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There’s an old story about a reviewer who wrote, “Last night, the Philharmonic played Brahms. Brahms lost!” Well, nobody lost when the Juneau Symphony Orchestra ended the month of April with a performance of music by Mozart, Bernstein, and Elgar.
Concert review: Legendary masters 051017 AE 1 John D'Armand, For the Capital City Weekly There’s an old story about a reviewer who wrote, “Last night, the Philharmonic played Brahms. Brahms lost!” Well, nobody lost when the Juneau Symphony Orchestra ended the month of April with a performance of music by Mozart, Bernstein, and Elgar.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Story last updated at 5/9/2017 - 4:21 pm

Concert review: Legendary masters

There’s an old story about a reviewer who wrote, “Last night, the Philharmonic played Brahms. Brahms lost!” Well, nobody lost when the Juneau Symphony Orchestra ended the month of April with a performance of music by Mozart, Bernstein, and Elgar. The last of these is the composer of “Nimrod,”from “Enigma Variations,” a tribute, in a slow triple meter, to Ken Leghorn, who left us so suddenly recently.

The program began with Tezah Haddock’s playing the first movement of Mozart’s fifth violin Concerto. This was his duty as the winner of the orchestra’s Youth Solo Competition, and he, with his fluid playing, indicated to the audience why he won.

The next work on the program was the ambitious “Chichester Psalms” by Bernstein. Unusual meters dominated the composition, with movements in seven (2+2+3) and ten beats (2+3+2+3) to the measure. These seemed to be no problem for the chorus, who sang the Hebrew as though it were their native language.

Is Conductor Troy Quinn aware of the quality of this chorus? It’s composed of intelligent, silken-voiced singers who return to enhance concert after concert. For this performance, the Juneau Symphony Chorus was joined by Richard Moore and his Juneau-Douglas High-School Choir. I can’t imagine that any other town the size of Juneau could perform such a difficult work so masterfully.

The chorus was prepared, as usual, by the quiet, unassuming, but quite capable Bruce Simonson. Solo passages were performed to musical perfection by the young Alex Zuniga and a quartet of dependably excellent singers from the chorus: Bobbi Mitchell, Patricia Hull, Jay Query, and John Haywood.

The concert ended with a fine performance of Mozart’s last symphony, scored only for strings and woodwinds plus the brass section’s ubiquitous French horns. This, the longest of Mozart’s forty-one symphonies, is as masterful as the rest, despite the composer’s failing health. The do-re-fa-mi theme of the last movement is eagerly and repeatedly pursued by the various instruments of the orchestra, and no weakness was found in any of them.

Troy Quinn seemed to do everything in his power to eschew pretention in his performance as conductor. He had memorized all of the music, so the score was not a distraction. Instead of tails, he wore a dark suit devoid of ostentation. There was a good reason for every movement he made. No motion was excessive, and every gesture of his arms had a purpose. There is a word for such deportment and the music it inspired: Bravissimo!