Music Director Allan R. Scott and the Helena Symphony launch the Symphony’s 65th Season on Saturday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m. with internationally renowned Violinist Tim Fain. From his performances in the films Black Swan and 12 Years A Slave, Mr. Fain returns to open Season 65 with Philip Glass’ hypnotic and meditative American Four Seasons. The HSO continues with Jennifer Higdon’s ethereal blue cathedral and Richard Strauss’ lush and luxurious celebration of life with music from Der Rosenkavalier. Opening Night is not to be missed! The Opening Night concert is sponsored by the generous support of First Montana Land Title Company and Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry, & Hoven.
Following the performance, audience members are invited to the Opening Night Celebration in the Ballroom of the Helena Civic Center for champagne and desserts, sponsored by The Parrott and First Security Bank. Admittance is free to all season subscribers, and $10 for others. Subscribers are also given entrance to the Pre-Concert Conductor’s Crash Course with Maestro Scott and soloists 45 minutes prior to all Masterworks Concerts.
There are few composers whose music is not only instantly recognizable, but whose music has impacted the culture of their own times. American composer Philip Glass has left an enormous output of music that is so distinct that some listeners are immediately entranced, and others are reactively dismissive. One thing is for sure: Glass’ music is fascinating. For over three decades Glass has developed one of the most unique musical languages that leads him to compose such a diverse amount of music, including more than 25 operas, large and small; 12 symphonies; three piano concertos, concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet; string quartets; works for solo organ and piano; and soundtracks for films ranging from new scores to the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to documentaries to high-profile, Academy Award-nominated films such as The Hours.
While Glass does not like the term “minimalism,” he is generally considered to be one of minimalism’s greatest legends. Defined as the “avant-garde movement in music characterized by the repetition of very short phrases which change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect,” minimalism has been one of the defining musical movements since the 1960s led by Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, Arvo Pärt, and Henryk Gorecki. Glass refers to his music as the concept of “additive process” or “music with repetitive structures” instead of minimalism.
Inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Glass composed his Violin Concerto No. 2. Subtitled The American Four Seasons, the Concerto uses uses a similar size string orchestra but with a synthesizer. The work is described as “achingly beautiful” with “subtle rhythmic seduction.”
Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon has become the most commissioned composer alive. As one of the most highly regarded composers of her generation, Higdon’s music has an immediate audience appeal. Some critics suggest her music’s accessibility is due to her “conservative” use of familiar harmonies and colors, yet she also creates a unique sound. Reflecting on the death of her brother, Andrew Blue Higdon, she composed blue cathedral in 2000. She describes the work:
I was pondering a lot of things about the journey we make after death. I had a lot of very crystal images in my head which contributed to the composition process. Blue – like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals – places of thought, growth, spiritual expression, serving as a symbolic doorway into and out of this world. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge, and growth.
The recent loss of my younger brother, Andrew Blue, made me reflect on the amazing journeys that we all make in our lives, crossing paths with so many individuals singularly and collectively, learning and growing each step of the way. This piece represents the expression of the individual and the group – our inner travels and the places our souls carry us, the lessons we learn, and the growth we experience. This is a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life.
The Opening Night concert culminates with music from a century ago – Richard Strauss’ epic sounds from his opera Der Rosenkavalier. Strauss is hailed as the greatest composer of orchestral tone poems and one of the most famous composers of his lifetime. Der Rosenkavalier became his most popular work. The opera focuses on love and age, and what works and what does not in romantic relationships. The Helena Symphony Orchestra performs highlights from the opera that captures the jealousy, fun, love, comedic trickery, and popular Viennese waltzes. Overall, the story is just as much sentimental and cynical as it is a frisky comedy.
“Strauss captures the scenes through the orchestra’s sparkling and lush sounds, love affairs, and fairy-tale ending,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “Opening Night captures our spirit and our hearts, and we are excited to share this concert and the entire Season with you.”
VIOLINIST TIM FAIN
Returning to Helena, award winning Violinist Tim Fain has been seen on screen and heard in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack to the film Black Swan. Mr. Fain also performs on the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, and he gave “voice” to the violin of the lead actor in the hit film 12 Years a Slave, as he did with Richard Gere’s violin in the film Bee Season. He has appeared internationally as a soloist with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Baltimore Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York, Pittsburgh Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestras at Lincoln Center, and National Orchestra of Spain. Mr. Fain’s recitals have taken him to the world’s major music capitals. He has toured with musicians from Marlboro, as a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and around the globe in a duo-recital program with Philip Glass, whose Concerto he performs with the Helena Symphony Orchestra.
As the longest year-long performing arts organization in Helena, the Symphony’s 65th Season features 15 performances and over 30 soloists, including the return of internationally renowned Violinist Tim Fain, internationally-acclaimed Pianist Carl Cranmer, Violin superstar Robyn Bollinger, nearly 20 vocal soloists, including Metropolitan Opera stars Mezzo Soprano Kirstin Chávez and Soprano Danielle Talamantes.
Other highlights include a special Mozart by Candlelight concert with the greatest living clarinetist today, Ricardo Morales; Christmas in the Cathedral, Rossini’s thrilling and spiritual Stabat Mater, and the most popular opera of all time – Bizet’s Carmen.
The Season also includes several free Educational Concerts and a red-carpet Benefit Concert, and much more!
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. 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 Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets for the remaining Non-Series Concerts, Mozart by Candlelight and Christmas in the Cathedral, go on sale to the public on Monday, September 16.