Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Night at the Williamsburg Waterfront: Orchestra of St. Luke's plays "Just Add Water" concert of summer favorites at East River State Park

Tonight, as the day's awful heat and humidity subsided slightly, we went over to East River State Park at the Williamsburg Waterfront for a delightful ninety-minute concert, "Just Add Water," with the Orchestra of St. Luke's playing summer favorites from Bach and Mozart to Joplin, Bernstein, Copeland and Lennon & McCartney.

We arrived at the park really early. Although most of these seats never filled up, there was a decent-sized crowd of all different ages, including tons of little kids with their parents.

It's just that most of the audience sitting at the benches on the concrete section in front of the stage or in the VIP section seats off to the side, or as most people were, lying on the grass close to the stage and out by the water.

The music carried. First, members of the Orchestra of St. Luke's Brass Ensemble played the three movements of the Russian composer Victor Ewald's Brass Quintet No. 1 Op. 5 (in B flat, we think).

Next the Brass Ensemble played songs from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess like the obvious "Summertime" and "A Woman Is a Sometime Thing." It was incredibly pleasant to be sitting there as a breeze wafted in from the East River.

The ensemble also played the Bach's 7th Symphony contrapuntal and "When the Saints Go Marching In" as they were joined by some strings.

Then, after a brief intermission, the whole Orchestra of St. Luke's came onstage, with Gary Fagin conducting and doing a wonderful job of putting the evening's program of classics into historical perspective for a general audience.

It was a splendid, easy program for a summer night as the sky darkened and an almost-full moon took the place of the warm sun: from Haydn's Fireworks and Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik to the classic ragtime of Scott Joplin's The Entertainer and Bethena Waltz as well as Tom Turpin's St. Louis Rag.

Then there were favorite selections from Gershwin's An American in Paris, Richard Rodgers' "Bewitched" from Pal Joey, medleys of Beatles songs by Lennon and McCartney and Star Wars by John Williams, West Side Story by Bernstein, and Aaron Copland's Hoedown from Rodeo. And the encore was a lovely movement from Schumann's Kinderszenen.

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