DeMain takes particular pride in the ever-growing skills of his orchestra and the magnificence of Overture Hall. He makes clear his continuing commitment to Madison as his home and artistic base. The makeup of the season's eight concert programs (both repertoire and soloists) has been shaped very much by DeMain himself.
The opening program, Sept. 27-29, will respond to long-standing requests for a concert without any guests at all, which will allow the orchestra alone to shine. Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring will represent American creativity, while the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde will honor the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth and the 130th anniversary of his death. Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade will provide an ideal showcase for the orchestra and its many gifted members.
Since 2013 also brings the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten's birth, the Oct. 18-20 program will begin with his Variations on a Theme of Purcell, better known as The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Pianist Philippe Bianconi, already a favorite guest of the orchestra, will play Johannes Brahms' massive Concerto No. 2. Debussy's highly colored La Mer will round out the menu.
Next, the orchestra will welcome back acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich, who will play Edouard Lalo's fiery quasi-concerto, the Symphonie Espagnole, Nov. 15-17. Framing that will be a jaunty bit of contemporary fluff, the Too Hot Toccata by Aaron Jay Kernis, and Sergei Rachmaninoff's richly scored and passionate Second Symphony.
The end of the year brings the annual Christmas concert. The orchestra will join various choirs, with soprano Melody Moore and bass Nathan Stark as soloists, Dec. 6-8.
The Jan. 26 event is not a part of the regular subscription series. It is a special importation from Chicago, from a series of Behind the Score presentations that use actors and audio-visual accompaniment to delve into the background and sources of a particular work. The work for this program will be Dvorák's beloved Ninth Symphony (From the New World), after which the MSO will play the piece in full.
The soloist for the Feb. 14-16 program will be Finnish trumpet star Tine Thing Helseth, who will offer contrasting concertos by Haydn and Arutiunian. Two solo showpieces will also be offered by guest pianist Yefim Bronfman March 7-9: the Second (actually first in composition order) and Fifth of Beethoven's Piano Concertos. The orchestra will add two more early Beethoven works to that program: the First Symphony and the overture to his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus.
The only program without DeMain will take place April 4-6. Podium guest Julian Wachner will conduct a Slavonic Dance by Dvorák; Joseph Jongen's grand Symphonie Concertante with organ soloist Nathan Laube; and Mozart's Requiem with soloists Emily Birsan, Daniela Mack, Wesley Rogers and Liam Moran. DeMain will return for a tribute to George Gershwin May 2-4, matching some of the composer's instrumental and vocal works with music by those he influenced, including Bernstein, Weill, Blitzstein and Sondheim. Vocalists Emily Birsan, Karen Ziemba and Ron Raines will be guest soloists, as will the young, gifted local pianist Garrick Olsen.