You-review-it Monday

March 18, 2012
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For me, the weekend include some quality time at the Rhythm Discovery Center with business publication editors and writers from around the country.  Also on my weekend-that-was to-do list: The Indiana Repertory Theatre's production of Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels." More on that in an upcoming IBJ.

In the meantime, tell me what you saw, read, heard or otherwise experienced on the A&E front.

Your thoughts?

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  • ISO
    I saw the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concert on Friday night at the Circle Theater, which was sold out. Let's hope that happens more often! Maestro Urbanski started the program with the Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings, which we have heard in film, played by marching bands, brass quintets and probably bagpipe bands. I even suffered through a show choir doing it the incredible injustice of adding words and movement last weekend. It was great to hear the piece as it should be heard. The tempo was a bit faster than usual, and the dynamics were more extreme than I often hear. Both worked well, and it was fascinating to watch the conductor's left hand, which wove a linear spell throughout the work. Urbanski's left hand does more than just about any conductor I have ever seen, but the one thing it never does is mirror the right hand, which is what lesser conductors do most of the time. Concertmaster Zac DePue was the soloist in the Szymanowski Second Violin Concerto, written in a late romantic style although it comes from the 1930s. His sound was strong and sure, and the intonation was faultless. The thing that stood out to me was how thickly scored the accompaniment is and how loudly Urbanski allowed the orchestra to play, yet the soloist was never quite covered by the sound or lost in the texture. DePue really is able to play with a lot of volume without the sound ever getting harsh, and that added to the excitement.
    The piece that really drew most of the audience was The Planets, Gustav Holst's World War I era tone poem in several movements. I have never heard the ISO play with such a huge sound or with such energy - Mars exploded off the stage at a rapid clip that was stunning to hear. The low brass melody was thrilling. Urbanski conducted without score, as he has in the past two concerts in which he has led the ISO, and his attention to detail was absolute. Parts of the work that had always struck me as a bit, well, wimpy came off with intensity and fullness. This was far from a flawless performance, as there were a couple of big fluffs and a few noticeable intonation problems. That hardly mattered, as Urbanski drew such passion and relentless energy from the ensemble, making every detail sparkle and seem completely essential, which of course, should always be a conductor's goal. The fade to black ending was wonderful, although the audience was noisier than usual. Kudos to Urbanski and the orchestra for an exciting and memorable performance.
    I conducted the Indiana Wind Symphony on a St. Patrick's Day concert at the Palladium and we really enjoyed working with the wonderful Richens/Timm Irish Dancers and tenor Ken Knowles, always an audience favorite.
  • hopefully minimalism has passed
    I haven't attended any ISO performances for some years due to the minimalist preferences of the last few conductors. I longed for the old maestros with the flooding of sound and melding of the different sections of the orchestra-not a pling here and a toot there. I plan to take in one of the new conductor's programs sooner rather than later.
  • The Pink Floyd Experience
    at the Old National Centre on Sunday (compliments of WTTS 92.3 fm radio-Thanks!!) and it was very impressive. They began the concert by playing the entire album "Wish You Were Here" start to finish and it was spot on. The 2nd half was a varied compiliation of familiar PF tunes and ones you couldn't even believe anyone would play - "Echos" by far my favorite, but "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "Astronomy Domine" were a great surprise as well for the rabid fan. Since The Floyd is "no more", this band is a fantastic cover and the musicians were great! Even had the flying pig! Great show.
  • movie night
    I had the opportunity to watch the HBO movie Game Change starring Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, and Woody Harrelson. They all did a great acting job and truly deserve recognition for their work. And it was an interesting movie too.
  • ISO Pirates
    We took in Friday's Pirates of the Caribbean movie with the ISO. It was thoroughly enjoyable and the absolutely seamless. It was easy to forget the music was live because it blended so perfectly with the movie. Fortunately, the symphony played the entire score for the movie credits which really gave the audience a chance to turn its attention to the music. What a great way to introduce new audiences to the symphony. Can't wait to take mom to West Side Story next season.

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