Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Superpops - Review

The symphony meets a rock band and everyone wins. That is how I will remember this evening of music titled "The Music of Elton John And More." It was presented as part of the Superpops BSO Series, and it was, in a word, fabulous.

Saturday evening, October 15th, we trundled off to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore for an evening of music. The orchestra was under the direction of David Amado from the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and the five person rock band was led by Michael Cavanaugh. The blending of these two seemingly dissimilar musical groups was accomplished in a masterful manner--although I felt the orchestra could have been given a larger part in some places.

The evening progressed through a series of old favorite rock songs anchored by some Elton John classics. Each song highlighted the talents of the band and the orchestrate to collaborate and present a delightful musical tribute to the songwriter.

I especially enjoyed the orchestra-led piece, "Riffer Madness" which took us on a tour of the great rock band riffs of all time. And I also really enjoyed the rendition of Billy Joel's "Piano Man." Don't get me wrong, the Elton John hits were great too, and I came to hear those, but these two among the many songs of the evening really stood out.

The songs highlighted Cavanaugh's many musical talents as a pianist, vocalist, guitar player and all around talented musician. He led the evening and the audience through the songs while keeping everything moving and exciting with each new twist. Not content to merely cover the old songs, he also provided appropriate interpretation to some of them which made the old songs--some from the 50's like Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" seem alive and new.

Cavanaugh's band was similarly musically talented with Johnny Fedevich on drums; Jamie Hosmer on keyboard, back-up vocals, and second or third guitar; Giovanno Mastro on lead guitar and back-up vocals; and Billy Venditti on bass and back-up vocals. Their ability to work together on stage and create music sandwiched between a potentially overpowering symphony orchestra and a demanding audience is not to be over looked. They each were provided the opportunity to display their multiple talents in appropriate places.

Sadly, the evening was not without some technical glitches and there was a hot line somewhere that periodically provided an annoying buzzing sound in the speakers which never seemed to be found or fixed. Also, the Meyerhoff is a traffic and parking mess during performances. I continue to be amazed that the city has not found a way to redesign the traffic patterns to encourage rapid ingress and then egress after the performances.

But despite these annoyances it was a great performance and blending of the BSO and the band. What made the evening even more enjoyable was Cavanaugh's persistent efforts to get the audience participating in the execution of the songs. As those in attendance warmed up to the idea of singing along in specific places, the music began to be created not just from the stage, but in the hearts of those in attendance.

A great evening of music that left my heart singing and gave me a few more tracks to find on iTunes and add to my collection.

- Posted from Elkridge, Maryland

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