“PopOpera”; a panacea for us aficionados Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

An evening of operatic aria selections, especially differently chosen from the ‘same old, same old’ fare of the most familiar, is a palliative for those of us unable to zip down to the Glimmerglass festival (this year – Porgy & Bess plus Oklahoma) and that other Cooperstown icon. Boris Brott’s N.A.O. enlisted the talents of ten professional vocalists to interpret sixteen compositions ranging from eighteenth century to 1966. Some choices were well-known and proverbial but most were new to us scribblers … a nice personal anniversary (54th) gift.

All the soloists (& audience) singing “Libiamo”

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Hot Jazz; the NAO & Dominic Mancuso 1

Review by Ursula Erasmus

The Brott Summer Festival is selectively eclectic – classical; popular; operatic and jazz. A splendid way to spend a summer evening, on a soulful tour across cultures and emotions with Dominic Mancuso and his group. The repertoire wound its way through the world of experience we all share, with a combination of laid back ease and deeply connected energy. Dominic is a story teller and an empath, with the themes and characters of the stories emerging through the variety of instruments and Dominic’s rich voice. The fish salesman’s attempts to coax the interest of a lovely woman conveyed the pent-up expectation of the moment.  the stories made the evening personal and relatable.

Singer/composer Dominic Mancuso (center) and his group

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N.A.O. venerates (terrific) Tchaikovsky Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
The second concert in the Brott Music Festival was called Terrific Tchaikovsky and terrific it was. Two very different Tchaikovsky compositions were on the program plus a Youth Overture by Airat Ichmouratov, a Russian/Canadian contemporary composer.
The evening began with Tchaikovsky’s mighty Symphony No. 6 in B-minor, the Pathetique. a work in four movements of extreme inner struggle. It begins with a mournful Adagio that instead of becoming livelier as the pace quickens, seems nervous and anxious. Struggle is conveyed by extremes of ranges between soft and loud; the second movement waltz is in 3/5 time and so is hauntingly off kilter all the time.

Law; Lewis; Hiemstra & Green…members of the N.A.O.; post-concert

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“N.A.O. – 30 years young” 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

The opening concert of season 30 was devoted to Mozart and two of his most celebrated compositions; the brief (20 minute) Haffner Symphony and his last opus – Requiem in D minor. After an introductory piece by S.I. Glick entitled ‘Psalm’; the NAO under apprentice conductor Roï Azoulay presented a cohesive opening two movements of the ‘Haffner. The National Academy Orchestra’s three decades of recruiting; selecting; training and presenting the top Canadian musical graduates as a performing ensemble is an extraordinary accomplishment and has been a positive opportunity for over a thousand young men and women.

Laengert; Bogdanowicz; Brott; Ramirez & Lichti performing ‘Requiem’

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Season finale of ‘5 @ 1st’ is a wonderful romp Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
            The final concert in the 5 @ the First series presented a varied offering of music from the Baroque grandeur of Bach, to Rossini, to contemporary Canadian music and finally a rarely performed Vaughan Williams. The afternoon began with Joseph Phillips performing Bach’s Suite #2 in D minor for cello, transposed very effectively for bass. It is rare to hear a bass solo as it is often presumed to be a supporting instrument, but Phillips showed he could perform the very technically difficult Suite in an expressive manner on his wonderfully resonant instrument.

The 5 @ 1st quintet

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“Stravinsky; St. John & the H.P.O.” Reply

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
Objectivity is a basic precept of criticism or assessment. So, to be impartial when writing about a performer who is also a longtime friend; our evaluation of Lara St. John is a collaboration. Conclusion- she still entrances and mesmerizes her audience. Executing the demanding Korngold violin concerto in D; St. John demonstrated that in addition to a faultless technical talent, she has lost none of the mischievous mannerisms that so endeared her to us pre- NYC and the myriad orchestral solo opportunities she has enjoyed. Like Shauna Roulston, she permits moments of elated animation insert itself into her posture and interpretation.

St. John performing the Korngold violin concerto with the H.P.O.

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