Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 29, 2022

REVIEW: MOSSO, "The Sondheim Celebration"

MOSSO: Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra 
June 23, 2022 
by Michael J. Moran 

Tim Stella
Having reestablished their classical bona fides after a Covid-forced hiatus with two spring concerts featuring Dvorak and Brahms as the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the same ensemble demonstrated their Broadway chops, under guest conductor Tim Stella, as MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) in a celebration of renowned musical theater composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim. All three concerts were in Springfield's Symphony Hall. 

The opening orchestral suite from “Sweeney Todd” revealed the full range of this haunting score with a symphonic depth rarely heard in the theater. The imaginative arrangements by Don Sebesky of this and five other numbers showcased all sections of the ensemble, from playful percussion, warbling woodwinds, and bustling brass to a warm, rich cushion of strings. Equally evocative were an instrumental suite from “Into the Woods,” with whistling by Hartford-based soprano Alice Matteson, and an orchestral “Send in the Clowns” (“A Little Night Music”), with tender solo turns by concertmaster Masako Yanagita and cellist Richard Mickey. 

Ten other selections were sung by four dynamic Broadway veterans. Highlights included Lisa Vroman’s panicky bride-to-be in “Not Getting Married Today” (“Company”), Ron Raines’ hilariously unfulfilled husband in “Now” (“A Little Night Music”), and Panaro’s animated almost-post-bachelor in “Being Alive” (“Company”). The aching purity of Florence Lacey’s voice in “Losing My Mind” (“Follies”) and “Send in the Clowns,” this time accompanied only by maestro Stella on piano, even evoked the incomparable Sondheim champion Barbara Cook. 

Spoken introductions by the singers, touching on their personal encounters with Sondheim, their previous experience working with each other over many years, and acknowledging an original cast member of “Company” in the audience (Dona D. Vaughn), deepened their intimate rapport with the enthusiastic audience.   

The evening closed, when two dozen Singers of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, prepared by Nikki Stoia, joined all the soloists, with a stunning rendition of the chorus “Sunday” which closes Act I of “Sunday in the Park with George.” The effect was uniquely magical, a feeling that clearly resonated with the many Sondheim fans present. 

The next MOSSO concert will be held at Symphony Hall on July 21 at 7:30 pm, when Kevin Rhodes leads a program of light classics, featuring music of John Williams.