Double your fun with the Salisbury symphony

  • Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:07 a.m.

Maestro David Hagy completed his 25th season as music director of the Salisbury Symphony with a bang — no, make that a double bang — Saturday in Keppel Auditorium at Catawba College with a concert of light classics called “Double Your Fun.”

No, it wasn’t about chewing gum.

It all started when the concert’s sponsor, Sarah Kellogg, asked that David play a violin solo as part of the concert program. Feeling that he might not be quite up to doing a solo, he thought of “Concerto for Two Violins” by Bach, and she agreed that would be satisfactory. Thus was born the idea of a concert based on twos (and, sometimes, threes).

Opening the concert was the rousing overture to the opera “Ruslan and Ludmilla,” written by the Russian composer Mikhail Glinka. A piece that is played at breakneck speed, the orchestra was up to the task and ready for more.

Then came “MXYZPTLK,” the third movement of Michael Daugherty’s “Metropolis (Superman) Symphony,” which is written for two flute soloists along with the orchestra.

This is a very rhythmic work, and depicts quite well the impish villain of the comic strip. Flutists Kathryn Levy and Laura Stevens performed with virtuosity and style.

Following the “Gold and Silver Waltz” by Franz Lehar, which included beautiful harp playing by Helen Rifas, the orchestra played the second movement from Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, titled “Play of the Couples,” which features pairs of bassoons, oboes, clarinets, flutes and trumpets each playing a thematically different section, led by the beat of a side drum.

These groupings were no easy task because of the odd musical intervals that they were required to play, and all were done superbly, with expert collaboration from the rest of the orchestra.

The first half of the program concluded with selections from “The King and I” by Richard Rodgers in an arrangement by Robert Russell Bennett. This brought back wonderful memories of both the Broadway play and the movie.

Following intermission came what everyone had been waiting for: the “Concerto for Two Violins” by Johann Sebastian Bach, featuring Concertmaster Daniel Skidmore and Music Director David Hagy as the violin soloists.

It goes without saying that this was a spectacular performance, with the two violinists playing back and forth to each other, and expert collaboration by the reduced Baroque-size orchestra, which was so ably conducted by Matthew Troy, who is the Associate Conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony.

Troy also conducted “Three’s Company” by Steven Amundson.

Amundson is the music director of the St. Olaf College orchestra. The piece is written for three bassoons, and showcases the bassoon’s wide three-octave plus range, its comic personality, and its beautiful lyric qualities.

Bassoonists Elizabeth Campbell, Rebecca Libera, and Ronald Follas, all dressed in black and wearing bright red shoes, were able to fulfill the composer’s intentions to the maximum.

Three trumpets, played by Luke Boudreault, Gregory Hall and Jay Meachum, then regaled the audience with a rousing rendition of “Bugler’s Holiday” by Leroy Anderson.

And, lastly, “Bacchanal” from Camille Saint-Saens opera Samson and Delilah worked the audience up to a frenzy, excitedly awaiting the start of Maestro Hagy’s second quarter century, which, you could say started with the encore, “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss II, appropriate for the current weather.

And next to come will be Pops at the Post, hopefully without the thunder and lightning.

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