Conducted by the undisputed heroine of the baton, Maestra Rosemary Thomson, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks concert featured guest appearances by clarinetist James Campbell and the Okanagan Youth Symphony Orchestra.
The concert opened with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 op 72b. and featured excellent work in the OSO woodwind and brass sections with some especially tight playing on the timpani by Dominique Bernath. The orchestra ably conveyed the emotional sense of the opera: love, freedom and the strength of human determination.
Next on the program was clarinetist extraordinaire, James Campbell performing Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 Op. 74. His musical phrasing illustrated an understanding of the composition’s subtext while executing all virtuoso pyrotechnics with a twinkle in his eye.
After intermission, Campbell performed Canadian Alan Gilliland’s jazz concerto Dreaming of the Masters for Clarinet. From low, sweet melodic lines to frenetic virtuoso passages, his playing was nothing short of heroic. It was especially gratifying to have a Canadian composition so well received.
The final number for the evening, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, was a joint venture with the combined youth and professional orchestras. One would think it would be a challenge to keep such a massive ship afloat, but Thomson handled the helm with confidence. Constantly changing key signatures, time signatures and complex cross rhythms came off effortlessly — one would never have guessed students were playing.
The enthusiastic standing ovation demonstrated the audience’s conviction that the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra hit the mark with its Heroes and Heroines concert: an exceptional performance of heroic proportions.
Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher.