The Helena Symphony's 2019 concert season will be a trip through some of America's renowned modern composers and opera classics.
Listen with Curiosity is the name of the 65th Helena Symphony season. With 15 performances on the docket, the symphony will be working through a number of famous and popular pieces during this year's cycle.
Allan R. Scott, the maestro and music director for the Helena Symphony, is excited about this year's possibilities.
"The 65th anniversary is going to be really fabulous," Scott said.
The Helena Symphony is a regional professional orchestra made up of 110 chorale members and 75 orchestral players. Depending on the night, those numbers can fluctuate by quite a bit as music from Mozart requires a different set-up than music by Philip Glass.
Scott is especially excited for Sept. 14, the symphony's opening night. Glass' "American Four Seasons" will be performed as well as an ethereal and unusual piece written by Jennifer Higdon called "blue cathedral."
Higdon is a composer who might not be a household name, but she has a 10-year backlog of requests to write music. Scott said "blue cathedral" is one of her most beautiful pieces.
"It's about her brother who died young," Scott said of the arrangement. "It's about letting go and saying goodbye."
The orchestra will begin with their normal instruments, Scott said, but will transition into shakers and tone-producing crystal goblets filled with water.
"It makes you feel like maybe you're in a different world," Scott said.
"Blue cathedral" is only a 15-minute piece, but it stretches the limits of what music is while still operating in the same emotional mode the art form is renowned for.
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"It transforms us," Scott said.
Scott is also excited about the more broad pieces the symphony will be putting on this year, particularly the operas of "Carmen" and "Carmina Burana."
"Opera is funny and silly," Scott said, and said with a grin it's why daytime television shows with wild twists and insane plots are called "soap operas."
That broadness and oddness is what he enjoys about staging and conducting opera, and especially "Carmina Burana."
"It reminds people of films, pagan rituals," Scott said of the opera. "Everyone loves it for different reasons."
Scott expounded on the importance of music not just as an emotional and spiritual experience, but also as a driver of the greater community economy.
"People go out to dinner, get drinks and dessert," Scott said. Concert nights are a night on the town for many, he added, and because Helena has a young average age for its patrons, he believes that ritual of making an evening out of the symphony will be sustainable for a long time.
But the emotional impact of the music is truly what can change people in a community.
"We feel like we've bettered ourselves," when listening to orchestral music, Scott said. "There's a psychological impact ... it triggers something ... it inspires something."
With the 1,500 or so people who come to each symphony performance, the impact can be radically different.
"We get letters from people and they come and somehow the music allows them to feel," what they need to feel in the moment, Scott said.