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Madison Symphony Orchestra: April 2016 Best Concert Of All Time

May 1, 2016


I suspect some will think my headline over the top.   But in fact there is no other way to describe this weekend’s concert by the Madison Symphony Orchestra than to say nothing like it has been seen or heard or felt before by this attendee.  It is hard to imagine anything more powerful being presented.

The concert stage was bursting with people and instruments in such a manner that it would have been hard to pack more onto it–though Overture Hall can accommodate massive productions.  I am not sure there was a single empty seat last night–meaning more than 2,200 people were dazzled–as I was–with two concert pianos, the concert organ, the harpsicord, harp, the entire orchestra, 300 voices from the Symphony Chorus and the Madison Boychoir,  along with three special guests (soprano, tenor, baritone), a chime that required climbing a ladder so to ring, and electronics that allowed for the sound of nightingales to be heard.

I am not exaggerating when I say this was a huge production!

James and I have been ticket holders for the symphony since 2008 and in that time have heard lots of music, been thrilled with the chorus, and walked away many times pleased beyond measure.

But when The Pines Of Rome opened Saturday night and John DeMain conducted for the full illumination of the music, or some of the brass instruments were positioned near the box seats (where James and I sit) something powerful happened.  I not only heard the music—instead I felt it.  There was a determination by all those working on stage to make a memory that was meant to linger long after the last note faded.  I was stunned by the enormity of the sound and the energy of the delivery.

The second half of the evening was equally powerful as Carmina Burana was presented with perhaps the most impressive and expressive voice being that of Keith Phares, the baritone singer.    The Boychoir was so well trained and walked in and out with poise–so expressive with their eagerness to sing–even after a long wait (by the standards of restless boys) to make their voices heard.

I have long advocated for the Overture, knowing it is a special place in our city.  We have a symphony orchestra that is a dynamic and well-respected operation along with a place so beautiful where music can be created and heard.   We all have a true cultural environment on the Madison isthmus.

And this weekend that fact was proven.

Thanks to all the creative forces and talent who make such a production possible.   See you next season.

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