Phenomenal Soloists Round Out the Symphony’s Season

Phenomenal Soloists Round Out the Symphony’s Season

by Anna Ferraro

It’s the season of finals…. final exams, final tournaments…. and final concerts. On Saturday, May 6th, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO) performed their final concert of the 2016-2017 season in Rammelkamp Chapel. A fabulous event with a great turnout, the concert included performances by the Grand Prize winner from the 2017 Talent Among Us, Rachel Hooker, as well as a special guest – William Lane, an accomplished French horn player from Missouri.

After the JSO opened the concert with Weber’s Overture and March to Turandot, J. 25, Hooker’s clarinet danced circles around the orchestra in the phrases of Weber’s Concertino, Op. 26. Like her prizewinning performance in February, Hooker displayed excellent technique, and a graceful stage presence. Her clarinet’s warm, low tones produced a mellow sound that oozed into every crack and crevice in the hall. And her high register was brilliant – clear and bright – just like the evening sun that glinted off the white steeple of the chapel.

Following her performance, William Lane took the stage – with a bit of a rogue expression on his weathered, 73-year-old face. Fact is, if you’re performing solo concerts at the age of 73, you’re pretty much entitled to calling the shots. And Lane knew it. The “rogue” sensation was soon explained, for along with his French horn in one hand, he carried a pile of sheet music in the other. “I should have this memorized by now,” he said with a careless shrug, placing the sheet music on his stand next to a water bottle. “I skipped repeats in this concerto at state contest in high school – swore I’d never let that happen again.” Taking a sip of his water while the audience chuckled, he fingered his horn. The rogue expression returned – “A lot of things might happen up here tonight, but I promise I won’t skip any sections.” With a nod, the concerto was on, and the infectious strains of Mozart’s horn concerto wafted into the utmost corners of the balcony.

A principal horn player in the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1973-2010, Lane has outstanding stage experience. Along with his decades in the LA Phil, his career highlights included performing Mozart’s third horn concerto with John Williams conducting, performances at the Hollywood Bowl, and touring Europe with the LA Phil. Now retired from orchestral playing, the Midwest farmer stays in touch with his horn when he wants to, and finds other things to do when he doesn’t want his horn. On his Missouri farm, he enjoys fishing, tennis, reading, and his beloved horses.

True to his promise, he didn’t skip any sections during the May 6th concert – and even when the orchestra was cut off a measure early at the end of one of the concerto movements, Lane dutifully played the last three notes of the cadence solo, keeping his oath from state contest in high school. With that, a surprised chuckle from the orchestra and audience left the feeling light and humorous as the crowd broke for intermission.

Following intermission, the orchestra performed the incredible Dvorak Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88. Opening with lavish melody in the cello section, the symphony developed beautifully, like the sun’s warmth after the cold of rain. Lane joined the Jacksonville horn section for the Dvorak, almost tipping the stage with the weight of his talent – and contributing to the raised roof in the symphony finale.

Noel Beard, the current president of the JSO Board of Directors, commented that it was a “great season – with great soloists!” Feedback he received from the community confirmed his opinion – from Kuster to Lane, the JSO had a phenomenal line-up of soloists in their 2016-2017 season, and one that they hope to repeat in the 2017-2018 season – as well as their usual favorites – a pops concerts, a Christmas concert, and for the second year in a row, a chamber ensemble concert.

Karen Dichsen, a member of the JSO Board of Directors had good things to say about the soloists this season, as well, sharing, “I loved the local flavor of the artists that came to perform.” Even Lane, though from Missouri, knew the Midwest feel. Dichsen stated, “The audience can feel that connection.” She also commented on the immense variety of the 2016-2017 season, saying, “From beginning the season with ‘An Ode to Shakespeare,’ to this spring with presenting the concert with video game music…. I loved the adventure of the gaming music, the pieces were epic…. and then we close the season with a lot of Mozart and Weber music… the contrast and variety were really enjoyable.”

In closing, bravo to Dr. Garrett Allman, the music director and conductor for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. We, the town, thank you for providing us with another wonderful season of music!

The JSO already has dates saved for the 2017-2018 season, publishing them as September 30th, November 11th, and December 16th, 2017. To see dates into 2018 and learn more about tickets, as well as concert locations and times, please visit www.jaxsym.com.

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