Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Conductor: Thomas Wilson
Date: April 1, 2017
Much like the Divas of the 60’s performance, I had very limited prior knowledge of the music played during this week’s Philharmonic pops. I was aware of the basic swing style of music but had little to no exposure to it’s complete musical reach. My initial thoughts were that this performance would be very high-energy since swing music is often accompanied by the high-energy dance style of the same name. I was somewhat surprised to find a fair number of the songs were a little slower. Granted, you could still dance to them, but they would have been slow dances instead of swing dances.
Perhaps the title of “Swing, Swing, Swing!” was a little misleading. Much of the music was of the “big band” style, which isn’t always of the “swing” genre. With the focus on brass and percussion, the addition of strings to the arrangements made for quite the impressive sound, especially on the songs I did recognize. Of course, they did play the standards, which did not disappoint by any means. After all, they got me in there thinking they would play swing music, and they sure delivered.
Of note was the performance by trumpeter Chris Lawson. As I said before, the focus of the big band style of music is usually on the brass, so his incredible talent brought a lot to the pieces. Not only was he able to play the rapid notes of some of the faster songs, but his ability to make the trumpet sound different than I’d ever heard it should be praised as well. Finally, the drum solo for the final song was also exemplary. It almost made me think of that final scene from Whiplash (2014), although I hope Thomas Wilson didn’t verbally abuse the drummer to get him to play so well (wink, wink).