Optimistically Cautious

Friday, February 29, 2008

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Lighter Classics, From the Heart of Broadway

Dickson had been looking forward to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra's From the Heart of Broadway edition of Lighter Classics for some time, and I was eager to see what Sheri Somerville could do on a non-theatrical stage.

After a few concerts, I now know that my personal enjoyment of the symphony hinges on: 1) whether I recognize or have a prior connection to the music; and 2) have non-music distractions to focus on. The only song that I had heard before was parts of Oklahoma!, but other than that, the majority of the pieces were too slow for my sleep-deprived brain to follow. The upbeat, brass heavy songs were my favorite - so much so that I kept wishing they would reprieve some of the Big Band jazz from the concert I attended earlier in February. Thankfully, James Campbell on the clarinet was a saving grace of sorts - an undeniable talent, his encore was much appreciated.

As for Somerville, her attempts at opera-fying Porter and Gershwin tunes were miserable failures. Dickson said it sounded as if she had a cold, or was trying to sing with something stuck in her throat, and I couldn't disagree - her efforts at falsetto were misplaced. As such, I thought she was completely the wrong choice for the type of songs she was asked to sing...until "Worst Pies in London" from Sweeney Tood. Part acting, part singing, she nailed it, though the cheekiness of the song helped as well.

William Eddins conducted this concert, and watching him is always a treat. While he didn't jump on the stage this time around, he is always a wonderful host, vibrant and deeply passionate about music. He would undoubtedly make a great dinner party guest! Dickson was really impressed by his ability to simultaneously play the piano and conduct. (On a related note, he will be guest conducting Porgy & Bess in Lyon in May, and invited those in the audience to join him in France. He offered a free ticket to the concert, as well as a dinner together in September. Any takers?)

While I can't say I wholeheartedly enjoyed this concert, the ESO continues to amaze me with their sheer number of events, and consistent ability to pack the house. I really relish my membership in the Pulse8 Club for providing these inexpensive opportunities of exposure to the symphony and its surrounding music community.

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July 15, 2013 at 7:32 AM  

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