There were several brilliant gems in last weekend’s “Symphonic Pops” performed by the Columbia Orchestra. A trifecta of enormously talented performers stemming from the Peabody Conservatory included conductor and cellist Jason Love, vocalist Kimberly Christie and baritone Jason Buckwalter. It was the Maestro’s 20th anniversary, and the program included some elegant and charming compositions, including some from Harry Potter. The singers brought an element of grace and even some genuinely sweet romance to numbers from the Sinatra film “Guys and Dolls” and the song “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” from the Off Broadway production “The Fantasticks.
The eclectic selection of music was not what I would have guessed, but the combinations were both surprising and cheery.
The program may have featured flawless and graceful fusions of delightful pieces from such composers as Johann Strauss and John Williams, but what truly stood out for me was the inclusion of Irish dancing into the mix. If you can imagine a medley of classical compositions from the likes of Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi and works from the modern Irish composer Ronan Hardiman, that’s what “Symphonic Pops” delivered. It was quite fascinating to see the synching of young men and women from the Teelin Irish Dance Company showcasing traditional Irish dances in very colorful attire. A little past the St. Patrick’s theme, I will admit, but nonetheless heartily entertaining.
The performance was truly impressive and enjoyable for young people and grandparents alike –which was quite evident in the enthusiastic applause.
Some numbers that also stood out were from some familiar productions such as “Mission: Impossible,” “A Chorus Line,” and “Les Misérables.” Two 13 year old winners of the 2019 Young Artist Competition Junior Division were featured in the program as well. Violinist Lauren Yoon played magnificently on the Maurice Ravel number “Tzigane,” and Daniel Hamin Kim played clarinet in Carl Stamitz’s piece “Clarinet Concerto No. 3 in B flat Major.” With such a wealth of instrumental flair, I found it astonishing they were barely teenagers.
The performance was at the Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia, housed in Wilde Lake High School, which just might make it the envy of the town simply because it is a truly wonderful venue. There was a certain vibration in the atmosphere; one that merged the transcending eras of music into a culmination of youth and tradition with some Irish accentuations. Just when I felt the mood was a little offbeat, the orchestra fluidly enveloped the ambiance with smooth finesse. The performance was truly impressive and enjoyable for young people and grandparents alike –which was quite evident in the enthusiastic applause. It’s fair to say the “Symphonic Pops” has something for everyone. Maestro Jason Love deserves a mountain of praise for his thoroughness and direction.
The Columbia Orchestra organization’s mission statement clearly says they aim to “foster lifelong appreciation of, enthusiasm for, and participation in music.” They are a great organization, bringing the community in Columbia together through a fantastic array of programs and, of course, performances. I honestly went to see a show, but I learned a great deal about the organization in the process and discovered a hidden pearl in Howard County. Make it a point to catch an upcoming performance.
Running Time: Approximately two hours with one 15 minute intermission.
“Symphony Pops” at The Columbia Orchestra’s concerts on April 6th at 7:30 pm and April 7th at 3:00 pm. Browse through their website. You’ll likely find something of interest.