THUNDER BAY, ON --- April 18, 2010 ---- Saturday night is not my usual night out to the Thunder Bay Symphony. I am a big fan of the TBSO Masterworks series, and I try never to miss a performance. After a season of guest conductors I wanted to hear Stephan Potvin our resident conductor at the podium. For the past couple of years Stephan has been one of the driving forces behind our remarkable orchestra. He is very particular about pitch and having a precise band on stage. Our orchestra can outperform many larger orchestras simple because of these qualities. For this concert the orchestra performs with the conductor that is normally rehearses with, and Stephan led the orchestra through an evening’s concert that showcased the tremendous depth and skills of our local musicians.
The program might have been called second chairs, since it was for the most part the musicians who do not get a chance to play solos who were given a spot on this Caberet Concert. I am thinking of players such as Doris Dungan who played Cecile Chaminade’ Concertino Op 107 for orchestra and flute. It was exquisite. If there was ever a dance for two clarinets then Peter Schackleton and E-Chen Hsu performance of Amilcare Ponchielli’s Il Convegno was it. To have even one clarinet player of this stature in orchestra would be great but to have two great performers is bliss.
The evening went on with great performances on the Marimba by Jean-Francoise Breton, an excerpt from a Haydn Cello Concerto by Anthony Bacon, and a violin solo from Vivaldi’s four seasons performed by Meridith McCallum.
This season has been a long and winding road for the orchestra as they have been searching for a new Conductor and Artistic Director. This week on Thursday’s Masterworks concert the wait will be over and the successful candidate will be announced. The new “person” will not only inherit a fine professional orchestra, but they will be expected to add to the abilities of this orchestra and give it a clear sense of direction.
My understanding is that this performance had a different format than the usual Cabaret concerts, I found the evening delightful. I think that this format of short excerpts is successful in engaging people new to orchestral music. Like a Reader’s Digest, there was a little of something for everyone on the program, and none of it required the mental stamina of a Mahler Symphony.
Another nice thing about the concert at the Italian Cultural Centre on Algoma Street is the ambiance. As people gathered around the tables there was a chance to introduce one another and share a drink or two. I managed to exchange a number of business cards during the course of the evening as well as meet some interesting people.
Adding to the ambience was the contribution of the solo performers, who addressed the audience briefly about the music that they were about to play. In this relaxed atmosphere, we all appreciated the human touch of real musicians. Some of the orchestra members have a vivid sense of humour. Please join me in looking forward to the last Masterworks Concert on Thursday at the Community Auditorium, April 22nd will see the orchestra perform a concert titled “Sleeping Giant” also at the Auditorium, and on Saturday May 1st there will be Gilbert and Sullivan Special directed by Brian Jackson. These concerts are too good to miss, call the box office at 807-684-4444.
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com