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John DeMain Award for
Outstanding Commitment to Music

The third 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.

2016 Award Recipients: Jim and Marilyn Ebben

Nineteen eighty-seven was a very good year for music in Madison; that was the year that James Ebben became president of Edgewood College and the Ebbens moved to Madison. Marilyn Ebben quickly became involved in the Madison Symphony Orchestra League (MSOL) Bridge Marathons, and her natural leadership qualities, which were immediately evident, led to her recruitment as head of the group. Ever since, Marilyn’s engagement with the MSOL has been an example of excellent leadership as she became an MSOL Board member, co-chaired a Symphony Show House and played a key role on fund raising committees including the MSOL’s Fashion Show, Gala, Viennese Ball, and Concert on the Green.
Marilyn stepped up to two terms as MSOL president (2003-2005) and also served on the Madison Symphony Orchestra Board. During her tenure as MSOL president, she encouraged men and families to become members of what was previously an all-women organization. She also brought the concept of Parties of Note to the organization; this popular series of small themed parties is now in its 10th year. Marilyn was invited to become a member of the League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council and served for two years. Her contributions to the advancement of the Symphony and MSOL over nearly thirty years have been phenomenal.
Jim Ebben has shared Marilyn’s involvement with the Symphony and the League, bringing his own leadership style to his work with both. He started MSOL’s Men’s Bridge 12 years ago, helping make MSOL membership appealing to couples and single men. Since then he has co-chaired Concert on the Green and has organized the golf tournament and recruited sponsors for the event countless times. He co-chaired the John DeMain 20th Anniversary Gala in 2013. He has been on the Board of the Madison Symphony Orchestra since 2003 and currently serves on the Development and Endowment Committees.
For Jim and Marilyn, their involvement with the Symphony comes from belief in the mission of the organization, to perpetuate great music and make it accessible to everyone. They have supported the advancement of the Symphony through their generous gifts of time, talent and financial support. Their volunteerism and membership in the annual fund, Crescendo Club and the Stradivarius Society for planned giving are inspiring examples for all who work with them in the “Symphony Family.”
“It’s hard to capture the joy you get out of doing this,” says Jim. “Our lives have been greatly enriched by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.”
Past Honorees
2015 - Valerie Kazamias
2014 - Stan and Shirley Inhorn