Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 2, 2015

Blood, Sweat, Tears, Earth, Wind, Fire

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA
March 31, 2015
by Eric Sutter

Shifting rhythms and superb vocal dynamics combined to make this rock n' soul extravaganza kick out joyous and positive musical exuberance backed by the grand Springfield Symphony Orchestra. A star of the evening was the brass section, which performed back up to every number from ballads to mid-tempo rock excursions to complex jazz/funk workouts with room enough for numerous solos.

Conductor Mitch Tyler proved magnificent as he led the orchestra in the classic Chicago hit "Beginnings" with vocalist Jean Meilleur and Sunderland, MA trumpeter Jeff Homes. David Blamires shifted to lead vocalist for Earth, Wind & Fire's hit singles "September," "Let's Groove" and "Sing A Song." Incidentally, Blamires' jazzy soulful vocals were featured when he was a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1986-1997.

 Meilleur hit his high mark with BST's heavy brass gospel rock "And When I Die," accompanied by some fancy bowing on the violin by concertmaster and first violinist Masako Yanagita. Chicago's 1970 hit "Make Me Smile" closed the first half of the concert with a crescendo of strings, woodwinds, percussion and brass.

 Blood, Sweat & Tears "Spinning Wheel" lit up the ready audience for part two. Vocalists Stephanie Ann Martin and Kathryn Rose showed off their skills on Chicago's ballad "If You Leave Me Now," creating beautiful female harmony. Blamires funked out to "Got to Get You into My Life" with smooth horn accents. "Boogie Wonderland" upped the fun with disco sound for dance enthusiasts. The poignant Chicago ballad "Color My World" soothed the audience with its memorable piano solo introduction by John Regan and flute solo by Albert Brower. The Grammy winner "After the Love is Gone" kept the good vibe.

A dynamic battle ensued in Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" between first violinist Yanagita and the "Jeans n' Classics" band guitarist Peter Brennan -- it was a draw! The closer was the traditional "God Bless The Child" with nice sustained notes. The band yielded to horns galore blowing encore of the spirited funk of "Shining Star" to end the Pops season with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.