Columbus Symphony Orchestra Happy Hour a Musically Glowing, Magical Journey with ‘Firebird’

Columbus Symphony Orchestra Happy Hour a Musically Glowing, Magical Journey with ‘Firebird’

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra‘s recent Ohio Theatre Happy Hour provided patrons a musically glowing, magical journey, ultimately finishing with Igor Stravinsky‘s ‘Firebird.’

I was glad to attend the CSO event — Columbus has continually offered many opportunities to gain cultural experience and the CSO complimentary concert series is another fine example of their investment into the artistic enrichment of the community.

For instance, I was blown away by the BalletMet show Twisted last year, produced in collaboration with CSO and Opera Columbus at The Ohio Theatre. It was so spectacular, I watched it twice. So when the occasion arose to check out CSO and Guest Conductor Brett Mitchell for Now It’s Dark, I invited friends, packed up my teenagers and made my way downtown for the show.

There is something special about the palpable energy in the Ohio Theatre during an event. The space lends itself to dressing up and metaphorically returning to a past history displaying the charm and opulence of the 1920s.

Arriving early provided ample leisure time to sample appetizers and catch up with friends and acquaintances. We ran into tax expert/fitness maven Teri Gaa and administrator/artist Mary Brown Frey. These ladies were shortly followed by Chris Albanese, who works in the Governor’s office and is also a member of Columbus Young Professionals (CYP). Franklin County magistrate Jennifer Hanysh said hello while Jennifer Barry, a photographer and model, reminded me that she is participating in Alternative Fashion Week’s kickoff show Saturday, April 18. Kimete Seferi, sitting with her friend, mentioned running a marathon in California next week. And so it went, catching up until a core group of us took our seats in the second row.

WOSUs Christopher Purdy was the consummate avuncular host, beginning the show while stepping the audience through transitions with entertaining trivia and background. Purdy introduced Brett Mitchell, the guest conductor, who is also the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director of the Cleveland Youth Orchestra.

The approximately 60-minute performance featured Jennifer Higdon’s Peachtree Street, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D 759 (“Unfinished”) and Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird (1919 version). The 2014-15 concert series was presented by PNC Arts Alive with additional support from Watershed Distillery and the Johnstone Fund for New Music.

PNC Arts Alive is a multi-year, $2.5 million initiative of the PNC Foundation supporting visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement in new and innovative ways.

“We know what art can do, how it changes perspectives, even changes lives,” PNC Regional President Michael Gonsiorowski said. “From classical music and fine art to dance and theatre, we’re committed to keeping the arts alive in central Ohio.”

Without a doubt, CSO left the most powerful, highest energy performance for the finale of the show. Even Purdy wanted to experience Stravinsky’s music from the audience and he stepped out stage right to join us in the crowd. The Firebird felt like a magical journey, resplendent melodic vacillations with the subtlety and character of a fine wine.

I was left wanting more — more Stravinsky and that’s a sign the musicians touched me. There are many exciting events transpiring summer — to your benefit, make visiting the Columbus Symphony Orchestra one of your destinations.

Tony Bentivegna

Tony Bentivegna writes reviews, articles and photographs for NID Magazine and can be reached at [email protected]