you say you want a reformation – part I

after the lights went down, president elaine’s spirited welcome was the only word from the stage all night… and rightfully so, because what talk could really do justice to the music scheduled to follow?  last night’s concert at the schnitz was a revelation, blowing up my greenhorn preconceptions of composers i sorta kinda thought i knew.  first up to bat was richard “here comes the bride” wagner: a guy famous for his operas and the “kill the wabbit” tune from apocalypse now.  as maestro carlos and the band kicked off the 15-minute prelude, i expected thrilling battlecries and viking hats, but instead got a royal processional of understated stateliness.  alicia on flute was a clear light that shone all night, and jeffrey on trumpet led the rest of the brass in grandeur that reverently evaporated as the king made it to his throne.

after dick wagner easily scored a base hit, mendelssohn was next on the roster – fittingly, since felix is also best known in this country for his wedding march played at countless midwestern nuptials.  it’s probably not fair to say i had preconceived notions before hearing his “reformation” symphony last night, since i basically knew jack-shit about mr. mendelssohn’s life or work… and frankly, the double “ss” in his surname was slightly off-putting.  well, no more!  i was completely smitten with felix obviously taking inspiration from the romance of Beethoven, the classical mode of mozart, and even the swinging (i-ain’t-sayin’-she-a-gold-digger-but-she-ain’t-messin’-with-no) baroque logic of bach.  now, i find the double “ss” delightfully charming.  the symphony had plenty of kick-ass moments for the various sections to play separately, and i gotta give a special shout-out to joel, charles, jenn, and the other viola peeps for absolutely bringing it on.  and while i’m at it, a very heartfelt woot-woot to fresh timpanist jonathan, who is already proving to be a welcome addition to the band.  the fourth and final movement layered variation upon variation of “a mighty fortress is our god” – a stellar tune written by martin luther himself, which almost makes me forgive him for spawning so many flavors of prots.  within the first minute, the winds pretty much stole my heart… a solo flute start was gradually joined by the remainder of the winds (including magnificent marty on oboe & exceptional evan on contrabassoon) to create a bulwark never failing.  the resulting musical blend induced a personal flashback taking me right back to my seminary days, and i could almost taste the wine, smell the incense, and catch the glimmer of some candles out of the corner of my eye.

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