Just as I was thinking that a concert devoted to American music would be incomplete without including a work by Samuel Barber, I arrived at Powell Hall to discover that—sadly—due to a soloist’s illness, Aaron Copland’s "Quiet City" would be replaced by Barber’s famous "Adagio for Strings". With fervent hopes for the soloist’s recovery, the inclusion of the Barber rounded out a program that was a veritable showcase of some of the many jewels of American music.
Although their program was themed “Bad Boys!”, the Gateway Men’s Chorus sang good March 15 and 16 at the 560 Music Center in University City. It was a fun program, visually exciting as well as a rhythm bash, but “fun” programs can challenge performers as equally as their more serious counterparts.
For over 200 years audiences have been captivated by the piano, and with good reason. A skilled performer can transform the instrument into a veritable orchestral palette of color, range, special effects and dynamics. Such was the case with the brilliant Chinese-born pianist Wuna Meng, a 2012 competition winner of the Artist Presentation Society, who performed on March 17 at the Ethical Society.
Its origins shrouded in the mists of time and centered within the region of Andalusia, flamenco music and dance has nevertheless enthralled audiences the world over throughout its history.
Predicaments, or problems requiring resolution, are a part of life. Looking on the bright side, you could say that dealing successfully with problems and challenges helps us grow, and makes life interesting. And such challenges beset us all, the great and the not-so-great. Even terrorists ironically find themselves forced to negotiate a path of pitfalls.
This year the Gateway Men’s Chorus tempted Santa with potato latkes instead of his usual milk and cookies. Blending the traditions of two great festivals of light, Christmas and Hanukkah, the GMC added new levels of meaning to both.
What happens when an immigrant Jewish accountant from St. Louis falls in love with a Missouri country girl? You get gefilte catfish, matzo balls made of cornmeal, and a unique love story that has charmed millions and made the world see that Lebanon, Missouri, is a town of far greater depth of spirit than most people realized.
The art of the solo recital lives on, and it will likely do so as long as human beings value talent, skill and personal expression. Crafting a recital devoted to the work of a single composer poses a particular challenge, but Peter Henderson’s choice of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) formed an exciting demonstration of the rich and stimulating palette from which this most visually-oriented composer gifted us.
Although Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, the “Pastoral”, is a purely instrumental work, the weekend of October 12-14 at Powell Hall it assumed a choral sheen under the baton of guest conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos that seemed to utterly transform the work.
Although themed as “The Virtuoso Orchestra,” opening weekend for the St. Louis Symphony on September 28-30 brought listeners much more than virtuosity—although artistic skill reigned throughout the evening. The orchestra, under the helm of Music Director David Robertson, whisked the audience on a wide journey not just of sound, but of vibrant images culled from nature, history and the inner visions of great composers.