The Helena Symphony continues SEASON 63 on Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center with Beethoven’s popular Pastoral Symphony, and exotic music from South America and Spain.
Unlike his Fifth Symphony, Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (subtitled Pastoral) has no struggle with destiny or battle with his God. In fact, the entire Sixth Symphony is void of almost any conflict, strain, or stress. The mood of the work is peaceful and relaxed and contains a refinement that is not typical of the raw, unrefined sound that Beethoven’s works usually portray. “Beethoven’s Sixth does not endure struggle to achieve triumph or even go through any radical transformation of the inner self in order to reach resolution,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “The Sixth quite beautifully and simply begins and ends with the same quiet consolation and engages, rather than challenges, the listener.”
Captured by Walt Disney in the original Fantasia film (1940), the Pastoral Symphony seems to be a literal depiction of nature, but Beethoven explains it is “more an expression of feeling than a painting,” and that “the listeners should be able to discover it for themselves.” The meaning of the word pastoral itself is rooted in the rustic, naïve, and simple music played by shepherds as they returned to the village from the fields. Like any art depicting large landscapes, fields, streams, storms, sunrises, or open skies, nature is more of a symbol than literal images. Beethoven composed in the woods or countryside and was deeply aware of the presence of God in the depths of the country. “The scenes represent mankind’s relationship with God through nature, as nature is the closest tangible thing to God that humankind can comprehend, other than man himself,” says Maestro Scott.
The concert continues with HSO Principal Harpist Tess Michel performing the riveting Harp Concerto of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). “One might think that a harp concerto would sound like most stereotypical harp music – think tea parties or angels strumming light and fluffy lyrical arpeggios,” suggests Maestro Scott. “On the contrary, this is not your grandmother’s harp concerto. In fact, it is intense, alluring, exotic, and simply wild – it will defy all expectations, and people will be shocked and in awe once experiencing this incredible work.”
As one of the most important composers and teachers in the late 1800s, Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote his beloved Capriccio Espagnol to capture the exotic music of Spain (like many Russian and French composers did). He was intrigued with the many traditional styles of the gypsy-like sounds, and the rhythms and melodies of Spanish culture, such as the flamenco and jota. The premiere performance of Capriccio Espagnol was so well received that the entire work was played as an encore. The musicians in the orchestra were even more thrilled with the new composition, and they would erupt into applause during the rehearsals. The rousing, Spanish music makes for a wonderful close to this mid-winter’s concert – perfect to warm up our hearts and spirits around Valentine’s Day!
Tickets can be purchased ($52-$12 plus a $5 transaction fee) online at www.helenasymphony.org, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or visiting the Symphony Box Office located on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Current subscribers can also renew their seats for the 2018-2019 Season at last year’s early bird prices before March 1.