Featuring acclaimed Pianist Carl Cranmer, Schumann’s Piano Concerto recalls his love for his wife with sweeping melodies and tenderness, and the concert includes Puccini’s spiritually passionate and rarely heard Messa di Gloria.

Masterworks II will feature 70 members of the Helena Symphony Chorale performing for the first time this Season, along with exceptional soloists. Acclaimed Pianist Carl Cranmer returns to the Helena Symphony stage, recognized for his performances across the globe. Tenor Kirk Dougherty returns to the Helena Symphony stage and has performed with opera companies including Piedmont Opera, Opera San Jose, and Opera Orlando among others. Baritone Nathan Stark returns to perform with the Helena Symphony following his recent appearance in Season 67. Mr. Stark has been onstage at the Metropolitan Opera and many others, performing across the United States and globe.

Masterworks II is presented thanks to AARP Montana, SMA Architecture & Design, Jeanne & Ron Baldwin, the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, and HTC Montana Limousine!


The Helena Symphony Orchestra is delighted to welcome back Pianist Carl Cranmer. Dr. Cranmer made his debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra at age nine, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, and has since performed throughout the world, including appearances with the Royal Philharmonic of England, Gulbenkian Orquesta of Portugal, Juilliard Orchestra, and several other orchestras in the U.S., Asia, and Russia.

Of his performance of Liszt’s Concerto No. 2, The New York Times’ James Oesterreich remarked that Dr. Cranmer “made light work of Liszt’s fiendishly demanding octaves, scales, and glissandos, showing a fine lyrical strain to boot. And he did it all with lovely, controlled tone.” Recently, Dr. Cranmer was a judge of the 12th Moscow International Frédéric Chopin Competition held in Foshan, China, and performed the quartet version of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Dali Quartet, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with Maestro Scott and the Helena Symphony Orchestra and Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, along with solo recitals in Anchorage, Alaska; Salt Lake City, Utah; Krakow, Poland; and Beijing and Guangzhou, China.


Much of Schumann’s earlier works focused on solo piano and works for voice and piano. After his marriage to acclaimed pianist Clara Wieck (the daughter of Schumann’s piano teacher) in 1840 Schumann turned to larger works. Between 1841 and 1853 he composed several overtures, four symphonies, and three concertos, including his only piano concerto. Schumann’s Piano Concerto actually began as a single movement Fantasy for Piano & Orchestra in 1840 for Clara to perform; it was, however, a total bust with audiences, critics, and publishers.

By 1845, the Schumann family needed money, causing Robert to revisit and add two additional movements to his work for solo piano and orchestra for Clara to perform, and for audiences to enjoy. His concept of a piano concerto was quite different than what many expected. Because of performers like Franz Liszt, flashy virtuosity with bombastic showmanship were all the rage. Others, like Chopin and Schumann himself, were pianists more suited for soiree type settings. “My concerto is a compromise between a symphony, a concerto, and a huge sonata. I see I cannot write a concerto for the virtuosos – I must write something else,” explained Schumann.

The work premiered with Clara at the piano, and Mendelssohn conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. “In many ways the orchestra is as important to the work as the solo piano. For some, the Concerto lacked the show-stopping dazzle that many craved,” explains Maestro Scott. Superstar pianist Liszt proclaimed Schumann’s Piano Concerto a “concerto without piano.” Despite the unexpectedness of the work, Schumann believed his Piano Concerto would be a success and the work continues to be part of standard repertoire for pianist and audiences.


The Helena Symphony is elated to announce we will continue our partnership with AARP to bring exceptional symphonic music to thousands across western Montana. As the Masterworks Series presented by AARP Montana, this continued collaboration will support audiences within the concert hall, bringing the highest quality symphonic performances and guest artists to Helena. The Helena Symphony is grateful for the generosity of the whole AARP Montana team!

Other Season highlights include the gorgeous Mozart by Candlelight, a double feature of opera and ballet with Cavalleria Rusticana and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the return of Christmas in the Cathedral with two amazing performances, and the delightfully triumphant Fifth Symphony by Gustav Mahler. Season 69 also includes several free Educational Concerts, a black-tie Masquerade, and much more!

Tickets for the remaining Masterworks concerts are available as a mini subscription package at a substantial discount. In addition to the discounts on season tickets, subscribers also receive the new Bring A Friend Pass, The Art of Listening Newsletter, first access to Non-Series Concerts, and several other benefits. Single concert tickets can also be purchased ($55- $15 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 Placer Building (21 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 100) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.


See below for Season concert listing.

Maestro Scott and guest artists are available for interviews by contacting the Symphony at 406.442.1860 or [email protected]


Masterworks Concerts Series

  1. Saturday, 16 September 2023, 5:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

Opening Night – Violinist Tim Fain’s Edge of a Dream

Saturday, 16 September 2023, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center Ballroom

Opening Night After Party

  1. Saturday, 21 October 2023, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

Puccini & Schumann

  1. Saturday, 27 January 2024, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

Beethoven’s Triple & Mahler’s Fifth

  1. Saturday, 24 February 2024, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

Brahms, Dvořák, and the Return of Cellist Amit Peled

  1. Saturday, 23 March 2024, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

The Bells of Ecstasy

  1. Saturday, 4 May 2024, 7:30 p.m., Helena Civic Center

Swan Lake and Cavalleria Rusticana

Non-Series Concerts

    1. Saturday, 15 July 2023, 8:30 p.m., Carroll College

Intrepid Credit Union Symphony Under the Stars

    1. Saturday, 11 November 2023, 7:30 p.m., St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

Mozart by Candlelight

    1. Monday, 4 December 2023, 5:30 & 8:00 p.m., Cathedral of Saint Helena

Christmas in the Cathedral

Education Concerts

Annual Youth Concert for 4th & 5th Graders

Wednesday, 17 April 2024, 1:00 p.m., Helena Civic Center ~ Peter VERSUS the Wolf

Symphony Kids

Symphony Kids 1: Saturday, 30 September 2023 ~ The Little Engine That Could Symphony Kids 2: Saturday, 4 November 2023 ~ Xavier’s Very Bad Day Symphony Kids 3: Saturday, 3 February 2024 ~ A Season for Charlotte the Spider Symphony Kids 4: Saturday, 6 April 2024 ~ The Bear’s Picnic

** All Symphony Kids take place at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 10 a.m.**