Billings Symphony to Kickoff the Festival of the Arts, July 8th

The Sidney Area Chamber is pleased that Sidney will be hosting the Billings Symphony Orchestra as part of the kickoff to this year's Sunrise Festival of the Arts July 8 and 9, 2016. Members of the Billings Symphony were in Sidney on Tues., March 8 and met with city officials, band teacher Kilee Sundt, and Executive Director of the Sidney Area Chamber Kristin Kennedy to work out details of the event. Executive Director Darren Rich, Music Director Anne Harrigan, and Educational Director Candy Holzer visited the Anderson Pavilion which is the only amphitheater in Eastern Montana.

"We are flattered and honored to be invited to Sidney. This is a big step for our organization," said Rich who added that of the six professional orchestras in Montana, they are the farthest east and have wanted to expand their reach into Eastern Montana.

The Billings Symphony Orchestra has traveled in-state as far as Hardin, Red Lodge, and Columbus to be involved with children's concerts, however, this is the first time that the entire symphony has traveled out of Billings to perform their marquee-event, Symphony in the Park.

The mission of the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale is to enrich lives through music and an incredible part of that is working with kids. An Instrument Petting Zoo will open at 5 p.m. on Friday in Veteran's Memorial Park and, with the help of a few high school students, will give kids the chance to try making music with different kinds of instruments. Arrangements were made by the Billings Symphony to have EckRoth Music in Billings provide and transport the instruments.

"The kids get a chance to touch and use real instruments and after a few tries, when they get them to make a sound, the look on their face is amazing!" Holzer commented.

The orchestra will be teaming up with the Sidney High School Band students and will be inviting other area schools to join in. Students and orchestra members will be paired according to instrument and chair and will be practicing John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever together.

The event was initiated by City Attorney Joel Krautter who contacted Rich in May of 2015 about the orchestra performing in Sidney; in late August, Krautter then approached Kennedy at the Chamber and it has since been a collaborative effort to work out the details.

"There is so much going on in Sidney and it's a very positive community," said Harrigan. "This is the kind of community we want to partner with and we are very excited about the amphitheater."

The Chamber and the Billings Symphony are equally splitting the cost of bringing the highly anticipated event to Sidney and are looking for sponsors to help with the expense and provide a free concert. Businesses and individuals who are interested in contributing can contact Kennedy at the Chamber at 406-433-1916.

The tentative itinerary for Friday, July 8 begins with the Billings Symphony rehearsing at 10:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. they will rehearse side-by-side with students before having an informal lunch and meet-and-greet, giving students a chance to ask questions, learn about college opportunities, and discuss careers in music. The Instrument Petting Zoo will open at 5:00 p.m and the High School Band will perform from 6:00 until 6:30. At 6:45 the Billings Symphony will invite kids in the audience to come up to the stage to try their hand at conducting during the Kids Conducting Contest. Yet-to-be-determined members of the community will choose four kids who will each be allowed to conduct a short section of a song and the winner will have the privilege of leading the orchestra through an entire song. At 7 p.m. the concert will open with the 'Star Spangled Banner' and then perform a tribute to the Olympics including 'Summon Heroes', 'Going to Rio', and the 'Hungarian March'. The Armed Forces Salute will end the first half of the concert, recognizing each branch of the armed forces. After intermission, they will perform the newly released Star Wars the Force Awakens medley, followed by the William Tell Overture, more commonly recognized as the Lone Ranger theme song. Next, the orchestra will play 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia', 'God Bless the USA', and then they will close the evening with 'Stars and Stripes Forever'.

A special thank you goes out to Cape Air for sponsoring the Directors flights on their recent visit and the Chamber would also like to thank Action Auto for providing a rental car.

Both the Sidney Area Chamber and the Billings Symphony hope that this year will lay groundwork for future performances at the Anderson Pavilion.


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