The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra has been in Sioux Falls for 95 years. They continue their tradition of live orchestral music by hosting unique concert series relevant to their audience, like showcasing the Broadway musical Wicked with the show Wicked Divas last October and music from action movies like Batman, Superman, and The Avengers with Guardians of the Symphony coming this March.
SDSO marketing director Jake Windish says after seeing a huge success with Pop Series shows featuring Star Wars and Back to the Future when he first started at the symphony three years ago, he knew they had to continue to experiment with creative themes. This past year they had another sellout with inviting musical artist Ben Folds to play some of his hits with the symphony.
“Having that big name like Ben Folds, someone people know and can relate with because they’ve heard the music so long, it means something to these people and proves that we need to continue reaching out to this different demographic and what they are listening to,” Windish said.
Another way SDSO stays fresh is by offering reduced ticket prices for their classical concerts. Adults aged 19-35 can purchase $10 tickets, and children aged 5-18 can attend classical concerts for free.
Windish said SDSO does this to make the symphony accessible to everyone.
“Sometimes you think [the symphony] is a black tie affair, and that’s absolutely not true,” Windish said. “We just want to make sure people are getting the chance to experience this incredible music that they may never have otherwise.”
Windish also said for first time symphony-goers, the ticket is completely free for their classical concerts, like the upcoming Copland & Mexico concert and matinee.
Copland & Mexico is funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities and presents the story of famous American composer Aaron Copland and how his trip to Mexico inspired his music.
Music director and maestro Delta David Gier said he’s excited for the concert series.
“I’m the son of two college professors, so this humanities thing is something that gets me excited,” Gier said. “It’s a kind of complete immersion into the subject of Copland and Mexico, and particularly a Mexican composer Revueltas who isn’t very well known in the U.S. but is probably Mexico’s greatest composer.”
Gier said the story is told through a lecture demonstration, live orchestral music, and a film with live accompaniment. He said it’s atypical for a symphony orchestra to put on a show this way, but it’s engaging.
“If you don’t know anything about the subject when you walk in the door, it’s all there to absorb,” Gier said. “The music is simply fantastic. It’s very exciting, a lot of it is dance-oriented music, and very rhythmical. It’s a fun concert.”
The SDSO partnered with universities like Augustana to reach out to students, and partnered with Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church in town to reach out to the hispanic population, Gier said.
“It’s a way to serve the community in a way that we can do, but nobody else can through this musical engagement,” he said.
Later this January is another concert, Video Games Live. This nostalgic concert experience will highlight the orchestral music in video games.
“Video games are actually all orchestra music,” Gier said. “It’s like film scores; it’s all orchestra. It’s different from concert music. For most of the people who have come to these concerts, it’s their first time experiencing live orchestra music and the power of what live orchestral music is.”
Gier said he spoke to the creator of the Video Games Live program about the theme of the show, and he said these kind of concerts are a gateway into the orchestral experience for many people.
“The strength of the program, the quality of the orchestra, the devotion of the audience, all those things make Sioux Falls home for us [the symphony].” – Maestro Delta David Gier, music director
“He talked about how experiencing live orchestral music just totally rocked his world as a kid, and he ended up going into the video game industry, so he worked on 30 of the best-selling video games ever in the last 30 or so years,” he said. “What really pleases him greatly is turning on new generations to live orchestral music through these video game concerts.”
Windish said video game music has a rich background in classical music and depth.
“It celebrates video games and introduces people who have never played video games to the medium, especially with the medium of music,” he said. “Video game music composers looked to Beethoven and Mozart for inspiration, and we see more and more of that as video games have continued.”
Windish said one of his goals was to bring Video Games Live to the state. He said it’s kind of like a rock concert.
“Video Games Live is a large celebration of that, and it continues to sell out all across the country,” he said. “I am very excited and happy that finally now we are doing it, we are bringing this concert to the state and it’s going to be incredibly exciting to have.”
With all of the “fandoms,” Windish says he is excited to bring pop culture to the stage.
“The audience wants to experience these things that they love in their homes or in the movie theaters,” he said. “They want to experience them in different ways, whether it’s Harry Potter or Superman, and we’re trying to give them that opportunity to experience it in a larger scale.”
For more information, call (605) 335-7933 or visit sdsymphony.org.
Copland & Mexico
January 13 // 7:30 p.m.
January 14 // 2:30 p.m.
Video Games Live
January 27 // 7:30 p.m.