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Holiday Pops with Cirque De La Symphonie, Seattle Symphony

Posted by glennled on December 14, 2009

Yesterday, my wife and I returned to Benaroya Hall in Seattle with two close relatives to attend the annual Holiday Pops concert. This year the Seattle Symphony was accompanied by the Cirque De La Symphonie. Their seven artists performed incredible “circus” acts while the symphony played music by Leroy Anderson, Ralph Vaugh Williams, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Bizet, Schubert and others. Our unanimous favorite act was that by Alexander Streltsov, aerial artist, to “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert, arranged by Carmen Dragon. It was a spectacular sight and lovely sound. The combination of Schubert’s music and Streltsov’s movements, poses, and soarings was a magnificient interpretation of what it must have meant to be Mary, mother of Jesus, Son of God. Our second favorite artist was Christine Van Loo, also an aerial artist, who performed twice. Her first act was accompanied by “Walking in the Air” from “The Snowman Suite,” by Howard Blake, arranged by Tony Osborne. Her second was performed to “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky. Both were superb.

For this performance, the brass section was composed of four trumpets, four French horns, three trombones, and one tuba–I counted. Boy, can they take over, with solid, powerful punch and depth, whenever the conductor wants them to!

I believe the classical orchestra is a signal achievement of western civilization and culture. Can you think of any other culture that has produced any comparable organization for the performance of its music? The variety of orchestral instruments is amazing in itself. And the variety and complexity of music which they can collectively produce as a group is unique–the range of expression of the western orchestra cannot be found anywhere else in the world. And the composers who write music for the orchestra–these are the highest artists on the musical totem pole, in my opinion.  The composers are the creators. They are the best of the best, and their best works last for centuries.

Yes, the orchestra is limited. Like anything else created by humans, it cannot do everything, cannot fulfill every need and desire. And all other cultures have produced unique, expressive music, some of it utterly fantastic. However, their groups, their musical organizations, their genres, also are limited–and I contend they are much more limited than the western orchestra in their variety of sounds and expression of human experience. Orchestral music demands the highest level of mastery from all its pieces and parts, from the composer to the conductor to the musicians to the instruments to the concert halls. As you know, I love bands–marching, concert, pep, dance, jazz, any kind of band. But to me, the western classical orchestra is king–I tip my hat in salute to the orchestra.

6 Responses to “Holiday Pops with Cirque De La Symphonie, Seattle Symphony”

  1. DeeDee said

    Great performance. Both Kelly & I enjoyed it and the company very much.

  2. glennled said

    Likewise…what a great Christmas treat for us all!

  3. Nancy said

    I didn’t imagine I would enjoy the aerial artistry as much as I did. I was, frankly, astonished at the aerial acts! This was a fabulous performance. The symphony was magnificent and the aerial artists and dancers were wonderful.

  4. Glenn said

    Thanks, Nancy, well said! Quite a memorable experience.

  5. Janelle said

    What a wonderful review! The concert sounded amazing for the ears and eyes. Love all the horns – yes, they can take over and it’s lovely!! I agree with your comment regarding composers who write music for the orchestra – amazing talent. In modern times, a composer who has “wowed” me happens to be Chris Thile. A child prodigy who is most known for his amazing talent with the mandolin; he plays (many instruments), sings, composes and produces (composes pieces for smaller groups but still awes me with his talent). Check him out – I bet you’ll enjoy him.

    • glennled said

      Thanks for your kind remarks. I’ll check out Chris Thile…wonder if he wants to add a trumpet to his trio…hmm-ummm, probably not! 😉

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