Madison Celebrates John Harbison

In February, Madison will celebrate the 80th birthday of John Harbison, the Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winning composer. First Unitarian Society of Madison will serve as one of several centers of activity.

List of Events

February 1 – 28
Exhibit:  John Harbison & His Music

Venue:  Memorial Library, UW-Madison
Tickets:  No ticket required
More information: or call 608-262-3343

February 1 – 28
Broadcast Retrospective:  The Music of John Harbison

Showcasing the breadth of Harbison’s work, from large symphonic to intimate chamber and vocal music, and maybe even some jazz. Stay “tuned” for more information.
More information: Visit Wisconsin Public Radio at

February 1 @ 7:30 pm
Imani Winds:  Quintet for Winds

by John Harbison and other chamber music
Venue:  Wisconsin Union Theater

February 15 @ 12:15 pm
Friday Noon Musicale @ FUS

Mead-Witter School of Music Faculty & Friends present chamber music of John Harbison. John Harbison will read from his new book, What Do We Make of Bach?
Venue:  First Unitarian Society of Madison
Tickets: A free, non-ticketed event

February 15 @ 7:30 pm  I  February 16 @ 8 pm  I  February 17 @ 2:30 pm
Madison Symphony Orchestra:  The Most Often Used Chords

(Pre-concert conversation with John Harbison on Friday & Saturday)
Venue:  Overture Hall

February 17 @ 11 am
FUS Music for Sunday Worship: John Harbison on the Podium

Mr. Harbison conducts the Society Choir
Venue:  First Unitarian Society of Madison
Tickets:  Worship service. A non-ticketed event. All are welcome.

February 17 @ 7:30 pm
Chamber Music of John Harbison
World Premiere:  Viola Sonata

Sally Chisholm, viola; Timothy Lovelace, piano; Pro Arte Quartet
Venue:  Mills Hall in Mead Witter School of Music

February 22 @ 12:15 pm
Friday Noon Musicale at FUS

Mosaic Chamber Players with guest artists John Harbison, piano and Rose Mary Harbison, violin
Venue:  First Unitarian Society of Madison
Tickets:  A free, non-ticketed event

February 24 @ 11 am
FUS Music for Sunday Worship:  John Harbison at the Keyboard

John Harbison plays his keyboard works on the newly installed Wartmann Steinway B
Venue:  First Unitarian Society of Madison
Tickets:  Worship service. A non-ticketed event. All are welcome.

About John Harbison

Composer John Harbison is among America’s most distinguished artistic figures. He has composed music for most of America’s premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chanticleer, Lark Quartet, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His catalog includes three operas, six symphonies, twelve concerti, a ballet, six string quartets, numerous song cycles and chamber works, and a large body of sacred music that includes cantatas, motets, and the orchestral-choral works The Flight Into Egypt, Four Psalms, Requiem, and Abraham. Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Academy in Rome, and numerous festivals. He earned degrees from Harvard and Princeton before joining the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has taught composition at Tanglewood and served as head of the composition program there from 2005-2015. With Rose Mary Harbison, the inspiration for many of his violin works, he has been co-Artistic Director of the annual Token Creek Chamber Music Festival outside Madison, Wisconsin since its founding in 1989. Active as a jazz pianist, Harbison founded MIT’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble in 2010, for which he served as coach and arranger, and he is a pianist with the faculty jazz group Strength in Numbers (SIN). In these roles, he is adding to his large catalog of pop-songs and jazz arrangements. A leading expert in the music of J. S. Bach, Harbison served as Music Director of Cantata Singers, is principal guest conductor at Emmanuel Music in Boston (where for three years he served as Acting Artistic Director), and recently released a volume of his essays on Bach entitled, “What Do We Make of Bach?”.