THE HELENA SYMPHONY CELEBRATES 60TH ANNIVERSARY WITH THE MOST-LOVED WORK OF ALL TIME AND A JUBILEE CELEBRATION

Charles Robert Stephens, Baritone Kerri Marcinko, Soprano
Charles Robert Stephens, Baritone
Kerri Marcinko, Soprano

On Saturday, May 2 in the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony celebrates its 60th Anniversary with what is considered the most loved work in all of music. Considered an epic, timeless message of humanity and brotherhood, Beethoven’s Ninth has been used to celebrate some of the most important moments in history. Music Director Allan R. Scott leads 70 players of the Helena Symphony Orchestra, 85 members of the Helena Symphony Chorale, and four nationally noted guest soloists, including renowned Baritone Charles Robert Stephens and Metropolitan Opera Soprano Kerri Marcinko. The concert also includes a short overture by Composer in Residence Kile Smith to kick off the anniversary concert.

“What chiefly distinguishes Beethoven from his predecessors is his personal connection to his art,” explains Maestro Scott. “Beethoven’s own personal ideas and hopes are represented in his symphonic output. It is a celebration of what our potential is as a community; a scream optimism that asks, or even demands, that the city of man can and should be as peaceful as the city of God.”

Today, the Ninth Symphony has become a symbol for countless societies, cultures, religions, and governments. German nationalists, French republicans, Communists, and Catholics have used it. When democracy toppled the symbols of the Cold War with the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the Ninth was performed. Hitler celebrated his birthdays with it, yet it was played by prisoners in German concentration camps. The work has come to symbolize the pursuit of wealth in Hong Kong, and the communist government of China uses the Ninth as a motto of the Marxist slogan “victory through revolutionary struggle.” As the Chinese politicized the Ninth Symphony, the Japanese socialized it, playing it in karaoke bars. Even the length of a compact disc was determined based on the length of Beethoven’s Ninth.

When the United States was attacked by terrorists on 11 September 2001, almost everything in the country stopped – every major sports team postponed games, the stock market closed for days, and many forms of transportation were interrupted. The only thing that seemed appropriate was music, and orchestras throughout the country, and indeed at Ground Zero in New York, performed Beethoven’s Ninth, his final cry of hope and optimism for mankind. It has been proclaimed as “one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit.”

The Jubilee Celebration begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center Ballroom with a special pre-concert event. Led by Honorary Chair Lisa Bullock, the Jubilee Celebration is complete with heavy hors d’ouvres and open bar, along with a live and silent auction. “The limited auction items are about experiences,” says Special Events Chair and Symphony Board member Christa Tarver. “From a special hike and private luncheon on at the top of the Sleeping Giant Mountain, to a VIP pass for Symphony Under the Stars that includes private parking by the stage and catered picnic, we are featuring things that one could not get elsewhere.”

Tickets for the Jubilee Celebration and the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony are $100 with concert seats reserved. Tickets for just the concert are all $32. Tickets are available on line 24 hours a day at helenasymphony.org, or by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or at 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.

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