Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, the Dearborn Symphony, under the tender direction of pianist and guest conductor Rich Ridenour courted music lovers with some sweet Valentine’s Day notes.
While the cold weather challenged starry eyed patrons the, Ford Community & Performing Arts Center heated up the message with the help of charming guest vocalist Kathy Gibson and engaging violinist Barry Ross. Together with the symphony, the guest artists glorified a night of poetic love songs made to delight the romantic in everyone.
The program opened with Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler’s “Love.” The symphony gave all that they could give as they continued with Sergei Prokofieff’s “March-Love for Three Oranges,” followed by Ross’s stylings on the violin for Fritz Kriesler’s “Liebeslied” and “Liebesfreud.”
Gibson’s vocals rendered Adam Guettel’s “Hero and Leander” a winner. She continued with John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “Ring Them Bells.” Bell ringing patrons helped bring this score home. Smooth and sassy, Gibson’s voice rang out with unyielding character.
With all the bells and whistles of a variety show, Ridenour did a nice job of fusing classical and contemporary score. A showman, Ridenour dazzled on the keys as well as narrated the show with humor and musical trivia, closing with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Overture.”
The second half of the show opened with Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story Selections,” exciting and well executed, followed by Vittorio Monti’s “Czardas,” and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Somewhere in Time (18th Variation),” a beautiful rendition.
Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano,” Jules Massenet’s “Meditation from Thais,” Ervin T. Rouse’s “Orange Blossom Special” and “Funny Valentine,” a show tune from 1937 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart closed the show.
In all the love song theme of Valentine’s Day along with the sweet notes from so many well loved composers and musicians made for a heartfelt pre-Valentine evening.
March 13 marks the next Dearborn Symphony performance at the Ford Center in a show titled “Triumph of the Human Spirit!” featuring the music of Beethoven and Shostakovich. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 to $30 and can be bought in advance or at the door; for more information go to dearbornsymphony.org or call 313-565-2424.