Posts Tagged ‘Bernstein’

vyo fall concert

September 26, 2010

Geese flew over downtown Burlington late this afternoon. The season’s traditional “V”s and “half-Vs” were pushed along by the lone stragglers, flying behind and honking an impatient “wait up!” to their more prescient mates.

With autumn comes the start of the concert season…I guess. That’s a qualified statement because in Vermont, it doesn’t seem like there’s ever a NON-concert season. Summers are filled with festivals and intimate outdoor gatherings while the other three quarters of the year hold their own with recitals and informal get-togethers along with the regular season concert series at all of the area venues.

This fall’s two opening concerts with the Vermont Youth Orchestra were especially anticipated events as they also marked the debut of the Orchestra’s new conductor, Ronald Braunstein.

He’s offered a vision that includes a focus on core orchestral repertoire, and self-empowerment of the Orchestra’s young musicians through dedicated coaching and personalized training sessions. The approach seems to be working so far.

While the maestro stuck strictly to the music in today’s concert and didn’t offer any words of introduction to his new audience, the Orchestra spoke volumes in Dvořák’s colorful Op. 46 Slavonic Dance #8, Bach’s stately Air on the G String, Bernstein’s brilliant Overture from Westside Story, and – occupying the entire second half of the program – Beethoven’s regal Symphony #5.

I’ve never heard the VYO’s brass and winds sound better than they did today in the Bernstein and Beethoven (the final movement of the 5th was outstanding!). Principal cellist Joshua Morris’s solo pizzicato passage in the Westside Story Overture showed supreme musicianship, as did the clarinet/bassoon tradeoffs in the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 5th, and many percussion moments throughout the entire concert. Bach’s familiar Air was glassy and serene (if not memorably interesting), while Dvořák’s potent Slavonic Dance delivered satisfying syncopation of  joyful abandon and metered precision.

This “concert season” is off to a great start!

VSO concert: mambo!

March 22, 2009


2009-mar21-vsoVSO conducted by Jaime Laredo


Albert Brouwer, flute

Nancy Dimock, oboe

Mark Emery, trumpet


Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide

Henry Cowell: Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 3

Richard Danielpour: Rocking the Cradle

Samuel Barber: Capricorn Concerto

Bernstein: West Side Story Symphonic Dances

Candide glittered (and yes, it was gay too), the Barber beamed a rare ray of WW II-era sunshine, the Danielpour stormed and solemnly ruminated (1st and 2nd movements, respectively), and the Cowell – well, you need to ask someone who gets that piece better than I do. Might have been fine, I just couldn’t tell you. I always feel like I need ‘night vision’ headphones or something to cut through the thick murky fugue of the string parts, enough to hear what’s really happening in there melodically.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra offered quite a fine night of music tonight. The program was varied and well paced, and the ensemble was polished with notable moments of flair and inspiration, particularly with the balance of the flute/oboe/trumpet solo trio against the rest of the group in Barber’s Capricorn Concerto. (And I decided tonight after hearing the orchestra’s swinging, spirited Westside Story dances that “mambo!” is hereby the new “bravo!”)

This was the fourth of the five Masterworks concerts during this 75th anniversary year, with the entire season being a celebration of “Music of Our Time”: every concert’s repertoire focuses on works written since 1935.

Artistic Director and conductor Jaime Laredo, in a personal and heartfelt introduction to Danielpour’s “Rocking the Cradle”, promised the audience a return to the more standard subscription series offerings of Brahms and Beethoven next year. The announcement prompted a few pointedly hearty claps. He furthered the thought with the hope that this season’s concerts have been enjoyable, though all contemporary and somewhat offbeat (my paraphrase). With this, the Flynn resounded with an enthusiastic cheer and loud round of applause. Who says concertgoers don’t want to ‘be subjected to’ contemporary music? Not this crowd!

Next (and final) Masterworks concert is Saturday, May 2nd. See you there.

I’ll be the one standing up to send out a loud ‘mambo!’ at the end.

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