A festival of voices

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Glacier Symphony and Chorale is celebrating spring with a three-day Easter Festival of orchestral music with special guest soloists this weekend.

Patterned after Easter Festivals held annually in Europe and around the world, the festival offers three concerts on April 5, 7 and 8. The music focuses on the varied and rich repertoire of music written for orchestra and chorus and features the full Glacier Symphony, orchestra and chorale under the baton of Maestro John Zoltek.

Opening the festival on Thursday, April 5, will be a Recital of Voices that features three acclaimed guest soloists; soprano Sari Gruber, tenor Brian Cheney and bass John Sweeney with piano accompaniment by Jenanne Solberg. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Glacier High School Performance Hall. Admission is free to this opening night concert.

The Saturday, April 7 concert will be Bach’s “Cantata No. 140” for orchestra, chorus and soloists, along with Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Overture.” Rounding out Saturday’s performance is Max Bruch’s beloved “Kol Nidrei” for solo cello and orchestra featuring Glacier Symphony principal cellist, Griffin Browne. The performance will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Flathead High Performance Hall, Kalispell.

Glacier Chorale conductor Micah Hunter says the singers are excited to be presenting Bach’s beautiful and challenging “Cantata No. 140.”

“This piece requires of us a much lighter, more buoyant and flexible approach to our singing than much of the symphonic literature we sing,” he said. “Cultivating this new mindset and the vocal technique that goes with it has been an enjoyable challenge for us.”

On Sunday, April 8 at 3 p.m. the music will be devoted to Haydn’s sacred oratorio, “The Creation.” Zoltek explained that Haydn was inspired to compose the work after hearing Handel’s music in London at the beginning of the 19th century.

“This is an astounding and thrilling work with text drawn directly from the book of Genesis,” Zoltek said. “It is set in three distinct parts and alternates arias and duets with choruses and instrumental movements. The opening orchestra overture depicting ‘cosmic chaos prior to creation’ is remarkable in itself, not to mention the incredible choral writing and tuneful narrative music for soloists.”

Hunter added that the “Creation” oratorio is a pillar of sacred choral literature and for many in the chorus it will be their first time to sing it.

“Although it is rightly viewed as the successor to Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ and Haydn himself had hoped it would achieve this stature, it has been a great challenge for our singers to discover what a difference half a century makes in the compositional style and technical demands between these two works,” Hunter said. “We have worked hard to wrap our minds and ears around the power of clarity and stateliness in the classical style, all the while trying to recognize and emphasize those elements in the music that constitute a connection to the Creation’s great predecessor. We are excited to share the fruit of that labor with our audience.”

Tickets for Easter Festival are available in a range of prices and seating tiers starting at $10 for students and $15 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online at www.glaciersymphony.org and at the Glacier Symphony Box Office located at 69 N. Main St. in Kalispell or by calling 407-7000.

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