By Lucy Beighle/for MISSOULA CURRENT
The Missoula Symphony Orchestra will close its 61st season with a grand season finale concert full of life and color as it performs two pieces by Maurice Ravel, including “Concerto in G Major” for piano and “Pictures at an Exhibition.”
Dave Butorac, director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, described “Pictures of an Exhibition” as “the perfect piece to end the season.”
It was originally written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky as a 10-movement piece for piano. His inspiration was the artwork of his friend Viktor Hartmann, an influential artist who died of an aneurysm at the young age of 39, leaving behind a legacy of over 400 paintings.
The music depicts an imaginary tour of this art collection.
“Each of the movements is a tone painting of the actual image,” said Butorac. “For example, the painting ‘The Catacombs’ is depicted by stark chords in the brass, representing the shock of entering deep into the cold burial site transformed into sound.”
Butorac added that “The Gnome” – a painting of a little gnome running clumsily with crooked legs – is represented by lurching music with frequent stops and starts. “When you read the title of the movement and then hear it, it’s easy to visualize the inspiration,” he said.
Maurice Ravel arranged the piece for a full orchestra a few years after Mussorgsky’s composition, and this arrangement is most commonly performed for orchestras, according to Butorac.
The first half of the concert presents Ravel’s masterpiece concerto in G major for piano.
“It’s directly influenced by Gershwin’s Concerto in F, so the audience can expect a French twist on 1930’s Jazz, and some serious pianistic pyrotechnics,” says Butorac. “It’s a Brazilian work, super rhythmic, very world music – the audience is in for a treat.”
World-renowned pianist Katherine Chi will also be joining the orchestra and will perform at the final show in the three-concert Cabaret Series at the Top Hat on April 29.
According to MSO Executive Director John Driscoll, Chi is known for her intense and daring performances, marvelous expression and keen wit.
“A perfect combination for a cabaret show,” said Driscoll. “These shows have been incredibly successful. We bring in some of the world’s finest musicians and the audience gets to experience them in an intimate setting. The feedback all season has been tremendous.”
Guests have the option of dinner on-site beforehand, and drinks are served throughout the evening. The Cabaret Series is in addition to the symphony’s regular season of five pairs of concerts, plus the Symphony in the Park, the Chorale Concert and the Family Concert
MSO’s season finale concert, “Pictures of Power,” takes place on Saturday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 24, at 3 p.m. in the Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus.
Tickets are available online, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street. For more information on the symphony, the Season Finale Concert or the Cabaret Concert, visit www.missoulasymphony.org.