OCTOBER 27, 2014
Join Billings Symphony Principal Brass Musicians for a Special Chamber Concert

Billings, MT ─ The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale principal brass musicians will bring a special chamber concert to downtown Billings. Top Brass will be held on Thursday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church located downtown at 310 N. 27th Street.

Mark Fenderson, trumpet; Mark Soueidi, trombone; John Dutton; horn; and pianist Jen Bratz will celebrate the brilliant and beautiful sounds of the brass. They’ll play several pieces of music as a trio with piano accompaniment and will also perform solos. The program includes: Francis Poulenc’s Trio for Brass, Pierre Gabaye’s Recreation, Richard Peaslee’s Nightsongs, Stjepan Sulek’s Sonata “Vox Gabrieli,” and Dukas’ Villanelle.

Poulenc’s Trio for Brass will open the program and is considered to be one of the greatest pieces in the chamber brass collection. Fenderson says the piece is “fun, melodious, and beautiful and has been an audience favorite for decades.” Peaslee’s Nightsongs is an enchanting work that has the trumpet soloist [Fenderson] using both the flugelhorn and trumpet along with piano.

Dutton’s solo piece was composed in approximately 1905 by Paul Dukas and is titled Villanelle. It was a demanding contest piece at the Paris Conservatory originally and was designed to show skills in both natural (valveless) horn and “modern” valve horn. Villanelle is known for its refreshing melodies.

Soueidi will be preforming, Sulek’s Sonata “Vox Gabrieli” (Voice of Gabriel) as his solo piece. The trombone has always been associated with the human voice, closely matched in both texture and tone color. Soueidi is pleased to play this piece as it was a long-time favorite of his high school trombone instructor and former principal trombone of the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, Jim Robertson. “Robertson performed it many times in the community, and I am honored to do the same in proud memory of my former teacher and friend,” said Soueidi.

Concluding the program will be Gabaye’s Recreation, which will include the brass trio with piano. “As the name implies, it is a light-hearted and amusing piece, although the middle movement is extremely beautiful,” says Fenderson. Bratz will accompany the trio on Recreation as well as on their solo pieces.

Top Brass is presented by Warren & Judy Frank, John & Susan Stewart, and George & Olivia Sheckleton. The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale’s 2014-2015 season is generously sponsored by The Oakland Companies.

Ticket prices are $15 for general seating and $25 for reserved. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Symphony office at (406) 252-3610 or visit www.billingssymphony.org. Tickets will also be sold at the door the night of concert at First Congregational Church.

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 billingssymphony.org or call the office at 252-3610.

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.