The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (RMSO) returns to the stage at the Polaris Centre for the Performing Arts stage in Balzac with its season opener “New Horizons - New World” on Sept. 30.
“The theme [of the] first concert centers around the land and our stewardship,” said RMSO founder and conductor Carlos Foggin. “The first concert happens on the day of Truth and Reconciliation and all the music features stories about the land.”
The season opener showcases Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau,” Canadian Composer Michael Horwood’s “National Parks Suite,” as well as Czech composer Antonín Dvorak’s famous “Symphony No. 9 From the New World.”
"The Moldau" paints an image of two small springs in the Bohemian woods that join into a river flowing through the Czech countryside and into Prague, while "The National Parks Suite" takes listeners back to North America, where Horwood takes them on a journey inspired by five national parks, including Jasper National Park in its final movement.
The National Parks Suite will be performed in the Calgary area for the first time this weekend by 46 musicians on stage. Foggin noted that about a quarter of the stage is filled up with percussion equipment.
“We're using everything from cardboard, to marbles, to wooden sticks,” he said. “There's scraping sandpaper on things, chains, big sheets of metal to create the sounds of underwater swimming.”
Finally, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 is a piece that many listeners may have heard before and is nicknamed New World because Dvorak wrote it during the time he spent in the U.S. in the 1890s and is inspired by the American vistas and indigenous music.
“According to Dvorak’s sketch notes and public comments, the symphony’s second movement, 'The Largo,' was inspired by Hiawatha’s journey across the American plains with his wife, Minnehaha,” stated RMSO’s website.
The 2023-24 season includes three concerto soloists, five major symphonies, a youth concerto competition, a ”Show Your Love” Valentine’s Date Night Gala, featured works by living Canadian composers, and two family-friendly Sunday matinee shows.
“We've introduced matinee concerts for families so they can come on a Sunday afternoon with kids and not be worried about bedtimes or school nights,” Foggin said. “And our Mini Maestros program subsidizes children's tickets down to free.”
Families can register for the Mini Maestros program online and receive a number of free tickets to get kids into concert seats for the first time.
“We've also got a concerto competition for young people,” Foggin said, noting this is a private event in November but that the winner will be showcased at Mozart’s two-day birthday festival in January.
The next series is Classical Christmas on Dec. 8 and 9, where the orchestra will showcase several Christmas favourites, including a cello concerto.
Mozart’s birthday festival will be held in January, the Valentine’s gala will follow in February, and the greatest hits series will hit the stage in March. The Big & Bold series will end the season in May with a trombone soloist.
Foggin noted their last season went fantastic with four great soloists and the addition of several new musicians that joined the orchestra following some relocations and retirements.
“We've got a really strong, and quite a young group of new players, who are really talented,” Foggin said. “We're really excited to bring that really energetic and high calibre of playing to everybody this year.”
For more details and ticket information on the RMSO’s 2023-24 season, check out 2023-24 Season — Rocky Mountain Symphony.