Saturday evening + the Michigan Theater + the Ann Arbor Symphony = magic. Guaranteed. And even though I knew that going in I was still blown away from the start of this concert until the last thundering applause faded after the encore.
I’m no classical music scholar, I never took a theory class, didn’t play beyond high school until I reconnected through the community band, but I know when I’ve experienced something extraordinary. That happens every time I hear the Ann Arbor Symphony, but this weekend was beyond any expectations I could have had.
Saturday night it was all about Brahms, starting with Academic Festival composed by Brahms in response to being nominated for an honorary doctorate degree. The piece includes several student drinking songs, woven through the music. Who knew that composers back in the mid 1800’s had a sense of humor?
The second piece was The Black Swan: Intermezzo in A Major. What a stunningly beautiful piece of music. Transcripted for orchestra by Bright Sheng, a University of Michigan professor, the piece is based on Brahms’ composition for piano. It’s so beautiful you just have to listen to at least a little of it. Lush, contemplative, you can’t help but let the cares of the week slide off your shoulders as you let the music wash over you.
The last piece before intermission was Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor, played by two amazing young musicians, Itamar Zorman on violin and David Requiro on cello. They played seamlessly, often one began the phrase and the other completed it, almost as if there was a single instrument. Such talent. They so obviously loved doing this piece, and we loved hearing it. Mr. Requiro said it was an ‘indulgent’ thing to play because the first movement begins after only a few measures with a beautiful cello solo. My favorite movement, though, was the third. Listen to a little bit of it; how playful it is. I had a stupid grin on my face through the whole thing.
And as wonderful as all that was, after intermission I fell in love with Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. Though they say Brahms was a bit intimidated by Beethoven you can hear him pay homage to the other composer in this piece. It’s beautiful, from the suspenseful beginning to the triumphant conclusion. And the Ann Arbor Symphony pulled every bit of beauty out of the music. They left nothing in reserve, put it all out there on the concert stage. The audience didn’t even wait for the last note to drift away, the applause started immediately and continued until we convinced them to play us one last encore.
Ann Arbor, you have a gem in your symphony. Every concert is astounding and leaves us shaking our heads in amazement. Even if you don’t think you like or understand this kind of music take a moment and listen to a little bit through the links above. And if that intrigues you go to one concert of your symphony next season, try a little taste, open yourself up to the possibilities. You’ll have an experience you won’t forget. It’s so much more wonderful live and your symphony is..well…there’s no other word…just magical. Attend a concert next fall, let the music take you away, overwhelm you, transform your soul if only for one evening. Go listen to the Ann Arbor Symphony and experience the magic yourself.
You won’t regret it – I promise.