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Founded in 1955, the Helena Symphony Orchestra is a 75-member regional professional orchestra in Helena, Montana. The 90-member Helena Symphony Chorale performs with the Helena Symphony Orchestra 4-6 times a year. The Symphony performs six subscription concerts each season. The nonsubscription concerts include The Nutcracker with Queen City Ballet, youth programs, holiday programs, and the Symphony Under the Stars, a free, outdoor summer performance at Carroll College that attracts over 12,000 people. In addition, the Helena Symphony produces a fully-stage production of an opera every season. The Helena Symphony Orchestra will be completing its multi-year Mahler Cycle. The Helena Symphony performs in the Helena Civic Center, the largest concert hall in Montana, as well as the Cathedral of Saint Helena.
The artistic vision is created and led by Music Director Allan R. Scott, an internationally-noted conductor from Philadelphia, PA. Since Maestro Scott's arrival in 2003 the Helena Symphony has reached record audiences and today more than 1,200 people attend Helena Symphony performances every month, budgets have more than doubled, corporate sponsors have more grown dramatically, and the Helena Symphony is one of the leading symphonic organizations in the Rocky Mountain region.
The Symphony maintains an administrative staff that reports to the Executive Director, and artistic administrative staff that reports to the Music Director. The staff is comprised of three full time and six part time positions. The Symphony's annual operating budget is $620,000 and is supported by the Helena Symphony Foundation (a separate non-profit organization). The Symphony is a member of the Montana Association of Symphony Orchestras, comprised of the seven major orchestras in the state.
Noted as the best small arts communities in the United States, Helena, is the Capital City of Montana. It is the home to the world renowned Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts, the nationally noted Helena Symphony, the Myrna Loy Center, the Holter Museum, Grandstreet Theater along with two other professional companies, three ballet schools and one professional ballet company, an active jazz community, and many other arts organizations and businesses.
Helena is one of the few gold towns of the Old West to become a thriving urban center. It is close to several wilderness areas and sits on the edge of the Continental Divide in the middle of some of the US's most beautiful landscape and trail systems. Helena's population within the city limits is approximately 30,000, but greater Helena area population is 69,000 people. State and the federal government are major source of jobs, but it does also have an extensive medical community including two hospitals, Carroll College (a four year liberal arts college), the University of Montana College of Technology, and many major retailers.
Traditional areas of agriculture and mining are still prominently represented in the areas around Helena. It has daily air travel to hub cities, Seattle, Minneapolis, Salt Lake, and Denver. It is a great community to raise children with strong local schools and a variety of youth activity in sports, the arts, and outdoor recreation, including major skiing areas in close proximity. The housing market has stayed strong and has good opportunities from urban to rural settings for home buyers. The median income for Helena is $39,500 and the cost of living is below national averages. Recently Helena was named One of the best kept secrets of the West, by Sunset Magazine.