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Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra applies a balm to the soul

February 23, 2013

Some revelations jump out and startle you, while others unfold like the petals of a flower, slowly and deliberately revealing their meaning. During Friday’s concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, it was more the later than the former case.

It occurred during WCO’s performance of the “Molto Sereno” from Gerald Finzi’s Introit for Solo Violin & Small Orchestra, Op. 6. The work, not often performed,  was fairly typical of the English pastoral style that Finzi and others represent. Guest artist Tasmin Little took the lead on solo violin.

It’s not that Finzi’s work stood out from the rest of the English composer’s compositions, and its debt to Ralph Vaughn Williams was not to be denied. Little’s  romantic violin played sweetly and, while it lacked the verve and passion of Williams’ “lark” in a similar, but  more famous work, it carried our hearts to more peaceful places and temperate times. At least it did mine.

The evening’s revelation might have had something to do with a conversation I had had earlier that day with Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. During the course of our talk, we touched on how to approach contemporary dance like that of Hubbard Street. Edgerton’s frustration with those who think they need to “get it” when they see a contemporary dance performance was palpable.

“Approach dance like you would a symphony orchestra concert,” Edgerton told me. “There is no need to ‘get’ classical music, but there is a need to experience it and go where the music and your emotions mean to take you.”

Sage advice from someone who knows whereof he speaks, and never more evident than during WCO’s performance of the Finzi composition.

The Introit is not something I will necessarily seek out in the future, and perhaps the polite but restrained applause it received at the end was deserved. But for a few moments, at least, I followed the melody to its source and let Finzi’s composition carry me away. I may not be a better person for it, but a balm of sorts had been applied to my soul. My spirit was refreshed, renewed and ready for more of life’s never-ending challenges.

That, it would seem to me, is art doing its job. And that alone made this concert a success.


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