Dearborn Symphony’s annual pop concert turns brass into gold

PhyllisAlchemy is a chemical science, best understood from a speculative viewpoint. The philosophy is aimed to achieve the transformation of base metals into gold. As a result, the alchemist creates his treasure through a seemingly magical process.

Like a musical alchemist, under the charmed wand of pop conductor Rich Ridenour, the Dearborn Symphony’s program “Brass-A-Ma-Tazz” turned scores of black notes into gold tones. The spell was cast Feb. 5 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center when special guest artist — and the conductor’s son — trumpeter Brandon Ridenour commanded center stage.

Father-and-son team Ridenour, together with the Dearborn Symphony mesmerized the audience. The 2016 pop concert opened with John William’s “Olympic Fanfare.” It was followed by Scott Joplin’s “Easy Winners.”

Enchanting performances included principal clarinet Joshua Anderson, clarinetist Seth Larson, and principal trumpet Mike McGowan.

Brandon Ridenour introduced his own kind of rich sound magic, as the concert continued with Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” (from “Rocky”), and Leroy Anderson’s “Trumpeter’s Lullaby.”

Louis Armstrong’s “Cornet Chop Suey,” highlighted a small number of hypnotic performances from the guest artist and orchestra. Brandon Ridenour, Anderson, trombonist Dave Pydyn, double bassist Steve Mckenzie, and tuba player Neal Campbell executed flawless mastery.

The spellbinding musical flow continued with Leonard Bernstein’s “America.” Richard Ridenour’s piano solo electrified the audience.

Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” included captivating performances by Brandon Ridenour and principal cellist Yawen Hsu.

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” contained entrancing performances by both Ridenours, McKenzie and percussionist Steve Kegler.

“Virgen de la Macarena,” arranged by Charles Koff and illuminated by Brandon Ridenour’s trumpet play, signaled the end of first half of the evening’s program.

Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” announced part two of brass magic, followed by Leroy Anderson’s “Married Life” (from the movie “Up”) where performances by Joshua Anderson, Brandon Ridenour and violinist Dan Wyinnick rose to the top.

Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday” levitated outstanding performances by trumpeters John Hartwick, Jason Borngesser and McGowan. The symphony followed with a tribute to the Beatles, highlighting “Yesterday” and “Penny Lane.”

What pop concert could be complete without a resounding tribute to pop culture’s John Williams’ “Star War?” All sections of the orchestra stormed the scores with masterful resolve. The audience cheered, calling for three encores.

It started with “Sempre Fidelis” – the official of the U.S. Marine Corps — where the orchestra enchanted. That was followed by “Carnival of Venice,” availing a virtuoso opportunity for Brandon Ridenour and his trumpet to shine.

The last encore, “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” was a testament to Brandon Ridenour’s sweet and soulful melodic artistry.

In all, it was a night of treasured music that appeared and disappeared with the wave of a wand.

The Dearborn Symphony continues the experience of live music at 8 p.m. March 4 with “From Beethoven’s Piano to Dvorak’s Dance!” featuring guest pianist Pauline Martin. Music of Wagner, Beethoven, Chadwick, Grant Still and Dvorak promises to entertain.

Ticket prices range from $10 to $30. For more information call 313-565-2424 or go to