By Arts Staff
The entiretey of this article originally appeared in the Concordiensis on September 28, 1971. The article’s original capitalization and grammar have been preserved.
In seeking an escape from Union’s first non-weekend, I was amazed to find a cultural event at student prices at the Palace Theater in Albany.
In a scene reminiscent of the summer Boston Pops’ Concerts, (minus the champagne) the Dave Brubeck Trio joined Julius Hegyi and the Albany Symphony Orchestra in a jazz and pops concert. The program featured orchestral works, and selections for jazz trio composed by Brubeck, as well as other jazz and show tunes.
Hegyi’s style of conducting is emotional and graceful, without being comically dramatic. Each of his gestures is linked to the next, resulting in an inspiring experience for both performers and audience. His vibrant personality and his enthusiasm are evident in the performers’ response to his conducting.
Hegyi led the orchestra in a spirited but sloppy performance of George Gershwin’s “American in Paris,” preceded by “March: Washington Post” by John Philip Sousa. The brass section was insecure at times, and the percussionists were so secure that they failed to notice a major ritardanzo.
The Dave Brubeck Trio – Brubeck on piano, Alan Dawson on drums and Jack Six on bass – then performed selections from Brubeck’s cantatas “The Light in the Wildnerness” and “The Gates of Justice.” In these jazz pieces, the composer uses the dramatic fullness of the strings and the dazzling power of the brass section to support his jazz trio.
The polyrhythms and unconventional meters characteristic of Brubeck are present, but they are not employed as extensively as in his earlier music. Brubeck is noted for introducing into popular use unusual time signatures such as 7/8 and 5/4, and for using the polyrhythm of three beats against two.
Despite a somewhat shaky start, the orchestra proved its capability of playing jazz rather well. The ultimate effect was a complex and swinging sound. Brubeck and his musicians received a partial standing ovation (something new to me) and the trio returend to play on encore before the intermssion.
Before Brubeck’s return, the orchestra played “Huapango,” a Mexican-flavored composition The string section contributed an oustanding performance, while the percussionists, once again, were not quite together. Then, the trio returned to play various Mexican songs in their own style, featuring solos by Dawson and Six which were very well received. Again, the trio drew a partial standing ovation, and played a brief encore.
The concert concluded with selections from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” which, although well-performed, was terribly anti-climactic.
The evening must be viewed as a great success for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, as well as for the culture-seeking Union student.
However, the most fascinating part of the evening was not the muscians’ performance, nor the detours in downtown Albany, nor the dirt parking lot with no entrance, but the audience. Although the majority of concertgoers were well-dressed (as promised in the Schenectady Gazette) ladies and gentlemen of great maturity and affluence, they successfully distracted my attention by humming, tapping their feet, and talking, talking, talking, during the entire concert.
While I realize that this was a pops concert and not a classical performance, the music was nevertheless serious and Brubeck certainly deserved something better than high school assembly conduct.
The next concert of the season will be on October 16, at 8:30 p.m., and will feature works by Brahms and Mendelssohn. All concerts are at the Palace Theater; student tickets cost $1.50 and can be reserved by calling 465-4755.
— Donald J. Mirate