Easter Festival culminates in Haydn’s “Creation”

Glacier Symphony, Orchestra and Chorale join forces for Easter Festival April 5-8 in Kalispell

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Easter Festival soloist Sari Gruber
Soprano Sari Gruber performs as part of the Easter Festival.

The Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale presents its second annual Easter Festival April 5 and 7-8 in Kalispell. The festival features three concerts over the course of four days: the first, at 7:30 p.m. April 5 at Glacier High School, is a Recital of Voices featuring soloists soprano Sari Gruber, tenor Brian Cheney and bass John Sweeney, with Jenanne Solberg, piano.

The festival moves April 7-8 to Flathead High. Saturday’s concert at 7:30 p.m. is titled Bach, Bruch and Russian Easter. The program includes Bach’s Cantata No. 140 for orchestra chorus and soloists, “Wachet Auf” or “Sleepers Wake,” and Bruch’s beloved Kol Nidrei for solo cello and orchestra featuring Glacier Symphony principal cellist Griffin Browne. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture concludes concludes the concert.

The festival culminates at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon with a grand performance of Haydn’s sacred oratorio, “The Creation,” featuring orchestra, chorale and three vocal soloists.

Haydn was inspired to compose the work after hearing Handel’s music in London at the beginning of the 19th century. With text drawn directly from the book of Genesis, this thrilling work is set in three distinct parts and alternates arias and duets with choruses and instrumental movements. The opening orchestra overture, which depicts “cosmic chaos prior to creation,” is remarkable in itself – not to mention the ensuing choral writing and tuneful narrative music for soloists.

Easter Festival soloists

Soprano Sari Gruber, hailed as “nothing short of sensational” (Opera Magazine) and “a real creature of the stage” (Opera News), is a prized artist on U.S. and international stages alike. An extremely sought-after and distinguished concert artist, she has appeared with several esteemed symphony orchestras throughout her career.

Easter Festival soloist Brian Cheney
Tenor Brian Cheney lends his voice to the Easter Festival.

Tenor Brian Cheney, a protégé of legendary tenor Jerry Hadley, has gained international acclaim for his portrayal of characters such as Don José in Carmen, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La bohème, and the Duke in Rigoletto. “Cheney has that terrific tenor sound: the power, richness, and vocal color of a high baritone combined with ringing, awe-inspiring high notes” (Stage and Cinema).

Montana’s own John Sweeney, bass, was born in Great Falls and grew up on the family ranch northwest of Belt, and now lives in Austria. Piano lessons from his aunt Lucille Chesbro in Belt and vocal training from Mary Moore in Great Falls were his first encounters with classical music. He’s been internationally lauded for “delicious versatility” and being “big in stage presence and voice.”

Opening night on April 5 is free admission; seating for the two concerts at Flathead High begins at $15/adult. Call 406-407-7000 or visit the symphony’s website.