Missoula Symphony Orchestra’s Season Finale: “Earth, Wind and Fire” Features Native American Flutist, Nakai and Pines of Rome
The Missoula Symphony Orchestra takes the stage for their season finale on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. and April 25 at 3 p.m. “Earth, Wind and Fire” celebrates Earth Day with a nature-themed concert, and features Native American Flutist, R. Carlos Nakai.
Music Director Darko Butorac describes Nakai as the voice of contemporary Native American music. “This is the first time the Missoula Symphony Orchestra has ever worked with a Native American artist, so it’s long overdue,” he says. “Nakai is a virtuoso of his instrument, his performances are haunting—I’m very excited about this collaboration.” This ‘collaboration’ is also of note as it is a melding of the Native American flute with European classical music, an unprecedented combination before Nakai.
The composer and performer has had an incredibly successful career (he has released more than 50 albums, sold over five million records, earned two Gold records and a Platinum record, and received 11 Grammy nominations) and has a huge fan base. “I’m excited to consider the potential of this concert and the audience we will reach,” says Driscoll, “I think we will attract some first time concert-goers, but, more important, I hope we will connect with our audience in a meaningful and different way.”
In addition to Nakai, the concerts’ repertoire includes three other pieces with natural themes, Bedrich Smetana’s From Bohemia’s Forests and Meadows, Jean Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela, and Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome. “We’ve got forests, meadows, swans, trees—we’ve got Earth Day covered. But in all seriousness, it’s going to be a phenomenal concert,” Butorac says.
The concert, and season, concludes with Pines of Rome, which Butorac describes as one of the great, large orchestral pieces, and includes an additional 12 brass instruments. “This is definitely one of the ‘bucket list’ pieces of orchestral music,” he says. The highly evocative piece begins with a carefree, festive scene of children playing under the pines at a villa in Rome. The second movement, which Butorac describes as beautiful and haunting, takes the audience to the entrance of a catacomb and a Gregorian-chant style melody. The third, ‘The Pines of Janiculum,’ involves a ‘moonlit’ melody of hushed strings and woodwinds, which ends with a recording of an actual nightingale. And finally the fourth movement, which, according to Butorac starts with a markedly darker mood, but transforms from menacing to heroic and ultimately climaxes in a breathtaking fashion. “It seemed fitting that we would end a huge season, our 60th season, with a huge piece. This is it,” he says.
Tickets for “Earth, Wind and Fire” can be purchased online at missoulasymphony.org, by phone at 721-3194, or in person at the Symphony office at 320 East Main Street.
NOTE: In addition to the concerts, R. Carlos Nakai will be presenting a public talk and performance on Thursday, April 23, at 2 p.m. at the Payne Family Native American Center on the U of M campus. This event is free and open to the public and is a collaboration between the Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association and the Missoula Symphony Association.
Press Release: April 10, 2015
Media Contact: Lucy Beighle (406) 239-3193