The Eastman Theatre was filled with music by some of the “greatest composers and lyricists that Broadway has to offer” this weekend, according to conductor Mark McLaren ? as well as many of the people in the audience, judging by the volume of applause. McLaren conducted the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in a Pops Concert entitled “Broadway in Love.”
McLaren is a well-known conductor from the Broadway circuit, having recently conducted the musicals “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Titanic.” Additionally, he has raised thousands of dollars to help in the fight against AIDS.
Three great Broadway singers ? sopranos Linda Balgord, Christianne Tisdale and tenor Mark Jacoby ? joined the RPO, singing songs from various musicals.
The concert opened with Rodgers’ “Cinderella Overture,” which the orchestra played energetically with solid violin and trumpet soloists. After the overture, the group performed music by Berlin, including songs from the musicals “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Call Me Madame.”
With Tisdale wearing a dazzling red dress and Balgord in a dark blue gown, the singers stunned the audience with their performance visually as well as aurally.
Balgord’s delicate yet powerful voice was nicely paired with Tisdale’s slightly more youthful sound. Both were professional and charming.
The addition of Jacoby’s “dark, rich tenor,” as one audience member said, created a wonderful trio of voices.
Throughout the evening, the audience showed their appreciation for this trio with thunderous applause at the ends of the pieces.
Next, the orchestra played selections from “Kiss Me Kate.” One man in the audience, who had seen the musical in Washington, D.C. this past summer, aptly described the performance. “After hearing the RPO play, it’s not a large leap to envision the full musical, costumes and all,” he said.
The first half of the concert ended with Jacoby’s amazing rendition of the title song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “Sunset Boulevard.”
After the intermission and a solid performance of the overture to “Oklahoma,” the singers came back out on stage to sing selections from the musicals “Cinderella” and “Carousel.” In new outfits, the trio treated the jam-packed audience to another hour of wonderful music, filled with great characterizations and humor.
During the applause following “Ten Minutes Ago” from Cinderella, Jacoby and Tisdale exchanged kisses before she left the stage. Then, Jacoby and Balgord sang a song from Rodger’s “Carousel,” which again ended with a kiss between the two singers.
The song from “Pipe Dream,” “All At Once You Love Her,” was perhaps one of the strongest pieces performed during the evening. Beginning with just Jacoby and a harpist, singers and instruments were quickly added to create a rich sound. People broke into applause almost before the orchestra had finished playing.
The rest of the concert was just as good. The performers sang “My Funny Valentine” from Rodger’s “Babes in Arms,” in which they claimed to love people “who can’t play golf or tennis or polo.”
They ended the concert with a selection from Webber’s “Aspects of Love,” entitled “Love Changes Everything.” As the piece was ending with the line, “love will never let you be the same,” the audience had already broken into applause.
The Eastman Theatre was full that evening, as it is for all RPO concerts. Concerts performed by student groups are free and extremely professional, and yet rarely draw crowds even half the size of the one that attended Saturday night’s performance.
Unfortunately, it seems as though a vast majority of Rochesterians feel that the music can’t be great unless there are tickets to buy ? a misconception that causes them to miss out on a lot of excellent performances.
Luckily for the ticket-paying concertgoers, this RPO concert was worth their money.
Jansen can be reached at email@example.com.