Symphony Spotlight
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Symphony Spotlight

Billings  Symphony Orchestra and Chorale

Venue: Lincoln Center

Connect: or 406-252-3610

The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO&C) begins a historic year at the Lincoln Center for its 2019-2020 season, while the Alberta Bair Theater closes for renovations. The Lincoln Center is located at 415 30th Street, in downtown Billings.

In the words of Maestra Anne Harrigan, “The 2019-2020 Season will be one of the most exciting seasons in the history of the BSO&C as we start the ramp-up to the reopening of the Alberta Bair Theater. From Gershwin to Stravinsky, and from Celtic to ‘West Side Story,’ we have programs that will capture the imagination of our diverse audiences. I can’t wait for opening night!”

The BSO&C’s 2019-2020 season features an array of special guests ranging from American composer and pianist Conrad Tao, who opened the season Sept. 21; returning favorite Celtic fiddler Jeremy Kittel, who joins the orchestra Dec. 21 for Celtic Christmas; and for the first time in Montana, a quartet of Broadway stars for “West Side Story in Concert,” March 14.

This season highlights Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras (MASO) Young Artist Competition winners Tanner Jorden, piano, and former BSO&C intern Rosie Weiss, violin. The BSO&C also continues its community engagement program, Explore Music!, providing over 90 community outreaches each season.

The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale is the largest professional orchestra in Montana. Established in 1951, the organization strives to enrich lives through music. Consisting of over 135 musicians, the BSO&C serves a regional population of 400,000 people located throughout south-central and eastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming by introducing music to children, youth, adults and seniors through Explore Music!, its community engagement program.


Bozeman Symphony Orchestra

Venue: Willson Auditorium

Connect: or 406-585-9774

The Bozeman Symphony’s 2019-2020 concert season features world-class guest artists such as pianist Marika Bournaki, violinist Angella Ahn and clarinetist Jon Manasse, along with many local favorites such as Elizabeth Croy, Melina Pyron, Concertmaster Carrie Krause, Pico Alt, and Tristan Hernandez – the senior division runner up from the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras 2019 Young Artist Competition.

After launching a search earlier this year, the symphony received more than 200 applicants for the position of music director. Six finalists were recently announced and each takes a turn at the podium this season. Finalists are:

• Stefan Sanders, music director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Round Rock Symphony;

• Andrew Crust, assistant conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Memphis Symphony Orchestra, conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony, and cover conductor of the Kansas City Symphony;

• Norman Huynh, associate conductor of the Oregon Symphony;

• Wesley Schulz, associate conductor of the North Carolina Symphony and music director of the Auburn Symphony (Washington State);

• Thomas Heuser, music director and conductor of the San Juan Symphony and the Idaho Falls Symphony; and

• Janna Hymes, music director of the Carmel Symphony (Carmel, IN).

The organization’s board of directors will host the finalists over a span of two weeks as each participates in guest conducting rehearsals and performances, along with scheduled activities. Music director finalists also participate in the season’s programming with each presenting a “conductor’s choice” piece, highlighted during the concert series performances at Willson Auditorium. The season begins Sept. 28-29 with “Nights in the Gardens of Spain” and concludes May 2-3 with “Te Deum.”

Relying heavily on community input, a new music director will be appointed at the end of this search season. For a complete schedule, visit


Butte Symphony

Venue:  Mother Lode Theatre

Connect: or 406-723-5590

The Butte Symphony opens its 70th anniversary season with the dramatic Lalo Cello Concerto in D Minor, featuring cellist Adam Collins of the University of Montana, on Oct. 26, in a program titled “An Evening of Cello, Fire and Dances.”

As Montana’s original and oldest symphony, the community orchestra continues its mission to provide music to southwest Montana under the baton of Luis Millan, serving his 10th season as musical director.

Other concerts for the season include “Holidays with the Symphony” on Dec. 14, and “Silent Films and their Music” on Feb. 22. The season ends April 11 with “The Unfinished Symphonies of Great Composers.” The symphony also plays a free concert each summer at the Original Headframe featuring silent films with the orchestra providing the musical thrills.

The Butte Symphony is made up of volunteer musicians who continue their musical careers with a mission of providing classical music to southwest Montana through concerts, outreach programs to schools and rural areas, as well as special events. A chamber music concert will be held in the spring and a series of recitals are planned for the historic Clark Chateau in Butte.


Glacier  Symphony Orchestra & Chorale

Venues: Flathead and Glacier     High in Kalispell and Whitefish Performing Arts Center

Connect: or 406-407-7000

The Glacier’s Symphony’s 2019/20 season, The Music Makers, “Year of the Piano,” features nine weekends of masterworks, sacred and pops concerts from September through April including the new Masquerade Winter Gala benefit slated for Jan. 18.  

Masterworks highlights feature three internationally acclaimed pianists: Andrew Tyson, Oct. 19-20, in a piano concerto by Grieg; Sheng Cai, Nov. 23-24, in a concerto by Mozart; and Roman Rabinovich, Feb. 22-23, in a Tchaikovsky concerto. Each of these performances is preceded by an intimate evening concert with the guest artist.

According to Maestro John Zoltek, The Year of the Piano recognizes the recent donation “of a beautiful Steinway nine-foot Concerto Grand Piano” made to the symphony by the Flathead Valley Live On Stage organization.

The season began Sept. 21-22 with Equinox Music - Generation Next! featuring five awardees from the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras Young Artist Competition as part of the symphony’s “Youth Music Experience” education program.

Other highlights include the Glacier Chorale in concert, Handel’s Messiah and Holiday Pops in December; and the Spring Festival Finale, April 25-26, featuring Beethoven’s sacred masterpiece Missa Solemnis and four guest soloists.

The 12th annual Festival Amadeus, held in August, was heralded by Zoltek as another “great success.” It included a fully costumed opera performance of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti.


Great Falls Symphony

Venue:  Mansfield Theater

Connect: or 406-455-8514

The Great Falls Symphony kicks off its 61st season Oct. 5 with “Legends,” a program filled with epic tales of myth and magic, including Respighi’s Pines of Rome, and film scores from “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The orchestra also offers “Tricks or Treats,” a free family concert at 11 a.m. Oct. 26.

World-famous banjo player Béla Fleck performs his second banjo concerto, Juno, with the symphony Nov. 9.
Fleck constantly pushes the limits of what the instrument can do, and that mastery will be on full display. The all-American program also includes Aaron Copland’s ballet, “Billy the Kid.”

Join the Great Falls Symphony and Choir for their annual holiday program, “Winterscapes,” on Dec. 8. The program includes the premiere of “Grace,” a new choral work by esteemed cowboy poet Paul Zarzyski.

Welcome the New Year Jan. 18 with “Queen of the Night,” featuring music of the Viennese masters, soprano Caitlin Cisler in Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, and Haydn’s sprightly London Symphony.

“Café Noir,” the symphony’s annual Valentine’s program on Feb. 8, features music by Shostakovich and Milhaud, and cellist Inbal Segev in Kabalevsky’s playfully melancholic Cello Concerto No. 1.

The Great Falls Symphonic Choir celebrates its 60th anniversary on March 28 with “Jubilee,” an all-chorus program featuring everything from hymns and folks songs to a Handel oratorio.  

The Great Falls Symphony and Choir presents its season finale on April 25 with “Gloria,” featuring soprano Stephanie Jennings, and the symphony’s own Dorian Antipa in a bassoon concerto by Gioachino Rossini. 


Helena  Symphony

Venue:  Helena  Civic Center

Connect: or 406-442-1860              

The Helena Symphony has much to offer as it celebrates its 65th season. Maestro Allan R. Scott has once again created an exciting line-up of concerts, guaranteed to satisfy everyone’s musical palate. 

Returning instrumental soloists this season include world-renowned violinist Tim Fain, who opened the season Sept. 14; firecracker violinist Robyn Bollinger, who performs Édouard Lalo’s fiery Symphonie espagnole Jan. 25; and superstar pianist Carl Cramner in Gershwin’s jazzy Piano Concerto, Feb. 29.

Contemporary composers such as Philip Glass and Jennifer Higdon will be featured, as well as Gershwin, Mendelssohn, Dvořák and Bruckner. Vocal soloists galore join the orchestra and chorale in several performances, with three soloists joining over 200 performers in Orff’s Carmina Burana on Oct. 19; four soloists performing in Rossini’s Stabat Mater, March 28; and eight soloists singing Bizet’s Carmen, which will be performed May 2 for the season finale.

Non-Series Concerts include Mozart by Candlelight (with clarinetist Ricardo Morales), Nov. 16 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, and the traditional Christmas in the Cathedral Dec. 16, featuring the Helena Symphony Orchestra and Chorale and four acclaimed soloists performing Handel’s Messiah in the Cathedral of St. Helena. 

Also included this season are four free Symphony Kids concerts, and the annual Youth Concert for 4th and 5th graders.


Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale       

Venue:  UM Dennison    Theatre

Connect: or 406-721-3194

After bidding farewell to popular music director Darko Butorac, the Missoula Symphony and Chorale is embarking on “a big year – the biggest we’ve seen in more than a decade,” says the new executive director Jo May Salonen. After careful consideration of more than 100 talented candidates, the organization narrowed the field to five conductors from across the globe, who will come to Missoula this concert season as finalists. 

Each has selected a unique program showcasing their talents and distinct styles in a season aptly titled “Pass the Baton!”

The season opens with Sept. 28-29 with Julia Tai. Praised by the Seattle Times as “poised yet passionate,” she leads the orchestra in works by Bernstein, a piano concerto by Gershwin featuring pianist Jeffrey Biegel, and Beach’s Gaelic Symphony No. 2.

Steven Smith wields the baton Nov. 2-3. He has served as music director of Virginia’s Richmond Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, as well as the Grammy Award-winning Cleveland Chamber Symphony. He leads the orchestra in works by Berlioz, Copland, Borodin and Brahms.

Paul McShee, the assistant professor and director of orchestral studies at the University of Connecticut, conducts the orchestra Feb. 1-2 in Mozart’s Requiem, featuring four guest soloists, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5. McShee is known for the blend of warmth, energy and driving rhythmic vitality he evokes from orchestras.

Scott Seaton takes the podium Feb. 29 and March 1, in works by Torke, Sibelius and Dvorak. Seaton is in his fourth season as music director of the North State Symphony in California where he has garnered acclaim for his dynamic performances, innovative programming and community/youth outreach.

The season wraps up April 18-19 with Zoe Zeniodi, the principal conductor of the Greek-Turkish Youth Orchestra. In 2016, she was selected by the Dallas Opera for the prestigious five-year Fellowship of the Institute of Women Conductors. She’ll lead the orchestra in works by Saint-Saens, Berlioz and Franck.




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