Vision Spirit Land honors Indigenous heritage

Glacier Symphony performances meld music, poetry and visual displays Nov. 18-19

On Stage

For a concert experience unlike any other, Glacier Symphony offers Vision Spirit Land, Nov. 18-19 at the Wachholz Center in Kalispell. This powerful concert combines classical orchestral performance, choreographed visual displays, poetry, and original compositions that honor and celebrate Native American Heritage Month, tribal artistry and culture and the landscapes of Montana and beyond.

Poems by Heather Cahoon, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, inspired The Hunting Moon by John Zoltek.
Poems by Heather Cahoon, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, inspired The Hunting Moon by John Zoltek.

In addition to highlighting Indigenous artists, the concert features Westwater Arts from Los Angeles, a company that provides visuals of Native peoples, sacred natural spaces and national parks choreographed to live concert music.

The concert experience begins with ceremonial songs by Montana Blackfeet artist and 2023 Montana Teacher of the Year Kevin Kickingwoman, who offers a traditional welcome, blessing, and expression of gratitude for the concert and its audience.

The Glacier Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Artistic Director and Conductor John Zoltek, will perform Five Variants on Dives and Lazarus by Ralph Vaughan Williams as a visual display by Westwater Art titled “Visions” projects the images of photographer Edward S. Curtis on overhead screens.

Next up will be the premiere of Zoltek’s The Hunting Moon, a poem-cycle for speaker, flute soloist and orchestra. This new work is based on the poetry of Salish Kootenai poet and University of Montana professor Dr. Heather Cahoon.

The music incorporates spoken poetry from Cahoon’s work and includes Native American flute solos performed by world flutist Suzanne Teng of New Mexico. The Hunting Moon contains 11 separate movements which incorporate nearly 15 poems and additional excerpts from Cahoon’s published works.

Cahoon, who grew up on the Flathead Reservation, crafts poems that are rich in natural imagery and speak to Native American spirituality, wildlife, and reservation life and landscapes.

Zoltek has used these poems as an inspirational springboard to create a dynamic orchestral work. The poetic text will be projected above the orchestra so that the audience can follow along with the narration and make their own connections.

After intermission, the concert continues with two more photo-choreography projection pieces by Westwater Arts. “Reflections of the Spirit,” is paired with Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and “National Park Suite” is set to music by Antonin’ Dvorak. The photography and film clips will feature natural spaces sacred to First Peoples of the Americas and a brilliant overview of America’s shared National Parks.

"Isabelle-Flathead Reservation" is among the works by Monica Gilles-BringsYellow.
“Isabelle-Flathead Reservation” is among the works by Monica Gilles-BringsYellow.

A pre-concert and intermission art exhibition features the artwork of Monica Gilles-BringsYellow, who created artwork specifically for the Glacier Symphony’s “Vibes and Visions” 41st season theme.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Wachholz College Center on the campus of Flathead Valley Community College. Tickets for adults start at $39, college students $15 and children under age 18 at $12 and are available online.

Vision Spirit Land Pre-Concert Soiree

Glacier Symphony and the Dick Idol Gallery host a gathering at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, to celebrate the Whitefish debut exhibition of rising star Monica Gilles-BringsYellow, the artist behind the artwork promoting Glacier Symphony’s 41st season.

Guests will also enjoy a private performance by Vision Spirit Land guest artist, flutist Suzanne Teng, wine and tasty bites provided by The Salty Calf, and an opportunity to mingle with Heather Cahoon, whose poetry is the inspiration behind Maestro Zoltek’s new composition, The Hunting Moon, a poem cycle for speaker, flute soloist, and orchestra.

Tickets are $100 each, and limited, with proceeds benefiting the Glacier Symphony, Orchestra, and Chorale’s concert and youth music programming.