Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Love Will Keep Us Together

The Toronto Symphony's new Pops Conductor, Steven Reineke, introduced something new this season, a love themed concert, titled Love Will Keep Us Together that occurred a week after Valentine's Day.  I'm not sure how I feel about Valentine's concerts, there's no lack of good "love" music, but being single it can feel like a slap in the face from the world sometimes.  But I went with a friend and we just enjoyed the evening.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues since the house was not full on the Wednesday evening I attended.

The opening piece "Love's Theme" by Barry White could have been a bit stronger, there was some muddling in the horns and it just didn't have the hook that gets you on the edge of your seat for the remainder of the evening.

Principal trumpet Andrew McCandless nailed a few wonderful solos throughout the evening.  The first was glorious and soaring in the "Cinema Paradiso Suite", then in "Almost Paradise" from Footloose he showed versatility with a much more jazzy sound.

Reineke, Eldred, Wolfe, and the TSO
Guest vocalists were Mike Eldred and Betsy Wolfe (making her TSO debut).  Mr. Eldred was okay, I enjoyed him best in "Sarah".  It's a piece from the musical The Civil War, and he just let the story and lyricism unfolded naturally.
Wolfe in one of many lovely evening gowns

Ms. Wolfe has a lovely voice that was well suited to the heartfelt and belt portions of "The Music That Makes Me Dance" from Funny Girl.  I don't recall hearing the piece before, but then can't say I know much from Funny Girl, but I quite liked it.

They joined forces for a humerous version of "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun.  When they got to "anything you can buy, I can buy cheaper" and started throwing out numbers of "50 cents", "40 cents", "30 cents" etc.  Betsy side barred to the audience "the song's a bit outdated".  A true fact but it hasn't lost any of Irving Berlin's magic, even if the value of money has changed.

There were a few orchestra only pieces as well.  "Unchained Melody" made the list, and while melodically there isn't a lot of variation, they threw it around between the violins, winds, and celli which helped keep it interesting.  "Copacabana" was a good choice to open the second half with some energy.

The evening concluded with a lively encore of "Love Will Keep Us Together", complete with dancing vocalists and conductor while the orchestra played along left mostly to their own devices.  The audience didn't jump to their feet to join in, but there was a healthy applauce and light steps as people left the hall.

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