Festival Amadeus celebrates classical music

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  • Tanya Gabrielian performs with the Glacier Symphony at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center during 2014’s Festival Amadeus. (Brenda Ahearn file photo/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Festival music director John Zoltek is pictured at the Glacier Symphony office in Kalispell on July 25. (Mackenzie Reiss/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Festival Amadeus music director John Zoltek is pictured in his office at Glacier Symphony in Kalispell. (Mackenzie Reiss/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Tanya Gabrielian performs with the Glacier Symphony at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center during 2014’s Festival Amadeus. (Brenda Ahearn file photo/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Festival music director John Zoltek is pictured at the Glacier Symphony office in Kalispell on July 25. (Mackenzie Reiss/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Festival Amadeus music director John Zoltek is pictured in his office at Glacier Symphony in Kalispell. (Mackenzie Reiss/Daily Inter Lake)

The works of classical greats like Mozart and Beethoven will come to life this August during the Festival Amadeus presented by Glacier Symphony. Over seven nights from Aug. 6-12, music aficionados have the opportunity to attend three orchestra concerts and three chamber cabaret concerts featuring invited guest soloists from across the country.

These talented artists include violinist Tim Fain, who has played for the likes of the Dalai Lama, and internationally renowned pianist Alon Goldstein, who will perform as returning soloists, while being joined by festival newcomers, cellist Inbal Segev and the string quartet, INVOKE.

Each solo artist will headline one of the festival’s cabaret chamber shows, which offer a more intimate performance, and the option of table or theater seating. The former is new to the festival this year, providing a unique means for guests to enjoy the legendary music along with beverage service.

Also new this year is an opening night concert and reception exclusively for multi-concert pass holders. The Amadeus Reception will take place at the O’Shaughnessy Center on Aug. 6 and give attendees a chance to mingle with musicians and symphony board members following a special performance.

Festival Amadeus, now in its 11th season, was the brainchild of festival music director John Zoltek. He wanted to fill the symphony’s relatively open summer calendar and bring a classical music festival to the Flathead Valley. The chamber shows, performed by a smaller group of musicians, will be held at the O’Shaughnessy Center to offer a more intimate experience, while orchestra concerts will take place at the Whitefish Center for the Performing Arts.

The festival repertoire centers around music from the 18th through mid-19th centuries by composers such as Haydn, Prokofiev and Beethoven. The size of the hand-selected festival orchestra — between 40 and 45 members — limits the group to this period Zoltek said, noting that later orchestral works from the Romantic era require much larger assemblies. While the festival lineup eschews pops or lighter fare, Zoltek does incorporate some eclectic pieces into the mix.

“This year we’re doing a very unusual performance of a work that was composed in 1918 by Russian composer Stravinsky and this is called ‘The Soldier’s Tale,’” Zoltek explained. “This is a work for seven instrumentalists and three actors … Musically, it’s very modern sounding and the music is tinged with all kinds of style from jazz to parade music to waltz to cabaret — it really captures the spirit of the times 100 years ago in Europe.”

“The Solider’s Tale” tells a story using a combination of narration, acting and music and will be performed during the festival’s second chamber cabaret night on Thursday Aug. 9. Actor David Ackroyd will take on the role of narrator, while actress Pam Ponich will play the devil, and opera singer, Andrew Surrena, will star as the soldier.  

The weekly performances build to the final two nights of the festival, Aug.11-12.

“I look at the whole week as kind of a crescendo up to those final two concerts. The Saturday night concert features violinist Tim Fain playing a violin concerto by Mozart and then the final concert is a nod to the intense early romanticism of Beethoven. We’re doing his ‘Eroica’ symphony which is a very powerful, substantial work in the repertoire.”

When Beethoven composed “Eroica,” it was heroic in every sense of the word — not only was the piece longer than any previous symphony at the time, he also uses a large range of keys to illustrate themes of grief, darkness and finally, triumph.

While the festival is serious about celebrating classical music, it’s designed to welcome newcomers.

“II ask the soloists during the chamber concerts to always talk to the audience about what they’re performing to make it a little bit more casual and interactive,” Zoltek said. “There’s a conscious effort to really bridge the gap for those individuals who may be new to classical music.”

Several open rehearsals will be available during the week and Festival guest artists will share their stories in “Musical Journey” talks held in conjunction with Camp Festival Amadeus that runs concurrently during the week. The camp is facilitated by North Valley Music School with support from the Whitefish Rotary Club.

Last year the festival drew visitors from as far off as the East Coast — making it a destination event and economic boost for the area.

“It’s a very affordable, great evening out,” Zoltek said, “and hopefully you’ll really enjoy our presentation of this great music and become interested in getting to know classical music and our symphony a little bit better.”

Tickets for Festival Amadeus: Fully transferable passes are available for $237 for a 6-concert pass (3 chamber, 3 orchestra) or $126 for a pick 3-concert pass (includes Amadeus Reception and choice of chamber or orchestra concerts). Pass purchasers also receive a complimentary gondola ride to the top of Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Passes can only be purchased through the GSC Box Office 406-407-7000 Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. They will also be available at the Whitefish PAC each day between the hours of 11 and 1 pm and starting at 6 pm nightly. The O’Shaughnessy box office will open at 6 pm before curtain.

            Single concert tickets are available online at www.gscmusic.tix.com  Prices are: Orchestra Concerts: $25-40, $12 youth; Chamber: $25, $10 youth; Visit www.glaciersymphony.org for details and pricing or call the GSC Box Office, 406-407-7000. All concerts, artists and venues are subject to change.

Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 758-4433 or mreiss@dailyinterlake.com.

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