Chinook Winds, Great Falls Symphony have concerts this week

The Great Falls Symphony takes the stage again this weekend at the Mansfield Theater for Passionate Passages.

Saturday’s concert “will take you on a musical journey through Bohemia, Spain and an idyllic, pastoral scene in the countryside,” according to the symphony.

The performance will include the Slavonic Dances by Czech composer Antonín Dvorˇák.

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The pieces, lively and full of national character, were well received at the time and today are considered among the composer’s most memorable works. Dvorˇák originally composed them for piano four hands, but the publisher was so impressed with them that he immediately requested the orchestral version, according to the symphony. The rich and sweet Opus 72, No. 8 piece imagines a calmly swaying Bohemian couple dancing the Sousedská.

Saturday’s concert will also take attendees to Spain with the Symphonie espagnole, which was written for Pablo de Sarasate, a Spanish virtuoso violinist, by Edouard Lalo, a little-known French composer until this work’s overnight success. Sarasate was known for his unique, masterful and colorful playing and many composers dedicated works to him, according to the symphony. Lalo’s piece best reflected the violinist’s personality and his native land and is undeniably Lalo’s most well-known work.

The concert will feature the Great Falls Symphony’s own violinist, Mary Papoulis, “to ignite the concert hall with the Spanish Symphony’s pyrotechnics, high-wire solo material, melodic invention, and rhythmic flair,” according to the symphony.

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The second movement has the same dance rhythm as Carmen’s famous aria and soaring violin lines over pizzicato strings and harp, like guitars in the night.

Saturday’s event also includes Symphony No. 6 by Ludwig van Beethoven, who loved the natural world and was inspired by his regular walk in the countryside around Vienna.

Beethovan’s piece is also known the Pastoral Symphony and “consists of five movements following, in loose imagery-a trip to the countryside, sitting by a brook, bird calls, peasant dances, and a storm. It is the calmest and most meditative of Beethoven’s symphonies, despite the thunderclaps and fierce gales of the final movement which give way to ‘Feelings of joy and gratitude after the Storm,'” according to the symphony.

At noon on Jan. 17, Grant Harville, Great Falls Symphony’s music director and conductor, will host a concert preview in the Weaver Library at Great Falls College MSU.

Harville leads free and informative discussions about each concert in the Silver Series the Thursday before a concert. The preview is open to the public and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

The Chinook Winds is performing at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Masonic Lodge, 821 Central Ave.

This week’s concert, Airs of Eastern Europe, showcases a mix of styles from a piece by György Kurtág that reflects the challenge of living under Soviet rule in occupied Hungary to the fun, accessible, yet unpredictable 1932 Quintet for Wind Instruments by highly acclaimed female Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz.

The concert is free to federal employees affected by the government shut down, just show a government identification at the door. Concert details and tickets are available here.