A Gershwin Celebration

Dates and Venue 22 & 23 May 2009 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Jeff Tyzik, Featured performers Jon Nakamatsu piano, Doug LaBreque vocalist

Reviewer Ed Farolan

What a fantastic show! A Gershwin Celebration indeed with the best of Gershwin, and a winning combination of three very creative artists Jeff Tyzik Conductor, Jon  Nakamatsu Piano, and Doug  LaBrecque Vocalist together with the indefatigable Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. A full-house audience wowed and hummed to the Gershwin classics I Got Rhythm, Embraceable You,They Can't Take That Away From Me, An American in Paris, Catfish Row, Fascinatin' Rhythm,Our Love is Here to Stay (arr. Jeff Tyzik) ,Swanee (arr. Jeff Tyzik) and Rhapsody in Blue. We even got a bonus with an encore by Jon Nakamatsu!

LaBrecque thrilled theatre audiences as The Phantom and Raoul in the Harold Prince production of The Phantom of the Opera. In addition, he has starred on Broadway as Ravenal in the Hal Prince revival of Showboat, a role he also performed in Canada and Chicago. He was featured in Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration on Broadway at The Gershwin Theatre, and toured nationally with Les Miserables, and has performed leading roles in Candide, A Chorus Line, Man of LaMancha among many others. In this concert, he put on the Al Jolson look singing Swanee. I wish he had put on some black make-up or even a black man's mask to reflect Al Jolson who made it big portraying a black singer.

Pianist Nakamatsu is one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation,and is a frequent concerto soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and solo recitalist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. I enjoyed his musicality and charisma especially in his delivery of Rhapsody in Blue.

Jeff Tyzik as in all his VSO Pops concerts has that certain rapport with audiences especially here in Vancouver. He has earned a reputation as one of America's most innovative pops conductors and is recognized for his brilliant arrangements. In this concert, his arrangement of Our Love is Here to Stay was simply marvelous especially with LaBrecque's vocal rendition of this Gershwin classic.

It was another enjoyable and entertaining evening for Vancouver audiences, mostly seniors, who relished these songs from the great Gershwin, and delivered with so much charisma by the Vancouver symphony Orchestra under the baton of Tyzik.

.© 2009 Ed Farolan