Sunday, February 10, 2008

Orchestras, Exuberantly Folkish

I went to two concerts this weekend: the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Both had folk-themed programs. Both were vibrant and compelling, and both had people on their feet clapping, and, in the CCSO concert, singing along and shouting Yeah! A bit untypical for your standard orchestra performance.

The NBSO concert, called Postcards from the Americas, featured 20th century works by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez and Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera, as well as Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, and a multimedia art show, composed by Stephen Paulus. The works by Chavez and Ginastera featured native musical themes and structures, complicated rhythms, and powerful percussion. This was challenging music, but the orchestra did an excellent job.

The CCSO concert featured fiddler extraordinaire Eileen Ivers and her band Immigrant Soul, as well as some stepdancers. What an experience! These people are possessed by the music, and they communicated their joy and energy to the audience, who were delighted with the jigs and reels, slow airs, bluegrass tunes, and Riverdance medley. And something they called Pachelbel's Frolic, which turned the standard canon into an improvisational fiddle fest. I think the cellos got stuck with the same part they always get though. The conductor made a brave effort to stepdance, and I was impressed with the orchestra's ability to handle bluegrass.

Two wonderful concerts! As the NBSO conductor said, it's good to expand your cultural horizons a bit.


yarnplayer said...

Those must have been really exciting concerts! Sounds like it was fun!

David MacKenzie said...

Dear Maricello,
Hope you can make the next concert: March 29 Rhonda Rider is playing the Kabalevsky Concerto for Cello No. 2 with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra!