ASO: Robert Spano with a Battalion of Guests

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra crammed a lot of people onto their stage for last night’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 under the baton of Robert Spano. They had to angle the sides of the acoustic shell so they sloped outward downstage to fit everyone in. The ASO Chorus mixed with the Morehouse College Glee Club were in the regular chorus seats up-stage. Just below them were the Gwinnett Young Singers flanked on either side by some of the women of the ASOC and the Spelman College Glee Club. The rest of the women were on risers flanking the stage, with their backs to the walls of the acoustic shell, facing inward and slightly downstage. The on-stage soloists occupied the sliver of space left downstage of the orchestra musicians. The lineup included sopranos Evelina Dobrańćeva and Erin Wall, mezzo-sopranos Michelle DeYoung and Kelly O’Connor, tenor Toby Spence, Baritone Russel Braun, and bass Morris Robinson. Mater Gloriosa was sung by Nicole Cabell from the stairs of the left mezzanine loge and some brass played from the feet of both loges in the mezzanine to surround us with sound during certain dramatic scenes in the Goethe section.
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ASO: Donald Runnicles with Russell Thomas and Kelly O’Connor

There were two novel things about tonight’s concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The first was that they finally asked people to silence their cell-phones before the concert. They used a modestly witty video featuring some of the musicians to do so. I think that the video will get old after a while and they may want to rethink the tone of it as it sounds somewhat judgmental, but it was still nice that they’re finally showing some awareness that this aspect of audience experience is important enough to comment upon. The other novelty was an introduction by principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles to the two pieces on the program, including a small video explaining some of the Japanese instruments whose sounds are reflected in the first piece.
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