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All the World’s a Stage – April 27, 2024

LSO April Review3

An Epic Salute to Broadway

Some Enchanted Evening

This was “some enchanted evening” of music with 43 guest artists! The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s spring concert (All the World’s a Stage) featured a collaboration with the Choral Society of West Georgia to highlight some of the most loved Broadway musicals and their iconic songs. As you can imagine, the stage and the program line-up were both filled to capacity!

Ticket-holders arrived with plenty of smiles. Everyone seemed genuinely happy and anticipated a great concert. The weather was perfect as well. Here is a quick slide show of some of the beautiful people in attendance.

From the concert program, we could see that the night’s entertainment consisted of two parts. One with just the Orchestra, and the other with the combined Orchestra and Choral Society.

Click image to enlarge.

Janet Johnson, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra (LSO) president welcomed everyone. She recognized sponsors and announced that this concert was dedicated to Gary Mayer who was a long-time board member, officer, and advocate for the LSO.

It seemed very fitting to dedicate this concert to him as his wife is a member of the Choral Society of West Georgia and it has been almost one year to the day of his passing. The Mayer family and friends travelled to attend this concert and were recognized by the president before the concert began.

Special Guests of the Mayer Family
Special guests, Mayer family and friends.

On with the show!

First was the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra who performed two very powerful symphonic storylines. Both were from Broadway musicals based on important cultural issues.

South Pacific tackled racial prejudice during World War II. West Side Story also dealt with prejudice, however was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and was set within two New York City teenage street gangs. Maestro Prior introduced both pieces giving highlights and auditory listening cues.

South Pacific originally premiered with tremendous success on Broadway in 1950 and then underwent a robust revival in 2008. The music played here, composed by Richard Rogers, was arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, and was titled Symphonic Scenario for Orchestra. This group of acoustic scenes from the play included the following familiar sections: Introduction; Dites-moi; A Cock-eyed Optimist; Some Enchanted Evening; Bloody Mary; There is Nothin’ Like a Dame; Bali Ha’i; I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right Outa My Hair; A Wonderful Guy; Younger Than Springtime; Happy Talk; Honey Bun; This Nearly Was Mine; and Coda.

LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Broadway Salute April 27, 2024

A Familiar Scene

You could sense the audience reminiscing about this much-loved musical as each selection was recognized. The arrangement was delightful and gave a full summary of the show. South Pacific is an award-winning musical production, and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra performed it as such. Beautifully done and true to the memoirs of the original! The audience loved it and their “enchanted evening” was just beginning.

Moving on, West Side Story’s original Broadway run began in 1957. Composed by Leonard Bernstein, this music covers the gamut of emotions and is effective at each challenge. In this concert, the LSO performed Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Bernstein created Symphonic Dances by selecting nine excerpts from the musical, which of course he scored. He then carefully stitched them into a single piece. This work, performed by the LSO, was also very effective in telling the story. Here is a summarization of this piece:

“Prologue”: Tensions grow between the two gangs.
“Somewhere”: In a dream, friendship unites the two gangs.
“Scherzo”: In the dream, the gangs leave the city and find themselves in a “playful world of space, air, and sun”
“Mambo: Returning to the real world, the gangs participate in a competitive dance at the gym.
“Cha cha”: Maria and Tony first meet and dance together.
“Meeting scene”: They speak their first words to each other.
“Cool”: Riff, the leader of the Jets, encourages his gang to harness their impulsive hostility.
“Rumble”: In a gang battle, Riff, Bernardo (the leader of the Sharks), and Tony are killed.
“Finale”: The two gangs, realizing that violence is no solution, reconcile and unite, fulfilling the vision of “Somewhere”

Maestro Prior had discussed with the audience his connection with both of these major musical stories. It enhanced the listeners experience to have a little history and to hear his personal connection to the music. The interpretation was enriched by this connection and the resulting performance was alive with energy. West Side Story is an energetic musical and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra effectively conveyed that in spades! But, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here is a music video snippet from the April 27, 2024 performance of Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein for West Side Story – “Mambo”.

Wait, there’s more!

After intermission, the second half of the program began. The Choral Society of West Georgia (CSWG) took the stage with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. The Choral Society’s Music Director is Andrew Harry, and their Artistic Director Emeritus is Betty Biggs. Both directors sang with the group.

Performing hit after hit from some of the most iconic Broadway productions, the impressive line-up consisted of:

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma, Richard Rogers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, arranged by Joseph Joubert

Do You Hear the People Sing from Les MisérablesClaude-Michel Schoenberg, lyrics by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, and Herbert Kretzmer, arranged by John Leavitt

The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha, Mitch Leigh, lyrics by Joe Darion, arranged by Mark Hayes

Choral Selections from Mary Poppins, Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, arranged by John Leavitt – including: Chim Chim Cher-ee; A Spoonful of Sugar; Let’s Go Fly a Kite; Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel with Climb Ev’ry Mountain from The Sound of Music, Richard Rogers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, arranged by Mark Hayes

The audience loved everything about this performance. It was large, it was clear, it was rich. The Choral Society is nearly 50 members strong, so they were able to easily fill the auditorium with their voices. They were structured with four-part harmony. The blending within the voice groups was impressive. From the first minute, the audience was captured. The Choral Society combined with the LSO is a terrific combination. The LSO and CSWG are complimentary groups and the resulting quality of the performance was no surprise. Both groups are masters at performing as a unit.

Dr. Lorna Wood Retirement Congratulations

Before the last piece of the concert, Maestro Prior took a moment to tell the audience that LSO concertmaster, Dr. Lorna Wood, was retiring. Dr. Wood has been with the LSO for many years. Lorna started with the LSO as a sub in 1996.  She became the concertmaster around 2004. While she has been the concertmaster for 20 years she has been a part of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra for 28 years! The maestro expressed his gratitude and deepest thanks. Lorna then took the time to speak warmly to the audience and to recognize how far the organization has come during her tenure. The audience responded with a standing ovation! Their applause was in appreciation for these many years she has been concertmaster, and to also wish her well in her future. She was presented with more than one bouquet of flowers.

Lorna Wood
Dr. Lorna Wood

Closing the concert and announcement of a very exciting 2024/2025 season!

To end the program and this wonderful season, the final two selections were compilations and thus ended the program with intensity.

The LSO has been busy already planning for next season! The dates and titles of the concerts were in the program as well as projected into the slide show. Many concert goers expressed their anticipation of next season with much enthusiasm. The collection of concerts is intriguing, and we can’t wait to hear more about it. If you want to mark your calendars, here is a listing of the concerts and dates for the upcoming 2024/2025 LaGrange Symphony Orchestra season!

  • September 17, 2024 – American Fanfare
  • October 29, 2024 – Composed & Collected
  • December 10, 2024 – A Holiday Celebration
  • March 25, 2025 – Joy of Italy
  • April 29, 2025 – Music of the Night

Thank you for supporting the arts in LaGrange and especially the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra!

LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Season finale 4/2024 salute to Broadway


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© LaGrange Symphony Orchestra 2023/2024 | All rights reserved | 706.882.0662 | Richard Prior, Music Director & Conductor

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