Saturday, September 28, 2013
Christopher Wilkins, conductor
Jon Kimura Parker, piano
Ron Nelson: Savannah River Holiday
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor
Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
This is the first time in my memory that Maestro Wilkins hasn't opened the season with a big choral work—a neat device that brings in friends and relatives of the choristers as well as others who don't normally attend orchestral concerts. Even so, there was a good house for this concert.
It was a good concert, too. The Orlando Philharmonic has grown a good deal as an orchestra since its early days, and is a pleasure to listen to. The only reason I'm disappointed is that the "big event" of the evening, the Strauss, left me unexcited. Oh, it's exciting enough to have so many musicians on the stage—just one short of 100, according to Wilkins—but Ein Heldenleben isn't my favorite of Richard Strauss's works.
Jon Kimura Parker did wonderfully with the Mozart, however, and even granted us a short encore: Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G major.
The Mozart may have been the best, but my favorite piece was Ron Nelson's Savannah River Holiday. Nelson wrote the piece in 1953, while he was still an undergraduate at Eastman. Well, that's what the program notes say; his biography says he received his bachelor's degree in 1952. I'm still impressed. Here's a quote from his webpage: "In 1993, his Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H) made history by winning the "triple crown" of major wind band composition prizes." I include that because I'm pretty sure at least one of our children played that in band. At least, I'm sure I've heard it performed live somewhere, and that's the most likely place.