Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 24, 2022

Review: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, "Sensational Beginnings"

Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
by Rebecca Phelps
The evening of October 22, 2022 was a banner accomplishment for the Springfield Symphony, our treasured and long-lived local orchestra; the largest professional orchestra in the state outside of Boston. Although there were far too many empty seats in the house, the audience was lively, responsive, and ready to cheer on the musicians for their long-awaited opening night back in Symphony Hall after a two-year hiatus.
This year's theme is a celebration of "Fearless Women in music" and Saturday's performance featured an outstanding guest conductor, Joann Falletta. Falletta's extensive biography shows her to be imminently qualified as a "fearless woman" having been awarded several Grammys, holding graduate and Ph.D. level degrees from Julliard, and as a nationally and internationally recognized conductor. Her rapport with the orchestra was evident from their responsive playing to her concise and communicative gestures.
The opening number was a lesser known but absolutely charming piece by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967): Dances of Galanta. It featured the woodwinds in particular, each of whom had solo passages interspersed by very rhythmic full orchestral responses. The dance-like figures recall the gypsy-style Hungarian folk music which Kodaly grew up hearing and is famous for incorporating into his music.
Joshua Roman
The much beloved Elgar Cello Concerto was next on the program, played by the young up-and-coming cellist from Oklahoma, Joshua Roman. The Elgar is a highly romantic and lush piece and Roman played with delicacy and nuance. He is an eclectic musician known for his genre bending repertoire and collaborations with other art forms which give him a special awareness of the communication between the orchestra, the conductor, and soloist.  
After intermission, the final piece on the program was Czech composer Dvorak's great Symphony #7. Here the SSO caught fire with this full-scale, dramatic and challenging symphony. It was such a delight to hear them back in full force, taking the stage as the accomplished, polished, and professional musicians that they are.  We have missed this amazing jewel of a symphony orchestra, one which puts Springfield on the map of any music lover's GPS.