Instrumentalist - Cello
Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra offers rousing performance
The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra's concert Sunday afternoon offered rousing, plush performances of familiar music and, thanks to a guest interviewer, a few insights into the art of performing and composing, as well.

The fine opening performance for the season shows the orchestra has great things in store.

Under conductor Shinik Hahm, the orchestra, playing at the University of Alabama's Moody Music Building concert hall, gave us a tight reading of Antonin Dvorak's accessible, bombastic and at times lilting Symphony No. 8. This music beats you on the head with its themes and emotions, but a sound head-beating can be a good thing if you're opening a season.

Hahm's animated leadership brought out several fine moments from the flutes and trumpets; the woodwinds were particularly vibrant during the third movement. The consistent energy flowing from the strings kept the piece driving toward its riveting conclusion.

To begin the concert, Fred Child, host of American Public Media's radio show "Performance Today," came out to chat. He was visiting in honor of the 25th anniversary year of WUAL-FM, the Alabama Public Radio station based on the UA campus.

Child told an anecdote about Dvorak's ability to drink large amounts of alcohol (priming the audience's interest in the symphony to come), then interviewed cellist and guest artist Colin Carr, who later joined the orchestra to perform Robert Schumann's Concerto for Cello and Orchestra.

In the interview, Carr demonstrated how he warms up by playing scales in a complicated, energetic manner and shared his insights into the concerto, including the two-note shout-outs Schumann planted in the score for his wife, Clara.

Those insights gave the audience a deeper appreciation for the concerto, which Carr and the orchestra played with intensity and fortitude. (Carr was so intense he had to keep wiping the sweat from his brow.) With a fluid attack on Schumann's score, Carr kept up his end of the musical dialog, and the orchestra responded to his passion.

The first piece the orchestra performed, Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture No. 3, set the tone for the concert. The orchestra started on a high level of energy and kept going, particularly as the off-stage trumpet sounded through the concert hall. That level of energy continued through the climax of the Dvorak symphony, concluding an enjoyable and educational afternoon at the orchestra.
Richard LeComte, Tuscalooga News
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