Monday, June 15, 2015

concert review - ALFIE BOE with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra - June 5, 2015

"Who knew that inside the English tenor opera singer turned musical theatre recording artist, and PBS pledge drive star Alfie Boe was a comedian and budding rocker? ... Boe was in town recently for a concert performance with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and while, at first, he may not have been a household name to everyone in the audience, the combination of his infectious rapport with humorous patter, a wide range of song styles that included classic rock tunes, and his astounding vocal abilities made his name one that no one who saw him will soon forget.

The concert was split into two equally perfect halves, with the first act focusing on musical theatre and the second showing off Boe's and the orchestra's abilities to perform opera and rock songs. Boe was actually a replacement for an ailing Colm Wilkinson who had originally rescheduled his concerts only to then have to cancel them. (Having Boe sub for Wilkinson made sense, since Wilkinson originated the part of Valjean in Les Misérables.)

The concert started off with a superb medley of songs from that musical, showing off the sublime skills of the orchestra as they played the sweeping motifs from the well-known score, then Boe delivered two back to back powerhouse songs from the show. "Who Am I?" is a song that Boe has sung many times and he perfectly got across the meaning of the lyrics and hit the passionate notes required. "Bring Him Home" is probably the one song that people have heard Boe sing more than any other, and hearing him sing the song live was an emotional experience that brought the audience to its feet....On "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime, his voice fit perfectly with the lyrics. It was nice that the arrangement for this song was very close to the original Broadway one, yet the fullness of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra provided a richness that you'd never hear in a production of this show with a much smaller group of musicians...The Symphony delivered a romantic "Carousel Waltz" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that was full of nuance and was followed by Boe singing a stirring version of that show's "You'll Never Walk Alone." ...Act two contained both classical and rock songs, including several traditional Italian and Spanish folk songs that featured some impeccable violin solos by Magdalena Martinic-Jercic. The orchestra also delivered superb suites from two operas, Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana. Three rock songs ended the act with Boe belting out powerhouse versions of two Pete Townshend songs from the classic Who rock opera Quadrophenia, "I'm One" and "Love Reign O'er," which he also performs on a recording ("Classic Quadrophenia") that was just released this week. Snow Patrol's "Run" was the final number with Boe's voice blending beautifully with the superb arrangement of this pop hit. Boe came back and delivered a stunning a capella version of "Danny Boy" as his encore, which ended the evening on a perfect note.

Conductor David Hattner, who was making his first appearance with the Symphony, did a exceptional job of conducting the wide range of musical styles and had a touching connection with both Boe and the orchestra. The sound at Symphony Hall is so superb that you can clearly hear not only the solo moments but also the contribution that each instrument makes to the whole...." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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