Music Director Allan R. Scott and the Helena Symphony launch the Symphony’s 62nd Season on Saturday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center with Rachmaninoff’s emotionally stirring Second Symphony, and Concertmaster Stephen Cepeda performing Korngold’s lush, Hollywood-flavored Violin Concerto.
Composer Erich Korngold (1897-1957) was born about a century too late. Like Rachmaninoff, Korngold embraced the lush, overly indulgent sounds and melodies of the 19th century Romantic period. He was also a true child prodigy on the piano, equal to the proficiency of a young Mozart or Mendelssohn.
Korngold rejected the new modernism of the 1900s that bristled with dissonance, unexpected rhythms, and not many memorable melodies. Perhaps knowing he was considered out of date, Korngold accepted an invitation to work for Warner Brothers, and he moved to Hollywood to compose music for films. In 1934 Korngold wrote his first film score for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and spent the next dozen years composing music for 18 films, including The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Kings Row, Another Dawn, Juárez, The Prince and the Pauper, and his Oscar-winning score to Anthony Adverse. “I have never drawn a distinction between music for films and for operas or concerts,” he explained; calling film scores “operas without singing.” While he did return to composing works for the concert hall, Korngold’s music remained unapologetic in its Romanticism and its acknowledgement of Hollywood’s charms. His ability to connect to an audience in his rich film scores translated perfectly in his Violin Concerto (1945), as it displays all of the rigorous craftsmanship and masterful virtuosity of his upbringing in Vienna, coupled with the flair for emotional directness he employed at Warner Brothers.
Sergei Rachmaninoff represents the final culmination of the Romantic period. Unlike Beethoven, however, Rachmaninoff is not the link to the next period of musical development. In fact, his contemporaries saw Rachmaninoff as not keeping up with the times as he was determined to hold on to the roots of Romanticism – melody for melody’s sake. As a virtuoso pianist and composer, Rachmaninoff stands in the long line of Romantic performers-composers such as Liszt and Chopin.
“Music must first and foremost be loved,” Rachmaninoff explained. “It must come from the heart, and it must be directed to the heart. Otherwise it cannot hope to be lasting, indestructible art.” This creed can easily be linked to his Symphony No. 2 given its emotionally charged and compelling themes. “RACH 2 is wonderfully overwhelming,” says Maestro Scott. “It is truly an epic journey that is so fulfilling and exciting.”
VIOLINIST STEPHEN CEPEDA
The 2016-2017 Season marks Violinist Stephen Cepeda’s eleventh year as concertmaster of the Helena Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared as soloist with the HSO on several occasions, including performances of violin concertos by Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. Mr. Cepeda has appeared with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, Lamont Symphony Orchestra, and toured throughout Southeast Asia as soloist in 2009.
Mr. Cepeda is a founding member of the Meritage String Quartet, which was featured on Emmy award-winning television series 11th and Grant on PBS. Beginning his studies at the age of five, Mr. Cepeda has studied with some of the nation’s finest violinists, attended the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, served an Adjunct Professor at Montana State University, and maintains an active violin studio in Helena.
As the longest year-long performing arts organization in Helena, the Symphony’s 62nd Season features over a 20 critically-acclaimed guest artists, nearly 30 musical masterworks, and 14 exciting concerts. Other Season highlights include exciting programs such as A Symphony Spooktacular featuring well-known Halloween classical favorites as well as the weirdness and wonder of Danny Elfman’s fantastical, spine-tingling music from popular beloved Tim Burton films, including Corpse Bride, Batman, and Beetlejuice! In January, internationally renowned Pianist and Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Jon Nakamatsu makes his HSO debut with the best-known concerto of all time – Tchaikovsky’s irresistible and virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 1.
The second half of the Season includes: the unforgettable tragic passion of dream-like Spain and the allure of FLAMENCO with the Solero Flamenco Company in February; the seven most important days of all time captured by Haydn’s monumental Creation in March; and Puccini’s ravishing, achingly beautiful and tragic tale of La Bohème performed in concert with an all-star cast of nationally-acclaimed singers in May.
In addition to July’s Symphony Under the Stars, the Non-Series Concerts also includes the return of Steve Lippia (from 2015’s Symphony Under the Stars) in a new concert this November – Swingin’ Sinatra, and then Helena’s longest and greatest holiday tradition Christmas in the Cathedral in December features Handel’s Messiah.
The Season is complete with six Masterwork Concerts, three Non-Series Concerts, five FREE Education Concerts, and other programs. Subscribers receive the six Masterworks Concerts at a significant discount, and also can secure tickets for the Non-Series Concerts in advance. “From Flamenco to Italian opera, along with wonderfully exciting soloists, this season attracts audiences of all ages,” explains Director of Artistic Planning Teak Schummer.
In addition to the substantial discounts on season tickets, subscribers also receive the new Bring A Friend Pass, the The Art of Listening Newsletter, first access to Non-Series Concerts, and several other benefits. Subscriptions and single tickets to the 2016-2017 Season 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. Subscription packages are available in several price ranges, and subscribers can secure tickets to the Non-Series Concerts with their season tickets.