Sunday night brought an unusually large secular crowd to the First Lutheran Church's pews, as the church hosted the Monmouth Civic Orchestra for the spring concert, "A Little Broadway, a Little Off Broadway".
(click on any picture for larger view)
I can't say I'm surprised by the interest in this program. First of all, the show is popular tunes that most folks around here can practically hum along with the orchestra, and secondly, it was a well-advertised event (not only were people seeing the posters I made for the concert, but the MCO got multiple mentions, in three regional papers, in advance of the show). And the MCO is a pretty darned good group, anyway, especially for a relatively impoverished small town.
Once 7:00 rolled around, the orchestra got itself settled into position, and conductor Donna Hauge took command. From that point on, the audience was putty in their capable hands.
The orchestra supported solo and duet performances by soprano Janet Gaskill and Lionel Marcoux , as well as having a little fun with their own solos (for which the conductor rightly singled them out for recognition: Leah Shimmin, Joanne Nelson, Robert Sibbing, Adrian Schultz)*.
A little past mid-point in the concert, the plate was passed (MCO is a non-profit teaching group, & do not charge admission for their concerts, so they ask for donations instead). At that time, the rest of the performers rested and enjoyed, as Harrison Graham played a solo on the piano -- a piece I am told was Harrison's own arrangement.
Following Harrison's solo was a duet medley, played by Robert Sibbing and Mari Hauge, of Harold Arlen's music, as arranged by Robert Sibbing. Mari introduced the piece without giving away exactly who Harold Arlen was, by saying that she initially spent a while figuring out what the songs were, finally admitting she knew all five -- at least she knew the first line to each song. The audience laughed with her, then spent the next few minutes playing the game of identifying what the songs were -- and who Harold Arlen was. The look of recognition hit the last few faces in the audience when the songs from "The Wizard of Oz" finally came into play at the last... It was fun to see their expressions as the coin dropped in the slot. The performance -- not to mention the arrangement -- was lovely, as well.
After Mari and Robert took their places again amid the orchestra, the final segment of the concert began -- songs first from "My Fair Lady" and then from "South Pacific." Janet became "As Corny as Kansas" and Lionel gave everybody "Some Enchanted Evening". Both of them -- and the MCO -- earned a standing ovation.
If you weren't there, you missed something pretty darned exciting!
*My apologies to Hayley Kessler for not getting her name printed in the Flutes section of the program. The fault lies with me, and does not reflect anything other than my failure to keep my scribbled notes in an orderly fashion.