Nothing makes a rainy night at Bethesda’s Music Center at Strathmore considerably brighter than listening to one of our best modern day song stylists singing songs made famous by arguably one of the best singers ever. The performer is diva extraordinaire singer/composer, Ann Hampton Callaway and the singer whose work she is saluting is Barbra Streisand. I saw this particular show at Bethesda Jazz and Blues club a few months back with Callaway and her trio and it was pretty incredible. It is even more incredible now because this time Callaway is backed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with maestro Jack Everly at the helm. Ms. Callaway is a Tony nonimated performer for her role in the Broadway musical, Swing.
Before Callaway took to the stage the BSO favored us with some orchestral selections. First was a 22 song tribute to Irving Berlin as arranged by Glen Osser. Featuring classics like “Always” and “There’s no Business like Show Business” this was the perfect starter for the evening. Next up was a Carmen Dragon arrangement of Cole Porter’s love song “Just One of Those Things,” which was then followed by the original Herbert Spencer arrangement of the movie overture to Funny Girl, which was the show that shot Streisand to stardom. Maestro Everly always looks as if he is enjoying himself on the podium and the BSO as usual sounded great throughout.
Once Ann Hampton Callaway came onstage, things kicked into high gear. There are so many musical delights in this program it’s hard to pick what the highlights are. I would have to say that one is an early Streisand song called “Starting Here Starting Now.” It was written by David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr. and for this concert it was orchestrated by Shire himself. Callway’s own interpretation of this song is shear perfection. Another highlight would be the song that ultimately Streisand sang at her wedding to James Brolin. The song is called “I Dreamed of You” and the melody was one that Streisand asked Callaway to write lyrics for after hearing the melody in a pub in Ireland. Not only was Callaway’s vocal flat out amazing but it has a gorgeous orchestration by Andy Farber. It’s so nice when the stars align and something like that just happens. Perhaps the most stirring performance was “A Piece of Sky” that Streisand performed in Yentl. Between Michel Legrand’s soaring music as orchestrated by Kevin Purcell and Callaway’s superior interpretation of the lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, I would have to say this was the true standout performance.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention a song that Callaway inserted into this concert at Jack Everly’s request from the Classical Barbra album called “Brezairola.” Singing a song in a foreign language when you are not use to it can be daunting for a singer, but Callaway did so perfectly you wouldn’t know that it had been added for this particular concert. And then of course there is the song I can never get too much of. It is Callaway’s world piece anthem called “At the Same Time,” which appears on Stresiand’s Higher Ground CD and here was orchestrated by Rob Mounsey. With all that is happening everywhere in the world, the lyrics reign true every time I hear the song.
All in all this is one concert I highly recommend you try to see and lucky for you Callaway and the BSO have three more performances starting tonight at the Meyerhoff in Baltimore. Between Ann Hampton Callaway’s fantastic performances of Streisand’s material and maestro Jack Everly conducting the BSO, what isn’t there to like?
Running Time: Two Hours with one Intermission.
Ann Hampton Callaway sings the Streisand Songbook with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was a one night only event at the Music Center at Strathmore on October 10th 2013. The concert will be performed at Joseph Meyerhoff Concert Hall in Baltimore on Oct 11th , 12th and 13th 2013. To purchase tickets for this and other BSO events click here. For upcoming events and Strathmore click here.