ESO blends music in nature
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013 04:15 pm
Symphony Under the Sky
Friday, Aug. 30 to Monday, Sept. 2
Tickets: Adults $25 to $149; children free to $75. Call the Winspear box office at 780-428-1414 or go online to: www.edmontonsypmphony.com
Once again the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is prepped to renew its 19th annual Labour Day weekend tradition.
The much-anticipated Symphony Under the Sky launches the ESO’s regular season running Friday, August 30 to Monday, September 2 at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park.
For many music lovers attracted to the river valley setting, Symphony Under the Sky is a beloved ritual that includes packing lawn chairs and extra blankets for cool evenings.
The charismatic and well-loved conductor Bob Bernhardt returns for an eighth season to lead the ESO in five alfresco concerts. In addition, three core ESO musicians from St. Albert will also perform – assistant principal double bass John Taylor, cellist Rhonda Metszies and violinist Neda Yamach.
“The format will be the same, however we are always looking for ways to tweak and improve it for the public’s interest,” said Bernhardt.
The opening Friday night concert usually fires up with listener-friendly classics. This year featured cellist Denise Djokic, who performed with ESO at their Carnegie Hall debut in 2012, signals the start of the festival with Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, the yardstick by which all cellists are measured.
“Denise has beautiful tone, perfect intonation and is extremely musical,” Bernhardt noted.
The maiden voyage continues as Bernhardt conducts two classical tour de forces – Mozart’s robust Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.
Soprano Mela Dailey gets the Saturday matinee started. This year’s Proms in the Park is a salute to international music that encompasses opera, operetta, pop songs and Broadway tunes.
“At the end we come together with Royal Britannia and pop tunes.”
Saturday evening is the trademark Hollywood show. Dubbed Broadway to Hollywood, Dailey and the ESO relive Broadway hits that shifted to the big screen – scores from Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Sound of Music and Wicked to name a few.
The Sunday matinee is a free one-hour menagerie of music. Conductor Lucas Waldin leads select musicians through highlights of Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. This is a chance for younger listeners to discover exotic sounds and lovely melodies.
The Sunday evening showstopper presents pianist Ellis Hall, who joins the ESO for a night of Ray Charles, Motown and Beyond.
Bernhardt, who has worked with the blind musician at the Boston Pops three times, calls him “a force of nature.”
“He is truly one person you can call a Ray Charles protégé. He is the only artist who was signed to his (Charles’) own record label. He was the only one Ray Charles trusted to carry on. He has the same spirit and he oozes music inside and out.”
Although Hall plays numerous instruments, he is hardly a household word.
“Anybody who has seen him considers him at the top level. His comet has yet to rise. He’s a slow burner, but when he’s on stage, he’s on fire.”
Wrapping up the festival at the Monday matinee is the complete version of Carnival of the Animals along with Mozart’s Double Piano Concerto starring Jeremy Spurgeon and St. Albert’s Michael Massey.
Following Mozart is the premiere of student composer Taran Plamondon’s Flight. He initially composed the five-minute work for piano, but spent the last year working with ESO composer-in-residence Robert Rival to remake it for orchestra. In addition, two Procol Harum songs, Conquistador and a medley of their rock tunes, also put a fresh spin on the concert.
Bernhardt closes by saying, “It’s an opportunity for families to enjoy a new and engaged symphony in a beautiful setting.”