By Sandi Durell
The always impressive and over-whelming feeling of sitting in the historical grandeur of Carnegie Hall is never surpassed. It is only heightened by the exquisite music of the New York Pops and its remarkable Music Director/Conductor, Steven Reineke who leads the orchestra with the most pizzazz I’ve witnessed to date. The 35th Anniversary season opened on October 27 as a tribute to Skitch Henderson’s legacy who, in 1983 at the age of 65 (with wife Ruth) gave birth to the idea of a pops orchestra that became New York Pops. The evening celebrated Skitch’s centennial in a program entitled “That’s Entertainment: From Skitch to Steven.”
Opening with Victor Herbert’s “Festival March” set the tone, as it was the first piece performed in 1983 by Skitch and the New York Pops. From there, the soaring soprano voice of Ali Ewoldt (currently starring on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera), making her Pops debut, delighted the audience through the evening with Loewe/Lerner’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” (My Fair Lady), The Gershwins/DuBose Heyward’s highly praised aria “Summertime” (Porgy and Bess) and produced trills and chills with Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/Richard Stilgoe’s “Think of Me” (The Phantom of the Opera), her enticing vocals a joyful presence.
Matt Doyle, currently appearing in the New World Stage’s production of A Clockwork Orange, offered up the swinging/jazzy side of the evening with Isham Jones/Gus Kahn’s “It Had to Be You” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” (this with the great big band Nelson Riddle arrangement so reminiscent of the Sinatra days). From his role as Elder Price in Book of Mormon, Doyle sang the always chuckle producing “You and Me (But Mostly Me) – (Trey Parker/Robert Lopez/Matt Stone) which became even more fun when Steven Reineke left his post as conductor to duet with Matt in this oh, so playful performance!
Steven Reineke and the Pops sprinkled the evening with the Overture from Gypsy, a big Celebration Fanfare, his own arrangement on Kurt Weill’s “Mack the Knife” and he played piano for one of his favorites, Ennio Morricone’s Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso.
The two young vocalists melded and blended their voices beautifully on Rodgers/Hammerstein’s “People Will Say We’re in Love” (Oklahoma!), on a riveting “Balcony Scene” (Bernstein/Sondheim’s West Side Story) and on the tantalizing Jason Robert Brown’s “Before and After You/One Second and Million Miles” (The Bridges of Madison County).
The evening closed with John Williams’ “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark to thunderous applause.
Photos: Richard Termine
On November 17, the Pops features “Women of Notes” with Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe. And be sure to mark your calendars for the Anniversary Gala on April 30, 2018 honoring Alan Menken.
Additional Photos Below: Maryann Lopinto