THUNDER BAY, ON --- January 18, 2010 ---- While last Thursday has come and gone, the memories of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra’s Master Works concert are still fresh. Time, talent and desire have matured this orchestra like a fine wine and under the direction of our new conductor Arthur Post it is poised to become one of the best concert listening experiences in the country. No longer do we need to go to Toronto or some other major city to hear a very good orchestra, we have our own and it plays in one of the best acoustic venues in the country, our own Thunder Bay Community
The blend of young and experienced talent on stage is one thing I like about this orchestra. While all the players must play to the standards the orchestra requires, the youthful players add energy and vitality to the performances, and the experienced players add the polish and finesse.
Another great quality of this orchestra is the tight ensemble. Image how hard it is for the trumpet players and the timpanist to be exactly in time with the 1st violins when they are 40 to 50 feet away from them. The musicians have been playing in this venue for 25 years and they all know which part of the conductor’s beat pattern will produce a unified sound as the tones of the orchestra sail past the conductor.
Intonation and pitch is something that makes a musical performance shine. Once again the strings and other ensembles in the orchestra put on a vivid demonstration of professional musicianship last Thursday night. Playing in pitch is more than being well tuned, and placing your fingers on the exact spot on your string, holding the correct combination of keys on the flute. The musicians constantly bend the pitch a little so that all the chords sound true. This is something you cannot do if you play the piano or in my case the organ and I admire the relative sense of pitch the musicians possess.
Great programming is another reason why I like this orchestra. While the concert title was called Classical and Romantic, it was only the Mozart Symphony #32 that was truly from the classical era. It was pared with Serge Prokofiev’s Sinfonietta, op. 5/48 which was Prokofiev’s musical tribute to the bygone classical style of composition. He admired Mozart’s sense of form and clarity and these qualities are present in his Sinfonietta. Arthur Post and the TBSO did a superb job bringing out the special character of each of the five movements of this piece. Like the Mozart before it the piece is well suited to Thunder Bay’s chamber orchestra’s size, the clarity and the colours of the orchestra came through beautifully. With a chamber sized orchestra all players have to play near perfection since often there is only one player per part.
In the world of professional music there is so much to choose from. In Canada where not as many people listen to the classics as compared to Europe, we tend to have a more standard repertoire compared to what listeners overseas might experience. The piece Les Éolides by Cesar Franck was a piece I heard for the first time. A beautiful Romantic piece in the French style that is ideally suited for our orchestra.
I can’t use the quote from one orchestra member about Thomas Cosbey’s performance of the Max Bruch violin Concerto. It is fair to say that he owned the second half of the performance. There are certain pieces that violinists will play lifelong. One or two of the Bach solo pieces for the violin are usually lifelong companions, and for violinists the Max Bruch Concerto. The reason for this is simple, every kid who grew up musically through the Suzuki method has played this piece from age 10 and up. The second reason is Suzuki people know how to select a great piece. Playing from memory and dressed in a sharp looking black oriental style jacket Thomas showed why he is the Concert Master of our orchestra. I felt that this piece was a definitive rendition of this concerto.
The Bruch Concerto also brought out another thing that I like about this orchestra. Our orchestra is a team. They support one another in their musical endeavours. The care and attention to fine details by the orchestra in their support role of the soloist speaks volumes about the quality of this orchestra. So we had a great in house soloist followed by a great orchestra with a great conductor it is not surprising that we have such a high standard of playing here in Thunder Bay. If Toronto knew this orchestra they would be jealous!
Arts Editor: LakeSuperiorNews.com