This July 15th, the Helena Symphony will draw nearly 20,000 people to Montana’s capital city for one evening of free symphony music at its annual Symphony Under the Stars.
Before attendees balk at the need to know Berlioz from Brahms, know that the symphony presents a crowd-friendly suite of contemporary music in a setting that’s more festival than fine art; this year’s installment, “ROCK ON!” will feature music from the ‘70s and ‘80s. From a thousand-piece patchwork of picnic blankets on the lawn of Carroll College, concertgoers barbecue and socialize; children conduct from their lawn chairs while the “other” conductor works against the majestic backdrop of the Sleeping Giant, the iconic silhouette in the hills north of Helena.
Although the program doesn’t begin until sundown, the concert is an all-day affair: concertgoers begin arriving early in the afternoon to stake their spot and start grilling. At the close of the concert, under a blanket of stars, a fireworks finale crowns what is considered Montana’s largest summer event.