By PHYLLIS MORAITIS
The Dearborn Symphony, under the swanky baton of conductor Steven Jarvi and the swell stylings of guest pianist Melissa Coppola opened its 60th Diamond Jubilee season Oct. 8 with moxie. With a tribute to the music of the Roaring Twenties, the symphony, guest artist, and solo performers made performing look like duck soup.
The musical celebration began with a wingding in Studio A. The joint hopped with talented hoofers from the Noretta Dunworth School of Dance. It was the bee’s knees when tomatoes dressed in oyster fruit, and spiffy cats enjoyed meeting, greeting, and hearing a small sample from Coppola.
Lively entertainment, savory hors d’ oeuvres and plenty of hooch made the pre-glow speakeasy party the berries.
Dearborn Symphony President Sandy Butler sang like a canary about the event.
“We are committed in doing everything we can to keep music lovers safe, while keeping the music live,” Butler said. “Examples of this is the new one-hour show, no intermission, masks are encouraged, free and on hand. We are working to make social distance seating arrangement for the house. Nothing upstage, just good clean fun. Welcome back.”
The program started with a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard’s “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Musicians and conductor did not miss a beat. The relationship between the two remained stronger than ever.
While the percussion section, led by Steven Kegler, was busy the entire production, Jason Ihnat drew a lot of attention with his solo tap shoes on marble. There was a notable joy and appreciation of the live performance on all sides, musician, conductor as well as patrons.
Claude Debussy arr. Ravel’s “Danse” followed. It was evident the orchestra had fun playing these timeless classics.
Of course, no 1920’s show can be complete without “Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for the Orchestra” by John Harbison. The saxophone section made a rare appearance in the orchestra; however, Matt Younglove, playing both soprano and alto sax, was notably soulful and well executed.
Next on the program, W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” was exciting and reminiscent of the Flapper Era, a real toe-tapper. Another hallmark of the Roaring Twenties was Duke Ellington’s “Highlights from Sophisticated Ladies” arr. Lowden. The audience recalled familiar melodies written and made famous by Ellington.
The program closed with “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin; principal clarinet Jakob Lenhart was flawless. The principal trumpet played by Michael McGowan, sang out throughout the concert, but especially in this piece.
The highlight of the evening, Coppola delivered a dazzling performance. Her “Summertime” encore was a mesmerizing, unexpected treat.
The Dearborn Symphony continues its Diamond Jubilee season Nov. 19 with its next concert in the series “Mini Masterpieces from Around the World,” featuring music from Rossini, Debussy, Ibert, Sibelius and Bartok. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30 with discounts for students. Masks are encouraged and will be available free for patrons.