Press Room

January 31, 2014
Billings Symphony Explore Music! program offers free master class with internationally acclaimed pianist Andrew von Oeyen


Billings, MT… As part of the Billings Symphony’s Explore Music! program, a free master class with Pianist Andrew von Oeyen will be held Friday, February 7 at 4 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater. Three local piano students have been selected to participate in the class with von Oeyen, who is performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for the “Piano Romance” concert with the Billings Symphony on Saturday, February 8.

The participants are Paul Shin, student of Dr. Lee Hancock, performing Beethoven’s Sonata No. 20 in G, Allegro ma non troppo; Anna Biegel, student of Sandi Rabas, who will perform Beethoven’s Sontana No. 17, 3rd movement; and Serin Kwon, student of Dorothea Cromley, performing Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D Minor.

Paul Shin is a fifth grader at Miles Avenue Elementary in Billings. He studies piano with Dr. Lee Hancock, and frequently performs as a soloist and in duos. In November 2012, he received a superior rating for his performances of Debussy and Mozart at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) fall convention in Great Falls.

Biegel has been playing the piano since she was eight years old. She studied piano at Montana State University-Billings (MSU-B) under Professor Dorothea Cromley and currently studies under Sandi Rabas. Biegel has played in two other master classes, and was runner-up in the MTNA competition in 2009. Last year Biegel was named Miss Montana International and used her title to organize and perform in recitals to raise money for such causes as Go Red for Woman.  Anna loves outdoor activities and spends her free time skiing, mountain climbing, and biking and doing what she loves most, which is teaching her young students the love of making music.

Kwon, who was born in South Korea, came to Montana in junior high school. She then began studying with her teacher, Dorothea Cromley at MSU-B. She has won several MTNA competitions, and competed at the divisional level. She has also won many scholarships and awards both academic and musical. She is a freshman piano performance major at MSU-B, and intends to pursue a career as a concert pianist and eventually return to South Korea to share her talents.

Master classes provide teaching expertise from internationally-renowned and conservatory-trained artists to local musicians. Those who audit the class will learn about the creative process from von Oeyen as he works with the young pianists to help fine-tune their individual concert performances. Past participants have gone on to win competitions, benefitting directly from the input they received while participating in a Billings Symphony master class.

Andrew von Oeyen has already established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation. Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, he has performed to critical acclaim in recital and orchestral appearances around the world.

“As for star quality, von Oeyen is already risen.”     – Chicago Tribune

Commanding an extensive and diverse repertoire, von Oeyen has performed the major concertos of the keyboard literature. As both soloist and conductor he has led concerti and orchestral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Kurt Weill at Spoleto Festival USA. On July 4, 2009, von Oeyen performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in “A Capitol Fourth,” reaching millions worldwide in the multi-award winning PBS live telecast.

Born in the U.S. in 1979, von Oeyen began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he has also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. Mr. von Oeyen lives in New York and Paris.

The master class is free and open to the public. For more information please contact Candy Holzer, BSO&C Education Director, at (406) 252-3610

This program of Explore Music! is made possible with support from: Ossie Abrams & David Orser, Diane Boyer Jerhoff, Candace Boyer (In honor of the Kirk family: Eloise, John, Janny, & David), Billings Gazette Communications, Montana Arts Council, Stillwater Mining Company, Target, Wells Fargo, and Wendy’s of MT.

 

January 27, 2014

Internationally acclaimed pianist Andrew von Oeyen returns to the Magic City to perform with the Billings Symphony as the season continues with Piano Romance


Billings, MT…Internationally acclaimed pianist Andrew von Oeyen returns to Billings to join the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO&C) as the 2013-14 subscription season resumes with Piano Romance on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater (ABT). Concert Cues, an interactive discussion of the evening’s musical selections led by Marvin Granger begins at 6:45 p.m. and is free to all ticket holders.

Under the direction of Maestra Anne Harrigan, von Oeyen and the orchestra will perform some of the most popular romantic music in the classical repertoire. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was first performed on Nov. 7, 1934 in Baltimore with Leopold Stokowski leading The Philadelphia Orchestra and the composer at the piano. Perfect for a Valentine’s date-night, von Oeyen will perform this passionate piano concerto, which is filled with beauty and emotion. Wit, charm, romance, rhythmic verve, and masterly orchestration combine in what many consider to be one of Rachmaninoff’s greatest compositions.

Rachmaninoff’s music is often used in cinema, especially the eighteenth variation of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The 1953 film The Story of Three Loves, directed by Vincente Minnelli, features the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; the same piece is featured extensively in the 1980 drama Somewhere In Time and in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day.

Andrew von Oeyen has already established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation. Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, he has performed to critical acclaim in recital and orchestral appearances around the world.

Commanding an extensive and diverse repertoire, von Oeyen has performed the major concertos of the keyboard literature. As both soloist and conductor he has led concerti and orchestral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Kurt Weill at Spoleto Festival USA. On July 4, 2009, von Oeyen performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in “A Capitol Fourth,” reaching millions worldwide in the multi-award winning PBS live telecast.

Born in the U.S. in 1979, von Oeyen began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he has also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. Mr. von Oeyen lives in New York and Paris.

“Von Oeyen has a touch that lets a melody sing out from a cloudburst of accompanying notes.” (The Chicago Tribune)

In addition to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the concert will also include Jean Sibelius’ En Saga and Pyotr IlyichTchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture, which has been featured in many television shows and movies.

Unlike Sibelius’ other symphonic poems, En Saga literally means “a story” or “a fairy tale.” Sibelius considered this to be “psychologically one of my most profound works. I had undergone a number of painful experiences at the time and in no other work have I revealed myself so completely.” En Saga is considered to be one of Sibelius’s most popular and most frequently recorded orchestral works.

Though now more than 400 years old, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet still reigns as the most compelling of all love stories. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture  weaves the dramatic clash of feuding families and star-cross’d lovers, and their developments, into a loose ternary structure. The musical events of Tchaikovsky’s first masterpiece are so well known they need little explanation; they convey virtually all the dramatic elements of Shakespeare play. The drama and power of this piece holds as much allure for composers as for movie directors. The Overture’s love theme has been used in many television series and movies such as Columbo, The Jazz Singer, Wayne’s World, Taz-Mania, Scrubs, Seeing Double, South Park, Clueless, A Christmas Story, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pushing Daisies, Sesame Street, and The Three Musketeers, among others.

Piano Romance is sponsored by Underriner Motors. Guest artist, Andrew von Oeyen is sponsored by Lynn Marquardt and Jim Gutenkauf. Further funding is provided by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Montana Arts Council. Concert Cues is sponsored by Gary and Melissa Oakland and the 2013-14 season “Expect the Unexpected” is generously sponsored by Linda and Denny Menholt.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Symphony office at (406) 252-3610 or visit www.billingssymphony.org.  Ticket prices start at $10. Student discounts are available with a valid I.D.  A group discount is available for groups of 10 or more.

 

December 20, 2013
Billings Symphony Receives National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Fast-Track Grant to Support “Bringing the World to Billings” 


Billings, MT ? National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced that the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale (BSO&C) is one of 150 not-for-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Challenge America Fast-Track grant. The BSO&C is recommended for a $10,000 grant to support “Bringing the World to Billings,” a three-concert series within the BSO&C’s 2013-14 season that will include several community outreach events.

The Challenge America Fast-Track category offers $10,000 matching grants to support projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Challenge America Fast-Track grants support two major outcomes: public engagement with diverse and excellent art and livability, or the strengthening of communities through the arts. In this FY 2014 funding round, the NEA received 294 eligible Challenge America Fast-Track applications requesting $2.94 million in funding. The NEA will award 150 Challenge America Fast-Track grants totaling $1.5 million to organizations in 46 states, including 33 first-time NEA grantees, or 22 percent of all CAFT grantees in this round.

“The NEA was founded on the principle that the arts belong to all the people of the United States,” said NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Joan Shigekawa. “We’re proud that Challenge America Fast-Track grants bring more opportunities for arts engagement to underserved communities.”

The $10,000 grant will support BSO&C’s “Bringing the World to Billings”, a three-concert series within the BSO&C’s 2013-14 season that is designed to introduce a geographically and economically isolated audience to faraway places through live orchestral music. Community outreach activities will also be associated with each concert.

The series opens on Saturday, February 8, 2014 with Piano Romance, featuring pianist Andrew von Oeyen, who will perform Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the orchestra. The Rhapsody, a staple in the piano concerto repertoire, has not been heard in Billings or the surrounding region for over twenty years. The BSO&C will also perform the Montana premiere of Sibelius’ En Saga. Of the work, Sibelius said, “En saga is the expression of a state of mind. I had undergone a number of painful experiences at the time and in no other work have I revealed myself so completely.” Outreach for this concert will include free tickets to Passages, the halfway house for women who have recently been released from the Montana State Women’s Prison residents of Yellowstone County Retirement/Nursing Home. These residents, due to price barriers, have never been able to listen to a concert pianist perform.

The second concert in the series, Russian Days and Arabian Nights, will be held on Saturday, March 15, 2014. The repertoire for this concert was designed to transport the audience to exotic lands and inspire discussion in the community about excellence under extreme conditions. The program will feature Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite, with its impressions of ancient Arabia. Prokofiev’s 5th symphony will complete the evening. Neither the Nielsen nor Prokofiev has ever been performed in Billings or the surrounding region. The Russian Days and Arabian Nights concert offers exciting community engagement opportunities. The BSO&C will engage children in a fun musical and visual arts project. Young people in the region will be invited to listen to the music in advance and submit artwork based on their impressions. All of the images will be posted on the website and selected images will be projected during the performance of the work. As part of the BSO&C’s free Adventures in Music Day, participating school children and their families will be invited to an open dress rehearsal of Russian Days and Arabian Nights. Adventures in Music Day is a half-day, hands-on workshop for K-6th grade students. An outreach is also scheduled in January at one of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Billings Symphony musicians will play music from the Russian Days and Arabian Nights concert. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County has been the place where thousands of kids have found a positive environment filled with adult role models.

The series ends on Saturday, April 26, 2014 with Carmina Burana. The concert will feature guest vocalists, Andrew Wilkowske, baritone; Christine Steyer, soprano; and Paul Bork, tenor. The Rocky Mountain College Chorus, Montana State University-Billings Chorus, and the Billings Youth Orchestra Children’s Choir will also join the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. Carmina Burana remains one of the most popular pieces of the classical music repertoire. The visceral rhythms contrasted with the tender moments of the piece will resonate deeply with Montanans who live in a region of stark beauty and extreme climate contrasts. The program incorporates all of the college and children’s choirs in Billings, giving them an intimate perspective of the piece. Outreach events include members from the Billings Symphony Chorale, along with guest soloists, visiting local high school choirs and sharing their experiences about performing with an orchestra. A choral singing workshop will be held for serious high school choral singers, selected by their choir directors, to work in an intimate setting on improving their individual singing and ensemble leadership skills.

Darren Rich, BSO&C Executive Director, said the organization is proud to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts because the award validates BSO&C’s efforts to enhance the community:

“We are proud to receive this prestigious grant for the third consecutive year. Receiving funding from the NEA demonstrates that our concert and education programs are recognized on a national level. We are excited to put this money to use to reach as many people as possible in our community.”

See the complete listing of projects recommended for Challenge America Fast-Track grant support at www.arts.gov.

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