“Inspiring Performance!” “- clear and pure sounds! We are so fortunate to have so many talented artists performing for our community”, “The most beautiful piece I’ve ever heard on a violin!!” …just a few snippets from comments after the performance.
A Treasured Audience
“COMMUNITY”, which is the title of this concert, also happens to be one of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s (LSO) four guiding principles. Maestro Richard Prior emphasized in his comments that the LSO is a community for which we are very thankful.
Early November is a terrific time of year with perfect weather and the anticipation of the holidays. The atmosphere in the audience was one of shared enthusiasm and of comfortable friendship. Longtime friends greeted and new friends were quickly made. A large number of students attended, and one audience member came all the way from North Carolina specifically for this concert. Also, it was a proud moment for Maestro Prior as two of his sons were present (see first photo).
Members of the LaGrange Symphony Youth Orchestra (LSYO) were in the lobby prior to the concert entertaining the arriving patrons. Four members of the LSYO and their conductor, Michael Giel, actively participated. They sounded terrific! What a wonderful surprise for concert-goers.
There were also two new colorful banners in the lobby, one for the LSO and one for the LSYO.
Concert begins with Rossini
The initial piece uniquely started with a single snare drum. The drum was followed with a strong and confident fanfare. This was Rossini’s La gazza Ladra overture (The Thieving Magpie). As we all know, an overture is an orchestral work that introduces a musical drama. It gives a clue as to what the audience will experience. It was a great choice for this concert as it also set the stage for more nature themed things to come.
The Thieving Magpie is an opera in which a young maid is wrongly blamed for stealing a silver spoon. The real culprit turns out to be a Magpie. This type of bird is notorious for collecting shiny objects, and can be sneaky about it. Happily, the story is a “comic melodrama” which is brilliantly translated into the music. The truth about who stole the missing silver spoon is heroically discovered and all ends well.
This LSO performance of Rossini’s Thieving Magpie would have pleased Rossini. It was, without exaggeration, …perfect. Ask any audience member who was present and they will confirm this. Yes, the LSO is normally solid and robust, but something about – this performance of – this piece, elevated it and everyone noticed. The numerous “Bravo’s” from the audience said everything. Well done, LSO. Hopefully, this piece will be performed again in a future concert.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Guest artist, Kerren Berz, was heartily welcomed to the stage for Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending! This violin concerto was highly anticipated and if you’ve ever heard it before, you would instantly know why. It is both introspective and outwardly hyper-aware in the same instant. It is profound. Someone commented about this performance, “The most beautiful piece I’ve ever heard on a violin!!”.
The Lark Ascending was written during World War One. Rather than reflecting his current terrible situation, Williams chose to compose a piece that focused on the opposite. It evokes all the imagery of a quiet English countryside. Perfect for transporting ones imagination and lessening the worries of the news. It was a great escape from wartime for anyone who listened. While it was composed in 1914, this piece is still relevant and much appreciated today.
Ms. Berz performed this with wonderful delicacy and lightness. She translated Williams’ Lark to the audience superbly. It was inspirational and uplifting and was just the escape the composer had intended.
The audience loved Kerren Berz. During intermission she mingled and greeted audience members who relayed their personal appreciation. It was noticeable that many found this piece to be touching. Her performance was everything they had hoped for, and they thanked her.
In keeping with the nature-based theme of the evening, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 in F, op. 68, “Pastoral” was next. Although the Fifth of Beethoven’s symphonies, is hands down the most well known and frequently played piece in classical music, the Sixth is downright wonderful.
The beautiful long passages flowed easily and blended into a great performance of this work. With numerous solo parts, the LSO’s control of this composition was commendable as each solo was front and center while still backed by the other instruments. Maestro Richard Prior made a special effort to acknowledge the soloists individually after receiving the standing ovation for the orchestra as a whole.
It was a wonderful night of entertainment and a great way to support the arts in LaGrange. This was the second in a series of four concerts in the 2022/23 LSO season. You may also read the review about the “ARTISTRY” concert here.
The EDUCATION concert will be held on March 21st, 2023 with two guest artists. The first is Lindsey Welp, 2021 YAC winner. Lindsey will perform Rueff’s Concertino for Alto Sax. The second is renowned storyteller Carol Cain who will narrate Russell Peck’s The Thrill of the Orchestra and other selections.
The SUSTAINABILITY concert will be held on April 25th, 2023 with two guest artists too! Concert goers will hear the 2023 LSO Young Artists Competition first place winner (decided February 2023), and also Don Papenbrock will perform Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 Organ Symphony.
So, stayed tuned there’s more to come.