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Beethoven's Magnificent 9th Symphony

Featuring the Great Falls Symphonic Choir, Great Falls College Community Choir, C.M. Russell High School Chanteur Choir, Great Falls High School Delphian Choir and special guest artists

7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 27, 2024

Mansfield Theater, Great Falls, Montana


When Beethoven was 17, he performed for Mozart in Vienna. While no one is sure of what was really said, Mozart (who reportedly was unimpressed with other musicians) said, “Keep your eyes on him; someday he’ll give the world something to talk about.”

One hundred-ninety-nine years and 355 days later, the world is still talking about Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

“It’s a joyous celebration of the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, when the Great Falls Symphony Association brings our Symphonic Choir, our community’s talented college and high schools’ choirs and exciting guest stars together for an unforgettable night filled with the music of one of the world’s best-loved compositions,” says Grant Harville, the Symphony’s music director and conductor.

The Great Falls Symphony Association program on Saturday, April 27, features the Great Falls Symphonic Choir, Great Falls College Community Choir, C.M. Russell High School Chanteur Choir and the Great Falls High School Delphian Choir.

Guest artists include soprano Diana McVey, mezzo soprano Kimberly James, tenor Benjamin Butterfield and baritone Brandon Hendrickson.

The performance opens with Beethoven’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, inspired by the two Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poems that Beethoven described as “exerting a great power over me…causing a burning enthusiasm (that) drives me to cast forth melody in all directions.”

While it would take a book-length volume to untangle why Beethoven’s Ninth has achieved the cultural significance that it has, program notes from the three prior GFSA’s performances of that work provide some background.

An atmosphere of awe is generated in the opening bars of the first movement by shimmering tremolos in the violins. The full orchestra then swells to a ‘proud affirmation of spirit.’ The second movement is all lightning movement, rhythmic momentum…the Adagio is ‘surely one of the noblest movements in music.’

In the first three instrumental movements, Beethoven builds to a tonal magnitude never before imagined. When the listener is so submerged in sound, the choral finale bursts forth with triumphant praise of joy. Nowhere else did Beethoven produce such a feeling of humanity, spirituality and exaltation as in the Ninth.

The final Ode to Joy movement will showcase the Symphonic Choir and local college and high school choirs for an awe-inspiring “wall of sound.”

Soprano Diana McVey’s credits include operas, oratorios and soloist appearances with symphony orchestras that include the Boston Academy of Music, Helena Symphony, and Rhode Island Philharmonic.

Dr. Kimberly Gratland James, mezzo-soprano, has more than 20 years of professional performance as a concert artist and recitalist. She has performed in concert with the London Sinfonietta, the New World Symphony, and the Los Angeles Symphony.

Praised by The New York Times as “clarion-voiced and vibrant,” tenor Benjamin Butterfield has performed in concert, recital and opera throughout North America and Europe as well as in the Middle East and Asia.

American baritone Brandon Hendrickson is hailed by Opera News Magazine as having a “mellifluous” and “beautiful baritone.” A frequent performer of concert repertoire, Hendrickson has appeared with orchestras that include the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, The American Festival Chorus, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.


Throughout the season, free concert previews are offered to broaden your knowledge and appreciation of music. Maestro Grant Harville leads a fun, informative discussion about the upcoming concert. Held the Friday prior to each concert, all talks are from noon to 1 p.m. at Heritage Hall on the campus of Great Falls College/Montana State University. Facebook Live options are available as well as recorded versions on the Symphony website.

Tickets for Beethoven Symphony No. 9 range from $14 to $59 and are available online at

or by calling the Symphony at 406.453.4102.

The D.A. Davidson Companies are the Great Falls Symphony Association season sponsors. Concert sponsors are LPW Architecture & SpringHill Suites.






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