Entertainment

MSO ends season with a great concert – but first, a word about encores

MADISON, Wis. - The Madison Symphony Orchestra finished its 2016/2017 concert series Friday (and also Saturday and Sunday) in fine fashion with a double-header billing including a great organist and an outstanding performance by the Madison Symphony Chorus.

I am going to say nice things about the program later on, but, first, I want to indulge myself with a little rant about encores.

Organist Nathan Laube was featured in the first billing of the program and played a very nice rendition of Charles Villiers Stanford's “Concert Piece for Organ and Orchestra.”

Then he came back for an encore, a movement from Charles-Marie Widor's Sixth Symphony.

At least, I think that's what he played because that's what I heard when he announced the work from the stage.

Almost every soloist who performs with the MSO also performs an encore. If you are a good enough musician for John DeMain to hire you, you will almost surely receive a nice, prolonged, standing ovation in Madison and you will be moved to perform an encore.

So why not list the “encore” in the concert program so the audience knows what's going on?

Friday night, DeMain even announced the encore before the program began, calling it “magnificent” although he coyly noted that it would be performed only if the audience called for it.

We did and it was magnificent. But I'd prefer not to have to Google the information, especially when J. Michael Allsen writes such great program notes.

This weekend is Laube's second performance with the MSO. He played here previously in 2014.

In real life, Laube is assistant professor of organ at the Eastman School of Music. He manages to do things with an organ that I haven't heard previously – and Madison brings in a lot of great organists.

The second half of the program, Johannes Brahms' “Requiem” added Beverly Taylor's Madison Symphony Chorus, bass-baritone Timothy Jones and soprano Devon Gutherie.

It, too, was a magnificent performance. Actually, it was a pretty magnificent night. The chorus was in great form, singing the 68-minute “Requiem” along with the orchestra in German without missing a beat. Laube joined the performance, playing the Overture Concert Organ as a member of the orchestra, almost invisibly.

Performances will be held again Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.


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