Saturday, March 8, 2008

Celtic? Not quite....

Just returned from tonight's KSO pops concert featuring Natalie MacMaster. It was billed as a "Celtic Celebration," which it wasn't, but that does not at all detract from the talent and fire that the headliner brought to her show. She - and her playing - was stunning. The KSO percussionists seemed a bit off (I had the strangest desire to grab some mallets and play the bell part myself... who knew percussionists could have so little fun on stage with a fiddler?) and the mic job on the set left something to be desired (namely, everything save high hat), and, ok, the lighting was a little hokey, but overall the concert was wonderful.
After the first fiddle piece, I turned to my friend and said, "this feels all wrong. This concert should be outside, and people should be dancing." Sure enough, Ms. MacMaster would make the very same comment once she stepped up to the microphone, extolling people to not be shy and dance, should the urge arise. I have the feeling that much of the audience missed the humor and playfulness of her pieces; it was not until the last twenty minutes of the concert that people clapped along with her heel-tapping. She played a variety of airs and jigs, mostly Scottish in origin, being the traditional music of the area in Nova Scotia from whence she hails (her Canadian accent was rather pronounced, much to our amusement). The KSO played Dvorak's Slavonic Dance #1 to start the evening, and (much to my dismay; I sank down in my chair in embarrassment) began the second half with a medley from the movie Titanic. By the end of the evening, I had already filled in that space with a multitude of other pieces and composers (Copland, for one), but the high school Horner medley stuck in my head nonetheless.
Overall, I was impressed by Natalie's playing and her energy, was disappointed by Knoxville's placid and disinterested response, and found myself wishing - very, very much so - that I could once again have the chance to play. Anyone selling a xylophone?

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