What are MSO Musicians Most Excited for this Season?

David Lewellen

Tagged Under: 2022.23 Season, MSO Musicians

There is still plenty of time to subscribe to the Milwaukee Symphony’s new season, including the Create Your Own series of four or more concerts. Recently, we asked several MSO musicians: If you were creating your own subscription, what concerts this season would you be most excited to attend? That’s different from musicians’ usual consideration of what they are looking forward to performing. But if they were in the audience, they would want to hear …

Ilana Setapen, acting concertmaster: The concerts I’d be most excited to attend probably have more to do with the guest artists than the music itself (although of course that is a draw too!) I enjoyed working with Jader Bignamini, the music director in Detroit, as well as Blake Pouliot, who studied with my former teacher, so I am looking forward to the Tchaikovsky 5 weekend (October 21-22).

I’m also really thrilled that James Ehnes (March 3-4) will be coming later in the season to perform the Prokofiev violin concerto, as well as Orli Shaham and David Robertson to perform Ravel and Chopin (November 18-19).

In the repertoire department, I love Shostakovich, and we don’t program a lot of his music here in Milwaukee, so his Fifth Symphony (February 24-25) will be thrilling. (A lot of other musicians feel the same, so we are especially entertaining when we get really into the music.) Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony (June 16-17) doesn’t need much promotion, but that will surely be a monumental concert as well.


Heather Zinninger, assistant principal flute: I’m excited about the three-week Water Festival in January and early February as I’m a nature lover myself. Water flows softly and freely yet is capable of terrifying destruction, so there is a lot that a composer can work with. Britten’s Four Sea Interludes (January 20-21) and Debussy’s La Mer (February 3-4) are classic examples of works that capture these contrasting features of water beautifully. I’m also excited to hear Tan Dun’s Water Concerto (January 20-21) featuring our percussionists, as well as other works featuring many of my colleagues as soloists over the course of those three weeks.

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 (February 24-25) is an awesome piece to hear played live. It’s so powerful, tender, and triumphant, and I can’t wait to hear our orchestra bring it to life. But I might be most excited to hear Anna Clyne’s This Midnight Hour, where this talented London-born, New York-based composer creates a dreamlike soundscape full of different colors and moods. I think it is a perfect counterpart to the Shostakovich.


Dvořák’s 8th Symphony has long been a favorite of mine (March 3-4). Full of playful woodwind bird calls, lush string writing, and jubilant brass fanfares, I can’t wait to hear the MSO’s version under 29-year-old American conductor Jonathon Heyward. Rounding out that program is a beautiful piece by Jessie Montgomery that’s inspired by the music that surrounded her growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s and 1990s.


Alejandro Duque, assistant principal viola: Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony (October 21-22) has sentimental meaning for me. I had a great orchestra teacher in middle school, and that was one of the pieces she played for the class. That moment was when I became committed to going into orchestral music. Every time that piece is programmed, I think back to her.  It would be nice to hear that for once, instead of playing it.

Also Sibelius 5 (April 14-15). It’s possibly my favorite of his symphonies, but I’ve never heard it live, or played it. It’s just one of those weird things; there are some standard pieces that don’t line up for some musicians. It would be a great experience to sit back and listen. In the finale, when the horns are passing the melody back and forth, it’s a great moment.

And I also love all the John Williams concerts, when we’ll be playing the live sound track to Jaws (June 30 – July 1) and The Force Awakens (May 12-14). It would be nice to be in the audience rather than playing. So much music goes unnoticed in the movie theater, but in the concert setting, you realize how much it helps to produce that atmosphere.


Adrien Zitoun, cello: Mendelssohn’s Elijah (March 24-26). I’m very interested in that.

And Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations (February 24-25). Conductor Han-Na Chang is a cellist herself. She won the Rostropovich contest when she was 11. I don’t know Zlatomir Fung, the soloist, but my daughter, Amelia, who follows all the cellists, says he’s amazing.

I always enjoy the Holiday Pops (December 8-11), because everyone’s in a good mood.

I will be looking forward to the Concerts for Schools performances in October, because my daughter will be soloing with us. She won the Stars of Tomorrow contest in May, so that will be a moment to remember.*


*Amelia Zitoun will also be performing on the Family Series Trills & Chills concert on Sunday, October 23.