Omaha Symphony Music Director Thomas Wilkins had a confession to make at Friday night’s MasterWorks concert.
He told the crowd he considered talking about Duke Ellington’s “Harlem” before the orchestra played it, but rejected that idea.
“I thought ‘I’ll walk out with a little grin, and just whack ’em over the head,’ ” Wilkins said.
Never during my own study of opera was I given the advice, “Bigger belt buckles and more denim, please.” But on Saturday night at the Holland Center, under the baton of music director Thomas Wilkins, the Omaha Symphony and the Texas Tenors presented operatic skill, buckles and blue jeans to prove there is a lid for every pot.
The British are coming! Or, rather, they did come — at least in spirit — to the Holland Center on Saturday night with Billy McGuigan and the Omaha Symphony.
Audiences were delighted from start to finish as the McGuigan brothers and friends took a symphonic tour of some of the greatest hits and most sensitive deep tracks that 1960s British rock brought to the States.
Unfortunately, Adele, Adam Levine, Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli and Smokey Robinson never played any concerts together in Omaha. But on Saturday evening at the Holland Center, through the versatility of doo-wop, the Omaha Symphony in collaboration with the Doo Wop Project was able to give audiences a delightful glimpse of what such a show might have been like.
This has to be said: It was a grand night for singing.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to steal a riff from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “State Fair” to rave about a concert featuring Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Nothing transforms whatever is “old” into something new and exciting again like spring cleaning — and that is the satisfaction the Omaha Symphony delivered on Friday night at the Holland Center.
The theme was a night of prodigies. The three works featured were not only written by young geniuses of their eras, but were also examples of stylistic or personal milestones in their careers.
Symphonygoers were able to see a vivid recreation of entertainment history at the Holland Center on Saturday night. Under the baton of the resident and principle pops conductor, Ernest Richardson, the Omaha Symphony Orchestra presented the arrangements of Judy Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall performance and live album. That album won the 1962 Grammy for Album of the Year and has been in print ever since.
In a short, twinkly silver dress — accessorized by a huge, engaging grin — singer Darlene Love bounced out to the Holland Center stage Saturday night and launched into a rocking version of a 37-year-old gospel song.
“Please be patient with me,” she sang with the Omaha Symphony in its first pops concert of the new year. “God is not through with me yet.”
She’s got that right. Love still has the stuff she had in the 1960s as a vocalist for uber-successful producer Phil Spector, known for his “wall of sound.” And she could have delivered a perfectly credible and enjoyable program singing only that music.
A small army of witches and wizards descended upon the Holland Center Sunday afternoon for the mirth, magic and music of Symphony Spooktacular, a Harry Potter-themed Halloween concert from the Omaha Symphony.
The Omaha Symphony served up a musical feast Friday night. The main course, which occupied the second half of the program, was Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” a meal in itself. Epic, radical and inspired at the time of its composition, it is no less thrilling today, and the Omaha Symphony gave a remarkable reading of this almost hourlong piece.
It was the classiest circus performance I’ve ever seen.
Cirque Musica, a group that mixes acrobatics, magic and other acts with classical repertoire, brought its “Crescendo” program to the Holland Center on Saturday night to perform with the Omaha Symphony. The result was an evening of stirring orchestral favorites paired with the gutsy moves of 10 talented, athletic performers.
Zap! Pow! Bam! Saturday night, the Omaha Symphony delivered a thrilling night of musical derring-do with Superheroes!, an evening featuring music from films and television shows featuring Batman, Superman and Spider-Man.