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More Good Music! The Dearborn Symphony at The Michael A. Guido Center – 10-8-21

For those who like to follow my “More Good Theater” column, let me begin by stating that I do not profess to be any kind of an expert on the music and craftsmanship of the symphony orchestra. Having been approached by some friends to write up a concert I was fortunate to see last night, I am only too happy to oblige. That understood, this write up is one of heavy praise for a concert that “crushed it” by a man who simply knows what he likes.

The theme for the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra’s program was The Roaring Twenties. And what a roar it was! The concert, was a delight from end to end as I will now try to convey with a quick recap of each of the rapturous pieces. The program opened with Sweet Georgia Brown (Ben Bernie/Maceo Pinkard). The arrangement for this piece was simply grand and while the music itself brought great joy to the audience, especially those of us of an age to remember the music used as the theme song for The Harlem Globe Trotters, there is something irresistible about a conductor so into the music he is leading that he was almost dancing. Music director/conductor Steven Jarvi, did nothing short of a splendid job with the evening’s fare and delighted with his infectious personality and sense of humor. The piece was raucous, majestic and slick as a highly polished basketball court!

The second piece of the evening, Danse (Claude Debussy, arr.Ravel) was a stunning contrast to the evening’s opener. The delicate and playful piece, with its touch of suspense, felt magical. It was fascinating to learn that it started life as a piano piece. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

Third up for the evening was Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra (John Harbison). Again, delightful to learn some trivia on this piece as our talented conductor explained to us that Mr. Harbison was not only still alive, but that he had actually worked with him. The rarely used Soprano Sax was featured in this piece, and quite brilliantly. Beginning with a feeling of foreboding, the music surprised with a delicious switch to the razzmatazz of a 1920s speak easy. Such a marvelous piece for evoking an era!

The second half of the program began with St. Louis Blues (W.C. Handy) – a crowd pleaser to be sure. This altogether fun parade march with its driving rhythms generated but one complaint. It was too short! One could see the audience wishing that Mr. Handy had simply put a repeat at the end of the piece that would take us right back to the top. So much fun!

Next up was Sophisticated ladies Highlights (Duke Ellington, arr. Lowden) As a lover of the Broadway musical I remember when Sophisticated Ladies was playing on The Great White Way. This glorious medley moved from the deep and mysterious to haunting melodies that eased into some of the most lavish music ever produced by an artist. Ending with It Don’t Mean A Thing, the piece could not have been more satisfying.

The final piece of the evening, Rhapsody In Blue (George Gershwin) featured the piano skills of the amazing Melissa Coppola. When a piece this popular is utilized as the finale, it is undoubtedly a risk cast upon the shoulders of the featured artist. Ms. Coppola played with such panache that the audience simply melted away from the warmth of their joy. Upon receiving a well deserved standing ovation for both the guest and the orchestra, an encore was offered up. Ms. Coppola played Summertime, utilizing an arrangement so fantastic that it almost sounded as though four hands were playing the piece instead of two.

For those unfamiliar with The Dearborn Symphony, let it be known that this listener feels it is worthy of the label “world class”. It lives right here, in Dearborn, in our own backyard, and raises it’s magic wand many times during the season. If you have yet to partake of this musical format, please do not hesitate! The next concert takes place on Friday, November 19th, 2021 with a program entitled, Mini Masterpieces From Around The World – A Musical Travelogue! One would best be advised to there or be square. Hard to imagine a more lovely way to spend an evening.

Kudos to The Dearborn Symphony Orchestra. Viva Symphony!

Review by Paul Bruce published on Facebook.

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