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The Raleigh Symphony Orchestra celebrated the beginning of its 40th season with a concert held at the Raleigh Little Theatre. The two organizations have been in a formal partnership for several years and of course both have been providing music and performing arts events and opportunities for the community for decades. The Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, RLT's original auditorium, was an intimate setting for this mostly-acoustic event that offered beautiful presentations of well-known melodies. "Legends of the Musical Stage" engaged listeners in musical pieces ranging from The Sound of Music (marking its 60th anniversary this year) to Showboat and Chicago. These performances brought back a sense of nostalgia and were ultimately a great experience. The orchestra, led by conductor Jim Waddelow, performed wonderfully, as did two guest vocalists.
The show began with Overture to William Tell by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868). This starts with the cellos beautifully introducing Dawn. The dynamics then changed and one could feel the shift in the room itself as the next section depicted a storm. This was displayed by the foreboding notes of the viola and violin sections. Their warnings were echoed by the sounds of the woodwinds, ultimately transitioning into a calming. Next, sounds from the English horn signified the classic segment heard in many popular television shows today. The Finale ("March of the Swiss Soldiers") beautifully depicted the battle for liberation, with each member of the orchestra playing in sync.
The next performance featured Triangle favorite Tina Morris-Anderson singing "Someone Like You" from Jekyll & Hyde. She performed the piece effortlessly, commanding the stage. Her soothing tone coupled with the captivating orchestral display created an incredible sight to see and hear.
The orchestra followed up with tunes from Chicago and Showboat. The upbeat melodies and riffs from "All that Jazz" as well as the slow melodic strings in "Ol' Man River" created a dynamic impression that kept audience members engaged and attentive.*
This theme of nostalgia and appreciation for legends continued in the second half with selections from Evita and The Sound of Music. Each song brought waves of emotions from the crowd, and you could even hear humming as listeners couldn't help but join in.
However, once Raleigh native Rachel Stenbuck (also a flutist) began to perform, the room became hushed. The mezzo-soprano offered two (unamplified) selections from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. She took great care with the delightful performance, bringing out the comedic elements and the charm of the two arias.
The generous afternoon of music concluded with the Carmen Suite No. 1 by Georges Bizet (1838-75).
The program featured some of the best-known selections from notable musicals and operas, all handsomely realized by the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra under the apt title of "Legends of the Musical Stage/"
Be sure to catch the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra's next concert; there's information on their season in CVNC's calendar and the orchestra's website. Bring a friend or bring the whole family and prepare for wonderful demonstrations of what this fine community ensemble has become!
Note: The concert was introduced by RLT executive director Charles Phaneuf, who elicited applause when he announced that next spring's joint undertaking with the RSO will center on al fresco concert performances of The Music Man.
*The show tunes were given in various orchestral medleys, one of which was by the esteemed Rosario Bourdon (1885-1961), a mainstay of the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor) from its earliest days.