Dearborn Symphony Pops Concert commands royal performance

phyllisMarch 29 was a night of royal entertainment at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, when the Dearborn Symphony and four guest artists under the noble baton of Rich Ridenour honored three regal musical legends.

The stately legends, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney, are three of the most successful songwriters of all time. They also happen to be actual knights. It goes without saying, it was a night of knights, honoring their lasting musical influence with music from their respective storied careers.

The program was announced from the stage, as each musical arrangement unfolded with surprise and delight. Memorable arrangements from Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” John’s “Funeral for a Friend” and McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” filled the night with easily remembered, beloved favorites of each of the gallant knights.

The guest artists — vocalist Scott Coulter, pianist John Boswell, singer and actress Lorinda Lisitza, and singer and keyboardist Campbell Walker Fields — were a majestic force of their own. The Broadway four, slated to play with the Detroit Symphony in June, were awesome entertainers. Coulter was charming, Boswell dynamic, Lisitza powerful and Fields distinct. Together they were a powerhouse of entertainment.

Ridenour, the symphony’s pops conductor, did a wonderful job of flawlessly bringing together the Broadway four and the musicians of the symphony. Memorable musicians included principal bassoon Jon Boyd, who showed his versatility when he stepped in to conduct for Ridenour while Ridenour on piano wowed the audience with his arrangement and mastery in “Funeral for a Friend.”

Equally memorable performances from principal flute Dennis Carter, tubaist Neal Campbell and drummer Jason Cassell rang out thoughout evening’s performance.

Dearborn Symphony President Sandy Butler could not have been more pleased.

“This was a full house,” she said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many people, excited to share their comments and well wishes for the night’s performance, made their way over to me and praised the performers, musicians and conductor. I am very excited and pleased about the season’s Pops Concert.”

The Dearborn Symphony will host the last of its three auditions for the permanent position of music director and conductor at 8 p.m. May 3 at the Ford Center. Nick Palmer will conduct the season finale featuring music from stage and screen.

Selections will include favorites from John Williams, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. Also celebrating the future of music, the Dearborn Youth Symphony will play alongside the Dearborn Symphony in Williams’ “The Cowboys Overture.”

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