Music Issue

Spring Symphony Sounds

Northwest Montana’s premier orchestra and chorale group brings back spring festival performances after two-year hiatus, spreads music beyond stage

By Micah Drew
Glacier Symphony conductor John Zoltek will lead an Audience Sing Along during the Classic Holiday Pops concerts. Courtesy GSC

After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus on spring performances, the Glacier Symphony, Orchestra and Chorale is bringing its annual Spring Festival back to the stage.  

The 2022 Spring Festival will take place over two weekends in May. The first will feature orchestral songs by composer Gustav Mahler, and end with “one of the most transcendent and important masterpieces,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, one of the composer’s most popular works. 

The Mahler songs, including selected Rückert Leider and the complete Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), will feature four acclaimed vocal soloists: soprano Danielle Pastin, tenor Brian Cheney, bass-baritone Tyler Putnam and alto Robin Bier. Although she was born in Alaska, Bier’s family moved to the Flathead Valley when she was in third grade and she grew up with a musical background deeply rooted within the Glacier Symphony. 

“I knew that once we returned to the spring concerts with the combined forces of the Orchestra and Chorale, that I wanted to present truly spectacular music to our audiences and also give our musicians the experience of tackling and performing music that would showcase their collective talent,” said Maestro John Zoltek. “I am also pleased to be bringing back some of my favorite guest collaborators originally from the Flathead Valley who I have worked with in my 25 years with the Glacier Symphony.”

During the second weekend of Spring Festival the Glacier Symphony will again delve into the works of Mahler and Mozart.  Mahler’s Symphony No. 5  was composed in 1902 after an eventful year where the composer had a near death experience and fell in love. Zoltek calls the symphony a “powerfully expansive, technically demanding five-movement masterpiece,” that includes an Adagietto movement said to be a musical expression of love to Mahler’s wife. 

The last Mozart selection for the festival will be a piano concerto, No. 21 in C Major, and will feature internationally acclaimed pianist Robert Satterlee, who also has roots in the Flathead. 

Beyond the stage in Flathead’s performance hall, which will no longer be the home for the symphony once the new performing arts center at Flathead Valley Community College opens this year, Glacier Symphony is spending time this spring bringing musical experiences to youth outside the Flathead Valley. 

In late March it was announced that the Symphony had received a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to bring educational concerts to tribal lands and rural students across northwest Montana, with the goal of providing “enriching experiences in communities and education districts where involvement in the arts has been limited, and in many cases entirely absent.”

Musicians performed in Ronan, Eureka and St. Ignatius in late March and early April, and will have three more performances in Charlo and Polson in May. The concerts will include music by composers such as Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart and Vivaldi, as well as contemporary music by Native American cedar flute composer R. Carlos Nakai. 

“The Glacier Symphony and Chorale believes that positive experiences in the culture of music are essential and should be an integral part in the lives of your people,” said Germaine Jarvis, Glacier Symphony’s grant manager. 

The annual Spring Festival of the Glacier Symphony, Orchestra and Chorale will take place at the Flathead High School performance hall on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday May 1, and the second concert weekend on Saturday May 14 and Sunday, May 15. 

Tickets are available by calling the box office at 406-407-7000.  More information about the concerts, performance times, and the purchase of tickets online can be found on the website https://glaciersymphony.org/.

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