On Saturday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale continues its 60th Anniversary Season with a concert titled The Sacred & The Seductive, featuring music by American legend Aaron Copland, French composer Maurice Ravel, and the Symphony’s Composer in Residence Kile Smith. The title alludes to an Americana spirituality in the music of the two American composers (Copland and Kile Smith) juxtaposed with Ravel’s evocative and atmospheric Daphnis and Chloé, considered one of the great masterworks of the last century.
The concert opens with Copland’s lighthearted, humorous, and intimate Old American Songs performed by the HSO and nationally-noted Baritone Ron Loyd. “The Old American Songs have taken their place among Copland’s best-loved works,” says Music Director Allan R. Scott. “Each of the songs absorbs the many different American musical traditions that have been passed down in hymnals, children’s nursery rhymes, and the oral tradition, and they are held together by the unity of Copland’s style of depicting an America of innocence, opportunity, optimism, and hope.”
The music of Helena Symphony Composer in Residence Kile Smith has been praised by audiences and critics for its “emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice.” Gramophone Magazine hailed Smith’s music for its “sparkling beauty,” and the Philadelphia City Paper raved that his music is “almost preternaturally beautiful.” Mr. Smith has worked as composer in residence for several ensembles, and his music has been performed by orchestras and choruses around the world, including the Delaware Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Philadelphia Classical Orchestra, Jackson Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, Virginia Chorale, and the Sofia Philharmonic of Bulgaria, to name a few.
As part of this residency, Mr. Smith is writing two new works for the Helena Symphony Orchestra. The first work, Gold and Silver, was premiered in in July at the Symphony Under the Stars to celebrate the 150th birthday of the City of Helena, and it will be performed again at the Symphony’s 60th Anniversary Concert in May 2015, and the second new work (yet to be composed) will be premiered by the HSO and Cellist Ovidiu Marinescu in January 2015.
The Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale will also perform Smith’s Psalm 46 for baritone solo, chorus, and orchestra. Composed in 2004, Smith’s Psalm 46 uses the text of the well-known psalm to convey a powerful transformation from fear to acceptance. Smith explains that “the words of this psalm forces me to confront things I might not want to confront – desolation, death, and destruction – there is no getting around it.” Yet the work offers incredible moments of reflection, as we seek our own personal refuge. “Kile’s music suggests that after we surrender and we are willing to be still, we will have a spiritual coming of age,” explains Maestro Scott. “As with so much great music, when we stop, we may lose it all; but in letting go, we have gained everything.”
The performance culminates with Maurice Ravel’s masterpiece Daphnis and Chloé. There are very few composers who have the true gift of orchestrating a piece of music like a painting – complete with invention, craft, precision, and perfection of color. Maurice Ravel, one of the most quintessentially French composers, possessed the rare ability to express the ultimate goal of any artistic language – to capture the inexplicable or inexpressible through the delicate balance of craft and inspiration. Composed as a ballet, the passionate tale Daphnis and Chloé is considered by most to be Ravel’s greatest work. “Ravel uses his renowned abilities to orchestrate a work to create a world that envelopes the listener with elegant sensuality, mysteriousness, and dream-like atmospheres,” says Maestro Scott.
Interviews with Maestro Scott and Composer Kile Smith may be scheduled through the Helena Symphony (406.442.1860).
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In addition to this past summer’s Symphony Under the Stars, the Non-Series Concert Series also include the Christmas in the Cathedral, and the 60th Anniversary Concert featuring Beethoven’s immortal Ninth Symphony. The FREE Education Concerts include four Symphony Kids concerts and the annual Youth Concert throughout the Season. Given the overwhelming success of the Magical Music of Disney in July, the Symphony’s annual Symphony in the City is a trip for 4 to Disneyland, who also celebrates their 60th Anniversary. Tickets for the Non-Series Concerts and the Symphony in the City raffle are on sale now.
Pro-rated subscriptions are still available. To subscribe to the 2014-2015 Season, subscriptions 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 at new offices on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.