By George, that’s Gershwin…by Brott Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
                The Brott Concert on Thursday evening at the wonderful new Burlington Performing Arts Centre was brim full of North American music.   Most of it was familiar music by George Gershwin plus Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite, but one piece we heard was a Premier.  This was the Chocolate Symphony composed by Maxime Goulet and dedicated to Ardyth & Boris Brott in thanks for their support over the last several years.    This was a work in four movements designed to be heard while eating caramel, dark, mint and coffee infused chocolates, thoughtfully provided by Beanermunky Chocolates of Dundas.  The audience enthusiastically participated in both eating and listening and thoroughly enjoyed both, especially the dark chocolate habanera.   We were sure we would be hearing many more works by this talented young composer in the years to come.
The evening opened with Gershwin’s An American in Paris.  This is a very familiar work with syncopated and changing rhythms which are challenging for any orchestra, let alone a fairly new one, but this years National Academy Orchestra of Canada showed they were up to the test.   The playing was very crisp and the brass and percussion sections were brilliant – a necessity for this particular composer.
The first half also included the Porgy and Bess Suite conducted by Brendan Hagan, and West Side Story suite of Leonard Bernstein.  That sounds enough for a full concert but this evening we were also offered four songs by Gershwin sung by Megan Jones Reeves & Michael Shotton PLUS his Rhapsody in Blue.
The work is very familiar so the audience follows along note by note.  Thus whoever plays it is really under a microscope.  Anita Pari is fourteen years old and looks far too tiny to get much sound from a piano.  That just goes to show looks can be deceptive.  This Ottawa raised young lady made Gershwin look easy to play – a dead give away that she is an expert.  The audience loved her and coaxed a Chopin Nocturne from her as an encore.  Once again we are convinced we will be hearing much more about her in future.  I certainly hope I have opportunities to hear her again.
The whole night was chock full of wonderful music brilliantly played in an extraordinarily comfortable venue.   The Brott Summer Music Festival has more concerts, two orchestral ones on August 9th and 16th; and two afternoon Teas.  Check details on their website Brottmusic.com.

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