Monday, September 3, 2012

Symphony Under the Sky Traditions

Monday afternoon at the Symphony Under the Sky Festival is always filled with traditions. There is always an opening performance of "God Save the Queen," a reprise of "O Canada," a young composer always premieres a new work with the ESO, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture is accompanied by canons from the 20th Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery. When these traditions originated, I am not sure, I just know that this is how the festival ends and audience members expect these traditions to be upheld each year. However, there was one difference... there were four canons this year instead of three.

The first part of the program focused on dance music, such as Marquez's "Conga del Fuego Nuevo," Abreu's arrangement of "Tico-Tico," and Ravel's "Boléro," which contains a 17-minute crescendo. I could see audience grooving in their seats and the rustle of the autumn leaves in the trees provided a atmospheric accompaniment throughout the dance music set. The Young Composer, Daniel Belland, premiered his piece, "Voyage" with the ESO. The performance left me with a feeling of wanting to hear more from this young composer. I take that as a very good sign.

The Tap Dance Concerto was the showstopping piece of the afternoon. Ryan VanDenBoom demonstrated the range of sounds that tap shoes can produce with each of the concerto movements. The Singing in the Rain encore he choose was also met with great approval from the audience. Equipped with an umbrella and top hat, he tapped and sang his way through the piece with Gene Kelly's choreography, clutching an onstage heat lamp to serve as a replacement for the street lamp. His performance had an old-fashioned charm and radiated vibrant athleticism. With the 1812 Overture signalling the end of the festival, the ESO acknowledged all traditions and left their audience looking forward to next Labour Day weekend.

This entry is cross-posted on The Sound and Noise

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