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by Daniel Hathaway

EJ-Thomas-exteriorThere were no speeches on Saturday evening when Christopher Wilkins and the Akron Symphony celebrated the fortieth anniversary of E.J. Thomas Hall, just plenty of rich orchestral sound, cleverly designed to make a dry acoustical space ring with festive sonority.

Canny programming added to the celebratory nature of the evening. Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture (led by UA’s Guy Victor Bordo) contributed a sense of gravitas to a joint observance between the ASO and the University of Akron, and UA composer Nikola Resanovic’s infectious clarinet concerto provided bubbles for the anniversary toast. Richard Strauss’s brilliant orchestral tone poem (and monumental tribute to himself), Ein Heldenleben, gave the orchestra an opportunity to show itself off, something it did unabashedly and to brilliant effect.

One big factor in pulling this celebration off so successfully was Wilkins’s decision to fill out the string sections for the occasion, and to elevate winds and brass on a series of risers to better equalize balances and projection. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

AkronBaroque2013-1Short symphonies by Michael Haydn, his older brother Joseph Haydn, and J.S. Bach’s youngest son, Johann Christian Bach, were the Rococo entries on the final concert of Akron Baroque Chamber Orchestra’s season on Thursday, May 16 under the direction of Guy Victor Bordo, but the 17-member professional ensemble, founded by Amy Barlowe, also recalled its central mission with a Vivaldi concerto starring the violin-bass duo of Amber and Maximilian Dimoff. (Amber is a member of Akron Baroque; her husband is principal bass of The Cleveland Orchestra).

Presented in the fine acoustical ambiance of the sanctuary of First Congregational Church with its elegant, wrap-around balcony, the 90-minute concert followed solidly in the tradition the ensemble has established: attractive and accessible music masterfully played on modern instruments with a nod to historical performance practice but without any self-conscious fussiness. Read the rest of this entry »

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