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Symphony of a Thousand

Fri., May 3, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., May 4, 2019, 8:00 p.m.
Sun., May 5, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

I have spent 25 years with this Orchestra and Chorus. In that time, our collaboration on Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8 in 2005 stands out as perhaps the most memorable. The sheer scale of the work, the massing of enormous instrumental and vocal forces in one epic experience is unforgettable. Our production will comprise over four hundred artists on the Overture Hall stage. The Symphony of a Thousand is revered as one of the greatest achievements of classical concert repertoire and expresses the composer’s confidence in the eternal human spirit. I feel a magnetic affinity with Mahler, and began my career 25 years ago with his first symphony. I am honored and moved to conduct this work and feel it is the perfect conclusion to my 25th season. — John DeMain
It's quick, easy and secure.

At (608) 257-3734
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To the MSO at 222 W. Washington Ave.,
Suite 460, Madison, WI 53703

Music Program

Mahler | Symphony No. 8


John DeMain, Conductor
Alexandra LoBianco, Soprano
Emily Birsan, Soprano
Emily Pogorelc, Soprano
Milena Kitic, Mezzo-Soprano
Julie Miller, Mezzo-Soprano
Clay Hilley, Tenor
Michael Redding, Baritone
Morris Robinson, Bass-Baritone
Madison Symphony Chorus, Beverly Taylor, Director
Madison Youth Choirs, Michael Ross, Artistic Director
UW Choral Union, Beverly Taylor, Director

About Alexandra LoBianco

American Soprano Alexandra LoBianco is a consummate singing actress whom Opera News praised for possessing a “wonderful voice that should be heard in major houses.” She recently made her European stage debut in 2016 as Leonore in Fidelio with Wiener Staatsoper, and met with success as Turandot with Des Moines Metro Opera in the summer of 2017. Other performance highlights include roles at the Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Sante Fe Opera, and singing the role of Amelia in Un ballo in maschera with the Madison Opera in 2012.

About Emily Birsan

Emily Birsan is a critically acclaimed recitalist and well known for her prominent interpretations of concert and operatic repertoire. Ms. Birsan was last in Madison performing the role of Juliette in Madison Opera’s 2016 production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette. She has also performed with the BBC Symphony in London, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, in the Edinburgh International Festival, and at Carnegie Hall performing her debut with Mozart’s Mass in C minor.

About Emily Pogorelc

Praised for her “lively, incisive soprano” by the New York Times, Soprano Emily Pogorelc currently attends the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Emily Pogorelc has performed with the Opera Philadelphia, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, Curtis Opera Theatre, and Florentine Opera. Emily has won first place in numerous competitions, and she was featured on National Public Radio’s, From the Top.

About Milena Kitic

Milena Kitic, a renowned mezzo-soprano, has performed numerous roles with opera companies around the world in the last three decades. Perhaps best known for her performance as the title role in Carmen, Kitic has played Carmen in major performance venues across the United States and Europe with Belgrade, Serbia Opera (former Yugoslavia), Essen Opera in Germany, Washington, D.C. Opera, Baltimore Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Pacific, and Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Kitic has received numerous accolades for her performances, including the German Music Critic’s Award for “Performers of the Season” in 1998 and the Opera Pacific Guild’s “Diva of the Year” in 2005. The International Jeunesses Musicales Competition in Belgrade, Serbia, has established a special prize for “the best young mezzo-soprano” in Kitic’s name.

About Julie Miller

Hailed as possessing a voice of “spell-binding power and intensity” (The Register-Guard), Mezzo-Soprano Julie Miller has appeared as a soloist with many orchestras and in many major concert halls across the country. Ms. Miller is the recipient of the Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Scholarship and the Rose McGilvray Grundman Award (American Opera Society of Chicago), the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation), and the Edith Newfield Scholarship Award (Musicians Club of Women).

About Clay Hilley

Hailed by Broadway World as "every bit the heldentenor that Siegfried demands," young tenor Clay Hilley is already in demand internationally for German, Czech, Italian, and French heroes. In 2017/2018 Hilley joins the roster of The Metropolitan Opera, covering the title role in Parsifal; San Francisco Opera, covering Calaf (Turandot), Siegmund (Die Walküre), Siegfried (Siegfried), and Siegfried (Götterdämmerung); and The Dallas Opera, covering Samson (Samson et Dalila). He debuted at Lincoln Center in 2013 as tenor soloist for Verdi's Requiem. A native of Georgia, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education at the University of Georgia, the Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Georgia State University, a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Performer's Certificate from the Opera Institute at Boston University.

About Michael Redding

Michael Redding has been thrilling audiences in the U.S. and in Europe with his vocalism and theatrical presence in roles ranging from Handel to classic American Music Theatre. Recent credits include performances with the Sarasota Opera, the Virginia Opera, and an international tour of Porgy and Bess with the York Harlem Theatre. Mr. Redding too has performed the concert suite arrangement of Porgy and Bess with the Belgrade Philharmonic and the La Verdi Orchestra. Mr. Redding last performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra singing parts from Porgy and Bess as part of the all-Gershwin concert in May, 2012.

About Morris Robinson

Morris Robinson regularly appears at the Metropolitan Opera, where he is a graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Program. He has also appeared at the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Opera Australia, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Also a prolific concert singer, Mr. Robinson recently made his debut at the BBC Proms in a performance of the Verdi Requiem with Marin Alsop and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Other recent concert engagements have included appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Imagine the whole universe begins to sound in tone. These are not human voices anymore, but the planets and sun circling in their orbits." — Gustav Mahler on his massive Symphony No. 8

Read the Program Notes

Program notes will be available in August.

Prelude Discussion

Enjoy a 30-minute talk by music experts starting one hour before each concert in Overture Hall. Free to ticketholders.


Major funding provided by:

Diane Ballweg

Carla and Fernando Alvarado

Additional funding provided by:

DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C.


“Daily life presents so many conflicts, but music is always the focus that brings people together with no lines between age, race, gender, lifestyle or religion. The arts are a uniting force that unites the human spirit, speaks to humanity with a universal voice, and captures emotions without words. Arts and music truly are the language of the soul!”
“We are very proud of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the outstanding level of artistry they have achieved under John DeMain’s leadership over the past 25 years. We are looking forward to experiencing Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand,” and to hearing so many fine singers in one concert!”