Review: Grace Fong and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

October 7, 2010
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Clutching the bench as if needing to force herself not to continue playing. Staring down the keys as if daring them to work on their own. Listening intently to the other players during the brief downtime in Schumann's "Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra." Pianist Grace Fong brought an immediacy and drama to center stage during her guest appearance with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra for its season-opening concert Oct. 1.

In a bigger hall, such intensity might seem like an effort to engage those in the highest reaches of the balcony, but in the intimate Basile Theatre at the Indiana History Center, it felt passionately honest.

Opening the program was Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," with text taken from James Agee's "A Death in the Family." It's a work--both on the page and in the concert hall--that always brings up intense emotion for me and it was glorious to hear it played by such accomplished musicians. Leah Crane's lovely soprano was focused more on sound than the clarity of the words, but was effective nonetheless.

In the recording of the piece that I know best--featuring Dawn Upshaw--the vocals are the focus. Here, the ICO instrumentalists made the piece whisper and soar, evoking the innocence of youth and the knowledge that perspective brings. 


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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.