Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 25, 2010

Radiance - Music of Motown

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
October 25, 2010
by Eric Sutter

As freedom goes, the music of Motown is about joy. The magic of Motown was presented by the Las Vegas vocal quartet Radiance to a packed house of delighted fans. Guest conductor William Grimes did an "awesome" job of keeping the Symphony Orchestra in time with the hits of Motown. He began the evening with "The Star Spangled Banner." Radiance sparkled with their opening number by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, "Heat Wave." The purple dressed Divas combined to work the audience into a singing frenzy. All the ladies were lead vocalist quality and Wendy Edmead did her best to sing Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love." Lush harmonies and superb voices were crafted in support of classic Supremes' tunes "Come See about Me" and "Love Child" with the Symphony strings as excellent, albeit atypical, back up. The rhythm section of Land Richards on drums and Marcus Van on bass accompanied by Wilson Richardson on piano worked up the Donna Summer disco dance medley to close the first half.

The after intermission concert coaxed the audience into dancing in their seats (so to speak) with "Dancing in the Streets." Dancing ensued in the aisles with "I'm So Excited" along with an emotional piano solo. The girls flirted with the audience and the conductor. Dressed in gold, Edmead's solo "Natural Woman" was a very good interpretation of Lady Soul which imbued the audience with soulful memories. The mid-70's pop love ballad, "When Will I See You Again?" had a similar effect with a nice touch by the strings. "Love's Theme" began with the intricate violin playing of first violinist Masako Yanagita which weaved into the introduction as the girls cavorted in red evening gowns. They finished with a sweet voiced triple play of Supremes' favorites - a shot stopper. Flute, along with touches of percussion (especially xylophone) during the Diana Ross spoken portion of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a lovely change. Radiance  brought down the house with the hand clapping dance number by Sister Sledge, "We Are Family."