Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 19, 2009

Dionne Warwick

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
by Eric Sutter

Elegant, graceful and soulful... these words describe popular music icon Dionne Warwick. Through Motown, the British Invasion, Heavy Metal, the 70's singer-songwriter era, Disco and the Big 80's she has weathered the musical storm with class and integrity.

Nightfall in Springfield brought guest maestro Sean Burton to conduct the Springfield Symphony. The evening began with a drum roll into the "Star Spangled Banner." It continued with "The Barber of Seville Overture" by Rossini with the strings and woodwinds mighty expression of passion accented by a flute solo. Then came two selections by Stevie Wonder with "Isn't She Lovely" and "You Are The Sunshine of My Life." An 80's drum beat led to the theme song from "Fame" with the soothing sound of strings which lulled the piece into a wonderful crescendo of percussive happy rhythm.

Dionne Warwick's selections were like a stroll down memory lane of heartache, harmony and heavenly sounds. Songs like "Close To You", "Walk on By" and "Anyone Who Ever Had A Heart" brought a warm assurance of the past. The night was cherished as the audience perked up to sing "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." Some of these are defining moments in music and Warwick's alto voice, although weathered, was still magical. "Message to Michael", "Say A Little Prayer", and "Alfie" demonstrated how her beautiful voice is like a violin with its lilt and fall between notes. The strings supported the Brazilian music she interpreted as her back up band employed a bosa nova rhythm with congas, shakers and drums. "Do You Know The Way to San Jose" was pitched nicely and featured an extended piano solo. Warwick hit and held some high notes on "I'll Never Love This Way Again." "What The Word Needs Now" became the perfect audience sing-along to close. Her encore was breathtaking... her landmark recording to fight AIDS, "That's What Friends Are For."