September 11, 2014

Join the Billings Symphony for Opening Night featuring Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

Billings, MT ─ The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, under the direction of Maestra Anne Harrigan, enters its 64th season presenting Up Close and Personal with cellist Marc Coppey, whichfeatures Beethoven’s landmark Fifth Symphony and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, on Sat., September 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater (ABT).Concert Cues, an interactive discussion of the evening’s musical selections led by Marvin Granger with Coppey begins at 6:45 p.m., and is free to all ticket holders.

The Billings Symphony will celebrate Maestra Harrigan’s 10-year anniversary with the BSO&C this season and have several events planned to honor the conductor, including a reception after the opening night concert with light refreshments. “It has been an exciting decade working with the talented musicians that make up the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. It seems like only yesterday when I stepped on stage at the Alberta Bair Theater for my first performance with the BSO&C. Our audiences have come to expect the unexpected, while still enjoying great symphonic masterpieces. I am honored to be a part of this organization,” said Harrigan.

In collaboration with Community 7 Television, Up Close and Personal will also feature live image magnification (I-Mag). I-Mag is a technique that uses video cameras to project live video of the action on stage onto screens that will be mounted on each side of the theater. The audience will experience the passion and energy of the conductor, guest artist and orchestra “up close and personal.”

“Dit-dit-dit-DAAAAA!” The opening four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony have to be the best known four notes in all of music. Like the Mona Lisa or “to be or not to be,” they have become a permanent fixture in popular culture. The Symphony was written in 1804–1808 and is one of the best-known compositions in classical music. First performed in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in 1808, the work achieved its remarkable reputation soon afterwards and became one of the most frequently played symphonies.

Few pieces of music are as moving as Dvořák’s Cello Concerto. Composed for the great Czech cellist Hanuš Wihan in the mid-1890s, it combines technical virtuosity with heartfelt emotion. In the course of writing the work, Dvořák received word of the death of a much loved friend, and the concerto takes on a beautifully serene tone as it makes its way towards its elegiac conclusion.

French cellist Marc Coppey, winner of the two highest prizes at the Bach competition Leipzig at the age of 18—first prize and special prize for the best interpretations of Bach—is considered to be one of the leading cellists of today. Sir Yehudi Menuhin discovered his talent at an early age, and subsequently invited him to make his Moscow and Paris debuts by performing the Tchaïkovsky Trio with him and Victoria Postnikova, a collaboration documented on film by famous film director Bruno Monsaingeon. In 1989 Mstislav Rostropovitch invited Marc to the Evian Festival and from that moment on, his solo career took off.

In addition to his solo concert career and his chamber music activities, Coppey is a professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris and gives master-classes all over the world. He is the artistic director of the Colmar Chamber Music Festival as well as the Zagreb Soloists since February 2011. He performs on a rare cello by Matteo Goffriller (Venice 1711) and resides in Paris.

Through the Billings Symphony’s Explore Music! program, Coppey is conducting a master class Friday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater. Master classes provide the highest level of teaching expertise to the students who are performing as well as to those in the audience who are observing. Students performing in the master class are: Veronica Murtagh, student of Mary McCullough, Gabriel Faure: Elegie; Molly Frichtl, student of Mary McCullough, Max Bruch: Kol Nidre; and Rebeca Strong, student of John Kirk, Antonin Dvorak: Cello Concerto, 1st Mvmt. The class is FREE and open to the public and is a great opportunity for all who attend. Individuals interested in attending should contact Candy Holzer, Education Director, at the Symphony office at (406) 252-3610.

Up Close and Personalis presented by St. Vincent Healthcare Regional Neuroscience Center for Brain and Spine. John W. & Carol L. H. Green (in memory of Ruth Hveem Kronmiller (1914–2010) kindly sponsor the guest artist as well as the live image magnification. The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale’s 2014-2015 season is generously sponsored by The Oakland Companies.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Symphony office at (406) 252-3610 or visit Ticket prices start at $10. Students are half price with a valid I.D. A group discount is available for groups of 10 or more. No discounts in Loge seating.

September 9, 2014

Billings Symphony Nutcracker auditions for dancers set for Saturday, Sept. 20

Billings, MT ─ The Billings Symphony Orchestra is holding its annual auditions for local dancers in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, under the direction of Betty Loos and Julia Marble of the Billings School of Classical Ballet, on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 2:00 – 5:45 p.m. at the Billings YWCA, located at 909 Wyoming Avenue.

The production requires local children, ages 6 and older with dance experience, to fill the roles of Clara, Fritz, Party Boys and Girls, Baby Dolls, Soldiers, Baby Rats, Sugarbabes and many other beloved Nutcracker characters. Children cast will perform with the Billings Symphony Orchestra and San Diego Ballet for two performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater.

Students should arrive at least 20 minutes prior to audition time to fill out registration forms. Late arrival may put that dancer at a disadvantage. There is a $5 audition fee. Checks should be made payable to Betty Loos. All students who fit the costumes and accept roles must be available for both shows and all rehearsals held once a week leading up to the November performances.

Girls should wear class uniform, or a solid colored leotard, pink tights and pink ballet shoes. Hair should be secured in a bun. Boys should wear white t-shirts, black tights/shorts or stretch pants. Boys do not need to have dance experience but theater, gymnastics, or martial arts experience is helpful. All girls are asked to audition in flat technique shoes, except advanced female roles on pointe.

Rehearsal times will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 20 at auditions. Please note that for certain parts, rehearsal will start as early as Sunday, Sept. 21. For more information, contact Betty Loos (406) 252-5765 or Julia Marble at (406) 208-0788.


ADVANCED WOMEN | 2:00 – 3:00 P.M.

  • Bring pointe shoes
  • Heights 5’1” & up
  • Garland Girls, Ladies in Waiting, Snow, Finale, other roles to be announced: (Chinese Girls, Merlitons if dancers are strong enough)
  • Garland Girls and Chinese Girls must be under 5’4”

 BOYS & GIRLS | 3:00 – 4:30 P.M.

  • All levels
  • Ages 6 and up
  • Heights 4’2” – 5’2”
  • Great parts for brothers (no ballet required – great for gymnasts, actors, martial artists)
  • Party Boys, Party Girls, Clara, Gingersnaps, Sr. & Jr. Soldiers, Horse Soldiers, Candycanes, Sheep, Russian Bears, Jr. Rats, Garland Girls, Fritz, Prince
  • Clara must be under 5’2”
  • Gingersnaps must be under 4’7”

 BOYS & GIRLS: UNDER 4’2” | 4:45 PM – 5:45 P.M. 

  • Ages 6 and up
  • Heights UNDER 4’2”
  • Baby Dolls, Baby Rats, Sugarbabes, Sheep


Children of all ages will delight in the Billings Symphony Orchestra’s annual Thanksgiving weekend presentation of Peter Tchaikovsky’s beloved score in this must-experience holiday event. Complemented by the outstanding choreography of San Diego Ballet, all the spectacle and pageantry of this quintessential tale will unfold before your eyes, with vivid sets and lavish costumes from that period.

Tickets for The Nutcracker are on sale now at the Alberta Bair Theater Box Office. Call 256-6052 or purchase online at Adult tickets range from $23 to $48. Tickets for children 12 and younger are discounted, except for loge seating, and range from $12 to $48.

August 29, 2014

Highlights from a successful season at the Billing Symphony Orchestra & Chorale

Billings, MT – As another season of exhilarating music is about to begin for the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO&C), the organization happily looks back on the success of the 2013-14 season. The season was filled with memorable concerts, strong community support, and outstanding Explore Music! programs that reached more people than ever before.

A concert that was especially memorable was the February performance of “Piano Romance” with critically acclaimed pianist, Andrew von Oeyen. According to the Billings Gazette’s art and entertainment reporter, Jaci Webb, “a packed house watched in awe as the commanding pianist coaxed so much passion from the work, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, that it raised the temperature a few degrees, especially in the balcony. Von Oeyen’s tender treatment of the softer themes were tempered with drama and suspense from the horn section. Shouts broke out as soon as the piece was finished and von Oeyen and the Billings Symphony Orchestra were given a sustained ovation.”

Other notable performances for the season included a sold-out “Sixties Revolution” concert with legendary hits ranging from the Beach Boys and the Beatles to Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones; and Carmina Burana that included the powerful voices of the Billings Symphony Chorale.

Explore Music!, the music education and community engagement program of the BSO&C, reached our community with a variety of programs aimed at the mission of the organization which is to “enrich lives through music.”

  • Symphony musicians, guest artists and Music Director Anne Harrigan visited over 15 schools in Billings including elementary, middle, and high schools presenting concerts and workshops
  • Explore Music! reached over 800 members of the area retirement communities and senior meal sites providing concerts for special events and entertainment
  • The annual Adventures in Music Day festivities drew area children and adults downtown for hands-on activities such as instrument petting zoos, opportunities to meet and interact with BSO&C musicians and an open dress rehearsal for a BSO&C season concert
  • Explore Music! reached more people than ever before last season through a generous grant from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, which brought music education programs to people across Stillwater and Carbon counties


The 2013-14 season had several financial highlights as well. Unaudited figures show that single-ticket income had a significant increase, and earned income overall rose 7% over the 2012-13 season. The BSO&C also hosted two very successful new fundraiser events, New Year’s Eve Bash and Celebrate Spring in late April.  Combined with several other strong fundraising campaigns, contributed income increased roughly $100,000 compared with the previous season. Along with closely-managed expenses, the BSO&C is forecasting a 2013-14 surplus of more than 5%. The Board intends to allocate this surplus to the contingency fund for financial stability.

With the close of the 2013-14 season the BSO&C family was humbled by the community’s support and brimming with excitement for what’s to come. The Billings Symphony hopes their audience will continue to stand with them as they work, note by note, to provide unparalleled performances and educational opportunities to patrons of all ages. For more information on the BSO&C’s upcoming season visit their website at or call the office at 252-3610.

August 14, 2014

Billings Symphony Chorale Auditions set for Sept. 8 and Sept. 15

Billings, MT- Auditions for the Billings Symphony Chorale for the upcoming 64thseason of the Billings Symphony are set for Monday, Sept. 8 and Monday, Sept. 15. Audition times will begin at 6 p.m. in the Band Room at Lincoln Center located at 415 N. 30th St., in downtown Billings. Auditions are by appointment only.

Chorale Director Dr. Steven Hart invites vocalists ages 15 and older to audition.

For the audition, potential members will sing one prepared piece of solo vocal literature (classical, please), and a complete a vocal range test in order to determine voice-part placement. An accompanist will be provided. Please bring two copies of the solo vocal material.

The Chorale will join Broadway superstar Doug LaBrecque for Holiday Spectacular on Dec. 20, the third concert of the BSO&C’s season series. Holiday Spectacular will be a delight for all ages, featuring a festive celebration with the sounds of the season.

The Billings Symphony Chorale will also perform during the season finale, From Russia with Love on April 18. This concert features some of the world’s great musical treasures, such as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.

For more information or to schedule an audition time, contact Candy Holzer at the Billings Symphony office at (406) 252-3610 by Friday, Sept. 5.

August 13, 2014

Billings Symphony’s Explore Music! program receives $40,000 grant from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation

Billings, MT –The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO&C) recently received a $40,000 grant from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation for its Explore Music! program.

Explore Music!is the music education and community engagement program of the BSO&C created to assist in sharing symphonic music with as many people as possible and in cultivating a lifelong appreciation for the performing arts.

Explore Music! programs reach tens of thousands of children, youth, adults, and seniors each year. By eliminating price and taking the programs to participants/audiences, the Symphony reaches beyond the stage at the Alberta Bair Theater and into the communities in the greater Billings area.

The $40,000 grant will expand the already successful outreach program and bring symphony concerts and programs to more Montanans in towns across Stillwater and Carbon counties.

Activities the grant will support include:

  • Musicians-in-Schools – these programs are designed to engage students by giving them an opportunity to experience a chamber ensemble in a small group setting.
  • Rural Rhythms concerts – community chamber music concerts that will be free and open to the public. These concerts are an excellent way to introduce residents in the area to high quality chamber music.
  • Adventures in Music Day – four musicians, one from each instrument family, will visit a selected school to give music demonstrations and information on orchestral instruments. Students will then be given the opportunity to try out several instruments of their choice (provided in collaboration with Eckroth Music Store) for a hands-on experience.
  • Family Concert of Peter and the Wolf – this will include two full-school concert performances in Red Lodge. Area school children will be invited to ride a free bus to the performance.
  • Master Clinics – one of the most effective means of musical development, these Master Clinics will be held during a high school band class. Our musicians will work with sections of the band to give guidance and expertise on improvement of their performance.
  • Four Tippet Rise Concerts – held for area residents in Stillwater and Carbon counties, these concerts are held at the Tippet Rise Art Center outside of Fishtail.

Candy Holzer, BSO&C Education Director, said the organization is elated to receive funding from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation because the award validates the Explore Music! program’s efforts to enhance the appreciation of the performing arts.

“I am thrilled that BSO&C’s Explore Music! program has received this grant for a second consecutive year.  We can continue to offer musical educational opportunities to residents of Stillwater and Carbon Counties in both a focused and multi-layered approach. This project speaks directly to the heart of our mission, and we are grateful for the Sidney E. Frank Foundation’s support,” said Holzer.

The Sidney E. Frank Foundation is a private grant-making foundation that provides funding mainly in the areas of arts, education, and environment. Through the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, trustees Cathy and Peter Halstead support arts, arts education, community organizations and emergency services in Montana and Colorado.