Dearborn Symphony’s ‘Love You to Death!’ concert reminds audience the music lives

Phyllis“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
― Victor Hugo

That which cannot be reduced to words, and which refuses to remain quiet must have inspired great masters like Sergei Prokofiev, Peter Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov, featured composers in the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra’s “Love You to Death!” concert March 3 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Perhaps, the same struggle, to communicate that which cannot easily be uttered in words, also inspired young guest composer Jon Anderson and his “Juliet.” Keeping in rhythmic accord with this wordless yet expressive rendering, guest pianist Daniel Lebhardt and the Dearborn Symphony, under the passionate and expressive baton of Music Director and Conductor Kypros Markou, had plenty to say.

Continuing its 55th season with the playfully named concert, the Dearborn Symphony, guest composer, guest artist and Markou all refused to remain silent, as the night’s imaginative and poignant production unleashed powerful music themes of both love and loss.

The show opened with Prokofiev’s suites from “Romeo and Juliet.” The suites, selected by Markou for the occasion, opened with a light and exuberant “Young Juliet,” and moved to a stately and noble “Romeo by the Fountain,” followed by the elegant and graceful “Morning Dance.”

Of course, no story of Romeo and Juliet is complete without the feuding, cacophonies of “Montagues and Capulets,” ending sadly and tragically with “Romeo at the Grave of Juliet.”

Markou and the orchestra masterfully brought out each character and mood represented in each suite as the strings played with vitality and expression, the woodwinds played with warmth, and brass with brilliance. Beautiful solos included Denise Carter on flute; Joni Day, oboe; Joshua Anderson, clarinet; Mike McGowan, corornet; and David Foley, saxophone.

For the next piece, Markou selected a modern day living composer, who attended the performance and was able to speak to the audience about his work. Three years ago, Markou approached and encouraged the young composer Jon Anderson to compose “Juliet.”

The work opened with an intriguing string of 13 pulses, representing young Juliet’s age at her death. The piece transcended from a young girl’s story of love and death into a more futuristic time and place. It was an interesting addition to the program.

The performance continued with Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.” Under acting concertmaster Debra Terry, the strings sounded rich and lush, the woodwinds, and the horns played with energy and passion. The relationship between conductor and symphony was masterful and deliberate.

Overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the performance, the audience praised the symphony with a standing ovation.

The close was Rachmaninov’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18.” Lebhardt expressed genuine musical charisma as he closed the night’s performance with this endearing and appealing work.

There were a few moments Lebhardt might have been overpowered by the orchestra; however, the audience responded warmly to his very likable demeanor and overall performance. Flutes and clarinets also played beautifully, adding their own virtuosity to the night’s close.

A standing ovation to the close brought Lebhardt back for an encore. He soulfully played Frank Shubert’s “Hungarian Melody.”

The Dearborn Symphony continues its 55th season April 7 with its pops concert, “Cartoons & Comics in Concert!” featuring pops conductor and pianist Rich Ridenour. The concert will feature memorable music from superhero comic characters, TV, video games and the Silver Screen.

Ticket prices range from $15 to $35 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. For tickets or more information call 313-565-2424 or go to dearbornsymphony.org.