On Saturday, October 20th at 7:30 p.m. in the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony will present the second of the Exergy Masterworks Concerts featuring two masterworks of music. “Beethoven and Brahms are two of the most known composers today,” says Director of Artistic Planning Leatrice Lily. “We are especially excited to welcome internationally-noted Pianist Alexandra Costin from Romania to perform BEETHOVEN’s Third Piano Concerto.”
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Ms. Costin made her professional debut at age 14, and since then she has performed over 200 performances with orchestras throughout the world. She has appeared with some of the leading orchestras in the world, including the Symphony Orchestra of Maracaibo (Venezuela), National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México, North Czech Philharmonic, many orchestras in Germany, several in Italy, and nearly every orchestra in her native Romania, and recently, she made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2008. “This is a rare opportunity to see and hear Pianist Alexandra Costin in the United States,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “To experience a world-class artist perform a legendary work, such as a Beethoven piano concerto, is something that we do not want to miss.”
Like Mozart, Beethoven wrote works to display his virtuosity at the keyboard and his skills as a composer, and soon he established himself as Vienna’s best pianist. After some revisions, the Piano Concerto No. 3 premiered on a concert in 1803 (some three years after it was composed) that also featured the premiere of his Symphony No. 2, a new oratorio, and a reprise of his Symphony No. 1. “This was actually not entirely uncommon to have that many works on a concert and that long of a concert at that time,” suggests Maestro Scott. “Much like his Second Symphony, the Piano Concerto No. 3 couples the spirit of Mozart (who had recently died) with the gut-wrenching sounds of the ‘heroic’ Beethoven.”
Also as with Mozart, Beethoven’s works allowed him to become more known as a composer than a performer, and in many ways it was the premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 3 that gave Beethoven his independence as a composer. The only one of his five piano concertos written in a minor key, the Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor becomes the doorway that opens up to the sounds of his Symphonies No. 3 (Eroica) and 5 – the sounds that have defined him for centuries. Given the increasing symptoms of deafness since the late 1790s, the Concerto was also the last work which Beethoven composed for himself as soloist.
The second half of the concert features one of music’s greatest masterpieces of all time – BRAHMS’ Requiem, featuring Soprano Diana McVey (who made her debut with the HSO last season in the Mahler 8th performance), Baritone Brandon Hendrickson, the 50-voice Casper College Collegiate Chorale, and the 70-member Helena Symphony Orchestra, and the 85-voice Helena Symphony Chorale. In his popular Ein deutsches Requiem (German Requiem), Brahms does not deal with the soul of the departed that travels to be judged or saved by God; instead, Brahms reflects on the individuals left behind in this world mourning the dead. In fact, the liturgical text used in the Requiem is abandoned and substituted with the Beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Maestro Scott suggests that “Brahms’ spirituality was intrinsically linked to his intellect and his artistry.” Upon reflection, Brahms was bothered by the title. The word “German” in the title of the work merely referred to the language that the work is sung in (as opposed to the conventional Latin). “I should like to leave out the word ‘German,’ and refer to instead to Humanity,” Brahms explained. “Brahms addresses us, the listeners, not the dead, and a sacred, humanistic view permeates the work,” Maestro Scott states. “He deliberately avoids any references to Christianity or any redemption of the Lord, and instead Brahms arranges a poetic tapestry of hope that transcends any specific faith or religion. The result is a work that is one of heartbreak, but also of understanding, hope, and consolation.”
The Helena Symphony performs Brahms’ Requiem in memory of the late Joseph Mazurek, who died in August. In addition to his career as a public servant, the former attorney general also served as a member of the Board of Directors, including President of the Symphony, chairman of the Board, and Treasurer. “For nearly a decade, Joe was a strong supporter of the Symphony, as a committed donor, subscriber, officer, and board member,” says Symphony President Kathy Bramer. “Even during Joe’s final years, he was almost always at every Symphony event.” Joe’s wife of over 40 years, Patty, is a long time member of the Helena Symphony Chorale. “We are honored to be able to remember Joe,” says Ms. Bramer, “and it is fitting to perform Brahms’ masterpiece, as it is really a consolation for those left behind, and Joe had such a profound impact on so many people.”
The Helena Symphony’s 2012-2013 Season includes a combined total of six concerts in the Exergy Masterworks Series, forty works of music, fifteen hours of music-making, eighteen guest artists, ninety chorus singers, seventy-eight orchestra players, and nearly a dozen performances.
For tickets or more information, contact the Helena Symphony at 406.442.1860 or helenasymphony.org. To subscribe to the 2012-2013 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 48 Hibbard Way, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Several sections are already sold out, so now is the time to renew or become a subscriber. Subscribers receive many great benefits, such as savings up to 30% off regular ticket prices, the Conductor’s Pre-Concert Crash Course for each Exergy Masterworks Concert, The Art of Listening Newsletter with advance program notes, priority seating on all non-subscription concerts, and flexible ticket exchange.