Beethoven and a Beer

Festival Amadeus once again brings a variety of classical music to the Flathead

By Madeleine Lamon
INVOKE string quartet. Courtesy photo

For the 11th consecutive year, the Glacier Symphony & Chorale is bringing the sounds of the classical era to the Flathead Valley.

Established in 2008, Festival Amadeus is a weeklong summer event during which acclaimed musicians travel to Northwest Montana to perform alongside the Festival Amadeus Orchestra. John Zoltek, the conductor and music director of GSC, said he strives to ensure that each iteration of the festival offers a unique experience to audience members by incorporating different artists, compositions and performance styles.

This summer’s six performances will feature the talents of Tim Fain, a violinist who appeared in the movie Black Swan, Alon Goldstein, a renowned pianist, INVOKE, a string-quartet based in Austin, Texas, and Inbal Segev, an acclaimed cellist.

In selecting his lineup, a process that he describes as “enjoyable but challenging,” Zoltek tries to both appeal to classical music fans and “make bridges to new audiences.”

Half of the festival concerts will feature orchestral performances at the Performing Arts Center in which Fain, Goldstein and Segev will perform classical concertos with the orchestra.

For Segev, an Israeli native and current New York resident, the festival will no only be her first time playing in Montana, but also her first time performing a live concerto on her recently purchased cello, which was crafted during the 1950s.

In addition to her excitement over hearing how the cello will sound, Segev said she is excited to experience performing in a “rustic” place where she can see if and how nature affects music.

The other three performances will take place at the O’Shaughnessy Center and be more experimental in style. Classified as “chamber cabarets,” these concerts will allow audience members to enjoy a wide array of music while sitting and enjoying a drink.

“It’s like Beethoven and the bar,” Zoltek quipped.

The cabaret style shows will include an Americana performance by INVOKE, a group which includes Kalispell-born violinist Zach Matteson, as well as a night of music from the “Power Trio” of Fain, Goldstein and Segev, who will deliver renditions of classical, romantic and 20th century compositions.

The third cabaret show commemorates the 100th anniversary of “The Soldier’s Tale” (originally “L’Histoire du soldat”), a theatrical piece conceived by Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer, and C.F. Ramuz, a Swiss writer. Involving seven musicians, three actors and a conductor, the narrative performance is set to music that Zoltek characterizes as “a collision between modernist Russian music and European jazz and parade music and waltzes.”

“It’s going to be quite wild,” Zoltek promised.

The festival will kick off with an Amadeus Reception at which multi-concert pass holders can meet the musicians while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks. Zoltek hinted that those attending the “friendraising” event may enjoy a special performance that night.

Each year the GSC also collaborates with North Valley Music School in running Camp Festival Amadeus concurrently with the festival. According to Jennifer Wickland, NVMS office manager, 24 students will participate in the camp this August and be able to practice music alongside orchestral members, listen to presentations from the featured musicians and attend each of the festival performances.

“It makes orchestra cool,” said Wickland, whose son has attended the camp for the past two years. The camp culminates in a free student performance on Friday, Aug. 10.

“We are growing the next generation of musicians for the symphony, so it’s a symbiotic relationship,” she added.

Thinking back on his decision to found the festival, Zoltek said his long-term goal is to “to put [the valley] on the map as a destination for great classical music.”

Noting that he believes the event adds to “enhanced quality of life” in the Flathead, the maestro was optimistic for this summer, as well as those to come.

“I see nothing but great potential in the future,” he said.

For more information about Festival Amadeus or to purchase tickets, visit www.gscmusic.org/festival-amadeus/ or call (406) 407-7000.