After a yearlong hiatus because of the pandemic, Symphony in the Park returns to Pioneer Park in Billings this Sunday.
It’s exciting not only for music lovers, who have had to go without live music for a year, but also for the musicians, who are happy to be back.
The Billings Symphony Orchestra has been making beautiful music since 1951. Sue Logan and Randy Tracy have been a part of that for decades, but their love of music started much earlier.
“I just adored classical music. I just loved it from the first I ever heard it,” says Tracy. “And that’s the key because if you don’t love it, you are not going to practice enough to make it,” he says.
Tracy joined the symphony in 1985, and Logan a little later. He plays violin. She plays the oboe.
“I just liked the sound. Musicians pick up instruments because they like the tone of that instrument,” says Logan. “Which is important because if you are going to be practicing by yourself for hours you better like what you are hearing."
They are both glad to be back on stage performing in front of live audiences again.
“I had some worries that I had maybe lost my mojo during 13 months of quarantine and only having Randy as a duet partner,” jokes Logan. “So, we got back for our first orchestra rehearsal for the West Side Story production in May and both of us were like, we’re fine. We’ve done this before. We’re good.”
It was a love of music that brought them together. They met in the late ’70s with the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra and now reside in Red Lodge.
They’ve also inspired hundreds of young musicians through teaching.
“To play a classical instrument is extremely difficult. It’s really at the edge of human limits and you need coaches,“ says Tracy.
It’s a tradition they want kept alive.
“I have things that I can tell my students that were passed down by my teacher directly and it comes from hundreds of years’ worth of teachers before me,” says Logan.
And they never tire of performing for others—something they’ll do this Sunday at Symphony in the Park.
“This is a very good orchestra here. It’s not just a good orchestra for a town this size. It’s a good orchestra. It compares with towns much larger. We do fully professional production repertoire and do really good performances. And it’s exhilarating to do that,” says Randy.
Symphony at the Park gets underway at 4 p.m. with an instrument petting zoo. Stillwater Strings takes the stage at 5 p.m. The kid’s conductor contest gets underway at 6:45 p.m. and the Billings Symphony will take the stage at 7 p.m.