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New Orleans Beer: A Hoppy History of Big Easy Brewing (Old U.S. Mint, 7 p.m.)
A tasting and lecture with two New Orleans brewmasters
Macy Gray with The Way Tour + The Honorable South + Cory Nokey
Soulful chanteuse to enchant audiences at Tip’s
Susan Morse: The Dog Stays in the Picture
Garden District Bookshop, 6p.m.
Susan Morse discusses and signs her book
“Franklin, Armfield, and Ballard: The Men Who Made the Domestic Slave Trade into Big Business” a lecture with Joshua D. Rothman
Rothman to discuss three men who dealt in the slave trade during the 19th century
Crescent City Farmers Market
French Market, 2p.m – 6p.m.
Brand new French Quarter edition of the city's prime local market
The Delta Saints
Publiq House, 10p.m.
“Bourbon-fueled bayou rock” Nashville group
Dylan Landis: Rainey Royal
Garden District Bookshop, 6p.m.
14 narratives from Greenwich Village in the 70s
EDM producter/ DJ to play with Buck 10, DXXXY & SFAM
James Nolan - YOU DON'T KNOW ME
Octavia Books, 6p.m.
New Orleans writer James Nolan reads and signs his new interrelated collection of short stories
Ogden Museum, 6-8p.m.
This week featuring a Fais Do-Do with Ike Marr and Martin Shears
Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour
Saenger Theatre, 8p.m.
Food Network star brings his live show to the Crescent City
MOVIES IN THE GARDEN: NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at NOMA, 5p.m.
Alfred Hitchcocks thriller starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
Selebrating Sierra Leone: Music by Imaginary Frenz
House of Blues, 7p.m.
Fundraiser to support Ebola relief efforts in West Africa.
Spotted Cat, 10p.m.
Smokin’ swing and jazz music at one of the city’s best dancing venues
Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers
Blue Nile 8p.m.
Friday nights with Kermit on Frenchmen ($10)
The Surprise Soloist
LPO Still Buzzing From Dazzling, Last-Minute Concerto By One of Their Own
When a world-renowned soloist fell ill, the Louisiana Philharmonic called on one of their own. Elizabeth Gross talks to orchestra members about Christopher Pell's heroic weekend.
Anticipation for Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Eroica” concert on Thurs., Feb. 21, ran high. Beethoven’s “Eroica” is a favorite of many, and opportunities to hear world-class clarinetists like Jose Franch-Ballester don’t come often.
The concert began with American composer Michael Torke’s “Ash”, which created a bridge between Beethoven’s grand themes and Copland’s quintessentially American style. The piece was exciting to hear, relying on insistent repetitions in a rhythm that is just a little unsettling—as if the whole thing is spinning at an angle.
After applause came, there was an unexpected announcement from Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto: the orchestra would take the intermission early because the featured guest soloist, clarinetist Franch-Ballester, was ill (and possibly unable to perform). With that, the lights came up on a concerned, disoriented audience. By the end of the intermission, rumors were circulating about what would happen next.
When Prieto addressed the audience again, he was excited. He announced that the LPO’s own principal clarinet, Christopher Pell, had volunteered to perform Copland’s Clarinet Concerto with the orchestra. Pell, who is only 21 and is still completing his undergraduate degree at Julliard, had already enchanted the LPO audience this season with memorable solos from his chair. But performing a 17-minute concerto alone in front of the orchestra was an entirely different task. Prieto stressed that the orchestra had not rehearsed this piece with Pell.
Violist Matt Carrington shared what went through his mind during the “emergency intermission” between Prieto’s two announcements. Like others in the orchestra and the audience, Carrington had a crazy thought: Pell could play this. Besides the soloist, there’s no clarinet part in the Copland. Even though Carrington’s gut feeling was that Pell could do it, when he saw Pell preparing backstage he thought, “Holy crap this is actually happening.”
Pell took the stage looking a little pale, and in the silence before the piece began it seemed the whole hall held its breath. And then, the haunting melody that opens the first movement lifted into the air. Pell’s performance was magical and moving. The intensity of the audience’s attention (and the orchestra’s) during his virtuosic cadenza in the second movement was unlike anything this writer has been a part of in a lifetime of symphony-going. The orchestra (or, rather, the rest of the orchestra) sounded great, too. Prieto’s conducting was responsive and kept everyone together throughout—both in the delicate conversation between clarinet and strings in the moody first movement and in the bright, jazzy third movement.
The audience response was immediate—a leaping ovation, complete with the kind of hooting and hollering usually reserved for sporting events. But what made the concert so special was the response Pell got from the rest of the orchestra, who also leapt to their feet for Pell’s first bow, then stamped their feet on the stage during his subsequent bows. Maestro Prieto gave Pell a warm hug, and showed his own triumph by raising both fists in the air as he bounded offstage.
“It’s every orchestral musician’s dream to sort of step up and save the day and be in the limelight—and music-making captures the feeling of music when it can be so spontaneous and impromptu," Carrington said.
Copland originally wrote his Clarinet Concerto for jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, a famous improviser. Through his beautiful interpretation and through the incredible circumstances, Pell’s unplanned performance brought that improvisational spirit to life.
After a brief pause, Pell attempted a discreet return to his seat in the woodwind section, but was interrupted by more applause. He still had to play the “Eroica”! Prieto took Pell’s extraordinary example as an opportunity to remind the audience of the high caliber of musicianship in the LPO as a whole.
The timing for Beethoven’s triumphant third symphony couldn’t have been more appropriate. Though I doubt anyone was thinking of Napoleon Bonaparte that night, one could certainly make an argument for the values of egalité and fraternité. The LPO’s performance of “Eroica” captured perfectly the democratic ideals that inspired Beethoven, and are also present in the LPO organization itself as the nation’s only full time orchestra that is self-owned and self-managed.
Pell stepping in at the last minute was nothing short of revolutionary in the world of professional orchestras.
“I have never seen this circumstance in my 40 years of professional playing, and it underscores the importance of live music. You never know what magic can happen," said Annie Cohen, a cellist and founding member of the LPO.
After the concert, the first question for the orchestra was “Who’s going to take Chris out to celebrate?” Violists Katie and Matt Carrington happily rose to the occasion. But before they headed out, Katie had to ask, “Wait—is he old enough?” (he is).
Pell performed Copland’s Clarinet Concerto again Friday night in Covington, as the guest soloist was still violently ill in his hotel. Friday night’s concert was also enthusiastically received.
Prieto has announced on the LPO’s website www.lpomusic.com that he will match all donations to the orchestra until March 31st of this year, inspired by Pell’s performance to ensure the LPO is able to continue to attract such extraordinary musicians.
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