Voices lift RSO performance

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Voices lift RSO performance

Posted on: May 11th, 2014 by tommyj

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It’s May, the month to say goodbye to entertainment favorites such as TV shows and performing arts seasons for their summer hiatuses.

Richmond Symphony Orchestra ended its 57th season May 4 on a very positive note, pardon the musical pun.

The concert, called “Broadway Comes to Richmond,” featured popular show and movie tunes from musicals including “West Side Story,” “South Pacific” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

It was great to see Civic Hall full for the concert, which helped build audience enthusiasm and energy.

The concert also started in a fun way as announcements about the May 31 gala fundraiser, called Polka & Dots, featured local accordionist Arlene Koester and Garry Kleer with big dots attached to his suit.

As talented as the instrumental musicians always are, with excellent solos by woodwinds, percussion, brass and piano, this concert was made extra special by the vocalists.

The 20 RSO Singers, a group of community residents led by Chris Rogan, adds to the spirit of the orchestra by volunteering their time to rehearse and perform a few numbers, such as “Big Spender” from “Sweet Charity” and “One” from “A Chorus Line.” Their emphasis on clear diction is noticeable throughout the auditorium.

Tenor Tim King made the relaxed afternoon concert even more fun with touching renditions of Broadway numbers such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King.” He also related well to the audience as he and conductor Guy Victor Bordo gave background about the songs.

Compared to some soloists RSO has featured from around the nation, King is a Rolling Prairie, Ind., resident who grew up on a Kentucky farm and went on to earn a master’s degree from University of Louisville, so that might have helped him connect with the audience.

If the opportunity presents itself to bring King back to perform with RSO, I think patrons would be supportive.

King described the RSO as “magnificent” during his remarks to the audience, but that adjective also applied to his performance. Applause was sustained for his rendition of “Moon River,” and after the finale, “This is the Moment” from “Jekyll and Hyde,” the performers received a lengthy standing ovation.

I’ve enjoyed sitting in different sections this season (my choice.) Even the back row of the balcony offers good acoustics and sight lines for the stage. We could see the instruments, such as piano and harp, that sometimes are harder to view from the floor seats when the stage is packed with musicians. We even saw the versatility of the musicians when a double bass player, Tony Neumayr, would slip out one side and enter the stage on the other side a few times when he performed on the electric bass.

So, no matter where they sit, hopefully those who heard Sunday’s concert and others who missed it will plan to attend performances next season. This concert will be broadcast at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 on WDPR 88.1/WDPG 89.9.

Millicent Martin Emery reviews arts for the Palladium-Item

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