Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Robbins Pops Big Band Celebration

On Saturday night, Dickson and I headed to the Winspear Centre for an Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concert, the latest instalment of the Robbins Pops series: Big Band Celebration.

Our tickets were purchased before I knew about the Pulse8 Club, so instead of sitting in the more agreeable terrace or first balcony, we were in the gallery. I didn't really have any complaints about the distance, but the Winspear management might want to look at the safety issues of those trying to navigate to their seats in the first row of the gallery - the narrow space between the chairs combined with the low railing is a safety hazard.

The view from the gallery

I just started going to the Symphony in September, so I don't have that many concerts to compare with, but in my limited experience with the ESO, this has been my favorite so far. Big Band jazz especially puts a smile on the listener's face, so while the spirited introductions from Conductor Erich Kunzel about the history of the era and the songs were lost on me, I still immensely enjoyed the music. "In the Mood" and the concert-ending "Sing, Sing, Sing" were my favorites.

This performance was extra-special because of the non-ESO performers. Steve Bailey and Nathalie Gomes, Lindy Hop Champions in their own right, danced through some of the numbers. They made it look easy, effortless, and incredibly fluid through some very difficult lifts and throws, and made the audience gasp on more than one occasion. Singer Jefferey Berger, on the other hand, I could have done without. His weak voice was exposed on "New York, New York" in particular, though he did do better with the slower "My Way". Yes, Berger is only 21 and still a student, but I can't help but think that Kunzel could have picked someone better.

On a related note, the ESO is looking for bloggers interested in live blogging during an upcoming concert. More information here.

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