Twenty-five years ago next month, Whitney Houston canceled her first appearance at Omaha’s Civic Auditorium since 1987. She never made it back.
But last night, in the person of her former backup singer Amanda Cole, the Omaha Symphony audience experienced the reflected musical light of Houston’s once white-hot shooting star.
The talent and vocal accomplishments of the Oak Ridge Boys are beyond question. And in the best moments of Saturday night’s weekend opener with the Omaha Symphony, their loving audience could aurally bask in their full harmonic glory.
Matt Catingub’s annual spell of Omaha musical magic had a Latin sparkle — and he conjured it for Omaha’s orchestra first.
In his previous guest-conductor visits, Catingub energized the Omaha Symphony and excited audiences by drawing from a deep catalogue of rock and pop arrangements. Saturday night, however, marked the premiere of Catingub’s new “Latin Pop Revolution” show tracing south-of-the-border influences on big-band jazz, 1960s and ’70s rock and the dance tunes of more recent decades.
It’s hard to go wrong with a show featuring 20 selections from stellar songwriters George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern.
Throw in four Broadway singers with opera-quality voices, an orchestra that was in fine form and innovative staging that told a story with each song, and success is almost guaranteed.
No matter what type of music they come to hear, concertgoers expect to leave with some sense of completion.
That isn’t at all the theme of this weekend’s Omaha Symphony MasterWorks program, which presents the great “unfinished” 19th-century symphonies of Franz Schubert (1822) and Anton Bruckner (1896).
It’s a happy sign of modern times, not to mention this musical weekend in Omaha, that a highly accomplished concertmaster such as Susanna Perry Gilmore proudly calls herself a fiddler as well as a violinist.
“Celtic Journey,” debuted by the Omaha Symphony to frequent ovations Saturday night, will take its place as one of the most ebullient programs in the orchestra’s Holland Performing Arts Center decade.
The mysterious contrasts of Russia and its music — sometimes bright, often brooding, usually brash, always big — made for a truly compelling fourth annual Omaha Symphony winter festival.
Strong crowds greeted Music Director Thomas Wilkins, his finely honed ensemble and their intriguing guest soloists on both Friday and Saturday nights, reiterating Omahans’ enthusiasm for the showcase weekend of the annual MasterWorks series.
Reviewers aren’t supposed to be star-struck. That makes it particularly difficult for this reviewer to write about Bernadette Peters’ Saturday night performance with the Omaha Symphony without dwelling on my age — or hers.
Spring is in the air and with it a spirit of change. While change might not have first appeared as the overarching theme in Friday night’s performance by the Omaha Symphony, it nonetheless was a consistent thread through the evening, with music by composers who were transformative through the innovative music they created.