DSO offers 'favorites' at Hop
At 10 'til eight last Saturday night, a horde of people could be found milling around the Hopkins Center. Half of these were Dartmouth students trying to grab a bite to eat at the Courtyard Caf before the penultimate performance of Shakespeare Alley's smash hit "As You Like It."
The other half were Upper Valley white-hairs trying to get to will-call and pick up their tickets for the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra's sold-out concert, returning as alter-ego "Dartmouth Pops Orchestra."
The evening's symphony program was entitled "Orchestral Favorites II," (kind of like "Goonies II" and "Jaws II"?), and was, in the words of musical director and conductor Anthony Princiotti, "a 'pops' concert without any junk on it!" Quite true. I didn't fall asleep once. Honest.
Inside, Spaulding Auditorium was packed to the gills. Even the orchestra couldn't fit on stage, and some of them were sitting on stage-extendors almost in the lap of the front row patrons.
In fact, we were so close that I was distracted by the cellos' wheezy breathing at times and afraid for the man and woman in A-109 and A-110, that their noses might be in danger of a performer's sawing fiddle elbow -- fortunately, she avoided them deftly all night.
The evening opened with the overture to "Aureliano in Palmira" and "The Barber of Seville." Often erroneously attributed to Mel Blanc for Warner Bros. cartoons, this piece was actually composed by Gioacchino Rossini for a couple of operas. After this was Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite."
When the intermission concluded, the orchestra got to the meat of the concert, Dvorak's "Symphony from the New World."
Funny how the American influence that Dvorak experienced when he moved to New York City in 1892 led to this symphony, full of loud brass and drums banging.
After five minutes of applause and at least twice as many handshakes for Concertmaster Julie Hong '02, the DSO sated those rowdy retirees with an encore of Slavonic dances.
Of all the performing arts groups at the Hop, Maestro Princiotti writes the best liner notes. All music directors understand composition and theory, music history and the orchestral heritage, but few are ever able to synthesize the three into program notes accessible to numbskulls like me.
In Saturday night's program, Mr. Princiotti explained how Rossini used the same overture for a tragic opera about a Palmirian lover and an opera about a Spanish love triangle.
He pointed out the symbolism behind the bass line in "The Enchanted Forest" from the "Mother Goose Suite" and the ability to look into our own culture and music that Dvorak taught to American composers. Mr. Princiotti continually amazes with his knowledge of music and clarity of interpretation.
For all of his gifts, we consider him a real treasure of Dartmouth College, and forgive him for that Parisian busboy's uniform.