Once more the Prince George's Philharmonic rose to the occasion delivering a wide ranging musical performance last night in the Prince George’s Community College, Largo, Maryland, Fine Arts Building. The participation of Prince George's County students in a side by side performance of George Enescu's Rumanian Rhapsodie No. 1 in A Major, Op.11 showcased both individual musicianship and the conductor's, Mr. Ellis', command of the music.
The students who played alongside the orchestra in a performance of Enescu's youthful work were:
Melia Humphrey Suitland High School
Kayla Carlyle Suitland High School
Gabrielle Rogers Suitland High School
Victor Baules Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Taisha Stewart Suitland High School
Dominique Marshall Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Rose Pierce Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Oliver Meade Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Krista Hyppolite No school indicated on program
Megan Lewis Northwestern High School
Ryan McDonald Suitland High School
Alfred Walfall Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Katherine Skinner Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Arianna Copper Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Elizabeth Driver Suitland High School
Catherine Silver Suitland High School
Elliott Tapscott Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Jacob Miller Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Jan Knutsen Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Josiah Herrera Oxon Hill High School
Emily Boluda Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Andrew Johnson Eleanor Roosevelt High School
The Rumanian Rhapsodie was completed on 14 August 1901, when Enescu was still only 19 years old and, so, is an appropriate programmatic choice and compliment to the skills and proficiency of our county's young people. The collaboration of the orchestra with Prince George's County's finest was heard by an almost well attended audience. One can only hope that you were there to hear the exciting dance rhythms of the glittering composition. The attacks were clear and as usual, Mr. Ellis found a way to highlight not only the solo parts at the beginning, but all of the enticing musical combinations that make up the swirling folks dance melodies of composition. From the beckoning simplicity of the opening clarinet to the fire of the end, the musical partnership made all us proud of our students and, for a moment, feel like Romanians.
The concert started with another tipping-of-the-hat to student musicians with a world premiere performance of an orchestral work by Prince George's County's own Christopher Urquiaga, who was graduated in 2009 from my own alma mater, High Point High School in Beltsville. Mr. Urquiaga's original composition, “Dance in 5” went by so fast that I was left wanting more. I hope we can hear an extended work by Mr. Urquiaga in the near future. Perhaps one of our county businesses might consider commissioning a piece by him as part of the bicentennial commemoration of Prince George's County's role in the War of 1812.
The concert program was so filled with great music and performances that it is impossible to focus on one main part of the evening. In addition to the student partnering performances, the Prince George's Philharmonic collaborated with Peter Minkler, violist. At a preconcert dinner where I speak about the concert program I was asked about the viola. As we enjoyed a home-made treat of orange slices dipped in chocolate, it occurred to me that listening to a viola is akin to the pleasure found in the finest rich milk-chocolate treats. This analogy only begins to hint at the expressive all-enveloping music that Mr. Minkler brings forth when he plays his viola. His performance of the Romance for Viola and Orchestra in F Maj. Op. 85 by Max Bruch was exquisite. The orchestra was perfectly paired and supportive of the rich tones and melodic lines that wrapped us in a cocoon of musical velvet. The sweeping main melody in all of its guises is still playing in my head this morning.
Peter Minkler and the orchestra finished the night with Hector Berlioz's second symphony, Harold en Italie, Symphonie en quatre parties avec un alto principal (Harold in Italy, Symphony in Four Parts with Viola Obbligato), Op. 16, written in 1834. I have to say that I am drawn to the works of Berlioz for their technical brilliance, and, in the interest of noting my biases, not so drawn to their actualization in performance, his Symphonie fantastique, excepted. That said Mr. Minkler soared last night bringing his technical proficiency and his artistic mastery to bear on this musical pilgrimage. The Prince George's Philharmonic worked its magic well allowing the viola to shine and ride above the orchestra in a true partnership that wonderfully framed the soloist abilities and command of the music. Mr. Ellis demonstrated his keen attention to showing off the abilities of his musicians as well as shepherding the ensemble through musical adventures. Given my musical bias towards this piece, I was much taken with the performance and still in awe of Mr. Minkler's artistry and command of instrument, the oft-times overlooked viola. If you get a chance to hear Mr. Minkler perform, you need to grab it.
After each concert, I continue to grow in my admiration for the level of musicianship and artistry we have right here in Prince George's County. And I continue to be amazed how few people have any idea what we have. You really need to come and hear for yourself what Prince George's County has to offer.
The next opportunity is:
Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 8:00pm
Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, Bowie, MD
Anthony Elliott, guest conductor
Gabriel Cabezas, cello, Sphinx Competition Winner
Roussel Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2, Op. 43
Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33
Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
Single Ticket General Admission: $20, Seniors: $18, Age 18 and under free (ticket required). Single Tickets go on sale the night of the concert beginning at 7 pm, cash or check only. Tickets can be purchased in advance, by check. Please click here for the Single Ticket mail-in order form. All seating is unreserved. Free Parking.
 Virginia Terhune. 2013. "Former Beltsville student blends Latin, rock and classical influences in orchestral piece Orchestra debuts work by High Point High grad Saturday in Largo." Gazette.Net [accessed February 10, 2013. http://www.gazette.net/article/20130207/ENTERTAINMENT/130209348/1025/former-beltsville-student-blends-latin-rock-and-classical-influences&template=gazette
 Peter Minkler, Baker Artist Awards. http://www.bakerartistawards.org/users/view/peterminkler/
 For me personally listening to this piece always reminds me of reading Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu while listening to Ravel's Bolero
 Susan Pearl. 2013. Interview with Peter Minkler soloist with Pri Geo's Philharmonic Sat Feb 9th. The PrinceGeorgian. http://princegeorgian.blogspot.com/2013/02/interview-with-peter-minkler-soloist.html