RSVP Montgomery

Montgomery Symphony Orchestra: Fellowship Series


Jessica Klinner

Imagine this: it’s a lovely fall evening in November. You and your friends are looking for a way to escape the frigid, fall air and enjoy some good music. Going to a bar is an option, but it’s usually a little too noisy and crowded for your liking. You could go to a movie, but there really isn’t anything out that you’re interested in seeing. Then one of your friends suggests watching a performance by the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. You’ve never seen them perform, but the indecisive nature of the night has you convinced that it will be fun. So you go and have a wonderful time. 

This isn’t just a hypothetical situation, though. It can easily become a reality. 

As a staple of entertainment in the community for 39 years, the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra performances are not something to pass up. The MSO started in 1976 as accompaniment for the choirs at First United Methodist Church under the direction of Church Music Director John Dressler. A few years after its formation, the MSO expanded beyond the church and into to the community. In 1983, Thomas Hinds stepped in as the new conductor and still holds the position today. Under Hinds, the orchestra really began to thrive. He implemented many of the MSO events and programs that are so popular in the Montgomery area such as Broadway Under the Stars and the Fellowship Program. The latter has brought many young and talented musicians to the orchestra. 

 Each season, the Fellowship Program, made possible by corporate and individual sponsors, brings in two young musicians (one cellist and one violinist) from all over the world. The unique program opens up an opportunity for the chosen fellows to grow and learn from the orchestra and for the Montgomery community to witness the talent of two outstanding young instrumentalists. 

For the 2015-2016 season, Nadir Khashimov and Natalie Helm are lending their talents to the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. 

Nadir Khashimov, an American virtuoso violinist and native of Uzbekistan, began studying the violin when he was seven years old and has spent the majority of his life perfecting his craft. The talented performer graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, studying under Shmuel Ashkenasi and Pamela Frank. Before coming to Montgomery, Nadir played in orchestras in many different countries including the Czech Republic, England and Russia. 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, cellist Natalie Helm has played in cities across the United States and has returned to her southern roots to join the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra as part of the Fellowship Program. In 2011, she graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, studying under David Soyer and Peter Wiley. She has been featured on NPR’s From The Top, which showcases the best young talent in classical music, and has received top awards from the Blount Slawson Young Artist Competition and the Lennox International Competition. Even though she is still young, Natalie has achieved many great things in her musical career, working with renowned orchestras across the country. 

Nadir and Natalie will play six shows at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts’ Wilson Auditorium during their fellowship. The dates of which can be found below. 

Thursday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Natalie Helm, cello
Katherine Dowling, piano

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2:30 p.m.
Natalie Helm, cello
Nozomi Khudyev, piano
Emil Khudyev, clarinet

Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016—2:30 p.m.
Nadir Khashimov, violin
Barno Nishanova, piano

Thurday, May 12, 2016—7:30 p.m.
Nadir Khashimov, violin
Barno Nishanova, piano

Tickets can be purchased at or at the door. Students can attend for free. Adult tickets are $17 per concert. Season subscriptions can also be purchased for $85.

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