The Helena Symphony begins 2016 with two exciting programs: a FREE Symphony Kids concert on Saturday, January 9, and the next Masterworks Concert on Saturday, January 30 featuring the return of world-renowned Pianist Claire Huangci.

SYMPHONY KIDS – January 9
On Saturday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. in St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, members of the Helena Symphony Orchestra bring the next Symphony Kids concert. Created for children ages 5 to 10, Symphony Kids is a free 35-minute concert for audiences of all ages and their and their families. As one of the Symphony’s educational programs, Symphony Kids brings the power of live instrumental music into the hearts of children with specific concerts designed to introduce them to the world of music and instruments.

Titled, The Country Mouse & The City Mouse, children will follow his trip on their own maps of musical styles. With the help of the music of Beethoven and American composer Aaron Copland, the concert brings insight to great music, and teach that there’s no place like home through the adventures of two friends.

“Live instrumental music is a wonder to discover,” says Barbara Berg, Symphony Education Coordinator and writer of the Symphony Kids programs. “These concerts are designed to make a personal and relevant connection with the children, and we are thrilled to offer these fun, imaginative, and interactive performances by the Helena Symphony Orchestra musicians, actors, and dancers. This introduction of classical music to children becomes a friendship that lasts a lifetime. The Symphony Kids concerts also capture important life lessons.” Children also receive an activity book, and are welcomed to enjoy the Instrument Petting Zoo sponsored by Piccolo’s Music immediately following the concert in the lobby.

MASTERWORKS CONCERT – The Return of Pianist Claire Huangci
On Saturday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, internationally celebrated Pianist Claire Huangci will perform with the Helena Symphony Orchestra performing Prokofiev’s fiery, romantic, and witty Third Piano Concerto. Beginning her career at the age of 9, Ms. Huangci was billed as a prodigy, performing in concert for President Bill Clinton, winning numerous awards, and performing in concert with orchestras throughout the United States. Music Director Allan R. Scott and Ms. Huangci met nearly fifteen years ago, when Ms. Huangci won a competition that Maestro Scott served as president of the jury. Since then, they have performed throughout the country together.

Long out-growing the image of a prodigy and coming into artistic maturity, Ms. Huangci is regarded as one of the premiere interpreters of the music of Chopin, and has become one of the most sought-after pianists of her generation. American born, Ms. Huangci currently resides in Germany, and has performed throughout Europe and the United States with some of the leading orchestras, including the Essen Philharmonic, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, China

Philharmonic Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic Saarbrucken, Indianapolis Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Moscow Radio Symphony, and the Istanbul State Symphony. She has performed in concert and recital in Zurich, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, and Carnegie Hall in New York. As a recording artist, her album of works by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev was released in 2013, and return most recent album released this past year has been praised as one of the best solo albums of the year.

As with so many composers, Prokofiev wrote his keyboard works so he could perform them himself. Today, his Third Piano Concerto remains one of the most popular piano works of the last century, despite the initial response to the work. Known for his incredible energy, Prokofiev’s spirit is very much embedded in the entire Concerto. “Even more than the spirited flair, Prokofiev wrote some of the most technically demanding and virtuosic passages for the soloist, so that the Concerto needs to be seen as well as heard,” explains Maestro Scott. “The work simply sparkles throughout the entire thirty minutes with running passages, pounding chords, and contrasting emotions. The result is an amazing thirty minutes of virtuosity for the pianist, and great excitement and fun for the audience.”

The Helena Symphony Orchestra then brings the exotic sensuality and intoxication of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade to life for this exiting program. Created over several centuries by many different authors, the Middle Eastern epic 1,001 Arabian Nights is considered by many to be one of the greatest legends ever told, weaving stories within stories, alternating parables and romances with poetry and legends.

The story of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade provides the narrative thread between the tales. A powerful and bitter Sultan, betrayed by his former queen’s unfaithfulness, chooses to marry a new woman each day and put each new bride to death after their first night. Scheherazade cleverly diverts the Sultan from his cruel plan by weaving fantastic and elaborate stories, such as “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” “Aladdin and His Magic Lamp,” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.” Each night she refuses to finish the stories until the next evening. The Sultan, enchanted by her tales, keeps delaying her execution until after 1,001 nights (and 1,001 stories), when he finally gives up his bloodthirsty idea. By then the couple had produced three sons and time enough for the Sultan to be convinced of his wife’s fidelity and wisdom.

Though the subject of Scheherazade is based on Arabian tales, Rimsky-Korsakov’s music is a kaleidoscope of fairy tale images and fantastic happenings of oriental character, where the listeners are irresistibly drawn into a world of sonic colors and textures by using unique combinations of instruments that create a cocktail of exoticism, fantasy, sensuality, and brutality.

Tickets range in price from $52 to $12 and can be purchased on line 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.

Symphony Kids is sponsored by generous support from Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Base Camp, Montana Cultural Trust, and The Sidney E. Frank Foundation.
Please contact the Symphony for interviews with Education Coordinator Barb Berg, Pianist Claire Huangci, or Maestro Scott

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