For me, this was the final concert of the New York Philharmonic until the new seasons starts in September. Conducted by Bramwell Tovey, the orchestra presented an interesting array of lesser-known and well-known music with a “space” theme.
John Adams – Short Ride in a Fast Machine
Offenbach – Ballet of the Snowflakes from The Trip to the Moon
Jos. Strauss – Music of the Spheres
Holst – The Planets (backed by the film, The Planets – An HD Odyssey)
I enjoyed Tovey’s usual commentary before each selection. He’s humorous and sets a relaxed tone to what could be a little stuffy (going to the symphony). While the playing wasn’t the best I’ve heard from the Philharmonic (it sounded under-rehearsed), I enjoyed a program of music I largely hadn’t heard previously. While I am familiar with Holst’s The Planets, I didn’t know the story behind it. I didn’t think the film added much, though – just a bunch of NASA images. After Mars and Venus, it got a little old.
The first of two concerts at the start of each summer hosted by conductor Bramwell Tovey, the 4th of July Summertime Classics concert consisted of appropriately American music – Copland, Bernstein, Sousa and the U.S. Coast Guard Band under the direction of Capt. Kenneth W. Megan.
The program opened with Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo and Tovey’s The Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret featuring Principal Trombonist, Joesph Alessi. I loved the Copland, but the Tovey was nonsense.
The second half featured the Coast Guard Band performing various marches and a band composition by Kenneth Hesketh called Masque and a Clare Grundman arrangement of 4 songs from Bernstein’s Candide.
The program ended with Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. Tovey is a good host, full of humor and charm. I can see why the Philharmonic invites him back year after year.
Based on a 2005 film, the new musical Kinky Boots won 6 Tony Awards this year, including best musical. It is a “feel good” musical with an important message. The performance of Billy Porter as Simon/Lola was pretty remarkable and worthy of the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He was definitely working hard.
I’m glad I got to see it, in a prime seat no less – Mezzanine, Row A, Seat 1 (on the aisle). The price of theater tickets, however, is out of control. No matter how good the two and a half hours of entertainment – it’s not worth $150.