On Saturday, March 25, 7:30 p.m. at the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, along with the Carroll College Choir, and three acclaimed soloists bring the making of world, its universe, stars, sun, moons, and “all living creatures” to life with Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Creation. The timeless masterpiece, performed by over 130 singers, 55 players, and 3 soloists, incorporates the well-known Biblical creation story coupled with moments of reflection and praise from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. Internationally-noted soloists Soprano Rachel Copeland, Tenor David Adams, and Baritone Evan Thomas Jones join the cast of many for this massive work.
“Haydn’s take on the Creation story is a monumental yet delightful vision of God creating the universe, bursting with imagination, wit and beauty,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “The Creation reflects a faith that is simple, but also optimistic, rational, humanistic, and a tolerant, comfortable picture of the world and humankind. Even in his compositions of Masses, Haydn had the traditionally dark Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) maintain a general cheerfulness, stressing that the important words of that prayer are not “sins” but “takest away.”
The story of Haydn’s Creation includes narration from archangels Gabriel (soprano soloist), Uriel (tenor soloist), and Raphael (bass soloist), along with the heavenly hosts (chorus) praising God’s accomplishments each day. Adam (bass soloist) and Eve (soprano soloist) are later incorporated in the oratorio, which ends just shortly before the “fall” of man where Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. “The theological premise of The Creation is essentially grounded in a faith of Haydn, that is expressed in joy, in happiness – a happiness prolonged and strengthened by undertones of wonder and veneration,” says Maestro Scott. “Personally, it was one of those rare works that make it equally wonderful to perform and experience at the same time.”
Many scholars criticize Haydn for not mentioning the “fall” of man and the sin that initiated the need for atonement, which are the very essence of Christianity. Rather, Haydn intentionally shows man and woman in eternal love, surrounded by idyllic innocence, and the relationship of God’s people and in nature. “Even if the Christians in the audience know that the “fall” with all its miserable consequences is just around the corner, at least it is banished from the closed world of Haydn’s music,” says Maestro Scott.
Franz Joseph Haydn serves as the perfect representative of the Classical era (the period of 1750-1820), the time of Mozart, the Age of Enlightenment, order, reason, and the era of the American and French Revolutions. The almost childlike cheerfulness of Haydn’s music, its inexhaustible inventiveness, and its perfection of design conceal a considerable inner strength. This fusion of exuberance, originality, classical elegance, and intellectual power explains to a large extent the compelling appeal of Haydn’s music and is perhaps the reason why his music is placed above all of Haydn’s contemporaries except Mozart. Even Mozart recognized Haydn’s music as exceptional, saying that “Haydn alone has the secret both of making me smile and of touching my innermost soul.”
Tickets can be purchased on line at helenasymphony.org, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or in person at the Symphony Box Office located on the corner of Broadway and the Walking Mall in the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Single concert ticket prices range from $52 to $12. Season tickets are also on sale for the 2017-2018 Season at helenasymphony.org or 406.442.1860.