On Sunday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. Helena, the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale will open the holiday season with an evening of reflective, serene, and inspiring music. There is only one performance of this magical evening and it sells out very quickly, so tickets should be purchased in advance. All seating is reserved.
The concert opens with C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat,performed by the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale and four noted soloists from around the country. Despite his departure from the compositional conventions embodied by his father, Johann Sebastian Bach, Emanuel Bach worked to make his father’s music more known. As one of the oldest prayers, a “Magnificat” is the text proclaimed by the Virgin Mary after accepting to be the Mother of Christ. “Many composers have set this brief and powerful text to music, and it is traditionally performed during the Christmas season,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott.
The performance continues with a powerful orchestration of an organ work by J.S. Bach. Known for writing atonal music, Composer Arnold Schoenberg orchestrated several works of other composers, including the St. Anne Prelude & Fugue for organ by J.S. Bach. Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) demonstrated some of his most profound skills as an orchestrator through Bach’s music.
The most famous of Bach’s transcriptions is Stokowski’s Prelude & Fugue in D-minor, immortalized in Disney’s Fantasia (1940). “With an almost absurdly huge orchestra, Schoenberg creates an imaginative extravagant rebirth of Bach’s organ work,” says Maestro Scott. “Wonderful as it is, it sounds nothing like Bach; however, it is a panoramic display of orchestral color and an adaptation that Bach surely would have enjoyed.”
Finally, the performance concludes with the rarely performed In Terra Paxby English composer Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). Composed two years before his death, In Terra Pax (Peace on Earth), was inspired one Christmas Eve when Finzi climbed up to a church on top of a hillside. He was moved by the midnight bells ringing out across the English countryside. “Finzi takes the serene atmosphere from Bridges’ poem (subtitled Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis – Peace and Goodwill to all Men) and the spirituality of the Christmas scene to create a vivid, quiet, and reflective work that becomes more about the spirituality of humanity than it does religion,” explains Maestro Scott. Finzi states that “the Nativity becomes a vision seen by a wanderer on a dark and frosty Christmas Eve in our own familiar landscape. Internationally acclaimed Baritone Charles Robert Stephens and Minnesota Opera Soprano Christie Hageman (originally from Montana) join the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale for this serene work.
Tickets to the Helena Symphony’s only performance of Christmas in the Cathedral on Sunday, December 8 are available on line at www.helenasymphony.org, or by contacting the Symphony box office, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Symphony’s new office on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building, 2 N. Last Chance Gulch, or by calling 406.442.1860. This performance is not part of the Exergy Masterworks Concert Subscription Series. Seating is completely reserved and tickets are $50, $35, $30, and $20.
Musikanten Montana, conducted by Kerry Krebill, will offer their ninth annual traditional Advent Service of 9 Lessons and Carols at 7 pm, Wednesday, Dec. 11 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Cathedral, 511 N. Park (next to the YWCA).
Patterned after the King’s College historic celebration at Cambridge, England, the most widely observed Advent service in the world, the service includes 9 scripture readings – from the creation of the Garden of Eden, to the Prophets and John the Baptist and finally the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary – which are read by members of the community. Beginning with a child, the readers go up through young adults to community leaders, including Mayor Jim Smith and concluding with Bishop Franklin Brookhart. The Cathedral’s Dean, Heidi Kinner, will give the opening prayer and benediction.
Following each lesson is an anthem by the choir or carol sung by all. Cathedral organist Sue Brookhart will play for the congregational singing. Featured music this year includes works of Palestrina, Hammerschmidt and Duruflé, Stainer’s “God So Loved the World” and Poston’s “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” (favorites repeated every year), “And the Glory” from Messiah, and (back by popular demand!) the Magnificat section of Rachmaninoff’s amazing setting of the Russian Orthodox liturgy of All Night Vespers.
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Women are again presenting this Advent program as a gift to the Helena Community. There is no admission charge, but an offering will be received – the service is free and open to all. An elegant reception follows, featuring the famous ECW Plum Puddings. For more information, or to request nursery care, please call the Cathedral at 442-5175.
Light a Life at St. Peter's Hospital
Light a Life Ceremony
Thursday, Dec. 12, 4:30 p.m.
Helena Civic Center
A short indoor ceremony, followed by the lighting of the Civic Center tree. Each bulb on the tree represents a gift in honor or memory of a loved one. Proceeds benefit Hospice of St. Peter’s.
To contribute, please send $10 for each person to be honored to St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation, 2475 Broadway, Helena, MT 59601, by December 6. Provide the name of the person the gift is in memory or in honor of and to whom a card of notification
should be sent. For more information, call the Foundation at 444-2370.
Helena Symphony Family Holiday Concert
Family Holiday Concert with Kid Konductors! – ‘Twas the Night Before…
On Saturday, December 14, at 3:00 p.m. in the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing Arts (NOTE the change in location and date), the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale continue to usher in the Christmas spirit with sounds of season, including favorite carols that celebrate the sacred and the secular sides of the time of year.
Titled “ ‘Twas the Night Before…,” the Family Holiday Concert is a shorter concert performed without intermission, and it is perfect way for audiences of all ages to experience music for the holidays. Led by Assistant Conductor Breanne Cepeda, the concert at the Myrna Loy Center allows for a more intimate and family-friendly setting. In addition to several holiday favorites, Maestro Scott will appear as guest narrator for a special presentation of ‘Twas the Night Christmas.
The highlight of the Family Holiday Concert is the popular Kid Konductors! Children ages 3-12 sign up in the lobby prior to the concert to conduct the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale during the concert. A child from each age group (3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) is randomly selected, and is given a special conductor’s baton to keep. “Maestro Scott started Kid Konductors! over twenty-five years ago, and it has made an enormous impact on children, as they are leading over a hundred performers,” says Director of Artistic Planning Teak Hoiness.
Sponsored by the Rev George Harper Family, this one hour concert is performed without intermission, and tickets are also reduced to accommodate families. General Admission ticketsare available on line at www.helenasymphony.org, or by contacting the Symphony box office, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Symphony’s new office on the Walking Mall at the Livestock Building, 2 N. Last Chance Gulch, or by calling 406.442.1860. This performance is not part of the Exergy Masterworks Concert Subscription Series. Seating is very limited. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 18.