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Missoula, MT 59802
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Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Return to the Stage for “Eternal Light”
3/1/2017 12:49:02 PM

Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Return to the Stage for “Eternal Light”

(MISSOULA) The Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale return to the stage for a combined concert, “Eternal Light,” on March 11 and 12 for the penultimate show of the season. The concerts feature performances by soloists Christina Pier, Kimberly Gratland James, David Cody and Seth Keeton.

The “crown jewel” of the concert is Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, with both orchestra and chorale performing. Chorale Music Director, Dean Peterson, describes certain movements within the piece as “choral acrobatics.” “This piece has never been performed in Missoula and one reason for that is due to its difficulty and complexity,” he says. “It’s a major commitment. It’s so complex and in essence requires two full choirs, but the result is magnificent.” According to Peterson, the Chorale has been working on the Mass since last September, adding practices with the Orchestra this month. “This piece really showcases Mozart’s genius. It’s exciting, gorgeous and really quintessential Mozart,” he says.

Two of the soloists featured, mezzo soprano Kimberly Gratland James and tenor David Cody, are no strangers to the Dennison Theatre stage, as both teach voice in the University of Montana School of Music. “We’re lucky to have such phenomenal talent so close to home,” says Orchestra Music Director Darko Butorac. “Both Kimberly and David have performed with us on numerous occasions, and we’re thrilled to have them back,” he says. Joining the two are soprano Christina Pier, who returns to Missoula after what Butorac describes as a “stunning” performance in the Brahms Requiem last fall, and bass Seth Keeton, both internationally acclaimed.

The concert also starts with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture, which Butorac describes as “one of the most colorful works of the Russian Romantics.” “It was written in the late 19th century, and it really exemplifies the evocative melodies and sparkling orchestration for which Rimsky was known,” he says.

Butorac will also be presenting a pre-concert talk an hour prior to each show in the Gallagher Business Building, Room 106. Talks are free and open to the public.

The Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale perform on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre on UM Campus. Tickets are available at www.missoulasymphony.org, 406-721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 E. Main St.

Press Release: February 28, 2017
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Rumble in the Jungle! Annual Family Concert to Feature “Really Inventive Stuff”
1/12/2017 12:02:36 PM

Rumble in the Jungle!
—Annual Family Concert to Feature “Really Inventive Stuff” —

(January 10, 2017) The Missoula Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage on Friday, January 27, at 7 p.m. for its annual Family Concert. The show, now in its eleventh year, provides an opportunity for kids to learn about music and the orchestra in a fun and entertaining setting.

The show this year features two guest actors, Michael Boudewyns (BOH-doh-wihn) and Kimberly Schroeder, both members of the production company “Really Inventive Stuff.” Based out of Portland, Maine, the touring company performs family and education concerts with orchestras, conductors and musicians all around the world. The company is comprised of classically-trained performers and their productions are created with a “core commitment to imaginative, playful, and entertaining storytelling which combine vaudeville and classic theatre, while keeping music in the spotlight.”

“We’re really excited to be working with this team,” said Missoula Symphony Orchestra executive director, John Driscoll. “They’re charming, clever and entertaining, and this is their specialty: musical programs for young people that educate in a fun and funny fashion. Partnering with a production company like this is new for us, and we’re confident it’s going to be a huge success.”

The concerts, which take place at the Dennison Theatre, run about an hour – perfect for young attention spans. This year’s repertoire includes excerpts from two well-known pieces, Francis Poulenc’s The Story of Babar and George Kleinsinger’s Tubby the Tuba.

Joining Boudewyns and Schroeder will be guest conductor Steven Jarvi. Hailing most recently from St. Louis, Jarvi has guest-conducted worldwide and has performed with artists such as Lyle Lovett, Art Garfunkel, Kenny G, and Chris Botti. “And now Tubby the Tuba!” quips Driscoll.

The show is also performed earlier in the day as part of the Symphony’s ongoing community outreach to about 2,000 fourth-graders representing more than 40 schools from Missoula and the region. “Kids bus in from as far as St. Regis and Philipsburg. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to do outreach to kids who might not have the exposure to classical music in their community,” says Driscoll. The focus on fourth-graders is intentional, he adds, as the fall semester of fifth-grade year is when children in the Missoula school district select an instrument to play. “For some kids this concert is the first time they’ve ever even heard certain instruments—if we can inspire a future classical music lover or tuba player, we’ve done our job,” he says.

To get kids excited about the concert, the Symphony is also sponsoring a “Rumble in the Jungle” coloring contest, with the winners to be announced at the concert. Artwork can be viewed the month of January at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, 420 N. Higgins Ave. Ste. D. Young artists can find the picture to color on the Symphony website, at the Symphony Office or at Sweet Peaks.

Tickets for the 7 p.m. Family Concert can be purchased online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street. All tickets $8.

Press Release: January 10, 2017
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Back Pianist Lisa Smirnova
10/31/2016 1:11:36 PM

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Back Pianist Lisa Smirnova 

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Back Pianist Lisa Smirnova

The Missoula Symphony Orchestra takes to the stage on October 29 and 30 with the second concert of the season, “Autumn Glow.” Joining Music Director Darko Butorac and the Orchestra will be Austrian-Russian pianist Lisa Smirnova, who first wowed Missoula audiences in 2013.

“I love playing in Missoula,” said Smirnova. “The enthusiasm of the audience is incredible. The symphony concerts are such a highlight in town, literally everybody whom I meet is excited and looking forward [to the concerts]. Only in an intimate place like Missoula is something like that possible.” She adds that the audience can expect a “wonderful variety of styles” at the show. “It’s as if we change clothes every time we go out for a new piece.”

Smirnova will be performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 and Schumann’s “Concert Allegro and Introduction.” “The Mozart Concerto has a wonderful counterpoint style in its last movement which makes it stand out from his other concertos,” she says. “And indeed particularly challenging is the Schumann´s “Concert Allegro and Introduction.” It’s a great discovery, one of his last works and a real masterpiece. The goal is to find a perfect balance between the piano and the orchestra, because they are really like one body in this piece.”

In addition to Schumann and Mozart, the concert will feature Brahms Symphony No.4, which music director Darko Butorac describes as Brahms most important work and crowning achievement. “The piece was completed in 1885, at a time when symphonic music was changing quickly to styles that would lead to modernism and impressionism. The work is reflective of the feeling of watching everything you know and love irrevocably change. Brahms uses his entire creative might to create a work that is yearning, grand, melancholic, lighthearted, but ultimately tragic on a Shakespearian scale,” he said. Come hear for yourself.

Press Release: October 19, 2016
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Season Opener Concert, ‘Fast Machine’
9/15/2016 3:25:30 PM

Missoula Symphony Chorale Returns to the Stage - “Heaven and Nature Sing” 

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Season Opener Concert, 'Fast Machine'

Following the hugely popular Symphony in the Park, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra opens the season with two shows on September 24 at 7:30 p.m. and September 25 at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre.

The concert, titled “Fast Machine,” is aptly named as the first two pieces, John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 are very fast moving. “We’re starting the season like a race horse out of the gates!” says Music Director, Darko Butorac. “Adams infuses this piece with a sense of drama and ends in a thrilling climax. His music is incredibly energetic—the audience is going to love it.”

Next up is Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 1, which will feature American violinist Jennifer Frautschi as soloist. According to Butorac, this piece is a chance for the violinist to demonstrate the rich colors of the instrument. “Jennifer Frautschi is a perfect fit for this,” he says. “Prokofiev’s concerto is the embodiment of sheer romantic beauty.”

The second half of the concert in contrast to machines, is that of nature, specifically water. It begins with the moody romantic musical description of a Scottish Isle by Felix Mendelssohn, Fingal’s Cave. The landscape of this area is battered by water and wind and surrounded by legend, which is reflected in the piece. “A haunting, resonant melody slowly rises from the quiet depths of the orchestra, and dramatic flourishes echo the sound of waves crashing ashore while also building musical tension. Finally the tides begin to recede, and the piece leaves you with a sense of calm,” says Butorac.

The concert ends with another water themed piece, the most famous musical ode to the sea, Claude Debussy’s La Mer. According to Butorac, the piece is not merely a depiction of an ocean in music, but a peek into Debussy’s turbulent spirit. He also says this is one of the most challenging orchestral composition he’s ever worked on. “It’s complex, without a doubt. But we have some of the finest musicians around in our orchestra, and we are definitely up to the challenge.” Added bonus? La Mer is rumored to be the inspiration for John Williams’ score for the movie Jaws—see if you can hear it in the third movement.

Tickets are available online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office, 320 E. Main Street. For more information on Fast Machine and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, visit missoulasymphony.org.

Press Release: September 13, 2016
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Season Finale Concert, "Pictures of Power"
4/14/2016 12:25:56 PM

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Season Finale Concert, “Pictures of Power” 

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Season Finale Concert, “Pictures of Power”

(Missoula, Mont.) With a repertoire fit for a finale, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra will close the 61st season with a grand concert full of life and color as they perform two pieces by Maurice Ravel, “Concerto in G Major” for piano and “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The concerts take place on Saturday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 24, at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus.

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Darko Butorac, describes “Pictures at an Exhibition,” as ‘a fantastic piece to end the season.’ It was originally written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky as a ten-movement piece for piano. His inspiration was the artwork of his friend Viktor Hartmann, an influential artist who died at the young age of 39, leaving behind a legacy of over 400 paintings. The music depicts an imaginary tour of this art collection. “Each of the movements is a tone painting of the actual image,” says Butorac. “For example, the painting ‘The Catacombs’ is depicted by stark chords in the brass, representing the shock of entering deep into the cold burial site transformed into sound; and ‘The Gnome,’ a painting of a little gnome running clumsily with crooked legs, is represented by lurching music with frequent stops and starts. When you read the title of the movement and then hear it, it’s easy to visualize the inspiration,” he says. Maurice Ravel arranged the piece for a full orchestra a few years after Mussorgsky’s composition, and this arrangement is the most commonly performed for orchestras, according to Butorac.

The first half of the concert presents Ravel's masterpiece concerto in G major for piano. “It’s directly influenced by Gershwin's Concerto in F, so the audience can expect a French twist on 1930's Jazz, and some serious pianistic pyrotechnics,” says Butorac. “It’s a Brazilian work, super rhythmic, very world music—the audience is in for a treat.” World-renowned pianist, Katherine Chi, will be joining the orchestra for this piece.

In recognition of the season finale and the featured repertoire, the MSO is also collaborating with the 1st and 5th graders at Lowell School in a community outreach connecting classrooms with music. This outreach program was facilitated by the Spark! Arts Ignite Learning initiative. “The kids will be creating their own ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ which will be on display in the Dennison Theatre lobby over the concert weekend,” said Driscoll. “Darko will be going into their classes to introduce the kids to the music, and their art teacher, Norel Swanson, will be working with them on creating pieces of art. We’re excited to see what the come up with!” he says. According to Driscoll, this is an example of numerous community outreach events the MSO organizes with local schools throughout the year, and a fun way to end the season.

Tickets to “Pictures of Power” are available online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street.

Press Release: April 13, 2016
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Driscoll Given Cultural Achievement Award
3/28/2016 10:03:20 AM

Driscoll Given Cultural Achievement Award

Driscoll Given Cultural Achievement Award

We are proud to announce that our Executive Director John Driscoll has been awarded the Missoula Cultural Council’s 2016 Cultural Achievement Award. The Cultural Achievement award is presented to an individual who has consistently supported the arts community and has furthered the cause of the arts in general through administrative, philanthropic, professional or legislative efforts. John will accept his award at the Missoula Cultural Council’s annual Awards Luncheon on March 29, 2016.

Missoula Symphony Orchestra & Chorale Present Brahms German Requiem
2/11/2016 4:59:40 PM

Missoula Symphony Orchestra & Chorale Present Brahms German Requiem
—200 Musicians, a Guest Conductor, and Two Guest Soloist Perform in Massive Piece—

Missoula, Montana) The Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale return to the stage to perform Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem on Saturday, February 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 28, at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus. Missoula Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Darko Butorac, describes the German Requiem as “maybe the most magnificent work written for chorus and orchestra.” This “magnificent work” will be conducted by guest conductor Thomas Heuser and will feature two guest soloists, soprano Christina Pier and baritone Charles Robert Stephens.

Guest conductor, Thomas Heuser, was selected as conductor for this particular concert for a number of reasons, according to MSO Executive Director, John Driscoll. “First and foremost, he comes highly recommended and has masses of experience, including serving as the 2010 Conducting Fellow with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Secondly, he is a vocalist by training—how appropriate for conducting a piece with such operatic elements. And thirdly, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for orchestral conducting in Munich, and his German influence seemed perfect for the German Requiem. We’re thrilled to be working with Thomas,” he said.

Symphony Chorale Director, Dean Peterson, has fond memories of the piece. “I saw the Requiem performed in 1974 in Missoula under the direction of nationally renowned conductor Robert Shaw, whose score markings I am actually using for this performance,” he said. “It's a huge work, involves close to 200 musicians, and one that we have spent many hours rehearsing, but the musicians love it and we are definitely up to the task of performing one of world's great masterworks. Each time I hear it I am moved by its beauty and message of hope, and the lush and romantic harmonies.”

The two guest soloists for the performances are no strangers to the stage. Christina Pier has been hailed by Opera News for her “big, gleaming soprano and impressive coloratura,” (sounds good, doesn’t it?). She has soloed with symphonies all over the U.S., performing Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Don Giovanni, to name a few. Charles Robert Stephens, who was described by the New York Times as a “baritone of smooth distinction” spent twenty years in New York City performing with the New York City Opera and at Carnegie Hall, as well as performing numerous international concert tours to France, Russia and Canada. “The fact that we have such fantastic talent joining us for this piece is such a coup to the orchestra and chorale, and such a treat for the community,” said Butorac. “This concert is one you’re not going to want to miss.”

The piece is being performed in honor of the late Jean Bowman, who died of cancer in January. Bowman played a prominent role in the symphony’s history, and was board president for a number of years, according to Driscoll. “This requiem is an anomaly in the fact that it honors life more than it mourns death—this seemed a fitting concert to dedicate to the vibrant and meaningful life of our friend Jean and the many people who miss her.”

Tickets are available online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street. For more information on “German Requiem” and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, visit missoulasymphony.org.

Press Release: February 11, 2016
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Orchestra & Chorale Presents Sixteenth Annual Beloved Holiday Concert
12/1/2015 12:30:11 PM

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents Sixteenth Annual Beloved Holiday Concert

Missoula, Montana) With chestnuts roasting, sleigh bells ringing and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale present one of Missoula’s favorite family holiday traditions: Holiday Pops, now in its sixteenth year, takes place on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, December 6, at 3 p.m. Both shows take place in the Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus.

The concert will include some classics, such as Pas de Deux from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, which MSO music director Darko Butorac describes as “one of the most beautiful moments in the entire ballet,” and lots of favorites including variations of Joy to the World and Oh, Holy Night. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ symphonic poem Finlandia will take the audience to a more serene place, and Bill Holcombe’s jubilant Festive Sounds of Hanukkah offers a piece with numerous recognizable themes and tunes.

In the second half Orchestra and Chorale join together for Vivaldi’s Gloria—a rousing and beautiful piece that was written around 1715, but the words date back to the 4th Century. The 90-member Chorale then goes a capella (chorus only) with Andre Thomas’ spiritual-like arrangement of African Noel conducted by Peterson. “It’s a very rhythmic and uplifting piece,” he says,” and we’ll perform it with the addition of a few African percussion instruments.” The show ends with a finale by well-known pops conductor and arranger, Jeff Tyzik. His compilation Holiday Moods will feature the orchestra and chorus together, and is a medley of Deck the Halls, the Carol of the Bells, Oh Christmas Tree and Jingle Bells.

During the intermission for the fifth year running is another tradition, the “Encore Auction.” Popular with symphonies nationwide, this fundraising technique allows the audience to put their money on their collective favorite holiday piece for an encore. “This year we’re pitting the sacred favorite, Hallelujah Chorus, against the secular We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Butorac says. Whichever piece raises the most through individual donations, small and large, will be performed as an encore. Butorac reminds people to bring their wallets, as only cash and checks are accepted.

Tickets, which sell out faster than Santa’s sleigh, are available online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street. For more information on “Holiday Pops” and the MSO, visit missoulasymphony.org.

Press Release: November 25, 2015
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents "Timeless Romance"
10/26/2015 11:54:23 AM

— Missoula Symphony Orchestra Presents “Timeless Romance” —

(Missoula, Mont.) With a concert fit for Valentines Day in November, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage for the third concert of the season, “Timeless Romance.” Music Director Darko Butorac describes the show as “evocative, expressive and sublime; nothing less than romantic.” The concert takes place on Saturday November 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday November 8 at 3 p.m. at the Dennison Theatre.

The concert begins with a symphony by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev inspired by the Classical style, meaning the music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. “Prokofiev writes catchy melodies and exciting, fast music—this is a fun one to open the concert,” says Butorac.

Next up is Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. It was written in 1822, when Schubert was not even 25 and the two movements are commonly thought to be the best Schubert ever penned down. No one really knows why it was not completed, but Butorac has a thought: “One of my teachers shared a beautiful, compelling and poetic theory. In works such as these, Schubert touched the very core of humanity, he went so deep that God had to stop him from going any further. And so he died at the tender age of 31.” Like Beethoven, the work is dramatic, but more moody, darker, and with gentler contrasts. It is more lyrical, a hallmark of what we now call Romantic music.

The final piece on the concert is what Butorac describes as “maybe the most sublime thing ever written for the violin.” He describes the Beethoven Violin Concerto as “large," as there are three movements that cast the soloist dramatically against the orchestra. “It is virtuosic, but at the same time gives numerous opportunities to the soloist to showcase the color of their instrument, with many lyrical, soaring melodies,” he says. “The orchestra does not merely play back up but becomes an equal partner in the dramatic dialogue, forceful and very aggressive at times. Simply, it’s one of the best pieces ever written.” Joining the orchestra for this piece will be critically acclaimed violin soloist, Yuriy Bekker. “Yuriy is a top-notch performer and musician—this piece is a perfect means to showcase his talent,” says Butorac. And a perfect ending of a romantic concert.

For more information on the Missoula Symphony Orchestra or to purchase tickets call 406-721-3194 or go to www.missoulasymphony.org.

Press Release: October 22, 2015
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193

Missoula Symphony Chorale Returns to the Stage - "Heaven and Nature Sing" to be Performed at New, More Intimate Setting
10/16/2015 8:19:42 AM

Missoula Symphony Chorale Returns to the Stage - “Heaven and Nature Sing” 

Missoula Symphony Chorale Returns to the Stage
—“Heaven and Nature Sing” to be Performed at New, More Intimate Setting—

(Missoula, Montana) The Missoula Symphony Chorale, sans orchestra, performs its stand-alone concert on Sunday, October 25 at 3 p.m. at St. Anthony Parish. The concert, which is the second show in the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s 61st season, is in a new location this year.

According to Chorale Director Dean Peterson, the change in venue was a decision based on a number of factors. “The Chorale has performed in the Dennison Theatre for years,” he says, “which is a great spot to perform, but felt a bit vacuous for our needs.” In contrast to the Dennison Theatre’s 1200-seat capacity, St. Anthony Parish, which is a popular venue for hosting choirs during the International Choral Festival, holds approximately six hundred audience members. “We look forward to performing in a more intimate setting in a location that is really a wonderful place acoustically to hear choral music,” he says.

The program, which Peterson says is made up of a variety of songs both sacred and nature-based, begins with pieces by Bach, Haydn and Brahms, including How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place from Brahm’s Requiem. “We’ll be performing the full Requiem in February with the Orchestra, so this will be a sneak-preview of this lovely piece,” he says. The second half of the concert includes a number of pieces with nature-themes, and will feature the MSO’s Principal Flutist Margaret Lund Schuberg. “The flute of course lends itself to representing bird song, and it shines through in this case,” he says. “I really am pleased with this year’s theme, I think it speaks to the fact that music is not only for praise, but that music is life, and our program reflects that. This concert will be a celebration of life, love and the joys of heaven and earth.”

The Chorale, which performs three concerts a season, is made up of approximately 90 vocalists who audition to be in the group. “We have a very enthusiastic and passionate group of people, and this really shines through when they perform.” He adds that the chorale is a real representation of the Missoula community, with singers ranging in ages from 20 to 90, and everything in between. “Between the community and the university, we have some fine vocalists in our midst. Come and see for yourself!”

Tickets for the Missoula Symphony Chorale concert are $17, $11 for seniors and students, and available online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street, or at the door the day of the concert. St. Anthony Parish is located at 217 Tremont Street in Missoula.

Press Release: October 15, 2015
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193


320 East Main Street
Missoula, MT 59802
(406) 721-3194