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Hays Symphony Dawns New Season with Nordic Adventure

The Hays Symphony will be presenting its first concert of the 2023-24 season, Nordic Adventure, on Saturday, September 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Brian Buckstead, Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at FHSU.

A vast unfolding Nordic musical landscape awaits, full of majesty and mysticism.

Nordic Adventure will feature music from Denmark and Finland. Contained within the impressive program are swooping soundscapes and harmonious melodies that mimic an ecological portrait of the complex natural world around us.

Opening the concert is Carl Nielsen’s Overture to Maskarade, a high-spirited declaration of love and light as it pertains to the overture’s opera of the same name. While perhaps not as familiar to American audiences as Nielsen’s symphonies, Maskarade occupies a position similar to that of Peter Grimes or Dido and Aeneas in England or Carmen in France. Maskarade’s enduring popularity in Denmark has established it as the country's national opera, and concert-goers will get to experience its bravado and charm.

Next, the Symphony will take listeners to the top of the Arctic Circle and even through the bogs of Liminka in northern Finland with Cantus Arcticus by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. Better known as the Concerto for Birds and Orchestra, this unique piece incorporates birdsong into a beautiful and lush orchestral soundscape. As whimsical winds echo the curious bird chirping and windy hollows, the strings provide their own layer of natural impressions and heart-pounding depth.

The program will close with Sibelius’s majestic and enthralling Symphony No. 5. Sibelius is celebrated for his consonant sonorities, woodwind lines in parallel thirds, and rich melodic development. Symphony No. 5 is, as Sibelius himself described, “down-to-earth and vivid.” Like Rautavaara, Sibelius found inspiration in the flight of birds and infused a “swan hymn” into his score. He famously reflects over his inspiration—the sight of sixteen swans flying in formation overhead—in his diary: “One of my greatest experiences! Lord God, that beauty! They circled over me for a long time. Disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming, silver ribbon . . .”

The 2023-24 Symphony season opened with its signature summer Outdoor Pops Concert themed this year as “Let’s Dance.” From waltzes and tangos to rhumbas and polkas, attendees experienced an evening of dance music from the classical masters. Now, the Hays Symphony invites the community back into the auditorium to take part in an adventure through masterpieces from the High North.

Like with all Hays Symphony concerts, attendance is free and open to the public. Following the concert, attendees are invited to the hall’s lobby to meet the musicians at the post-concert reception sponsored by Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Attendees are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance on the symphony’s website at where they can also make donations to sustain free classical music in the Hays community.

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