Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gerri DiMaggio Will Help Select An Official Song for the City of Madison

Wisconsin has lots of official symbols, including a state insect (the Honey Bee), a state fossil (the Trilobite), a state animal (the Badger), and a state fish (the Muskellunge). It also has an official state song: "On Wisconsin," composed in 1909 by William Purdy. The words to that song are familiar to all Wisconsin football fans, as well as hordes of opponents, and even some folks who’ve never worn red on Saturdays.

Can the City of Madison find a song that will inspire such devotion and loyalty? A song that will symbolize everything we love about this one-of-a-kind, "nothing like it anywhere else" city where we grew up and went to high school? We’re about to find out... reports that, as part of the Madison Sesquicentennial celebration, Mayor Dave named a committee to select an official song for Madison. And no, it’s not likely to be "Happy Birthday to You," because that song is still protected by copyright, and no one wants to run the risk of having to raise property taxes to pay royalties.

The big news for the Madison Central High School Class of 1965 is that one of our own -- Gerri DiMaggio -- is a member of the 10-person committee that will select an official song for Madison. She’s joined by some extraordinary Madisonians, including song-writer and musician Ben Sidran, who wrote the lyrics to Steve Miller’s hit song "Space Cowboy;" UW-Madison professor Richard Davis, a well-known bass player; Andrew Sewell, Music Director and Maestro of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; and John DeMain, Music Director and Conductor of the Madison Symphony Orchestra (which after "three months of strenuous rehearsing," gave its first performance on December 14, 1926, at the Central High School auditorium).*

It will be very interesting to see what this committee, which is loaded with members who have a background in jazz, will chose as Madison’s official song.

*At that time, the orchestra was called the Madison Civic Symphony

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