Stellar. Astronomical. A Big Bang of a weekend.
I know. Using space terms to describe Holst's most famous work The Planets can get a little overdone, but I don't care. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra defied gravity.
First, I must call attention to the amazing work of our stars this past weekend: Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski, soloist Zach De Pue (our Concertmaster) and Principal Guest Concertmaster Alex Kerr.
And what did the reviews say? The audience? Here's a sample of the kinds of feedback we received via email, Twitter, Facebook, the Indianapolis Star, NUVO and our very own former intern, who was delighted to be back in town while on spring break.
[Shannon Draucker, former ISO intern a.k.a.The Clarinerd] Hearing the ISO this weekend was a perfect way to return to Indy after three months at college. Barber's Adagio for Strings, as always, brought tears to my eyes; Urbanski's delicate treatment of the piece infused new life into Barber's work and made me - a wind player - even more attached to this exclusively string piece. Zach De Pue's concerto showcased his rock star-style technical talent as well as his sensitive artistry. His laid-back demeanor (complete with an artsy suit, not a tux) and his sense of camraderie with Urbanski and the orchestra members was refreshing. I was so glad to be home on break for "The Planets" - one of my favorite orchestral works. I have never heard "Mars" performed so powerfully - even though I have performed the piece before, some sections still startled me! Urbanski's tempo variations in the "Jupiter" movement infused new life into the movement most audience members had heard before. The "Neptune" movement was completely mind-blowing - the offstage choir section gave me chills (not to be completely cliche, but it really did!)
[@NRONeill on Twitter] Absolutely loved @Indy_Symphony's performance of The Planets. Urbanski is positively hypnotizing. Also now curious about who cuts his hair.
[@DJMciver on Twitter] @Indy_Symphony. Still basking in the glow of weekend's concerts. Urbanski and DePue were perfection! Forget Manning! ISO has the legends!
[Leslie, on Facebook] Fabulous performance last night. The Maestro and Zach really shined!
[Josh, via email] I thoroughly enjoyed the ISO's March 17 performance of The Planets. The concert was absolutely excellent, as I have come to expect from the ISO, but I especially wanted to write to thank Maestro Urbanski for taking the time during the concert to point out the various musical features of The Planets. The brief lesson was fascinating, entertaining, and really enhanced the concert experience.
[Jay Harvey, Indianapolis Star] ISO offers illuminated view of the Planets.
[Tom Aldridge, NUVO] ISO's Urbanski Conquers The Planets.
And speaking of illuminating, allow me to shed some light on the behind-the-scenes logistics for The Planets.
As Shannon mentioned in her review above, the "Neptune" movement in the work includes the almost hypnotic, mysterious sound from a chorus of female voices. In this case, our friends at the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the DePauw University Choir provided this chilling effect. We first planned for the choirs to be located backstage, behind the orchestra.
But when Maestro Urbanski arrived in Indianapolis, he had another idea: he asked "can we put them in the lobby?" During rehearsal though, Krzysztof determined that the lobby space was not ideal for the sound he wanted to create. So we went up one level. Again, no, it was too loud, according to the maestro. Finally, the singers were positioned in a smaller lobby space on the second mezzanine, and in order to create the perfect complement of sound in that tight space, Krzysztof asked that they sing like this:
Yes, for the *perfect* effect, they were singing with their hands over their mouths. It worked.
As another ISO patron said after Saturday's performance, "There is no way that a recording can have the same impact as a live performance. This was an amazing concert. This kind of performance will certainly build the fan base for Urbanski, Zach and the ISO."
Ah yes, the stars are aligned.
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