January 21, 2020

Concert lacking in spontaneity> Student performances a welcome addition

The Arcady Music Society plunged into the summer’s coastal music schedule Monday with a concert by the Philharmonia Lawrencia, an all-female orchestra from New York.

Performing at the College of the Atlantic’s Gates Center, the society’s new summer home for its Bar Harbor concerts, the group was led by Maestro Sung-Rai Sohn, who founded it to present a repertoire of classical and American music of all types.

The opening piece of the program was Franz Schubert’s “Rosamunde Overture,” which gave a rousing start to the evening.

Concertmaster Christina Khimn performed the solo for Dvorak’s beguiling “Romance,” a short piece for violin and orchestra. She gave a graceful and deft reading of this gloriously simple music, but in her overly serious presentation sacrificed some of the soulfulness of the themes.

That same quality of missing something cogent in the music was also present for Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite.” Although the orchestra is clearly made up of strong individual musicians — such as oboist Rosemary Yiameos and bassist Jessica Gilliam — the overall imbalance in skill was particularly noticeable in this suite.

The musicians seemed tired, like students who have been studying too hard and are faced with yet another class or examination. There just wasn’t any spontaneity or geniality in the strains of music, and the movements blended one into the other without much distinction.

Each year, Arcady awards a “Young Performer” award and this year’s winner, Elena DeSiervo of Orono, sang “Are you a guardian angel sent me” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.”

Another winner, Kim Spencer, also of Orono, performed at the Bangor concert Tuesday night.

DeServio’s lively and rich voice was a welcome addition to a predominantly staid first half of the concert. She will perform again with the group tonight at the Dover-Foxcroft concert.

Masanobu Ikemiya, Arcady’s director, performed George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with unmatched fervor. His exuberant offering may not have had the sensuality that is often associated with this piece, but technically, Ikemiya is a whiz. He is a volatile soloist, refreshing in his skill, energy and enthusiasm.

Luckily, the concert ended with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, which was the strongest presentation of the evening although it, too, missed some of the color that this piece can so joyfully take on.

Unluckily, this highlight came late in an overly long program. Had this group left off the first two numbers, it might have been possible to leave the concert feeling sated and uplifted by a developing group of academically oriented artists. But as it was, these musicians didn’t show their power or verve as an ensemble.

The Philharmonia Lawrencia will perform 8 p.m. July 20 at the Congregational Church in Dover-Foxcroft. For tickets, call 564-7771.

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