The conductor and music director of the ASO, Maestro Leon Botstein, came to the stage. Building anticipation for the concert, he explained that tonight’s program featured musical works of American composers from the Roaring 20s. Botstein delivered a mini musicology introduction for each work. His words thus inspired listeners and brought the music to life, making it relevant, tangible, and understandable.
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Tonight’s concert was entitled Organ and Orchestra by the American Symphony Orchestra! St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Ave in New York City was the apposite venue for Maestro Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra. They performed two works incorporating the rich sounds of the marvelous Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ with organist Paolo Bordignon, the Bard Festival Chorale directed by James Bagwell, and vocal soloists Soprano Anya Matanovič, Mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti, Tenor Joshua Blue, and Bass Adam Lau.
The orchestra masterfully performed each work to ensure the expression of the composer’s artistic and imaginative intent. Despite the large audience, individuals remained focused and quiet as they enjoyed and experienced the music, this most ephemeral art form.
This American Symphony Orchestra masterfully employed a sumptuous mix of 19th century symphonic intones and swing band idioms, commanding energetic themes, instrumental soloists as jazz tradition demands, rich tone colors, and moments of sublime beauty with lush strings, harp, flute, cello solos, and Ellington’s beautiful melodies.