Renowned pianist Terrence Wilson (left) signs an autograph ...
November 01, 2013
Maestro David Danzmayr set the bar high for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra this season, publicly pledging that its opening night performance would herald nothing less than "the dawn of a new era" for the acclaimed performing arts organization.
Judging by the jubilant reaction of the 700 patrons in attendance Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Lincoln-Way North High School Performing Arts Center, the dawn broke magnificently.
"It's fantastic — the energy in there and the excitement," said a beaming past IPO Board President Dr. Charles Amenta, as he stood in the lobby moments after he had congratulated internationally acclaimed pianist Terrence Wilson for his performance in the first half of the evening. "Instantly, people were on their feet."
Wilson, a Grammy nominee, had just finished wowing the audience — as well as his IPO musician colleagues — with his artistry as the centerpiece of the Chicago premiere of "Deus ex Machina," the Grammy-winning concerto of Michael Daugherty, who himself was in the audience and called onstage by Danzmayr to take a few bows after the performance.
The 30-minute concerto featured quite a bit of masterful and innovative work by Wilson and the IPO to evoke the sounds of trains so real they almost seemed real in their churning, chugging, sighing and wailing.
It was an aural joyride, and many patrons seemed pleasantly spent after hearing it.
Still contemplating what they had heard and seen, the audience was given little time to settle, as Wilson stalked back out for an exhilarating encore, breathing 21st century American life into a 19th century work — Mozart's "Rondo Alla Turca" — and bringing light to the faces of the audience members and many of the 70 orchestra members.
"I thought it was phenomenal; I really liked it," said Jason Marquardt of Mokena, a bass player and one of a handful of teenage musicians who had performed in the lobby before the main event and who stuck around to see Wilson and the IPO. "I liked the different [artistic] expressions that were presented by the musicians."
Amenta described "Deux ex Machina" as "a brilliant, modern piece with lots of energy, lots of jazz-type of elements. You hear a very powerful voice. I think it's something that's very approachable, too. You don't have to sit there and think deep thoughts about, 'Well, am I going to get this or not?' You sit there, and it just carries you. I think it's a very strong American idiom, as far as I'm concerned."
The only question of the night was how would the IPO follow such a spectacular first half after the break, without Wilson and the buzz he brought.
The answer came quickly enough after intermission, with the orchestra delivering a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" that was profound yet not overpowering, soulful yet not overly sweet.
Key to the success of the performance was the solo violin work of IPO concertmaster MingHuan Xu, who almost single-handedly raised the performance a notch.
With the applause still echoing in the arts center and patrons pouring through the exits to a parking lot dappled with light drizzle, IPO Executive Director Andrew Bradford beamed in triumph and reflected on the importance of the orchestra's role in the community.
"We've always been a community-minded orchestra, the largest cultural organization in the southwest suburbs, and we fill a void for music and culture lovers who don't necessarily want to drive downtown every weekend to hear wonderful, live symphonic music," he said. "Also, we take our roles as music ambassadors very seriously. We do a lot of education work in all the communities we serve."
The next performance in the IPO season is set for Saturday, Nov. 16, at Lincoln-Way North. For ticket information, call (708) 481-7774 or visit ipomusic.org.
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