Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grand Rapids Symphony - 11/12/11

DeVos Performance Hall was inordinately crowded tonight, including a long line at the ticket counter and many more young people than are usually present at the Saturday evening concerts. We knew it was Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” that was to blame. Always a crowd pleaser, it didn’t disappoint tonight. 
Warming Up For Bartok
The evening began with “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste” by Bartok. Music Director David Lockington gave a brief introduction of the Beethoven and Bartok works, neatly tying them together by movement and symphony set-up. He also amusingly gave us his preference for the pronunciation of “celeste” and why. 
Bela Bartok, 1881-1945
Although some audience members may prefer a music-only evening, we always appreciate Lockington’s comments regarding the music and its background. (We also prefer his now-gone long locks over his current businessman short haircut but that’s just us :)

Before the concert began, Lockington brought out retired principal cellist, Nancy Steltmann, to thank her for her years with the symphony. She was presented with a “time piece” (a large mantel clock) and then was given the opportunity to say a few words. Nancy started out by saying she thought she rambled too much during last night’s presentation, and then proceeded to ramble on. We did wonder why she hadn’t been honored at the Season opener in September if she retired in August. Maybe the clock wasn’t ready. 
The Waiting Time Piece
The evening started late and was further delayed by the clock presentation. After Bartok and the intermission, Beethoven’s Ninth was finally ready to begin at 9:15pm (and finished at 10:25pm). 

With what seemed like many new concert-goers, the increase in talking during the performance also annoyingly increased (even if you are whispering, people, we can hear you). We especially enjoyed (not) the man who conducted the Ninth Symphony along with Lockington.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable concert and the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus was most impressive. Because they do not perform until the 4th movement, we were amused at  closing eyes and nodding heads throughout the chorus. The soloists were spared that and stayed off stage until their time. The solo voices were gorgeous and blended beautifully, leaving us wishing for more.
Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

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