... close of the season
Reprinted from the Melrose Free Press, with permission
The Melrose Symphony Orchestra ended the season Saturday evening in a triumph of talent, an exciting new composition, and Yoichi Udagawa's conducting par excellence.
Memorial Hall was packed, around tables and in regular seating. Any Melrosian who hasn't heard this orchestra under the young conductor's command has missed one of the treasures of Melrose - both the new sound of the orchestra under his inspiration and the sheer fun of his dialogue with the audience. If he grows any more popular, Memorial Hall will have to be stretched.
The guest artist contributed much to the color of the light-hearted pops mood -- personable, pretty soprano with a beautiful voice and charming manner, Mara Bond, and a handsome full-voiced baritone with a sense of fun, Aaron Engebroth. Both displayed voices pleasing in light music and obviously of operatic quality.
"Till There Was You" the lovely song from Meredith's Wilson's "Music Man" was spun effectivly by these interpretors, who also teamed up in the rather unmelodious "It Takes Two" from Sondheim's "Into the Woods." "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," usually heard in lower pop song tones, was a compelling subject for this fine soprano whose every sound is sure and vibrantly produced. The baritone was dynamic and dramatic in "Luck Be A Lady Tonight," from "Guys and Dolls."
The singers began to bicker over who had sung better, setting the stage for a deftly done "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," from Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun." A Marvelous duo who were a big hit with the full house.
Udagawa gives new composers the chance to have their new work heard - that evening "Cafe Neon" by 45-year-old Steven Karidoyanes, a striking work with distinctive Greek (or a hint of Hebrew or other mid-east) rhythms. The spunky melodies and intense harmonies plus the driving rhythms stir a desire to hear more from this interesting composer.
The program opened with an animated performance of Mozart's Overture to "The Magic Flute," the musicians in fine form, as they were all evening, one of their very best performances, to the credit of their amazing conductor. After Mozart, the orchestra rendered the Strauss Emperor Waltz" in sprightly and lilting style.
It was gratifying to hear the American Suite by American Morton Gould, whose music is not heard so often these days as a few years back. His suite offers variations on the famous "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and the orchestra did it proud and snappy. A suitable choice for these days of on-and-off-again war, since the original words describe the grisly realism of war.
The fun-time Pops always includes a Sousa march, this night the regular participation of the audience in eager clapping conducted by the maestro. Before the final piece, Tsaikovsky's "1812 Overture," Udagawa turned to tell the audience plaintively, "I wanted to bring in a cannon for this piece - but Millie wouldn't let me." A cannon is prominent in traditional Fourth-of-July performances of this work, and "Millie," of course, is Millie Rich, the orchestra's fond guiding hand for twenty years and president of its orchestral association.
Student winners of scholarships were introduced, and near concert's end, the conductor pointed out his parents, visiting from Texas in a rear balcony.
A delightful evening.
Friday, June 7, 2002