Artistic Mastery & Brotherhood Are Winning Combination for Bozeman Symphony

Bozeman SymphonyWhile there are many popular destinations located near the mountains, it is the town itself that makes Bozeman stand out from the rest. Home to Montana State University, many creative, driven and community minded people call Bozeman home. Long before it became the wildly popular destination that it is today, Bozeman boasted The Ellen Theater on Main Street (1919) a community radio station (KGLT, 1968), the Bozeman Film Society (1978), an annual performance of the Nutcracker with live orchestra (32nd annual production in 2015), and many other artistic, cultural and social amenities. Thanks to these organizations, Bozeman is more than just another pretty face in the crowd.

One such arts organization that has been thriving in recent years is the Bozeman Symphony (Founded 1968). Mike and I had a chance to go last weekend, and while we have been often, this performance stood out from the rest.

While I have always had a passion for all types of music, working at the Grand Teton Music Festival  strengthened my interest in classical music. Although it is not my favorite genre, I have grown a fondness for it and make it a point to see several classical music performances each year. Mike and I were fortunate to win a pair of season tickets to the Bozeman Symphony this year ("Gold" level balcony seats, on the left-hand side so we may see the piano player's hands) and eagerly anticipate each performance.

I've seen the Bozeman Symphony each of the ten years I've lived in Bozeman and this past weekend's performance was one of the most memorable. Several factors made it stellar and allowed it to earn a top A-List ranking.

Bozeman Symphony's steller Return to Carnegie concert
The Program
  • Tchaikovsky's Serenade, op. 48
  • Tomaso Vitali, Ciaccona, Violin & Strings 
  • Vivaldi's Le Quattro Staggioni
The program was ideal for first-time symphony goers and season ticket holders alike. A chamber orchestra of 27 string players was assembled for the mostly Baroque program and the pieces selected were largely familiar and easy to grasp. It was sixth time I've seen the "Four Seasons" and the piece never gets old.

The Soloist
Violin virtuoso Alexander Markov joined the orchestra as soloist. He was hands-down the best soloist I've seen with the BSO. The Russian born violinist combines artistic mastery with rock n' roll flair. He played the classical pieces with proficiency and delighted the crowd with an encore on his gold-plated electric violin. I'm not sure the name of the encore piece (Rumor at the post-concert reception was that it was part of a rock 'n roll concerto that he composed), but it combine soft and flowing classical passages with loud, heavy-metal inspired riffs. With a bow that sometimes glowed (I'm not making this up) and moments of flamboyancy seldom seen on the classical music stage, Mr. Markov pulled off the blending of genres with elegance, style and mastery.

The Chemistry
The program was titled "Return to Carnegie," to commemorate a program Mr. Markvo and BSO Maestro Matthew Savery produced for a Carnegie Hall performance in June. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle dubbed Mr. Markov and Maestro Savery "frat bothers" and it was easy to see that they have a special bond. Add in the always enthusiastic Bozeman audience, and the excitement and energy throughout the evening were palpable.

More Than a Community Orchestra
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Maestro Matthew Savery has been with the BSO since 1994, and word from musicians is that he has taken the orchestra from a slapped-together, grassroots ensemble to a much more professional organization. Musicians are expected to attend rehearsals and if they miss one, they are sure to be called into the Maestro's office the next morning to explain their absence. Apparently musicians get a small stipend for each rehearsal and performance they attend, and people are starting to consider the BSO a "real" orchestra. It is apparent by listening to them that Maestro Savery, despite his sometimes abrasive and egotist manner, is doing an excellent job with the orchestra.

Trite as this might sound, we are really luck to have an orchestra of this caliber in our quickly growing (yet not all that long ago podunk) town. If you're a lover of music, I encourage you to check out the BSO, even if you think classical music is "not your thing." You will not be disappointed.