Rachmaninoff

Lincoln Center
April 18, 2020  | 7:30 pm
Concert Cues | 6:45 pm
The symphony season ends with one of the finest pianists of his generation and the last great Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Featuring the return of MASO winner, Tanner Jorden playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with special side-by-side performance with the Billings Youth Orchestra.

Tanner Jorden
16-year-old Tanner Jorden’s current teacher, Dorothea Cromley, is the former Professor of Piano at Montana State University–Billings. In 2015, the Billings native began participating in—and winning—competitions locally and internationally. He competed in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition in November 2016.

Tanner won the state Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) competition in 2016, 2017 and 2018, receiving honorable mentions in the Junior and Senior divisions at Northwest regionals. In January 2019, he won the Northwest regional competition and competed in the National MTNA competition in March 2019. In January 2017, he received first place in the Junior division of the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras (MASO) Concerto Competition, and in April of that year performed a debut recital at MSU–B as a Connections student. Tanner made his orchestral debut with the Great Falls Symphony in February 2017, and has since performed with the Billings, Helena, Glacier and Northwest College (Powell, WY) Symphonies. In January 2019, Tanner again received first place in the 15th biennial MASO Young Artist Competition, this time in the Senior division.

 Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2
Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto was the first piece he composed after his long bout of depression and writer’s block. It was his great comeback that became a smash hit, bringing Rachmaninoff back to his former self. Dedicated with gratitude to Dr. Dahl, the Piano Concerto No. 2 premiered on November 9, 1901, with Rachmaninoff performing and his cousin, Alexander Siloti, conducting, and is considered by many to be the greatest piano concerto ever written.

 Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No 2. In E Minor
After the disaster of his first symphony, Rachmaninoff was hesitant to begin composing again. The success of his Piano Concerto No. 2, however, instilled him with confidence, but not so much that he was ready to let the world know he was back at it. He wrote the Symphony No. 2 in secrecy for about a year, when word of his newest composition leaked out in the press. He confessed to a friend: “I have composed a symphony. It’s true! … I finished it a month ago and immediately put it aside. It was a severe worry to me and I’m not going to think about it anymore.” But think about it he did, and the hard work and turmoil paid off. A year later, Rachmaninoff conducted the premiere in Saint Petersburg in January 1908, with great, reassuring success.

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West Side Story in Concert

Lincoln Center
March 14, 2020 | 7:30 pm
Concert Cues | 6:45 pm

First time in Montana! Witness the forbidden love, feuding families, and rival gangs in this modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

Featuring Jerome Robbins’ award-winning adaptation with music from Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents with a cast of Broadway professionals.

Jessica Soza (Maria)
Jessica Soza has had the pleasure of singing in 10 cities and 7 countries all over Europe. Her most notable credits involve playing Maria with the international tour of West Side Story in 152 performances. She graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles and obtained her BA from CSU, San Bernardino. Upon graduation, she moved to New York, during which she left to tour Europe with West Side Story. She returned to the United States after the tour closed and is now pursuing her MFA in Acting and Pedagogical Performance at CSU, Long Beach.

 

Michael Winslow (Riff)
Michael “Mikey” Winslow hails from Grand Rapids and is thrilled to be performing in West Side Story again. Broadway credits include West Side Story, American Idiot, On the Town, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Hamilton. Guest appearances with symphonies include the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, and the Battle Creek Symphony. He has performed the role of almost every Jet in West Side Story and will be assisting with stage direction in this production.

 

 

Clyde Alves (Tony)
Clyde Alves is an actor, singer, dancer, and songwriter who has starred as Ozzie in the Broadway revival of On the Town (Astaire Award Nomination). Other Broadway credits include Bullets Over Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Anything Goes, Wicked, Hairspray, Oklahoma!, and as Tommy Djilias in The Music Man (2000 Astaire Award Winner). He has performed Off-Broadway in Altar Boyz (Juan). At New York City Center Encores, Clyde was seen in Follies, Anyone Can Whistle, and Bells Are Ringing. In National Tours, he performed in A Chorus Line (Mike). Symphony performances include On the Town with the San Francisco Symphony and West Side Story with the Battle Creek Symphony. Clyde resides in NYC with his wife and son. “I have never felt so alive as when performing West Side Story to students whose lives may mirror those of the characters. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present these outreaches and this performance in Billings, especially at the Montana Women’s Prison.”


Aline Mayagoitia (Anita)
An award-winning actress, Aline Mayagoitia attended the prestigious Musical Theatre program at the University of Michigan. In her college years, she discovered a love for writing and directing, as well as working extensively in the film department. In her four years, she performed/produced/wrote/ directed/choreographed over 20 live shows and screen projects, and also served as creative director of the MOSAIC: Intercultural Performance Ensemblea student-led organization dedicated to increasing diversity and representation in the theatre community. Aline toured Costa Rica with a bilingual version of Evita, doing community engagement activities and serving as the main translator for the project.

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A Celebration of Mozart

Lincoln Center
February 15, 2020 | 7:30 pm
Concert Cues | 6:45 pm

The Billings Symphony Chorale joins the orchestra to pay homage to one of the classical music’s greatest composers, with Mozart’s Requiem and Symphony No. 35.

Mozart’s Requiem
The Requiem was secretly commissioned by Count Franz von Walsegg to commemorate the passing of his wife. Once Mozart received the first half of his commission—paid by messenger—he began writing, never knowing who he was writing for. Incredibly ill at the time, Mozart is said to have been convinced he was writing the Requiem for his own funeral. Indeed, he passed away on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35, leaving the work unfinished. Mozart’s wife recruited his student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, to complete the Requiem in secrecy, and 100 days after Mozart’s death, it was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg. Many believe von Walsegg tried to pass it off as his own work, as he was known to do. However, Mozart’s wife was very vocal about the commissioned project and was able to quash his claim.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 35
Also known as the Haffner Symphony, Symphony No. 35 was Mozart’s second work commissioned by the Haffner family of Salzburg, Austria. After the success of his Haffner Serenade for the wedding of Marie Elizabeth Haffner, the family again sought Mozart to commemorate the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner the Younger. This second Haffner serenade was later reworked by Mozart into a full symphony, making its debut performance as Symphony No. 35 on March 23, 1783, at Vienna’s Burg Theatre.

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Celtic Christmas

Lincoln Center
December 21, 2019 | 7:30 pm
Concert Cues | 6:45 pm

Back by popular demand, award-winning Jeremy Kittel, Billings’ favorite fiddler, violinist, and Celtic-influenced composer, is bringing some friends to celebrate the Holiday season.

Jeremy Kittel
An American violinist and fiddler, Jeremy Kittel just received a Grammy nomination for best arrangement /composition. He has been placed in the community alongside many prevalent composers such as Alan Silvestri and John Williams. Fluent in multiple music genres, Kittel composes original music that draws from traditional roots, jazz, Celtic, classical, electronic and more.

Kittel performs with his group, Kittel & Co., as a soloist with orchestras, and in collaborative and supporting roles with many of today’s leading artists. He has worked with Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck, My Morning Jacket, Aoife O’Donovan, Jars of Clay, and Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. He was also a part of the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island Quartet for 5 years.

This is Jeremy Kittel’s second appearance with the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, having performed in December 2015’s Celtic Christmas.

Quinn Bachand
Kittel & Co.’s guitarist Quinn Bachand began performing the acoustic guitar around the world at age 11. By 17 he played over a dozen different instruments, recording and producing albums with his sister Qristina. The duo quickly rose to the top of the international Celtic music world, and together they have won two Irish Music Awards: 2010 Top Traditional Group and 2011 Top Duo.

With diverse musical talents and a bottomless pool of creativity, Bachand has been dubbed the “Young Lion” of the Celtic guitar (Daniel Lapp) and “Canada’s top Celtic guitarist” (Ashley MacIsaac). His contemporary edge to traditional Celtic music has sparked worldwide attention. An in-demand sideman, Bachand has toured nationally and internationally. He is also the frontman of the gypsy jazz band Brishen, singing and playing lead guitar, violin, and tenor banjo.

Cillian Vallely
Cillian Vallely is the uilleann pipes and low whistle player of the renowned Irish band Lúnasa described as “the hottest Celtic band on the planet” (Irish Voice). In recent years, he has played and recorded with Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim O’Brien, and Riverdance, in addition to recording as a guest on over 50 albums. With Lúnasa, he has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Glastonbury Festival, WOMADelaide, Edmonton Folk Festival, as well as multiple tours of Asia, Australia, the US, and Europe. “Vallely, whose family has played a seminal role in piping and Irish music in the north of Ireland for years, shows why he is one of the most respected pipers playing today” (Irish Voice).

Erin Small
Erin Small is a prominent teacher, conductor, and performer within the Billings community. She is an elementary music teacher for the Billings district, and joyfully serves over 750 children per week. She is also the director of Yellowstone Valley Voices, which is an advanced choral program for young singers throughout the valley. Over the last decade, Erin has performed with various local organizations such as; Venture Theatre, Billings Studio Theatre, Rimrock Opera and the High Plains Chamber Singers. In 2016, she made her debut with the Billings Symphony performing as a guest artist for the Holiday Pops performance. She is thrilled to perform once again and considers it an honor to work with such amazing musicians.

Elizabeth (“Zee”) Ní Bhraonáin, TCRG
Elizabeth (“Zee”) Ní Bhraonáin is a registered Irish dance teacher, certified by the Irish Dancing Commission (Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha). She grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and started her dancing career at the age of six, learning her first steps from Annie McBride, an internationally-known San Francisco dancing master. Zee has performed with artists such as the Black Brothers, Tempest, and Ari Dro, and has competitively danced at the highest local, regional and national levels. She taught as an assistant teacher with the McBride school from 2007-2013; receiving her teaching credential in December 2012. In 2013, she put down roots for her Irish dancing school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and, since then, has choreographed dancing for events with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Frederick Meijer Gardens and the Dogwood Performing Arts Center. Zee’s competitive success continues with her students, who include top-ten regional champions and the reigning Mid-America Regional Under-10 Mixed Ceili Champions

Jacqueline Curtis Low, ADCRG/Claddagh Irish Dance Academy
Dublin, Ireland native Jacqueline Curtis Low started dancing at the age of 9 and immediately fell in love with it. After 25 years of teaching dance professionally in Ireland, Jacqueline and her husband relocated to Billings, where she opened the Claddagh Irish Dance Academy in 2014. In addition to being the teacher, artistic director, and choreographer of her school, Jacqueline is a member of the largest Irish dance organizations in the world—Comhdháil na Múinteoirí le Rincí Gaelacha Teoranta (Congress of Irish Dance Teachers)—and currently serves as Chairperson of the Branch of the Americas.

The Claddagh Irish Dance Academy encourages and promotes the art and practice of traditional and authentic Irish Dancing. Jacqueline prepares her pupils for feiseanna (competitions), displays, and shows. In recent years the Claddagh Dancers have been busy with numerous performances, entertaining and wowing audiences with their traditional and contemporary dance routines. Visit claddaghirishdance.com to learn more about the Academy, upcoming performances or available classes!

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A Tribute to Ballets Russes

Celebrate the famous Ballets Russes with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”,  featuring the return of former BSO&C intern violinist and MASO winner, Rosie Weiss.

 

Rosie Weiss
Rosie Weiss is a violinist and fiddler who grew up near Billings, Montana. Fluent in multiple musical genres, she strives to break down barriers between musical traditions. Her training began with Suzuki violin at the age of 3, with teachers Laura Dalbey and Vikki Payne. Randy Tracy, the concertmaster of the Billings Symphony, later became her primary teacher and mentor. Angela Ahn (of the Ahn Trio), cellist John Kirk, Peter Zazofsky (of the Muir String Quartet), and pianists Amanda Olson, LeeHancock, and Ann Tappan also played significant roles in her pre-college education.

Rosie received a full scholarship to attend the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, where she is currently pursuing a violin performance degree with Scott Flavin. At Frost, she performs with two orchestras, including the highly acclaimed Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, and a wide variety of small ensembles; and has been a finalist in the school-wide concerto and ensemble competitions. Recently, Rosie recorded on the Grammy Award-winning album, “American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom” by the John Daversa Big Band. She recently won the 15th Biennial MASO Young Artist Competition, college division.

Krista Leigh Pasini
(choreographer)

Krista Leigh Pasini is a classically trained dance artist and postmodern choreographer working with somatically informed performative inquiries, historiography, and movement ontology research. Her research weds extensive technical training with poetic gestural patterning, which she integrates into her role as an educator and choreographic collaborator. As co-director of HaltForce Art Collective LLC—currently based in Eastern Montana—Krista facilitates and produces performance-driven artist residencies and education. Pasini’s creative versatility blends dance, performance art, theater into site-specific events and immersive installations. Krista is a University Honors Scholar with a BFA in History from Montana State University–Billings, and presently an MFA candidate at Goddard College pursuing a master’s in fine arts in Interdisciplinary Art.

Erica Gionfriddo (dancer)
Erica Gionfriddo is a dance artist, educator, and somatic researcher who believes in the intelligent body each of us occupies. She is the co-founder of ARCOS Dance, whose ongoing inquiry probes the intersection of technology and humanity through rigorous interdisciplinary experimentation. Erica’s extensive experience as a GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® trainer guides her pedagogical methodology, which she brings in her capacity as lecturer in dance at the University of Texas at Austin and as a national teaching artist. Erica holds a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Shenandoah Conservatory and is currently an MFA candidate at Hollins University.

Ballets Russes
The Ballets Russes, founded by impresario Sergei Diaghilev, was the premier ballet company in Paris from 1909 to his death in 1929. Diaghilev’s revolutionary collaborations promoted young artists, choreographers, dancers, and composers. The works commissioned by Ballets Russes have procured some of the most memorable and awe-inspiring art of the time. Artists and composers commissioned by Diaghilev include Coco Channel, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Claude Debussy.

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky’s third full-ballet commission for the Ballets Russes (The Firebird Suite, 1910, and Petruska, 1911), The Rite of Spring tells the pagan tale of the advent of spring and the sacrifice of a young girl who dances herself to death.

Its premiere, at the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées on May 29, 1913, caused a scandal. It was not just Stravinsky’s primordial, elemental music, nor Vaslav’s Nijinsky’s exotic choreography, nor Nicholas Roerich’s bizarre settings that prompted the near-riot that ensued in the theatre. There were anti-Russian, anti-Diaghilev and anti-Nijinsky factions at work in Paris, determined to disrupt proceedings before a note of music had been heard.

When first performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on May 29, 1913, the avant-garde nature of the Stravinsky’s score and Vaslav Nijinsky’s choreography caused a sensation (by now-disputed claims, a riot). Although designed as a work for the stage, Stravinsky’s music achieved equal, if not greater, recognition as a concert piece, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century.

Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Claude Debussy’s 1894 symphonic poem was inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem L’après-midi d’un faune, which tells the story of a faun trying to recall whether his memory of two beautiful nymphs is real or a dream.

French composer Pierre Boulez considered Prelude as the beginning of modern music and a turning point in the history of music. Nearly two decades later, as part of the Ballets Russes’ 1912 Paris season, Vaslav Nijinsky translated Mallarmé’s poem to dance, using Debussy’s symphonic poem for the music. The more common version known today was choreographed by Jerome Robbins in 1958.

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A 1920’s Evening

Tickets for Saturday’s performances at the Lincoln Center are available online or in-person at the Lincoln Center (415 N. 30th St.) the day of the performance.

Lincoln Center
September 21, 2019 | 7:30 pm
Concert Cues | 6:45 pm
Spend a jazz-inspired opening night with Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, featuring American composer and pianist, Conrad Tao. This event is part of NxNW, a collective collaboration of local arts and culture, Sept 12-22.

 

Conrad Tao
Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, performing to acclaim from critics and audiences alike. His accolades and awards include being a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a YoungArts gold medal-winner in music, a Gilmore Young Artist, an Avery Fisher Career Grant winner, and a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist. The former prodigy continues to emerge as a mature, thoughtful and thought-provoking artist, confidently pushing boundaries as a leading performer, composer, curator, and commissioner, championing new music while continuing to present core repertoire in a new light.

In 2018-19, Tao makes his performance debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra, and his 2018-19 season begins with the World Premiere of Everything Must Go, commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, as well as the inauguration of their new Nightcap series. He makes his LA Opera debut in the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s, the loser, where he plays the onstage role of the apparition and memory of Glenn Gould. In January 2019, Tao and dancer-choreographer Caleb Teicher continue to develop More Forever as part of Guggenheim’s Works & Process series.

Tao continues to perform concertos with orchestras around the world including returns to the Swedish Radio, San Diego, Baltimore, Pacific, and Colorado Symphonies, as well as with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa. Conrad also performs duo chamber music concerts with violinist Stefan Jackiw, including a debut performance at 92Y, ensemble engagements with the JCT Trio around the world, as well as solo recital programs.

Tao’s career as composer has garnered eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and the Carlos Surinach Prize from BMI, and he has been commissioned by the Dallas Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Washington Performing Arts Society, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and others. Tao is a Warner Classics recording artist, and his first two albums Voyages and Pictures have been praised by NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, and many more.

An American in Paris
In the spring of 1928, George Gershwin took his fifth trip to Europe. Before departing, he made sketches for an orchestral piece requested by conductor Walter Damrosch for the fledgling New York Philharmonic. (This was his second Damrosch commission; the first having been the 1925 Piano Concerto in F). During Gershwin’s travels, the sketches developed into what would become one of his most popular works—the amiable tone poem, An American in Paris. Gershwin actually was an American in Paris for part of that time, and his brother Ira reported that the entire “blues” section of the piece was composed in the Hotel Majestic in that city.

Gershwin’s interpretation of Paris in the 1920s was heavily influenced by the sounds of the city. He was so taken with the sounds of Parisian taxi horns; he brought some back with him and gave them a prominent position in his new piece. Gershwin completed An American in Paris just four weeks before its scheduled December 13, 1928 premiere at Carnegie Hall. While the audience loved it, Gershwin wasn’t completely satisfied with Damrosch’s interpretation, thinking his tempos were sluggish and dragging. Some critics, despite finding it better crafted than the Concerto in F, didn’t believe it belonged on a classical program. Gershwin responded to the critics, “It’s not a Beethoven Symphony, you know… It’s a humorous piece, nothing solemn about it. It’s not intended to draw tears. If it pleases symphony audiences as a light, jolly piece, a series of expressions musically expressed, it succeeds.”

Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major
Ravel began formulating a plan for what would become his Piano Concerto in G Major in 1906 while he was traveling Europe and the United States. Due to other projects he had going at the time, he couldn’t continue working on it until 1929. He was surprised that few Americans were influenced by the jazzy sounds prevalent in Paris at the time.

His original plan was to perform the piece himself upon completion. Unfortunately, his declining health prevented him from doing so. He reached out to French pianist, teacher, and friend, Marguerite Long, to play in his stead. She eagerly agreed. Soon after the premiere in January 1932, with the Orchestre Lamoureaux, Ravel and Long embarked on a lengthy tour across Europe where they and the piano concerto were well received. Ravel would later dedicate his Piano Concerto in G Major to Long. The American premiere took place in two locations simultaneously on April 22, 1932, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

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2019-2020 Season

A Tribute to Ballets Russes

11.02.2019

November 2, 2019 | 7:30 pm Celebrate the famous Ballets Russes with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”,  featuring the return of former BSO&C intern violinist and MASO winner, Rosie Weiss.
Purchase TicketsLearn More

Celtic Christmas

12.21.2019

December 21, 2019 | 7:30 pm Back by popular demand, award-winning Jeremy Kittel, Billings’ favorite fiddler, violinist, and Celtic-influenced composer, is bringing some friends to celebrate the Holiday season.
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A Celebration of Mozart

02.15.2020

February 15, 2020 | 7:30 pm The Billings Symphony Chorale joins the orchestra to pay homage to one of the classical music’s greatest composers, with Mozart’s Requiem and Symphony No. 35.
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Rachmaninoff

04.18.2020

April 18, 2020 | 7:30 pm The symphony season ends with one of the finest pianists of his generation and the last great Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff.
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