“Sensational!” “I thoroughly enjoyed it!” “Can’t wait for the next concert!”
The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-2024 season opener, held on September 19, could not have been more perfect. The evening temperature was ideal. As patrons arrived at Callaway Auditorium the daylight was in that proven “golden hour” that is both enchanting and flattering. Here are some photos of a few lovely concertgoers. No one was in a hurry. The atmosphere was relaxed, but anticipation for the music was evident as folks talked about which piece of music they most wanted to hear.
Inside the auditorium, there was a new slide show recognizing sponsors as patrons found their seats. The audience, which was filled with movie buffs of all ages, buzzed with conversation.
LSO president, Janet Johnson, welcomed everyone to the LSO season opener, and recognized several student groups in the audience. The large number of students prompted a hearty round of applause. As you can see, it was a full house.
Concertmaster, Lorna Wood took the stage next in final preparation for the concert.
Richard Prior, LSO artistic director and conductor first introduced the concert season as a unit with excitement and anticipation. Then he took the time to engage with the audience before each piece within this concert and discussed nuances in the music as well as the composer’s thought process. He even amazed the audience by pointing out a hidden code within the Mission Impossible theme. His insight enhanced the experience and was embellished with wit and charm. The audience loved it.
What was performed?
The program, of course, was heavy with works by John Williams, with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, but there were thirteen other composers represented as well!
Two of the sections, James Bond and Star Trek, were longer medley arrangements because, over the years, they’ve had multiple themes throughout their continuing journeys.
Included in this concert was Gustav Holst’s Jupiter from The Planets. Jupiter is the “Bringer of Jollity”, explained Maestro Prior. Like the largest planet in our solar system, this musical work has a majestic and awe-inspiring feeling. John Williams was greatly influenced by Holst’s The Planets, and so including both Jupiter and Star Wars in this concert gave the audience an opportunity to understand that influence.
This was a full evening of entertainment. The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra delivered one iconic piece after another, with total precision. In experiencing this music performed live, you realize how incredible the compositions really are. These movie themes consist of layers upon layers that, most likely, you have never noticed before. At this concert, there were over sixty musicians on stage, each contributing to their own layer within the music.
No matter how many times you’ve listened to this music in the past, when its performed live, you hear it in an entirely new way… and appreciate when difficult rhythms and intense underlying flurries within the music appear effortless.
Ending the season opener
The closing piece in this concert was …of shadow and light… (incantations for orchestra) by our own Maestro, Richard Prior. Hearing it in this context made much sense. This piece is other-worldly and beautifully dramatic. It advanced through many emotions as if shadows were being cast and the listener emerges through the shadow to the other side.
This composition was the recipient of the 2021 American Prize and the prestigious Ernst Bacon Memorial award and we could see why. It was a wonderful way to end this concert and the audience felt special for having it shared with them.
As the audience showed their appreciation with an extended standing ovation, Maestro Prior came back on stage and acknowledged it with another bow.
It was the perfect night. It was entertaining, pleasant, educational, and fun. Certainly, this concert will be remembered.
Here is a video “snippet” from the evening. – Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to attend the next LSO concert October 24th, 7:30 PM in Callaway Auditorium!
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© LaGrange Symphony Orchestra 2023/2024 | All rights reserved | 706.882.0662 | Richard Prior, Music Director & Conductor