Bemidji Symphony Orchestra celebrates 75th anniversary
BEMIDJI — The highly anticipated and long-awaited collaboration between the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and area band members, choruses and two world renown sopranos is here.
And Sunday’s show is such an extravaganza, the event has been moved to the Sanford Center.
The “Stirring Celebration!” of the 75th anniversary of the BSO will be 3 p.m. Sunday and will feature band members from the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, as well as choruses from BSU’s Bemidji Choir, Bemidji Chorale and the Park Rapids Classic Chorale. The event, which ends this season’s concert series, also features two sopranos in Tammy Hensrud and Korliss Uecker.
With all that personnel, organizers decided all the performers wouldn’t fit easily on the Bemidji High School stage, hence the move to the big stage at the Sanford Center.
The concert features Gustav Mahler’s epic “Resurrection” symphony. Tickets are for sale now at either Lueken’s Village Foods locations or at brownpapertickets.com: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 60 and older, $10 for college students with valid ID and k-12 students are free. Today is the last day to purchase a $10 ticket for the post-concert reception with BSO artistic director Beverly Everett and musical guests. The tickets admit patrons for the reception with appetizers, cake and a cash bar are on sale at both Lueken’s locations and the Bob Lowth Ford Pickup at the Sanford Center.
As part of the 75th anniversary, the BSO is running a “$75 for 75” donation drive to help defray the costs of the ambitious move, as well as for acknowledging the “Resurrection” symphony, considered a peak performance in the music world.
“Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony is considered the pinnacle,” Everett said. “Not every orchestra has the capability to play it and I am proud to say that the BSO has reached that point.”
Curtis Webb, executive director of the Sanford Center, said he’s proud the arena will host the BSO’s 75th anniversary event. A lot of preparation work is underway, and a separate sound company was brought in just for the production. And while the Bemidji High School Performing Arts Center is a top-notch auditorium, the Sanford Center will be able to have seating for 2,500, or double the amount at BHS, Webb said.
A new twist for a Sanford Center show is the arena’s Jumbotron screen, which will feature alternating shots of Everett, the performers and the audience.
As a young adult and composer, Gustav Mahler, 22, was inspired to begin the “Resurrection” symphony because of a dream; he was on a bier and there were flowers around him. He wrote tirelessly on the first movement and finished it in six months only to put it away for the next five years. Perhaps because the music was too raucous, a famous conductor at that time, refused to acknowledge that it was indeed music. But Mahler, was determined to find a conclusion to this movement as stunning as the funeral march that begins the symphony. Finally, Mahler found a way to lead the audience to the presence of God and His love, which encompasses all. Mahler wrote profound program notes for the final movement that are emotional as is the text of the chorus:
“I shall die in order to live.
My heart will rise again
In an instant!
That for which you have suffered
Will lead you to God!”
Everett has previously worked with one of the soloists, soprano Tammy Hensrud, a singer who earned her bachelor’s degree in music and master’s degree in voice from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
Hensrud, a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, studied voice and attained an artist diploma in opera in Stuttgart, Germany and earned many other musical distinctions from famous institutions. Hensrud is on the faculty of Hofstra University in New York as an adjunct associate professor of voice since 2005 and she will hold conversation sessions and master classes with Bemidji State University voice students. Her main topic is how a young singer from North Dakota can one day sing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera and other great opera houses in Europe.
Another North Dakota singer who has had a meteoric rise in the opera world is soloist Korliss Uecker. She started her education as a nursing major at UND and after graduation, chose to further her singing career by earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard in New York City. Uecker has been able to master both artistic genre of acting and singing, which not every singer is able to accomplish. It has allowed her to be selected for major operatic roles such as Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire” in France and Gilda in “Rigoletto” with Opera Memphis. Uecker will join with Hensrud in talking with voice students and telling them not to give up on their aspirations just because they come from a small town in Minnesota.