Wineke: Naha Greenholtz is an MSO Treasure

Naha Greenholtz
CREDIT: Madison Symphony Orchestra
CREDIT: Madison Symphony Orchestra

The first thing we have to recognize about the weekend’s Madison Symphony Orchestra concerts is that concertmaster Naha Greenholtz is a civic treasure.

Greenholtz stepped out of her usual role as lead violin to perform as soloist and conductor for Haydn’t “Concerto No. 4 in G Major for Violin and Orchestra.”

It was as fine a performance as I have heard at the MSO (and, honestly, I have been attending concerts here longer than Greenholtz has been alive).

She joined the MSO in 2011 at age 26, is concertmaster of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and performs on a 1788 Antonio Gragnani violin.

In addition to the Haydn piece, Greenholtz also was soloist for one of five movements in the orchestra’s principal offering, Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis.”

One result is that she received standing ovations for two separate performances, something I don’t recall seeing at an MSO concert.

Her appearance also reminds us of the eye for spotting young musicians who have extraordinary potential that conductor John DeMain, 78, has brought to Madison during his 28 years leading the MSO. Organist Greg Zelek, another MSO star, also came here at age 26.

For some reason, there were plenty of empty seats for the Friday night performance, a shame because the concert is, arguably, the best of the season.

“Missa Solemnis” is a spectacular production, featuring the Madison Symphony Chorus, about 100 strong, and four outstanding soloists, soprano Sara Duchovna, mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter, Tenor Clay Hilley and bass Kenneth Kellogg.

The Mass is, of course, a fitting piece with which to begin Holy Week and this 70-minute production seemed to be over in no time at all as the combined efforts of musicians and singers blended into a moving production.