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Review: The Colburn Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Dancing and playing into our hearts

The Colburn Orchestra and Dance Academy at Walt Disney Concert Hall


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Colburn Orchestra

On Friday evening, the Colburn Orchestra had the audience at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on the edge of their seats. It was a night celebrating the trajectory of of love, from the sweet lightness of the music of Irving Berlin to the dissonant passionate struggle in Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide” opened the program with enthusiasm and proved a fitting bookend to the intensity of Prokofiev.From the music of Bernstein, the music flowed smoothly to the music of Irving Berlin arranged by Scott Ninmer. The transportive choreography by L.A Dance Project Founder Benjamin Millepied added to the uplifting nature of the evening. Dancers from Colburn Dance Academy conveyed a soaring spirit of optimism, their Grand Jetés evoking the sunny buoyancy of Berlin’s music.

Got no silver,

 got no gold

What I got can’t be bought or sold

I got the sun in the morning

 and the moon at night”

Irving Berlin

The rich, sonorous voice of tenor Joshua Wheeker augmented shades of profundity to the blithe music of Berlin, enhancing the score in a way not done by prior vocalists who have sung the works of the Broadway king. What Millepied, Wheeker, the Colburn Orchestra, and Colburn Dance Academy were able to accomplish was to create moments where time stood still. Even more than moments, they created an actual atmosphere of endearing lightness. For Angelenos getting off the freeway after Friday night rush hour, this atmosphere proved a much needed balm for the soul.

In sharp contrast to the tripping-the-light-fantastic aura of Berlin, the music of Prokofiev plunged the audience into the tragic, turmoil-filled Sturm und Drang of the ill-fated teen lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

The musicians of the Colburn Orchestra, only a few years older than Romeo and Juliet, performed with boisterous passion akin to those in the throes of love. What made the performance of Prokofiev’s work even more exciting was the fresh and raw energy that the musicians of the Colburn Orchestra brought to the stage. With his dynamic electric physicality, Christian Arming was able to reign in the orchestra when needed and elicit a clean, passionate performance.  The rendition of the rousing theme during the passage of the Montagues and the Capulets was nothing short of thrilling.

More programs that would include dance and vocalization would be welcome at Walt Disney Concert Hall. When the Muses work together, the results can be sublime.

Posted by on April 23rd, 2017

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