The KWS, Inspiring and Entertaining


Saturday I had a great night out at the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony as they wrapped up their 2009/2010 season.

The evening started with Tabuh-Tabuhan, a piece written by Canadian Colin McPhee. The fervent percussion section really shone, and the sound of the xylophone floated above the sound carrying the music forward against the lethargic and heavy sound of the rest of the orchestra. My exposure to gamelan music previous to experiencing this piece honestly tarnished enjoyment for this piece. I think I would have probably been able to enjoy the experience if I hadn’t spent the whole time waiting for something similar to gamelan music.

I’m sure Carmina Burana was the raison d’être for most of the audience. And for the most part it did not disappoint. O Fortuna, the epic bookmarks of Carmina Burana was really one of the most exciting orchestral pieces I’ve witnessed. Unfortunately, despite the number of people in the Grand Philharmonic Choir, the choral sound was not as strong as it needed to be. The choir also stumbled a bit throughout the piece, often lacking a musical line. The soloists were engaging and powerful, with the exception of baritone Hugh Russell, who was absolutely spectacular. In fact, the audience broke protocol by erupting in loud applause after one of his movements, something which is generally considered a faux pas. I was surprised to learn (via his blog) that conductor Edwin Outwater detests Carmina Burana. I don’t think it showed, except possibly through the intensity and excitement which permeated the performance.

It seems like the orchestra has been doing a fantastic job reaching out to the community, and providing really affordable tickets, especially with tickets starting at $20. The KWS shows that the arts are alive and well in the area and hopefully it will only get better.

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