Celebrating the Autumn Giants

By Beacon Staff

Nature is an endless supply of creative inspiration, providing scenes and evoking emotions in artists of all genres. It is this joy of interpreting the natural world that flows through the upcoming performance from the Glacier Symphony.

On Nov. 16 and 17, the symphony will present its second Masterworks concerts of the season, “Autumn Giants.” The concerts take place at the Flathead High School Performance Hall.

The concerts follow the theme of Glacier Symphony and Chorale’s 31st season, which is “Songs of the Earth.”

Each performance celebrates the influence nature has had on composers over the centuries, and “Autumn Giants” showcases some powerhouse pieces that are just right for this time of year.

“This year we’re definitely dealing with a lot of nature-inspired music,” GSC music director John Zoltek said. “It’s been pretty fun.”

Zoltek said the concerts will begin with “In Autumn,” a piece from Norwegian composer Edward Greig depicting the various breezes of autumn. It will be paired with the “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor” by Max Bruch, and will feature Polish-born and New York City-based violin soloist Kinga Augustyn.

Augustyn, who performed with the symphony last year, has a considerable resume, including performances with the Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum, the Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival, the Empire State Sinfonia, the Manhattan Symphonie, the Gateway Classical Music Society Orchestra, the Broadway Bach Ensemble, the Glacier Symphony, and the Augusta Symphony Orchestra.

She will also play in the soloist spotlight performance on Nov. 14 at the Alpine Ballroom in Kalispell; the casual evening will feature Augustyn playing some of her favorite solo pieces, as well as chatting about her experiences as a professional musician.

Following the Grieg piece, “Autumn Giants” moves on to a 1970 work from American composer Alan Hovhaness entitled “And God Created the Great Whales.”

“This work is interesting because it incorporated the sound of whale songs into the orchestra language,” Zoltek said.

Hovhaness’ piece is simple and powerful, Zoltek said, providing his interpretation of the water and setting the stage for the whale songs to move through.

“His music is not very complicated; it’s immediate and enchanting,” Zoltek said. “There’s power and drive in it.”

The whale sounds correspond interestingly with the finale piece, a famous and well-known composition from Ottorino Resphigi called “The Pines of Rome.” It’s essentially a musical postcard about Italian scenes, Zoltek said, describing natural places around Rome – pines of the Villa Borghese; pines near a catacomb; pines near a Janiculum; and Pines of the Appian Way.

While this piece may be based on landlocked nature, Zoltek said it works well with the Hovhaness piece because “The Pines of Rome” is the first known orchestra piece to use a pre-recorded sound, in this case the songs from a nightingale. Resphigi first incorporated the bird songs in 1924.

“I thought it would be cool to have both of these pieces on the program,” Zoltek said.

“The Pines of Rome” is considered an orchestral powerhouse piece, he said, and has a great crescendo on which to end the concerts.

Zoltek has been with the GSC for 18 years, which he believes gives him the experience to know what the Flathead Valley wants to hear. This Masterworks concert and season will likely fit that bill, he said.

“It’s a pretty dynamic concert and hopefully people will respond to it the way I think they will,” Zoltek said.

Tickets for the concert can be purchased online at www.gscmusic.org or by calling the GSC box office at 407-7000. They range in price from $15 to $32 in four seating tiers for single adults. All kids through grade 12 are admitted free to GSC Masterworks concerts.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.