My First Symphony Was Incredible
By Dan Anderson
Saturday, March 16th marked the first time I ‘d ever been to a symphony. Short of musicians, clustered on a stage, paying homage to composers long gone, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived over dressed, assuming that the audience would be less casual and comfortable than they were. Passing concession on my way to the first dress circle (seating just above the mezzanine), I thought twice about a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, fearing that this may be a very long and uncomfortable journey. I was wrong.
As we came to our seats, the orchestra finely tuned their instruments. The lights began to dim, and the conductor made his way from stage right, baton in hand, addressing the audience simply with a bow. Then a brisk slice.
Conductor Steven Smith commanded the orchestra to begin playing The Herbrids Overture, Opus 26, by Felix Mendelssohn – a beautifully written, ten-minute piece inspired by Fingal’s Cave, located on the west coast of Scotland. A fitting introduction was Mendelssohn’s Opus, initiating feelings I thought lost on the daily overstimulation imposed by a required reliance on technology. All five of my senses would continue to wax and wane with excitement as the night progressed.
Diminishing tones, initiated the crowd’s applause. The violinists, along with the conductor, hurried stage right. They quickly emerged with what appeared to be different violins. I asked a woman in the neighboring seat if she knew what just happened. Her shrug conjured the assumption that they’d ran back stage to exchange their instruments for ones in tune with that of the soloists, who’d just returned with the conductor.
Violinist Sheryl Staples wore a turquoise dress, with shoes that sparkled from beneath the stage lights. Her bow was like butter against the strings of Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14, by Samuel Barber. She concluded to a standing ovation, bowed, and somehow I knew, she was done for the night.
After a short intermission, the orchestra returned, missing some members. This was unexpected, so I failed to accurately notate that instruments were removed. Leading virtuoso violinist, Daisuko Yamamoto, Steve Smiith continued, conducting Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter”, K. 551. This four-piece symphony was familiar, and included music scored for woodwinds, brass, the timpani, and a massive string section.
The evening ended with perfect length and timing.
The symphony is a unique experience that can be smelled, touched, and tasted, with an open mind.
Join the Richmond Symphony and guest conductor Jacques Houtmann for the fourth Altria Masterworks concert of the season on Saturday, January 14 at 8pm. The performance includes pieces by Wagner, Franck and Chopin, and features award-winning pianist Rémi Geniet, the Florence Robertson Givens Guest Artist. The concert will be held at the Carpenter Theatre, Dominion [...]January 3, 2017
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