Symphony introduces students to classical music

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  • AMY HAYMOND of the Glacier Symphony performs music from the upcoming concert “Star Wars, Dark Matter and Dvorak” for elementary students at Flathead High School on Friday. The concerts will be open to the public at 7:30 p.m. today at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at Flathead High School. (Brenda Ahearn photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    JOHN ZOLTEK leads the Glacier Symphony as they perform works from their upcoming concert for grade school children at Flathead High School on Friday morning.

  • AMY HAYMOND of the Glacier Symphony performs music from the upcoming concert “Star Wars, Dark Matter and Dvorak” for elementary students at Flathead High School on Friday. The concerts will be open to the public at 7:30 p.m. today at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at Flathead High School. (Brenda Ahearn photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    JOHN ZOLTEK leads the Glacier Symphony as they perform works from their upcoming concert for grade school children at Flathead High School on Friday morning.

The sounds of battling Jedis and eerie, child-snatching witches filled Flathead High School auditorium along with hundreds of elementary students from around the valley who went “Wild about Music” on Friday during a Glacier Symphony concert.

The program introduces elementary students to classical music, instruments and composers. Typically the program features soloists or ensembles, but students on Friday were in for a treat — the entire symphony was performing.

On stage, conductor John Zoltek turned to his young audience of fourth, fifth and some middle school students.

“How many of you are wild about music?” Zoltek asked.

Students answered with excited screams and shouts before quieting down while the orchestra tuned up.

Audience etiquette is something that Olney-Bissell and Marion schools music teacher David Klassy tries to instill in students before bringing them to the yearly concert.

“They have to know the performers are here in the room and they have to be respectful because they worked hard to prepare for the concert,” Klassy said.

While he can show videos of performances in the classroom there is nothing quite like live performances, Klassy added

“They can feel the vibration of the instruments and everything,” Klassy said.

With the musicians in tune, the symphony dived into a rousing rendition of “March of the Resistance” from the movie “Star Wars — The Force Awakens,” by composer John Williams. Zoltek talked about what exactly composers do.

“This music doesn’t just happen, right? Somebody has to think about it and then what, write it down. That’s called a composer,” he said. “All their imagination goes into making great sounds that will move us and in this particular instance — create a great action soundtrack for films.”

Zoltek set the tone for the story about a mother and child making lunch for the father who is out working in a field when the child throws a tantrum.

“When you misbehave, what do your parents tell you?” Zoltek asked. “Stop. Better behave or else — or else you’ll lose your iPhone for the weekend; or else you’re grounded for the weekend,” he said stirring up the audience.

“Or else the witch will come and take you,” he said mischievously.

In the story the mother attempts to get her child to behave by warning him the noonday witch will take him away.

“This little creepy witch comes into the house and says to the mother ‘give me your child.’ You’ll hear this musically,” Zoltek said.

The witch gives chase to the mother who is holding her child. The mother faints. A church bell strikes the noon hour and the witch disappears.

“And you’ll hear this very clearly. And what does he see. That’s up for you to decide,” Zoltek said.

The students learned what instruments represent each character, such as the child represented by an oboe.

“So that’s the nice version of the child. Here is the tantrum version of the child and the mother kind of fighting,” Zoltek said with several different instruments playing the part.

Instruments such as bass clarinet, low bassoon and cello represent the witch. The musicians play an unnerving sound.

After finishing the piece, Zoltek introduced each section of the orchestra, including familiar faces such as Glacier High School band director Dave Barr and Kalispell Middle School band director Hank Handford.

The concert wrapped up with familiar “Star Wars” sounds in “The Jedi Steps and Finale,” to shouts and applause.

Getting into schools is an important part of the Glacier Symphony and Chorale’s mission.

“In this day and age, a lot of young people they just don’t get exposure to the classical arts and classical music,” Zoltek said.

In additional efforts to support music education, the Glacier Symphony and Chorale offers free admission to school-aged children who attend Masterworks Series concerts.

Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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