Music Director Allan R. Scott and the Helena Symphony launch the Symphony’s SEASON 63 on Saturday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center with internationally-acclaimed Finnish violinist Petteri Iivonen performing the explosive and once-considered-impossible-to-play Violin Concerto by the great American Composer Samuel Barber.   Maestro Scott also leads the HSO in musical journey of triumph over death with Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony.

Following the performance, audience members are invited to the Opening Night Reception in the Ballroom of the Helena Civic Center for champagne and confectionary delights, sponsored by The Parrott and The Montana Club.  Admittance is free to all season subscribers, and $10 for others.  Subscribers are also given access to the Pre-Concert Conductor’s Crash Course with Maestro Scott and soloists 45 minutes prior to all Masterworks Concerts.

The Violin Concerto of American composer Samuel Barber is arguably considered “the great American Violin Concerto.”  The hallmark of any great work for solo instrument with orchestra accompaniment is ultimately lyricism and virtuosity.  What is very unusual, though wonderfully so, is how Barber rarely allows these two key elements to meet during his Violin Concerto.  Most, if not all, works for solo instrument, will have the lushness of a melodic line intertwining with a technically challenging section.  Not with Barber’s Violin Concerto.  Instead, the work consists of two beautifully expressive movements followed by a finale of exceptional virtuosity, which was once deemed unplayable by the violinist who commissioned the piece (and who never ended up playing it).  Violinist Petteri Iivonen said he specifically requested to do Barber’s Violin Concerto, because “I wanted to perform it with my colleague, Maestro Scott.  He was gracious to perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with me on several occasions and embrace the performance practices of Finland’s greatest composer.  I wanted to return the favor and embrace a truly American work with him and the HSO.”

Gustav Mahler’s said “Whoever listens to my music intelligently will see my life transparently revealed.  My First Symphony will be something of which the world has never heard before.” In almost every work Mahler composed there exists the conflict between life and death, and there is a search for eternal beauty amidst the suffering and pains of everyday life.  “In Mahler’s mind, the world was a glorious place in which ecstasy and human suffering were closely linked,” explains Maestro Scott, who has become noted internationally for his interpretation of Mahler’s music.   “He believed in the bond between human existence and music, and spent most of his career pursuing this lofty aim.  Mahler’s overall idea in his First Symphony, and in all of Mahler’s symphonies, is that life comprises a countless number of feelings and sensations.  And the work’s overall idea is one of transcendence – transcendence over misery and suffering – a theme that occupied many of Mahler’s works and his own personal life.


SEASON 63 opens with world-renowned Violinist Petteri Iivonen from Finland, performing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto.  Mr. Iivonen, who was recently appointed Concertmaster of the internationally-renowned Finnish National Opera Orchestra, performs on a Guadagnini violin made in 1755.

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Mr. Iivonen received his first violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine entered the Sibelius Academy. With additional guidance from world renowned violinist Shlomo Mintz, Mr. Iivonen continued his studies at the USC Thornton School of Music and at the Tel Aviv University.

“This is a rare treat for Montana audiences to experience Mr. Iivonen,” says Music Director Allan R. Scott.  “Audiences continue to be astonished at his virtuosity, and he was wonderfully received at his Helena Symphony debut two years ago.”

Mr. Iivonen made his American solo orchestra debut with Maestro Scott and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia, and in 2010 Mr. Iivonen was awarded Silver Medalist and Special Prize winner at the world renowned International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, and remains the youngest winner of the Kuopio National Violin Competition.

Highlights of Mr. Iivonen’s career include appearances with every major orchestra in Finland, and performances around the world, including with acclaimed orchestras in Israel, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, and Kazakhstan.  Mr. Iivonen has also been heard in concerts at the Museé du Louvre in Paris, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Helsinki Music Centre, Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in Spain, the Sibelius Hall in Finland, and the Kodaly Center in Hungary. In 2010, Mr. Iivonen performed the monumental Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Zubin Mehta at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, Israel.  His debut recording featuring works by Bach, Brahms, Debussy, and Franck was released in 2009.


2016-2017 SEASON

Highlights of the Season include the Season’s acclaimed guest artists such as Finnish Violinist Petteri Iivonen, Pianist Christopher Hahn, HSO Harpist Tess Michel, and Violinist Tim Fain, who was featured in the films Black Swan and 12 Years A Slave.  “Ticket renewals have come in very quickly, so we encourage people to renew or get your season tickets soon and take advantage of this special offer that only lasts for a month,” explains Director of Patron Services Scott Kall.

Other Season highlights include exciting programs such as BEETHOVEN’s Pastoral Symphony, MAHLER’s triumphant Symphony No. 1, VERDI’s epic Requiem; a centennial celebration of conductor, composer, and humanitarian Leonard Bernstein titled BERNSTEIN 100! with music from West Side Story, Candide, On the Waterfront film, and more; and a tribute to humankind’s fight for freedom with Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony paired with Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy for piano soloist, six vocal soloists, orchestra, and chorus.  Other concerts include the music of Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, and American composer Samuel Barber.

The Symphony also announces the Non-Series Concerts for the 2017-2018 Season.  These concerts include the four-decade tradition of Christmas in the Cathedral (Monday, December 11); a special concert featuring Montana musical legend Philp Aaberg and a new recording release (Saturday, November 11); and the Symphony Under the Stars in partnership with Carroll College this past summer featuring ROCK ON! ~ The Music of the 70s & 80s.

The Season also includes five FREE Education Concerts throughout the season, complete with narration, actors, and multi-media presentations.  Subscribers receive the six Masterworks Concerts at a significant discount, and can also secure tickets for the Non-Series Concerts in advance.

 In addition to the substantial 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.  Subscriptions and single tickets to the 2017-2018 Season can be purchased online at, 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.  Subscription packages are available in several price ranges, and subscribers can secure tickets to the Non-Series Concerts with their season tickets.  Tickets to individual concerts will go on sale starting September 1.

Acclaimed Finnish violinist Petteri Iivonen to perform Barber concerto
Individual Masterworks Concert Series Tickets Now Available!