The Roundup -

Symphony Night In Sidney Nears


Billings Symphony representatives, from left, educational director Candy Holzer, music director Ann Harrigan and executive cirector Darren Rich met with Sidney Area Chamber and Agriculture officials in March.

A first-time ever event scheduled in Sidney is drawing nearer as the Billings Symphony will perform at Veterans Memorial Park on July 8.

"We are very excited to connect with more people throughout the region. We very much want to perform for more audiences and work with kids all over, not just in Billings or Yellowstone County," Darren M. Rich, executive director of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, said. "We were very flattered to be invited to perform in Sidney, and we see this as a special opportunity for us to show that we are a cultural and educational resource for the whole region."

The free concert begins at 7 p.m. at the park located in downtown Sidney.

"Our goal is that this concert program will appeal to a broad audience and not just orchestra experts. A lot of the music will be very familiar: for example, music from the Olympics and the William Tell Overture (aka, the Lone Ranger theme)," Rich said. "Just plan ahead however you normally would to spend an evening in the park, because we think the audience will enjoy the program no matter what kind of music they like."

Activities start with an "instrument petting zoo" for youngsters from 4-6 p.m. under one of the picnic shelters in the park.

"The instrument petting zoo is an opportunity to try playing various musical instruments. Eckroth Music will have a range of instruments to try as well as staff to give tips on playing those first notes," Rich explained. "The kids have a lot of fun at the petting zoo, but adults are welcome to try too.

The Sidney High School band will then perform a variety of selections beginning at 6 p.m.

At 6:45 p.m., a kids' conductor contest is scheduled.

"There's a two-part process: first, all the kids audition their conducting, and several finalists are selected. From there, the finalists conduct the orchestra in short section, and a winner is selected," Rich said of the contest. "The lucky winner then conducts the orchestra for a full piece - an awesome experience for a kid! We've never stated an explicit age limit, but it seems to naturally work out that the contestants are grade school or middle school."

Event organizers strongly urge community members to take advantage of this unique opportunity of being entertained by the Billings Symphony.

"This concert will be our most ambitious concert project by far. The full orchestra has traveled 1-1.5 hours for a performance but never as far as Sidney. We are very excited and flattered to have been invited to play in Sidney," Rich said. "While there are professional orchestras in other Montana towns (eg, Bozeman and Helena), we are the largest organization by budget size. So we will be bringing the very best in the region to Sidney!"

Karli Johnson, one of the local organizers, said fundraising has been consistent, but as of last week, the amount was between $7,500-$10,000 below the fundraising goal.

"We're still in the funding process," Johnson said.

Donation levels include: Festival Fanatic, a donation of $1,800 or more; Festival Enthusiast, a donation of $1,000; Festival Patron, a donation of $500; Festival Admirer, a donation of $250; and Festival Friend, any donation less than $250.

Donations can be mailed to the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce, 909 S. Central Ave., Sidney, MT 59270, or online at (click on the Sunrise Festival link).

You can also pledge donations by calling the Sidney Chamber at 406-433-1916.


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