One of the pleasures of living in DC is being able to hear one of the greatest orchestras in the world pretty much anytime you want. Yes, the National Symphony Orchestra presents a whole season of stellar sounding concerts to please any music palette.
This past Saturday night at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall the orchestra was swinging and rocking like nobody’s business under the baton of the always energetic and pleasing to watch maestro Steven Reineke.
…it is nice to see Fantasia onstage again and hope she does more of these kinds of concerts.
Things started off with a powerhouse composition by Reineke called Celebration Fanfare. Yes folks, Steven Reineke is also a composer and a darn good one at that. From there we had a Nelson Riddle arrangement of Richard Rodgers’s Lady is a Tramp, which was enlarged for symphony by Reineke and featured former Broadway musician Al Regni on saxophone.
After that our vocal guest took to the stage. You probably know pop singer Fantasia from American Idol or from The Color Purple, which she played on Broadway (some nights) and on the national tour that played at the Kennedy Center. I remember Fantasia in that show as having a big powerful sound but it seems her voice has gotten quite breathy over the years making her sound more like Billie Holiday. A lot of the time that vocal style worked like on songs as “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Summertime.” It unfortunately did not for Fantasia’s big song from The Color Purple called “I’m Here.” Without the power in the singer’s voice, the song just isn’t as effective.
A few other musical highlights from the evening included a Steven Reineke arrangement of “Mack the Knife,” which featured the entire sax section of Al Regni (Alto I), Dana Booher (Alto II), Chris Vadala (Tenor I), Doug Gately (Tenor II) and Barisax , Leigh Pilzer. I can’t forget the many trumpet solos of Dave Detwiler throughout the night or the kick butt drum solo of Joe Connell and guitar solo stylings of Jim Roberts on “On Broadway” either. Man, what music these guys make together!!
One other big number from the evening that should be acknowledged would have to be a suite of Motown music called, “I Hear a Symphony: The Symphonic Sounds of Diana Ross.” This was again arranged by Reineke and tore the roof off the house as the audience sang along to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Overall, the evening really belonged to the National Symphony Orchestra and Steven Reineke, but it is nice to see Fantasia onstage again and hope she does more of these kinds of concerts. It will give her a chance to stretch her repertoire and sing again with our own national musical treasure.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
Fantasia with the NSO was a one night only event on June 27, 2015 at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. For upcoming NSO events, click here.