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2020 - 2021 Events

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Classic Series

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9


7:30 PM

Location: Alberta Bair Theater

Billings Symphony Chorale
Dr. Steven Hart choral director

Christie Conover soprano
Victoria Vargas alto
Daren Small bass

Rossini Overture to William Tell
Beethoven Symphony No. 9

The BSOC’s Classic Series closes with Beethoven’s ultimate masterpiece, Symphony No. 9. Featuring the Billings Symphony Chorale and talented guest artists.


Consistently hailed as elegant and refined, Christie Conover’s rich, warm sound is complemented by a personal grace both on and off the stage. Described by the San Francisco Classical Voice as having a “well-focused instrument with a lovely timbre, perfect trill, and soaring top,” audiences and critics alike agree: Christie Conover is a standout.

She has performed lead roles with Komische Oper Berlin, Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Steamboat, Opera San Jose, and others. On the concert stage, Christie has sung with the Colorado Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Grand Junction Symphony, Billings Symphony, Helena Symphony, Altius Quartet, and Bakken Trio.

Now living in Denver and working with the Eklund Opera Program at the University of Colorado Boulder, Christie is always delighted to return to her hometown to sing with the Billings Symphony Orchestra. She is grateful to her music educators for instilling the fundamental skills and passion for singing while teaching a lot about being a good human, notably Cheryl Pittack, Scott Corey, the late Donald Pihlaja, and the late Ed Harris. She was proud to represent her home state of Montana in the 2007 Miss America Pageant and traveled extensively speaking on the platform: “Music Makes the Difference.”

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Mezzo-soprano Victoria Vargas opera credits include singing over twenty roles for the Minnesota Opera and performing with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera, Ash Lawn-Highland Festival, and others.

Equally comfortable in concert work, Mrs. Vargas has sung with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (NY), Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (MN), Mankato Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony, St. Cloud Orchestra, the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Wayzata Symphony, La Jolla Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra.

Ms. Vargas has placed seven times at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions at both the district and regional levels. She also placed in the Schubert Club Competition and was a finalist in the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition for Opera San Jose.

This spring Ms. Vargas’ can be seen singing the role of Florence Pike in Albert Herring for Minnesota Opera, performing works by composer Jared Tate for An Opera Theater (AOT), and premiering a song cycle written for her by composer and baritone Rodolfo Nieto.

Mrs. Vargas has served on faculty at the MacPhail Center for Music and Carleton College. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Minnesota.

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Daren Small is a distinguished bass-baritone soloist in the American Northwest. He enjoys sharing his passion for singing, both on stage as well as in the classroom and voice studio. Small is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). A native of Billings, Montana, Mr. Small was formerly the Director of Choirs at Billings Senior High School. Throughout his entire career, he has enjoyed opportunities to share his “clear and rich-timbre voice” with all audiences.

Mr. Small made his soloist debut at Montana State University during their 2006 performance of Mozart’s ​Requiem​. Since then, he has performed as a soloist in many venues. His most recent operatic appearances include ​Awakenings, Die Zauberflöte​, ​Turandot​, ​Aïda​, ​The Crucible​, Rigoletto​, ​Tosca​, and ​La Bohème​. Daren is continually hailed as one of the finest bass soloists to sing Handel’s ​Messiah​. His recent concert appearances include performances of Bach’s ​Mass in B Minor​ and ​St. John Passion​, Stravinsky’s ​Les Noces​, Fauré’s ​Requiem​, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610​ (2020), and Dvořák’s ​Te Deum ​ (2020). Small was also a winner of the District Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Auditions for Montana and Idaho in 2015. He went on to win the 3rd place Encouragement Award at the Northwest MONC Finals in 2016.

While earning his Bachelor of Music Education and his Master of Education degrees from Montana State University, Mr. Small developed his passion for performance and teaching. He is an active member of the American Choral Directors’ Association, NAfME, and the VoiceCare Network. He has also served as the Chorus Master for the Rimrock Opera in Billings, Montana. Many reputable soloists and educators have and continue to influence his career including Tom Baresel, Dennis Rupp, Lowell Hickman, Dr. Jon Harney, Dr. Kirk Aamot, and Dr. Steven Hart.