Auburn Symphony Benefit Treats Crowd to a Galop and Cancan
The title of the concert, Music Especially for You, said it all. The Auburn Symphony Orchestra’s benefit concert Sunday afternoon at Auburn Performing Arts Center was given with the musicians and conductor donating their services to the community.
In return, they hoped the community would come to hear them play a bunch of familiar and popular pieces of music, and come it did, in droves, perhaps the biggest audience the orchestra has ever had at the PAC. The tickets bought Sunday will help the orchestra build its financial reserves, the start of a big fundraising effort to build those reserves over the next few years.
Conductor Stewart Kershaw introduced each piece from the podium, briefly, with humor, and often a little anecdote. The music ranged from the very well-known, like the Galop from Rossini’s William Tell Overture (in its other guise the music signaling the Lone Ranger) and Offenbach’s Cancan from his operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, for which Kershaw invited the audience to kick up its heels in the aisles; to familiar, peaceful works like the serene Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and Bach’s Air on the G String.
Kershaw chose works which highlighted members of the orchestra, like Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of Greensleeves with principal flutist Karla Flygare, and Saint-Saens’ The Swan from Carnival of the Animals, with principal cellist Brian Wharton. Both soloists performed excellently, Wharton’s tone being particularly rich and warm throughout. Concertmaster Brittany Boulding took on Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy, a fiendishly difficult work for any violinist, in which she achieved all the notes including the very tricky octave harmonics, but it was probably not the best showcase for her undoubted abilities.
Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance No 8, Tchaikovsky’s adaptation of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, the Waltz from Act 1 of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake were among other delectable offerings, varied and well chosen. The orchestra gave their usual fine performances throughout, though there were some ragged edges in Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz; and the program ended with a lively rendering of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1.
However, it wouldn’t be Auburn without an encore, and after several returns for bows and applause, Kershaw turned back to his fine professional orchestra, and gave the downbeat for a rousing performance of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, with the piccolos standing for their prominent role and later the trombones and trumpets doing the same.