Tea and Trumpets Series
Shall We Dance

Venue: Orpheum Theatre
Date: 21 January 2004 2.00pm

Reviewer: John Jane






Conductor: Tania Miller
Host: Christopher Gaze
Featured Performers: Linda Lee Thomas & Lucio Grave - Tango dance; Fei Fei Ye, Bianca Pizzinato, Ken Guan Jian and Noah Long - Ballet.

Linda Lee Thomas
For anyone who doesn’t have to earn their crust on any given Wednesday afternoon, I would strongly recommend attending one of the concerts in the Summerhill Tea & Trumpets series given by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Arrive at the Orpheum a little earlier than the normally punctual two-o’-clock start and you will be welcomed in the lobby by a cheerful volunteer handing you a cup of hot tea.

Maestra Tania Miller and the Orchestra opened the dance-themed program with the appropriately titled overture, Richard Rodgers’ Shall We Dance from the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1951 musical ‘The King and I’ in which Anna teaches the King how to dance this simple but charming polka.

Series Host Christopher Gaze arrived on stage, to immediately entertain the audience with a well rehearsed recitation of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ before introducing the rest of the program.

Gaze explained in his introduction that Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov’s Dance of the Buffoons, an excerpt from The Snow Maiden, is better known today than the opera from which it came. The orchestra’s sprightly interpretation was exactly what was needed to set everyone’s feet in motion.

Next, the audience was treated to a bonus in the form of student dancers from the Goh Ballet Academy, Fei Fei Ye and Noah Long interpreting the electricity of the pas de deux from Act Two of Swan Lake, adding sparkle and color to the orchestra's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's classic work that has become the very definition of classical ballet.






Maestra Miller seemed to understand the unique personality of Anton Dvorák’s Slavonic Dance No.5. - considered to be Dvorák’s breakthrough work. Though short, this was an elegantly shaped performance.

Next we heard Saturday Night Waltz and Hoe-Down. Aaron Copeland often implemented folk and traditional music in his compositional style. As a result many of his tunes could stand on their own, as in these works from Rodeo. Saturday Night Waltz was reminiscent of a Dimitri Tiomkin score from a western movie soundtrack. Hoe-Down is full of the warmest and most idiomatic verve and may be Copeland’s most inspired work.

Linda Lee Thomas is regarded as one of Vancouver’s most eclectic musicians and more often seen as a piano accompanist to the Vancouver Chamber Choir. For Jacob Gade’s Tango Jalousie, Ms Thomas, with her elegant partner Lucio Grave, demonstrated why she is known locally as ‘La Reina del Tango’. The couple displayed a teasing, sure-footed tango that was full of unassuming sexiness. Many in the audience looked old enough to remember fifties American crooner Frankie Laine’s original ‘Jalousie’, although a more recent version was used in the British film “The Full Monty”.

Would any program anchored to a dance theme be complete without a waltz by Johann Straus?
Technically, Wiener Blut is not Strauss's work at all. Adolf Müller arranged it in 1899 – the year of the composer's death – from the composer's melodies. The operetta’s title waltz, Wiener Blut (Viennese blood) is strong, and was performed with suitable vibrancy by the orchestra.

The orchestra rounded out the afternoon by giving an encore with the liltingly charming Carousel Waltz by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

© 2003, John Jane