String Orchestra of the Rockies
Courtesy String Orchestra of the Rockies

Anniversaries recall origins, and the String Orchestra of the Rockies will celebrate some remarkable beginnings for its 30th season finale on Sunday.

That extends to the origin of word that defines its main musical repertoire, according to SOR musical director Fern Glass Boyd.

“The word ‘Baroque’ appears to come from an old Portuguese word ‘barrocco,’ which meant odd, misshapen pearls,” Glass Boyd said. “We know them as freshwater pearls – not perfectly round, but each individual like snowflakes. Baroque music was exquisite and over the top and kind of bizarre by the standards of the day. We thought that embraces the significance and uniqueness of the String Orchestra of the Rockies.”

Coincidentally, pearls are the traditional symbol of a 30th anniversary.

Sunday’s concert will also feature the return of several SOR veteran players from its beginning seasons. That includes past artistic director Johan Jonsson who will be flying in from Italy to perform. Founding members (and husband and wife) Ryssell Guyver and Sarah Avery Guyver are coming from Colorado to participate.

And Sunday’s gathering will be the retirement performance of Don Beller, who has played bass for virtually all of SOR’s concerts in the past three decades.

“There will be lots of familiar faces on stage,” Glass Boyd said. “But it’s also about the new. The program features some fresh faces, and we’ll have winds for part of the concert on the Bach Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major. We’ll be a real baroque band.”

The program uses Clarice Assad’s 2011 piece “Suite for Lower Strings” based on several Bach themes to display how classical music has evolved over the centuries. Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B minor, Opus 6/12 rounds out the performance.

With the Sunday concert falling on Mother’s Day, SOR has moved its traditional evening start to 3 p.m. The University of Montana Music Recital Hall concert should take advantage of what’s forecast to be fine May weekend weather.

For tickets, call (406) 493-2990 or visit

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