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SINFONIETTA REVIEW: Sinfonietta’s ‘legacy’ night shows depth, future

August 11, 2017
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID-It was largely a harrowing experience kept all in the family.

The Lake Placid Sinfonietta, under the direction of Music Director Ron Spigelman, devoted its Sunday, Aug. 6 concert at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts to former members, longtime audience members, and the offspring of its current members as it continues to observe its 100th year of existence.

Under the theme of "The Legacy," the evening began with a bang as the orchestra performed the Brahms "Academic Festival Overture," a medley of four rousing student drinking songs ending with the familiar melody to "Gaudeamus Igitur" ("Therefore, Let Us Be Merry").

Brahms wrote the piece as part of an agreement for him to receive an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the University of Breslau in 1881. Historians say the college's administration was less than charmed at the time, but it became a popular piece that has endured for generations.

The evening ended with an even bigger bang as about 10 more musicians, all of whom are either former members or possible future members, joined onstage to play "Finlandia" by Sibelius. Their presence was felt right away as "Finlandia" begins with a lot of sound from the wind section, which benefited the most from the additional players.

In addition to its being an intensely dramatic show stopper, "Finlandia" was appropriate because it too observes its 100th anniversary having been composed in 1917.

This type of "legacy" concert could become a very welcome feature every year because it expands the orchestra's capabilities with all those added wind players. Such pieces as the Shostakovich "Festive Overture," Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony and most anything by Wagner could become real possibilities on future programs.

In between these two big bang numbers, the program focused mostly on the offspring of its current members as flutist Anne Harrow supplied a soprano in the form of her daughter, Hannah, on the Mozart aria "D'Oreste, d'Ajace" from "Idomeneo."

Former LPS director David Gilbert supplied another soprano, his daughter Halley, to join with Miss Harrow on the duet "Sull'aria" from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro."

Mr. Spigelman then yielded the baton to Mr. Gilbert, who conducted while his daughter soloed on "Una Voce Poco Fa" from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," after which Miss Harrow returned to join Miss Gilbert again this time on Richard Strauss's "Aber der Richlige" from "Arabella."

Somewhere in the middle of that soprano parade, concertmaster Daniel Szasz supplied the solo trumpeter, his son Alexandru, for Telemann's "Trumpet Concerto."

All three offspring demonstrated a high level of professionalism worthy of the concert stage. The Lake Placid audience would most likely welcome any one of them back with open arms at any future concert as it has done so a number of times already for Miss Harrow.

And rightfully so.

The second portion opened with Anne Harrow playing a flute duet with another daughter, Naomi, on Steven Franklin's "Riverside Dawn," a piece dedicated to the memory of former board chairman David Baxter.

Then it was back to Mozart as the father-son French horn section of David and Adam Pandolfi were featured on the first movement of the "Divertimento in B Flat Major."

At about this point, Mr. Spigelman polled the audience to see who has been attending LPS concerts the longest. It turned out to be Paulina White, daughter of Dr. Paul White after whom the Paul White Memorial Band Shell on Main Street is named. Mr. White directed the orchestra for 33 years until shortly before his death in 1973. Ms. White, 91, said she's been attending LPS concerts for 88 years.

The concert itself was dedicated to longtime bassoonist and board member K. David Van Hoesen.

Such concerts with their dedications offer a number of sentimental gifts to the families of those such as the late David Baxter whose daughter, Betsy (in those unforgettable high heels), presents flowers to all the soloists.

They give the young players valuable experience on the stage without diminishing the orchestra's reputation. And with all those extra players on hand, they also offer the audience and the musicians the opportunity to enjoy an expanded repertoire like never before.

There was still one more good thing about this concert worthy of mention: no pieces had been interrupted by any loud cellphones ringing away as during Joyce Yang's performance the week prior. If it isn't bad enough that people bring these things into the concert hall when they could be just as easily left out in the car, why is it that when a cellphone disrupts a performance, the owner of it always seems to be the last person in the room who becomes cognizant of whose phone it is?



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