Billings Symphony Orchestra Director Anne Harrigan worked up two years of programming a year ago as part of her application to head the BSO.
But after working with the orchestra over the past year and meeting as many Billings music fans as possible, Harrigan revamped the entire 2006-07 season.
"The word variety comes up in almost every conversation I have about the orchestra," Harrigan said. "People here love the classics, but they tell me they also love the concerts like Ellis Island, where we combined the video and the music and the acting."
The season opens Sept. 16 with "American Landscapes," featuring guest artist Michael Chertok on piano and music by Leonard Bernstein, Julius Baker, Aaron Copland and George Gershwin. Chertok will perform Gershwin's "Piano concerto in F Major," a piece he has performed more than 50 times.
"I saw an opportunity to combine great American composers in one concert," Harrigan said. "Sometimes you find a soloist and let them pick a piece, and sometimes you pick a piece of music and find a musician. I wanted to find something triumphant, colorful and distinctive American — that's why I chose Gershwin."
The BSO's salute to the romantic era is set for Oct. 14 with cellist Alisa Weilerstein performing Dmitry Shostakovich's cello concerto. The program will also include Brahms' "Symphony No. 2," perhaps the most popular of his symphonies.
"This is the most magnificent of all Brahm's symphonies," Harrigan said. "It has an alpine feel to it; you can hear the Alps. He imitates the long horns of the Alps. What a fantastic piece for Montana."
On Nov. 11, the BSO will honor Mozart's 250th birthday with a "Celebrate Mozart" concert, with guest conductor William Jon Gray and Montana State University-Billings graduate Jacqueline Weitz on piano. The Billings Symphony Orchestra Chorale will also perform on Mozart's "Requiem."
The free children's concert on Jan. 27, 2007, will feature "The Story of the Three Little Pigs," with actor Tim Marrone, and featuring music from "Carmen" and pieces by Brahms.
In February 2007, the annual pops concert will highlight music from the Big Band era in "The Golden Age of Swing." Music to be performed at the Feb. 24 concert includes "Take the A Train," "In the Mood" and "Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy." The newly formed high school honors orchestra will perform one piece with the BSO at the February concert.
On March 17, 2007, the BSO celebrates St. Patrick's Day with "Legends and Tall Tales" with folk-inspired music, including Arnold's "Four Spanish Dancers."
The April 21, 2007, concert features the orchestra and chorale performing "Carmina Burana," Carl Orff's choral masterpiece based on the poems of wandering monks in the 13th century.
"This is a fabulous piece of music," Harrigan said. "It always sells out, wherever it is performed. The music was used in movies like 'Conan the Barbarian' and 'Excaliber' — movies with drama and adventure. This has driving rhythms and huge forces. We will have the largest amount of people you could fit onstage for that performance."
Special events for the 2006-07 season include "The Nutcracker Ballet," with a visiting ballet company on Nov. 25-26, and a New Year's Eve Celebration featuring the BSO and other regional acts.
For more information or to purchase season subscriptions, call 252-3610 or check out the BSO Web site, www.billings-symphony.org.