*

RICHARD STRAUSS                  An Alpine Symphony*


  • The exhilarating music of the Egmont Overture was commissioned by playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for his play Egmont about a Flemish nobleman by the same name. Goethe specified to Beethoven that the Egmont Overture should be a “Symphony of Victory” for his lead.
  • In Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto, he cleverly interweaves fanfares with beautiful melodic lines, showing off the new keyed trumpet’s ability to play stepwise and chromatic passages. A staple of the trumpet repertoire, Trumpet Concerto is well recognized as one of the premiere pieces for solo trumpet.
  • An Alpine Symphony is a single-movement work that expresses both the joy and challenge of spending an entire day hiking on a mountain. Most likely inspired by the fond memories Strauss had of hiking in the Bavarian Alps as a young boy, it stirs images of an impending storm through occasional dark rumblings from the tubas and trombones, and wandering woodwind lines.



Apr. 7, 8, 9, 2017

Colossal Piano

John DeMain, Conductor

Philippe Bianconi, Piano

ROBERT SCHUMANN              Manfred Overture

WITOLD LUTOSŁAWSKI           Concerto for Orchestra*

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF        Piano Concerto No. 3


  • Schumann, an enthusiast of Lord Byron’s poem Manfred, drew upon it as inspiration for his overture. The introduction begins with three abrupt chords, continuing with a sequence of sliding harmonies, suggesting the conflicting passion of Byron’s hero.
  • After eluding German capture during World War II, Lutosławski eventually made a living playing the piano in bars around Warsaw. A Polish composer, he drew upon the themes of Polish folk songs for inspiration in many of his works including his Concerto for Orchestra. First performed in Warsaw in 1954, this piece gave him notoriety in the West.
  • In his New York debut, Rachmaninoff created a virtuoso masterwork, one of the most technically difficult of all his piano compositions. The musical themes from Piano Concerto No. 3’s three movements are subtly interrelated, imposing a kind of organic unity on this work.



May 5, 6, 7, 2017                                      

Brahms’ Requiem

John DeMain, Conductor

Nathan Laube, Organ

Devon Guthrie, Soprano  

Timothy Jones, Bass-Baritone  

Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director

CHARLES STANFORD               Concert Piece for Organ and Orchestra*

JOHANNES BRAHMS               A German Requiem


  • Stanford was an English composer and teacher at the Royal College of Music at Cambridge. One of his greatest musical legacies was studying and teaching alongside other great composers like Vaughn Williams, Holst, Ireland and Howells. Concert Piece for Organ and Orchestra is Stanford’s most sparingly orchestrated symphony, a full-toned lyrical treatment of Irish tunes.
  • Brahms once remarked that this piece should be titled “A Human Requiem”. It’s believed that the deaths of his mentor Robert Schumann andBrahms’ mother were the inspiration for the composition. With an immense musical arch, the German Requiem has foundations firmly planted in the first and seventh movements, embodying the circle of life and death. It is considered one of the finest choral works of Western music.




New subscribers can receive up to 50% off season subscriptions, which start at just $53. More information at:


Single tickets go on sale Sat., Aug. 20, 2016, at the Overture Box Office, 201 State Street, (608) 258-4141, or