On Thursday night, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra presented “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra,” a work Chautauqua Institution co-commissioned from composer Aaron Jay Kernis, with soloist Paul Neubauer in the spotlight. With a raw spirit and exceptional virtuosity, Neubauer beautifully portrayed Kernis’ masterwork, one underpinned by relationships and which focused on folk tunes, as the composer described it from the Amphitheater stage.
When a conductor demonstrates historical knowledge by adjusting the scope of expression to accommodate the composer’s — what a different kind of conductor might call restraint — the audience is in for a treat and an education.
“How could anyone not like this?” exclaimed the lady as the satisfied Amphitheater audience whooped and stomped after the climax. Maestro Bruce Hangen went round calling out and shaking the hand of most everyone in the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra on Thursday evening, which did not turn out as cold as many overdressed fans thought.
More often than not, Charlotte Ballet (formerly North Carolina Dance Theatre) searches for a celebratory finish to its summer season with a “Shindig” or the saloon-savvy “Western Symphony” or a decidedly “American in Paris.”
First things first. The Chautauqua Theater Company’s production of The Tempest, probably William Shakespeare’s final play, is excellent: well acted from top to bottom, beautifully and imaginatively costumed by Loren Shaw, and directed with a deft hand. There are a couple of questionable design decisions, I think, but they are quibbles. More about them later.
Maximiano Valdés led a big-picture evening Thursday in the Amphitheater. He continued his call for an understanding of the cultures of international achievement — a signature element in his work as a musical director for orchestras and workshops around the world.
Charlotte Ballet (formerly North Carolina Dance Theatre) built its reputation on George Balanchine’s nimble neoclassical lines, filtered through the combined joie de vivre of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride.
The Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra again played a mighty range — perhaps more rangy than many Tuesday evenings. The orchestra was impressive.
Depending on whom you ask, Go West!, Chautauqua’s second annual inter-arts collaboration, came together in 500 years, seven months, 12 days or three hours.
North, South, East, West: All points of the compass have allure, but none stirs us from complacency as mercilessly as the last. As Chautauquans know, the theme last week was “The American West.” As we were reminded in the Amphitheater Saturday night, that theme has lost none of its power to lift our spirits and open our minds.