Kevin Deas and Janice Chandler-Eteme

Jeff TyzikVancouver Symphony Orchestra: A Gershwin Celebration

Dates and Venue 12 - 13 October 2012 @ 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Conductor Jeff Tyzik

Featured Performers Janice Chandler-Eteme (soprano), Kevin Deas (bass) and the UBC Opera Ensemble

Reviewer Ed Farolan

There was something lacking in last Saturday's concert. There's a huge repertoire of Gershwin tunes, but the main focus was Porgy and Bess. I was hoping to hear more of the popular tunes, but rather than that, the pieces chosen for this "Celebration" were hardly recognizable, such as the obscure "Lullaby" which was a hit in the 1920s, but today would appear boring.

Or instead of an overture of Funny Face, which started off in the first half, perhaps songs from that musical such as "It's Wonderful", "Funny Face", etc. should have been sung by the featured performers, and not only played by the VSO. That musical, by the way, starring Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, only ran for six months in 1927, and according to Tyzik, was considered a flop in those days. However, it became a hit 30 years later in 1957 when it was made into a film starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.

The same goes for an American in Paris. Only an overture was played. This Gershwin hit was popularized by Gene Kelly and the audience would have wanted to see a dance number or a few songs sung from this musical.

"I Loves You Porgy" also seemed misplaced. It was sung in the first half together with the "miscellaneous" stuff of Gershwin. It should have been put in the second half where selections of Porgy and Bess were sung by Deas, Chandler-Eteme, and the UBC Opera Ensemble. The second half of the programme was all Porgy and Bess, and excerpts of this modern opera were excellently delivered by Deas, Chandler-Eteme, and the UBC Opera Ensemble. I particularly liked the melodic and exquisite style of Chandler-Eteme's rendition of "Summertime", and the comic deliver of "It Ain't Necessarily So" by Deas.

Although I felt slightly dissatisfied by this concert, I guess because the others like myself were expecting more from this "Celebration", yet there were moments that were enjoyable and delightful. Some of the members of the audience stood in ovation at the end of the show hoping to hear an encore, but there was none. . The evening ended early, around ten minutes before ten, whereas in other Tyzik concerts, encores would bring the show to some minutes after 10pm.

© 2012 Ed Farolan