Symphony at the Chan Center
American Jazz Classics
July 30, 1998, 8 pm
David Lockington, Conductor
Lorraine Min, Piano
AMERICAN JAZZ CLASSICS : A PERFECT SUMMER CONCERT
By Roxanne Davies
"It's truly wonderful what $10 million dollars can buy!"
exclaimed my companion as we walked into the Chan Centre to hear the Vancouver
Symphony play one of their popular summer gigs for summer 1998. Although
I had been to the Chan Centre several times, it was the first time for
my friend, and I enjoyed watching the reaction this premier concert hall
can exert on someone the first time they see it. Opened last year, this
beautiful hall located at the University of British Columbia was a gift
from the Chan family and it was designed to make the most of the physical
setting and the musical requirements.
A huge wall of slanted windows bring the green forest
inside the entrance hall. Subtle earth tone colours are easy on the eyes.
Comfy seating on the parterre and chairs in the balcony that can be moved
like those in European concert halls show an attention to detail that
enhance the listening enjoyment. I particularly enjoy having two armrests;
no need to compete with a seat mate.
The Chan Centre is drum-shaped on the outside, while
the interior concert hall is shaped like a cello, making it acoustically
tuned as though the hall itself were an instrument. Musical baffles over
the stage, reminiscent of props in a Star Wars movie, are raised or lowered
depending on the size of the musical presentation. And so for this night,
the acoustical baffles were raised sky high to accommodate a full orchestra
under the direction of guest conductor David Lockington.
Lockington, Music Director of the Cheyenne Symphony,
the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and the Boulder Bach Festival, as well
as numerous other appointments across North America, appeared to enjoy
himself as he guided the Vancouver Symphony through a program chosen to
delight the summer audience. I half expected to see him start dancing
during the concert. Like many conductors, Lockington sports a beautiful
head of hair.
The music of Copland, Gershwin and Bernstein were featured
and these composers are the recognized triumvirate of musical genius that
defined the unique classical music of early 20th century America. Ragtime,
blues, jazz melodies and rhythms depict the vibrant everyday life of America
as it experienced its Modern Age.
Copland's Rodeo was playful and lively with its syncopated
Western rhythms. The waltz was lyrical and undulating with a strings and
flute predominating. His music revolutionized the sound of movies when
he composed for Steinbeck's "The Red Pony".
This year is the 100th anniversary of Gershwin's birth.
He lived only 39 years before succumbing to a brain tumour, but he will
live on in his jazzy classics. Rhapsody in Blue is one of my favorite
musical compositions. No single piece of music has the ability to transport
me to the heart of New York City with such langorous ease. Pianist Lorraine
Min says the piece is fun to play. "I love the jazzy rhythms, energy and
tunes. I have the freedom to enjoy non-classical music within a classical
structure. It's the best of both worlds!"
Vancouver-born Min has been the recipient of the Canada
Council's top arts grant award for several years and performs in concert
halls around the world.. When she isn't busy performing, she's working
on completing her doctorate at Julliard, and now makes New York her home.
The beautiful pianist received a warm welcome from her hometown audience,
and she rightly deserved it. She displayed an enormous sense of energy
and musical range as she glided through each musical tune in the piece.
From the wonderfully recognizable glistening three-note intro to the complicated
jazzy melodies, Min's performance was a delight. It was as though the
feeling of the music was transmitted through her and she related the emotional
intensity of the musical piece that made Gershwin famous. It's astonishing
to realize this complicated and difficult piece was composed in less than
The evening also contained three dance episodes from
Leonard Bernstein's On the Town --loud, brassy, and enthusiastic.
And the audience was humming along with those familiar melodies from Gershwin's
American opera Porgy and Bess, such as I've Got Plenty of Nothing ,and
It Ain't Necessarily So.
The evening also featured a contemporary piece by Michael
Abel curiously titled Global Warming, since it had nothing to do with
environmental disaster. Written for the Denver Youth orchestra, the music
meanders around the globe, beginning in the desert and going into Caribbean
rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, full of musical twists and turns. A
nice addition to what was a very satisfying summer concert.
Copyright 1998 Roxanne