Off To a Great Start!
Highly-honored pianist Andre’ Watts was the guest artist at the opening performances of the ASO’s Centennial Season. Saturday night’s appreciative audience gave the artist a standing ovation and repeated curtain calls for him, the Conductor Peter Bay and the orchestra – all well deserved. Watts’ played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major with impressive verve.
Bay is marking his 13th full season as ASO’s Music Director & Conductor, a continuity that is probably the envy of many other noted orchestras. Jealousy, if any, also should extend to the exquisite Dell Hall in which to enjoy the great classical compositions. The acoustics, at least from our center orchestra seats, are superb. This is a prime year to purchase season tickets: The percussion ensemble Nexus is in the line-up and the incomparable Itzhak Perlman is booked for the gala Centennial date which occurs in April. The Pops Series also hosts some heavy-hitters – Manhattan Transfer, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a Beatles tribute, Cirque de la Symphonie.
Austinites are fortunate to be able to support their very own first-class orchestra when many cities are losing theirs or significantly downsizing their seasons.
Ronda Dale Kirk
Who am I to argue with success, to deny goose bumps? The ASO has been perfecting itself for 100 years. Andre’ Watts has wowed audiences — on stage, TV & festivals + recordings for 45 years. Conductor Peter Bay celebrates 13 years and a brilliant resume. The performance of Wm. Schuman’s “New England Triptych” was elegantly appropriate for 9/11, particularly after the audience sang the national anthem as the orchestra played. And Robt. Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 honored his bicentennial.
Folks, that’s a lot of combined staying power — an amazing string of personal and musical triumphs. BUT… Watts, as “in touch” as he was with this fantastic collection of musicians and the oh-so-polite, appreciative audience — seemed to be uncomfortable. Grand gestures at the keyboard, sure. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 was truly moving. But Watts seemed weary, as if suffering from allergies and lacking adequate cooling. Fidgeting; mopping. A flickering beacon.
The audience was generous with its standing O’s and repeated curtain calls following Watts’ performance and the Symphony’s grand start to its Centennial Season. And as happy as Watts may have been after his dramatic work at the keyboard, I can’t help but wonder if this “perennial favorite with orchestras” may have grown tired of super stardom, being the object of pianist envy and the road itself. Just maybe, he’d really rather have been in his shorts lounging by the pool on this Saturday night, listening to a favorite Johnny Mathis album, or with a bowlful of hot popcorn in his lap enjoying a good college football game.
Preston Kirk, A-Team Member