A dip in the Lake
Tchaikovsky’s epic ballet, Swan Lake, is a Mt. Everest of sorts for any ballet company, and certainly for the conductor. It is the quintessential ballet in most minds, as it is the representative work in the art form for most people. Natalie Portman made if famous in the movies, and its tunes have been used in motion pictures, television, etc. for decades. The piece had a somewhat checkered beginning, and Tchaikovsky was never able to finish the score to his satisfaction. Most productions are based on the original (or subsequent) Petipa (the original choreographer) traditions, but then take on the vision of the contemporary choreographer. Such was indeed the case in Tulsa in March when I experienced my first voyage through the piece. TB Artistic Director Marcello Angelini brought the piece to life as the vivid spectacle that it can be, pitting good vs. evil in the main characters against a backdrop of a corps of beautifully portrayed swans. Marcello’s uncanny ability as a human metronome is legendary, but I managed to get a nod of approval at the end of the run. The score is massive with many nuances in tempo that must be hit in order to serve the stage. The Tulsa Symphony performed it brilliantly!
The month of March ended with a visit from Alexander Schimpf, a recent winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition. Alex was in town to present a recital and masterclass at Otterbein University, and Barb and I were delighted to host him in our home. Alex is an amazing performer, possessing a facile technique and superb musicianship, and his Beethoven/Brahms/Schubert/Schumann recital did not disappoint. I hope to partner with him again in Springfield in the not-too-distant future. He even gave our Steinway M a workout!
April started with my most challenging week of the season, and three different programs with the Columbus Symphony. A Young Peoples’ Concert for middle school and high school students also featured the CSO’s annual concerto competition winner. We then offered a Happy Hour Concert that featured my friend Gavin George, regional phenom who has appeared with the Westerville Symphony. I am not sure why this series does not fair more favorably with the public. While we had 750 in attendance, the concert is free and we offer free food! A sad commentary on the state of the art in Columbus, I am afraid. My week ended with my fifth visit with the artists of Cirque de la Symphonie, a troupe of acrobatic artists who perform with the orchestra performing an array of light classical works. Always a fun trip, and this was with a number of artists that were new to me.
Now it is on to a production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with BalletMet Columbus. Sure to be a fun and emotional time!