Reviews 2017/18

LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Concert Season

Embrace the Classics Nov. 7, 2017

The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra served up a heart-warming “CLASSICS” concert with two works by Beethoven and the wonderfully famous Piano Concerto by Edvard Grieg.  This was a rare opportunity to hear Beethoven’s Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus and Symphony No. 1, which are both great pieces that are often undervalued for live performances.

First on the menu was the Prometheus Overture that was both full and delicately flavored.  This is not a very long piece, but it has great variance and juxtaposed passages that amazingly translate into a strong, confident, melodious work.  There was nothing timid about it, and the LSO excelled at its vigorous changes in energy.

LSO-Nov, 2017
Miss Yannie Tan was guest pianist, performing with the LSO, for Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. Grieg was only 26 years old when he composed it.  Yannie performed it at 16 years old, and did it brilliantly, blending well with the orchestra.  The Allegro is the most famous section and the audience loved it so much they forgot to check the program to see there was more to come.  In their defense, this happens all the time with this Grieg Concerto since the ending of the first movement is so dramatic, it sounds quite final.

Although young, Yannie is already a well-seasoned musician.  In fact, watching her play, it was obvious that she felt every note, not only in her delicate hands, but in her heart.  The second movement of the piece was dreamy and moved into the powerful third with its fantastic ending and its terrific last bite – a real treat.

Classics Concert Yannie Tan
After the intermission, Dr. Prior spoke about Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and described it as a sort of bridge between Haydn and Mozart, two of Beethoven’s influential predecessors.  It was written in 1801 the same year as the Prometheus Overture. Beethoven was 29.  What a way to begin the new century.

Performing all four movements, the LSO brought excellence to the table in this piece. Beginning like the dawn of a new era, the first two movements emerge and build into the third and fourth. Perhaps because of the autumn season the third and fourth movements were personal favorites as the rhythms and runs gave the imagery of Fall.  The Menuetto had wonderful twists and turns like leaves fluttering in the wind and the Adagio included cascading scales, perfect for this Fall feast of music.

This was a wonderful evening of classics.  Miss Tan is an artist to watch as we hope to hear more great things from this fine young musician, especially with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. Taking this opportunity for appreciation of Dr. Prior and the LSO musicians – for you, we are expressly thankful!

Here is a slideshow of an impromptu photo-op to which Miss Tan graciously obliged: (note: Yannie is also pictured in this slideshow with her Father and Mother)


John Williams

John Williams

Embrace the Silver Screen Sept. 26, 2017

It’s no wonder that the LSO’s “Embrace the Silver Screen” concert has been the talk of the town.  This uplifting and exciting  concert, under the direction of Richard Prior, had power and punch that just made you say, “Oh, Wow!”  Composer, John Williams has scored well over 100 films and this concert was a celebration of his work.  The lobby was buzzing with a diverse crowd of all ages.  How terrific to see this level of enthusiasm spanning generations.  For many it was truly a family affair and a great introduction to live orchestral music.

Opening the season with a packed house and the traditional National Anthem was a rousing way to begin the series and a great way for the audience to connect and participate.  The evening’s entertainment burst into the air directly, with the March from Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I could see joy and excitement in the audience.  With its infectious rhythm, it made you want to keep time.  Even the strings had percussive sections.  It was obvious we were going to be taken on a terrific adventure.

Next was the beautiful theme from Jurassic Park.  Lead brightly by woodwind and brass instruments, these tones were followed by string phrases with lovely, flowing long bows.  The piece had a monumental feel, and the composition was like a deep breath upon arriving at a mountain top view.  The LSO has always excelled in dynamic ability and here too, they did a top-notch performance.

The Jaws movie provided two selections in this concert.  Of course, the shark theme with its recurring anticipatory rhythm sequences with grabbing bass notes was larger than life.  Out to Sea/ The Shark Cage Fugue had a totally different sound, to offset the dark violence in the main theme.  The counterpoint melodies within it were very fitting.

I don’t think Maestro Prior got his wand at Ollivander’s shop, but the performance throughout a suite of four Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone themes was magical.  Approval was apparent from the audience with smiles and nods as the music began.  Without a doubt, there is so much more that can be heard in music when performed live.  A good example is in Hedwig’s Theme, where the underlying wind phrases in the strings subliminally register as just wind, but are actually crazy runs of notes that are unbelievable to watch.  Nimbus 2000 featured the woodwinds, which was a great treat and really gave the piece character. Music can really transport you, especially with a Nimbus 2000!

Lorna Wood

The theme from Schindler’s List was first after intermission and featured Concertmaster Lorna Wood, on violin.  This was a very hauntingly emotional melody from an important movie and was played beautifully.  Like each of these themes, it really captures the essence of the moment it describes.

Rounding out the evening were five selections from Star Wars.  Dr. Prior had commented at one point in his introductions that all of this music was quite demanding for every single section of the orchestra.  He also reminisced that it was with Star Wars that we met him for the first time three years ago when he was guest conductor. The Star Wars Suite for Orchestra was a great culmination to the evening.  With great power, “wow” moments, ethereal sections and gripping percussion, Star Wars was out of this world good.  The standing ovation and whoops from the audience confirmed a super season opener.  Bravo, to the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.  Well done.

Here are a few photos during the standing ovation, recognizing some of the soloists.


Here is an impromptu slideshow from the concert.


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