The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps at Symphony Space in Manhattan - Brian Worsdale Conducting
Syndicated from: QOnStage.com, New York's Performance and Arts Reviews site at http://www.qonstage.com/QOnStage_articles/2009BigAppleCorps600-Gelbert/a...
Bruce-Michael Gelbert. Posted November 15, 2009 | 11:54 PM (EST)
Our community's cherished band, the Big Apple Corps, in its formal concert incarnation as the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band, celebrated the pearl anniversary of the Corps' founding, in 1979, with "Generations: A 30-Year Celebration," a festive evening at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, on November 14. Beside Artistic Director Brian P. Worsdale, past Music Directors were welcomed back to the stage to preside over some of the selections.
To open the concert, Nancy Corporon-Corps co-founder with Bob Wolff-led the ensemble in a rousing account of "The Thunderer," the John Philip Sousa march that has played such a significant part in the band's-especially the Big Apple Corps Marching Band's-three-decade history. The musicians, under Worsdale's baton, stirred our spirits with Dmitri Shostakovich's "Festive Overture," opus 96, a celebratory piece comprising fanfares, flourishes, and marches, capped by a clarion finale, written to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Russia's October Revolution, but here saluting our own ongoing revolution.
Corporon was back at the helm for a medley from Jerry Herman's musical "La Cage aux Folles," made up of a proud "I Am What I Am," hearty "The Best of Times," intimate "With You on My Arm," sentimental "Song on the Sand," exuberant title song, and grand restatement of "I Am What I Am," a song adopted as an anthem by our community. Resounding strains of "Maria" and "Tonight" introduced a medley from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story," paced by Sam Gindin and continuing with an "I Feel Pretty" as sweeping as any Johann Strauss, Jr. waltz, romantic renditions of "Maria" and "Tonight," a driving "Something's Coming," haunting "One Hand, One Heart," sizzling "America," and rhapsodic reiteration of the "Tonight" theme.
A highlight of "Generations" was the world premiere of James Adler's diverse "Allegro Scherzando: A Celebration for Concert Band and Piano," written for the occasion, dedicated to the Corps, and featuring the composer as piano soloist, with Worsdale conducting. Adler and the Corps commenced with the restrained prelude to the piece, before tearing into a section as fiery as "Rhapsody in Blue," a favorite Adler showpiece. A passage redolent of nostalgia, begun by Adler, then picked up by the band, followed, with sections grand, ambling, and almost buffo coming next, and hints of Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" here and there. A lyrical piano solo, boasting a smattering of blue notes, and the band's responses to it, led up to an exhilarating climax.
Worsdale guided the band through a colorful, sinuous, and sensuous realization of the exotic, erotic and, let's face it, over-the-top volupté of the "Bacchanale" from Camille Saint-Saëns' opera "Samson et Dalila." Eric Peterson took up the baton for a Broadway medley, which began with rollicking renditions of "Springtime for Hitler," from "The Producers," the "Avenue Q" theme, and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," from "Spamalot," and continued with "For Good," from "Wicked," and "Circle of Life," from "The Lion King."
Worsdale returned for the finale of the program, overseeing the Corps' colorful consideration of Ottorino Respighi's tone poem "Pini di Roma" (the pines of Rome). The players' jubilantly ringing "I Pini di Villa Borghese," during which Edgar Allan Poe's word "tintinnabulation," in "The Bells," came to mind, contrasted with their somber "I Pini presso una catacomba" and peaceful "I Pini del Gianicolo," before "I Pini della Via Appia," their forceful finale, complete with trumpeters and trombonists playing from the balcony and lending the effort a surround sound effect. The Corps' dulcet encore was anthem "Over the Rainbow," by Harold Arlen, from "The Wizard of Oz."
Basso Larry Picard provided narration to link the pieces together and share a bit of the Big Apple Corps' story. During the evening, flute player Virginia Asman, responsible for promotion and graphics for the Corps, was presented with its first Golden Apple Award, and Iris Derke and Jonathan Griffith, of Distinguished Concerts International of New York, who brought the band to Carnegie Hall earlier in the year, were honored with its Profile in Leadership Award.