Review: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s unofficial season opener

After weeks of contract negotiations and a lockout, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra unofficially opened its 2012-13 season Thursday with hot chocolate and White Castle hamburgers in the lobby, a Happy Hour crowd that gave the players an extended standing ovation before a single note was played, and a program that didn’t just range from M83 to Beethoven but neatly combined both into the musical highlight of the evening.

OK, the samples from Pizzology were also pretty good.

A semi-bearded Zach De Pue and his Time for Three cohorts were the focus of most of the program, mixing in a Coldplay variation, a “Riverdance” tune, Led Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole" (also mashed with Beethoven) and original musical by their occasional (but not tonight) keyboardist. The playing by the trio-in-residence was aggressive and spirited if not always mixing well with the rest of the ISO. The fact that the program was pulled together with three days mitigated any rough spots.

For a closer, Time for Three wisely turned the stage back over to the rank-and-file ISO for a conductorless “Bolero.” Ravel's hypnotic piece incessantly repeats its melody, layering it each time with different instruments until it seems like there couldn't possibly be another sound coming from the orchestra. That's when it all comes together with the entire orchestra engaged in the crazy sway whose impact is akin to being in the midst of a holographic Fellini film while buzzed.

And then its over…at least, the live part is. Ravel's melody, though, is likely to stick with you for days. You can hear it for yourself at the Oct. 19-20 concerts where it's paired with Debussy's "La Mer."  

Although they didn’t take the stage, both music director Krzystof Urbanski and principal pops conductor Jack Everly were in the house to witness the love-fest between the crowd and the musicians. Absence certainly seems to have made the Indianapolis hearts grow fonder.

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