THUNDER BAY, ON --- February 13, 2012 --- Saturday night’s TBSO performance in Thunder Bay, with Natalie Choquette marked my second pops concert ever by our great orchestra. Being a lover of the classics and looking at the programme I knew that I would enjoy the concert, after all it was full of well known opera arias and show tunes.
As it turns out this was much more than just a stage performance, for we were dealing with a diva. A great diva with a problem, she had no one for a Valentine date. Thus through the music presented on stage and a variety of outlandish costumes (unless worn by a diva) Natalie Choquette told her story of a love forlorn soprano while at the same time delivering a sterling vocal performance of her arias and show tunes.
Music is a challenge these days and performers and organizations presenting music must re-invent themselves if they want the audience to keep on coming. Being good is no longer good enough and so the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is always in search of the artist with something extra. Natalie Choquette not only has talent, she is blessed with a great sense of humour.
Sitting from the loges I had a great view of the stage and I was looking closely at the orchestra members to see which ones had a good sense of humour and those who brought their lunch bucket to the show. As the show progressed “Zelda” Natalie’s stage name liberally applied her affections to the maestro Arthur Post. According to a well placed symphony official none of the “Act” was rehearsed on stage so the act developed as a surprise to both orchestra and conductor alike. It soon became obvious that Tomas Cosbey was having too good a time. “Zelda” had the cure for him; she took the music from his stand and led him around the stage playing while trying to keep the music in focus. Finally Tom was playing from the floor and “Zelda” ended up rolling over his sheet music.
Such antics done in this way are funny; they provide a visual and theatrical element. If the audience is not caught up by the great music, then they take a curious interest in the developing shtick. Anyone with a good background in education can tell you that people respond to the same stimuli differently. By adding different sources of stimuli to a show naturally more people will respond to the show. This is why artists coming to perform need to have something extra to attract audiences. They must be either extremely talented or very creative. Last Saturday night we witnessed both.
I have heard people talk about this concert. “Natalie Choquette ... ... I thought she died on stage. The Maestro had to check her pulse”! The comment show how much musicians can be caught up in a good story.
The music from the TBSO is always good. Just the core members of the symphony were playing for the Saturday concert. This is a very tight orchestra. Little things can make a good performance great. I really enjoyed listening to the introductory crescendos on several pieces. I am sure that Arthur Post must have gone over those measures a few times in practice to get the effect he wanted. In my opinion the brass players deserved honourable mention.
“My Funny Valentine” was the perfect show for Valentine’s Day. Because there were so many stimuli, musical, visual and theatrical the chances were good that the show would appeal to a wider audience. This type of planning meant that the spouse who was doing penance or being dragged out might actually enjoy themselves if only by accident.
I am anxiously waiting the return to the Community Auditorium of Monica Whicher as she performs with the TBSO in “Hometown Diva” Don’t miss this show February 23, 2012.