Enjoyable as it was, the first half of the Grand Junction Symphony concert Tuesday night did not overshadow the astounding performance of Elise Helmke on the harp following intermission.
Performing Deborah Henson-Conant’s “Soñando en Español,” Helmke delighted, impressed, captivated and held the audience throughout three movements: “My Mother’s Mexican Hat,” “Merceditas” and “Baroque Flamenco.” The third movement of the sonata was quite impressive, building cadenza-like to the end with plucked runs and clustered glissandos, gaining passion and momentum through an extended technique of rhythmic tapping and slapping on the wood of the soundboard. Consider it a harpist’s version, if you please, of finger beat-boxing.
“Our harpist is fantastic. This concert is work!” said one symphony musician prior to the concert.
After Ms. Helmke’s performance, the orchestra polished off the night with a comforting and mesmerizing feel-good rendition of “Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture” by George Gershwin. The piece was complete with the addition of a randomly needed banjo player; tails swapped for a dinner jacket by the conductor; some delightful solos from wind instruments; and a few riffs by the principle harpist of Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, who happens to be Elise Helmke.
If harpist Elise Helmke is a sample of the talent already existent in the GJSO, what is the necessity of frequently bringing in additional guest musicians? Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting Kirk, Carlos, Darin and Cameron for the upcoming Classical Mystery Tour. Somehow that doesn’t have the proper ring. How about Kirk, Sean,Troy and Calvin?
Better yet, pick up your own season ticket to the GJSO and compile your own fab four from the principals and members of the GJSO. Grand Junction is growing up. So is the symphony.
The Classical Mystery Tour
Saturday April 6, 2013
Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra