Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shreveport Symphony Orchestra packs Riverview Theater, formerly Civic Theater, with Marcus Roberts, Gershwin & Brahms

Michael Butterman is not only dashing and articulate, he understands Shreveport's needs. Observations from his season opener . . .

1. Guest artist Marcus Roberts is not an A list jazz name. But the Shreveport audience was ready for a jazz group to accompany the SSO. It almost did not matter who did the job. Both Shreveport and Roberts benefitted.

2. Marcus Roberts is a black man from the heart of Florida and is accompanied by Creole musicians Roland Guerin and Jason Marsalis. Ethnic balance in the world of orchestral concerts is a healthy thing. Especially in a minority-majority city.

3. Butterman lead the SSO in the Star Spangled Banner, but in this quotidian act he found a way to uplift: it was an arrangement written by Stravinsky.

4. Helping the audience enjoy the Brahms & Hindemith pieces by explication from the podium was done smartly and with exemplary brevity. The audience will learn a great deal about the music this year.

5. Butterman as SSO director exemplifies how Shreveport ought to heal itself. The SSO, like everyone in the arts, has suffered from desperate budget shortfalls. But, with the arrival of a smartly chosen outsider as conductor, the door to the future is filled with light.

6. Credit to the team who built this gleaming stage: marketing director Scott Green is a hitmaker. Janice Nelson, Jennifer Akers and Susan Rogers kept the office and musical team stable. Board leader Paula Leonard initiated the conductor search. Ray Boswell has brought the transition to the house. Board members Ed Crawford, Virginia Sheehee, Sybil Patten and Bill Lacefield have impressed everyone with their care and insight. Associate conductor Kermit Poling held the center with elan and energy.

7. Online ticket sales are going to finally be reality - before next concert, said Kermit Poling.

8. The audience was cool. We showed hearty appreciation for Marcus Roberts' considerable re-working of the Gershwin. His arrangement didn't boogie in a way that would've swept us into the palm of his hand. It was complex and sober. But the clarity and breadth of his performance was compelling. The audience definitely seemed tuned in.

9. Lots of youngsters came to listen and see. I was happy to count 8 of my first-years from the arts high school, Caddo Magnet, in attendance.

Next up: Classical Mystery Tour, a Beatlemania concert at the Municipal Auditorium.
Fri, Oct 6, 7:30 pm.
Tickets - it's a special concert and not part of the season ticket package - at 227-8863.

1 comment:

Aaron Butler said...

That was a FANTASTIC concert.

Probably my favorite SSO concert I've seen yet (though the Brahms did bore me a little... the Hindemith made up for having to wait through it).