JCC Orchestra: Just the Best!

[Archived from October 23, 2009]

by Shiela Steinman Wallace

On Sunday, October 18, the Jewish Community Center Orchestra offered the community the opportunity to experience “Just the Best!” – a concert featuring the Lord of the Rings Concert Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The highlight of the evening was the Lord of the Rings Overture. The orchestra handled the changing themes and tempi very well. It was easy to imagine J.R.R. Tolkein’s elves, ents, dwarves, wizards, orcs and other creatures – fair and hideous – traversing Middle Earth and gathering for battle while the young hobbits pursue their quest to destroy the ring.

The Romeo and Juliet Overture was also delightful, bringing the audience through a wide variety of emotions. There were several places where the string section really shone, deftly handling some difficult entrances. The woodwinds also treated the audience to a particularly sweet moment in this piece.

Tackling Beethoven’s full Fifth Symphony during the second half was a Herculean undertaking for such a small company. When Beethoven wrote, he envisioned many more instruments to deliver his thunderous passages.

After a weak and tentative start, the performance improved as the musicians got into the piece. Musical ideas passed smoothly from one instrument group to the next through the composers many variations on the theme.

I would be remiss if I did not give special kudos to the timpanist. His crisp, clear rhythms were perfect giving depth to the performance and stirring the emotions throughout the evening.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the audience. It almost seemed that there were more musicians pouring their hearts into the music than there were patrons to enjoy it.

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