“Pictures at the Riverwalk” Concert
The NRO’s concert on Saturday, July 9, featured works of Dvorak, Ravel, Mussorgsky, and a world premiere by 17 year old Pueblo native Kyle Duffee, winner of this year’s Pikes Peak Young Composers Competition. Kyle’s piece, entitled Paean, started off our program. He was able to pack a powerful message in his 5 minute work, exhibiting a gift for melody, orchestration, and color. The enthusiastic audience gave him a rousing round of applause and a standing ovation. Kyle is heading to the University of Wyoming this fall, where he will major in chemistry and continue his musical studies.
Next was a rarely heard work of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, his Scherzo Capriccioso. This is a piece that I’ve never performed before, but have always been struck by its cheerful character and beautiful lyrical second theme. Having performed in the Czech Republic on three occasions, and as a passionate fan of Dvorak’s music, I really enjoyed the opportunity to present this charming music. We worked very hard in preparation, as it was virtually unknown to the orchestra, with the exception of Trevor Mowry, one of our oboists, who had played the piece previously.
The incredible Piano Concerto in G followed, with NRO pianist Talisa Blackman. Talisa captured the amazing energy of the outer movements as well as the warmth and tenderness of the second movement. Her facile technique was matched by her outstanding emotional involvement. The extended English horn solo of the second movement was played beautifully by Jennifer Berg.
Ravel’s involvement in our concert was continued with his brilliant orchestration of Mussorgsky’s well known Pictures at an Exhibition, dedicated to the memory of his friend, Victor Hartmann, a renowned Russian artist and architect. Trumpeter Ryan Beach, tenor tubist Joseph Peterson, and saxophonist Michelle Kiec played their solo parts beautifully, and the whole orchestra outdid itself with its virtuoso playing. Before we played, I spoke at length about the piece, including examples from the orchestra, and had the house lights bright enough for the audience to be able to follow the movements during the performance. I also asked the audience to feel free to look at the Hartmann’s works of art (the ones that have not been lost)on their phones, if they liked. I received many comments of how much richer the experience was with these added references.
Sunday was a day for a “look ahead” rehearsal for future concerts, as well as to begin rehearsing for Wednesday’s chamber orchestra concert with assistant conductor Sergei Pavlov. Monday for me was an enjoyable round of golf at the fabulous Keystone River Course with Wilson Strong, John Fitzgerald, and Gerry Fricke, who thanks to course superintendent and long time NRO supporter, Steve Corneillier, “Tee Time with Topilow” was auctioned at the NRO Gala. We were able to finish our round before the afternoon monsoons arrived.