Madison Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director Steps Down

By Francisco Salazar

Wisconsin’s Madison Symphony Orchestra Artistic Director John DeMain has stepped down from his post.

Demain will remain with the company until the 2025-26 season which will mark the Madison Orchestra’s 100th anniversary.

DeMain noted, “The word ‘retirement’ implies that I’m quitting conducting. I’m stepping down from the position of music director with the orchestra.”

DeMain is only the fourth music director in the Symphony’s 98-year history and will have led the orchestra for 32 years. He first came to Madison in 1994 and implemented blind auditions to combat bias in the selection of musicians and challenged the orchestra with more difficult music. He also paid special attention to the string section, strengthening the violins and harps. He saw the orchestra through its Overture Hall debut in 2004.

The orchestra announced that it would begin looking for a new conductor.

In a statement Robert A. Reed, the MSO executive director said, “It’s always a stressful time. You want to find the right person, but there’s no guarantee. … For John to be here 30 years — 32 when he leaves — that’s extremely rare.”