On Thursday, July 3rd, The FullScore Chamber Orchestra, under direction of its Founder and Artistic Director, Ron Arden, performed a most enjoyable Independence Day celebratory concert at the Zion Park Bandshell, sponsored by the Zion Park District and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. As a regularly scheduled ensemble for the July 4th festivities, this year FullScore performed the evening before July 4th, so there were no accompanying fireworks or 1812 Overture. However, the orchestra didn't seem to need any fireworks- they created their own.
Performing a treasure trove of classical music and pop tunes, as well as interludes of Dixieland favorites performed by their "Dixieland Band within an orchestra", FullScore demonstrated once again that it is a top-notch ensemble which programs both standard repertoire as well as some lesser known and contemporary works to great effect and appreciation by their large following.
Although the amplification sound system allowed for maximum enjoyment in this outdoor concert, one might have wished for slightly more sound from the string sections. It was difficult to tell if this was due to the restricted number of string players or the balance and placement of the mics, but it was not a significant issue given the usual acoustical imperfections of listening to an outdoor concert in the first place.
According to Ron Arden, FullScore Chamber Orchestra is a professional orchestra comprised of about 80 percent professionals, and supplemented with some young, very talented high school and college students, who are playing on a professional level. This enables FullScore to also act as a "training ground" for its future musicians, and also providing a "performance internship" for these young musicians.
Last evening's concert included works by top American composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Leroy Anderson, Phillip Sousa, George Gershwin and music from Disney's movie "Frozen" featuring singer Leslie Haas Breuer. Also featured were Dixieland works featuring Ivan Arden, saxophone soloist.
Opening with the traditional National Anthem, the orchestra played a rousing rendition of the Armed Forces Salute and Sousa's famous march Stars and Stripes. Ivan Arden gorgeous tone and improvisational skills were highlighted in Gershwin's Summertime. A special highlight of the concert was an arrangement of Bernstein's West Side Story, played with all the rhythmic incisiveness and lyricism for which it is famous. In the Disney selection from "Frozen" and Summerplace, Leslie Breuer demonstrated a warm and lyrical tone amongst her lowest chest voice up to her highest soprano. Leroy Anderson's Blue Tango was suave and sophisticated, while his "Old MacDonald" showed off the humor of this ensemble and was particularly appealing to the youngsters in the audience. The orchestra concluded the concert with a rousing, contemporary work for Symphonic Orchestra entitled "Summer Dances" by composer Brian Bulmages.
Equally at home with the traditional symphonic repertoire, this season FullScore has performed music such as Copland's Appalachian Spring, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Handel's Water Music, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and major works by Sibelius and Wagner.
You definitely won't want to miss Ron Arden and the FullScore Chamber Orchestra in their upcoming 2014-2015 season!