Anthem – the Glacier Symphony Orchestra’s MasterWorks 4 concert – features two works evoking the heroic spirit of Romanticism: Tchaikovsky’s iconic Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor and Sibelius’ magnificent Symphony No. 2 in D major. Music Director John Zoltek returns to the podium Feb. 22-23 at the Flathead High School auditorium in Kalispell to direct the orchestra in concerts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
Guest soloist for Tchaikovsky’s towering piano concerto is Uzbekistan-born Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich, praised by The New York Times for his “uncommon sensitivity and feeling” and the winner of the 2008 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Meet the artist at a special soiree event, 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at Buffalo Hill Terrace Room.
Explains Maestro Zoltek of the concert theme, “One could make the connection that the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto’s huge and romantic opening theme, introduced by the French horns, is an iconic style anthem for Tchaikovsky, as it was an early groundbreaking work establishing his musical signature.”
And, he notes, “The concluding grand theme of the final movement of the Sibelius 2nd Symphony could also be heard as a musical interpretation of an anthem of triumph for the Finnish people and potentially for aspirations of humanity in general.”
Tchaikovsky’s Groundbreaking Piano Concerto
Written in 1874, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto was first performed in the United States in 1875 by the virtuoso German pianist Hans von Bülow. Since then it has become one of the most beloved concertos in the piano repertoire.
Even those who have never heard the entire piece will most likely recognize its opening. This theme became the pop song, “Tonight We Love,” in 1941.
Tchaikovsky maintained its inspiration was a tune he heard sung by a blind man begging at a street fair. One of the more memorable and iconic moments in the whole of classical music is the introductory horn motives and power piano chords, which set the stage for the emotional intensity of the entire concerto.
Sibelius: Mesmerizing and Mystical
The concert concludes with another favorite piece of the Romantic repertoire by the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. His Symphony No 2 in D major was composed in 1902 shortly after the tremendous success of his Finnish nationalist tone poem, Finlandia. This was a time of increasing Russian oppression of the Finnish people and as an act of defiance perhaps, the Finnish government gave an English company $15,000 to record the first two symphonies of Sibelius, bringing the composer instant international fame.
Sibelius had an intense love of the geography and folklore of Finland, both of which are evident in his popular Second Symphony. Its opening measures suggest not only native folk music, but the flow of the streams and water around the fjords.
“In my own pantheon of favorites, Jean Sibelius stands as one of the most intriguing and evocative of them all,” says Zoltek. “His unique symphonic language blends a deep Late-Romantic sensibility with a uniquely personal abstraction of form resulting in a powerfully mesmerizing and perhaps mystical listening experience.”
Glacier Symphony and Maestro Zoltek
The Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale is now in its 37th season of bringing outstanding classical music concerts and educational outreach to the various communities in the Flathead Valley. This season marks Zoltek’s 23rd year as music director and conductor. A native of Rhode Island, he holds degrees from the renowned Berklee College of Music and the University of British Columbia. His conducting studies and experience leading orchestras has taken him all over the world.
Although Zoltek has immersed himself in the symphonic music world and his work with the Glacier Symphony, his well-respected musical background includes both jazz (guitar) and composition.
Tickets can be purchased at glaciersymphony.org or by calling 406-407-7000. As a Leap Year special, the Glacier Symphony is offering two tickets for $29 to the performance on Feb. 22; free student tickets (through grade 12) are available for both performances (seating on tiers two and three).