Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Conductor: Josep Caballé Domenech
Date: September 17, 2016

This year, my wife and I decided to go to the symphony more. With this year being the 90th anniversary of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, they pulled out all the stops and have a great lineup. As a result, we ended up essentially getting season tickets. While it’s difficult for me to really “review” pieces of music like these, since they’ve been around for a long time, I’ll merely give my impressions on the following set from the first event of the 90th season of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. Some of these impressions come in the form of stories, so if you get a chance to listen to these pieces, read along and hopefully you’ll get what I’m trying to convey through the piece.

For Spacious Skies
Anthony DiLorenzo

Having never been to a “World Premiere” of a song before, this was quite a treat. The Philharmonic commissioned a number of pieces based on “America the Beautiful” for this season, and this was the first one to be played. DiLorenzo definitely has talent as a composer, as this piece was cinematic in scale and sound. While the piece isn’t long (only about 5 minutes), it hits every patriotic emotion conveyed in the original song. The visuals the song evoked in my mind were quite sweeping and followed its namesake to a tee. Imagine you’re a bird flying above the Appalachian Mountains, gliding through the air as you head west. The beauty of America’s breadbasket comes into view as you soar into the midwest, the well-known tune of “America the Beautiful” now emphasizing your journey. Upon reaching the Rocky Mountains, you follow various deer and elk up and over to the other side, where you finally reach the west coast. Gliding down south, the salty air fluttering your wings, you eventually come upon the metropolis that man has built. Weaving through tall buildings, you look below and see the men and women of America, going about their business and living their lives full of the freedom this country allows them.

Piano Concerto in F major
George Gershwin

While this piece was definitely Gershwin, it was nice to hear him focus on other parts of the orchestra other than just the piano. Of course, because it was one of his earlier works doing so, it still feels a little rough and more “jazz-like” than his other, more piano-centric pieces. Charlie Albright performed admirably on the piano, but the piece really didn’t stand out to me that much. This was also probably due to Albright’s encore of a playful and fun interpretation of Mozart’s “Turkish March”.

Symphonic Dances
Sergey Rachmaninoff

The main focus of the evening, Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” definitely gave a taste of what’s in store for the rest of the 90th season. Once again, my mind painted a story on top of the music, and this is how I’d potentially interpret it with words. In the first part, “Non allegro – Lento – Tempo I (aka “Noon”)”, we meet a man on a mission. He’s a spy and while he goes about his day, deliberately walking through a busy city, eventually the “hustle and bustle” dies down for a moment and the love interest is introduced. Clearly, these two have a history together, but soon it’s back to the mission at hand. In part two, “Adante con moto (Tempo di valse) (aka “Twilight”)”, we meet the antagonist of the story. He is smart and sly and obviously has fun causing mayhem. His strength is definitely manipulation, and you can hear each of his minions marching along to the waltz of his rhythm. As no one has ever opposed him, he happily continues on his path toward world domination. In the finale, “Lento assai – Allegro vivace (aka “Midnight”)”, the two characters finally meet. Conflict is afoot! The antagonist is able to evade capture, if only due to the sultry and seductress nature of the love interest, finally revealed to be a compatriot of the enemy. Gradually, the chase ensues and we find the man on a mission chasing the antagonist across windy rooftops. The two go tete-a-tete with their words as well as with their fists, finally ending with the vanquished villain falling to his demise.

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