reviews

Reviews

New York

Washington

Philadelphia

Boston

Flagstaff

Daily Sun 2003 Jul

Daily Sun 2003 Mar

Daily Sun 2004 Apr

Hudson Valley

Anchorage

Utah

"...Conductor Randall Craig Fleischer has been promising a collaboration with pop musicians for some years now and with the Hawk Project concert, has delivered a performance worthy of Tanglewood or Wolf Trap...."

 

Summer FSO concert worthy of a larger audience

by Jack Doggett

 

The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra brought one of the finest concerts in their history to Ardrey auditorium Tuesday night. Principal Conductor Randall Craig Fleischer has been promising a collaboration with pop musicians for some years now and with the Hawk Project concert, has delivered a performance worthy of Tanglewood or Wolf Trap. The Hawk Project rocked.

 

The five-member band is primarily form the Hudson Valley of New York, which inspires their native based music. It must be a beautiful and special place. Ken Little Hawk is the Renaissance man of the group, composing, singing and playing a range of instruments. Their music was mesmerizing, and struck me as transcendent, taking the listener to their soul’s depth. The FSO played with the Hawk Project based on arrangements by Maestro Fleischer, which were rich and complex. His arrangements included selections from Stravinsky which contrasted sharply in the traditional “Encouragement Song” of Native peoples. The lighting added to the drama of the evening, as the backdrop was lit in changing colors and shadows, reflecting the moods of the works. The FSO played the opening movement of Dvorak’s “New World” symphony featuring the flute of the Hawk Project member Dennis Yerry, a Iroquois composer. It was full of pathos and irony, with the lilting Native flute showing the contract of the “new” world and the one occupied for millennia before white men arrived on American shores.

 

The Hawk Project’s work is a fusion of jazz and New Age. The players would drift from a five-man flute chorus to a drum circle. Their lead instruments are saxophone, Native flute and a MIDI wind instrument that puts out very modern sounds. Even Randy Fleischer performed with a rattle, keeping rhythm during some of the riffs by the Hawks. The FSO brought out what appeared to be their entire percussion inventory, racks of bells and gongs and springs, and well used them all.

 

The FSO opened the concert with the original chamber version of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.” It was clear and tight and worthy. The work is a suite of dance music and made me long to see the dancers on stage. The solos of the three wind principals were excellent – Laura Barron on flute, Kent Moore playing bassoon, and particularly Jon Eder played exquisite clarinet.

 

Also on the program was the Saint-Saens “Carnival of the Animals.” It contains some familiar and whimsical works, perfect for a summer program. Frank Scott joined Rita Borden on double pianos, delivering much of the romp and hilarity of the piece. Scott will be the featured soloist in a fall FSO concert.

 

The FSO also brought pianist Wendy Chen to town for a solo recital on Monday night at the Trinity Heights Church. Chen performed very well, with an athletic yet graceful performance style. The Baldwin grand at Trinity Heights held its tune, but has no depth. Chen’s very energetic playing was suited to a finer instrument. The concert was enjoyable, particularly the Romantic arrangement of Bach by the inventive Italian composer F. B. Busoni. Her final work, the Grand Polonaise by Chopin, seemed to please the audience. I wanted more from Chen. She did not speak of herself or her chosen works. Like most younger players, she failed to establish rapport with the audience, which is an expectation of soloists in more intimate settings such as Trinity Heights.