Wineke: Madison Symphony integrates music, art, drama

Published On: Jan 21 2014 09:23:43 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 21 2014 09:27:49 PM CST
violin over sheet music

The thing about the arts is that they appeal to the heart as much -- or even more -- than they appeal to the mind.

A painting, a poem, a play, a song -- they all reach beneath intellect and strike at one’s emotions. We can study them and we can talk intelligently about them, but the purpose of the arts is to enable us to experience them in a way that takes us outside our comfort zones and immerses us in a different world.

Sunday at 2:30 p.m. the Madison Symphony Orchestra will demonstrate all that means with a one-time performance of “Beyond the Score,” a production that includes the symphony, actors from American Players Theatre and videos and photographs projected on a giant screen.

The theme of the production involves Antonin Dvorak’s “New World” symphony.

The symphony, which premiered in 1893 in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, was the highlight of Dvorak’s time as director of the National Conservatory of Music in America.

Dvorak was convinced that the key to American music could be found in African-American spirituals and in Native American songs. Though he didn’t use those songs directly in his symphony, he based his production on what he believed to be their essence.

The best-known part of the “New World” is the song “Going Home.”

The theme is a natural way for the MSO to stage its first “Beyond the Score” production.

Anders Yocom, a Wisconsin Public Radio personality, will narrate. Actors James Ridge and David Daniel will reenact part of Dvorak’s life in America. Jacqueline Colbert, a mezzo soprano who is a minister of music at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Madison, will sing. All this, accompanied by slides and art projections, form the first half of the program. During the second half, the MSO will play the entire symphony.

The overall production is a work of the Chicago Symphony, which leases it to music groups around the country.

This has been a cold, miserable winter. If you get a chance, take in “Beyond the Score” Sunday at the Overture Center. It will warm your heart enough to prepare you for the last week of January.