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John DeMain Award for
Outstanding Commitment to Music

The fourth annual John DeMain Award for Outstanding Commitment to Music is presented by the Madison Symphony Orchestra League in recognition of an individual or individuals for their longstanding and unwavering support of the League, the Madison Symphony Orchestra and music in the community.

Carolyn White: Recipient of the 2017 John DeMain Award for Outstanding Commitment to Music

Her passion for instilling a love of music in children has been the primary driving force behind Carolyn White’s tireless dedication to the Madison Symphony Orchestra League (MSOL) and the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
Growing up in rural Viroqua, Carolyn excelled in her piano lessons and received gentle encouragement from her parents. She frequently accompanied instrumental soloists and choirs, played for the graduation ceremonies, and even played the church organ for countless weddings and funerals. She attended Luther College, where she accompanied one of the college choirs and majored in elementary education with a minor in music education. After college, she taught 1st and 2nd grade for five years, married Ron White, and welcomed three lovely daughters – Beth, Sara and Andrea. As a homemaker raising three girls, Carolyn began teaching piano lessons and continued teaching for over 30 years, finding this to be a great way to combine her love of music and children.
Carolyn received her first introduction to the MSOL in the early 1990s when Judy Braucht invited her to help with the new “docent program” that she was developing with Nan Becknell and Ellen Simenstad, which would pair MSOL volunteers with MSO musicians to visit elementary schools in preparation for the students’ attendance at MSO youth concerts. Judy knew that Carolyn would be the perfect person to help implement the program and, to this day, Carolyn has remained an enthusiastic docent and new docent trainer. Carolyn says, “Introducing young students to classical music through our Fall Youth Concerts and docent program, along with a Symphony orchestra member, is a great joy for any MSOL member!”
Since that introduction to the MSOL, Carolyn has held numerous leadership roles, including President from 2000-2001, Chair of the Designer Showhouse, Co-Chair of the 75th Anniversary Gala, and Vice President of Education. As VP of Education, she organized many MSOL concert previews. She also served on the planning committee for the New Year’s Eve Ball. Carolyn has enjoyed volunteering at the Fall Youth Concerto Competition, the Bolz Young Artist Competition, and the Youth Concert Series. She is always awed and inspired by the level of playing by the student soloists. Carolyn is most proud of how the MSO education programs have grown and expanded to reach so many students outside of Madison and Dane County. She is also proud of the two newest programs, HeartStrings and Link Up. She commends the MSO’s current and past Education Directors for their professional management and oversight of the Education and Community Engagement Programs.
Carolyn understands that the MSO requires financial resources to present its concerts and education programs. In addition to Carolyn’s tireless work organizing fundraising events, Ron and Carolyn supported the Symphony through personal contributions to the annual fund and the endowment. Carolyn continues her financial support as a member of the Crescendo Club.
Outside of her work with the MSO, Carolyn has contributed to the musical life of our community by serving as President of the Madison Area Piano Teachers Association (MAPTA), organizing countless piano recitals and festivals, accompanying the Fitchburg Senior Choir and the Bethel Lutheran Church children’s choirs, and leading a summer music camp at Bethel Horizons. She also advocated for a new Performing Arts Center at Verona Area High School, began the Verona Area Performing Arts Series (VAPAS), served as President of VAPAS for the past 18 years, and continues as Co-President.
Carolyn is a lifetime member of the MSOL. She will serve as President-Elect in 2017-2018, and will once again lead the MSOL as President beginning in the fall of 2018.
Past Honorees
2016 - Marilyn and Jim Ebben
2015 - Valerie Kazamias
2014 - Stan and Shirley Inhorn