Piano-Playing Pair Provides Powerful Performance: I review the Wichita Symphony

Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2; Poulenc: Concerto for Two Pianos; Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

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I’m happy to say that there were quite a few younger people at Saturday’s Wichita Symphony Orchestra concert, but there were enough empty seats that there is room for more. Perhaps they were persuaded by the WSO’s aggressive new ad campaign (I’m particularly taken by the suggestion that activities like jai alai will help audiences prepare for the heart-pounding excitement of a symphony concert); I saw several take advantage of the WSO’s $5 student rush tickets (one of the best-kept entertainment secrets in town).  Either way, I’m not inclined to blame them for the repeated interruptions from cell phones during the concert; in my experience, older concertgoers are equally likely to forget to turn them down.  I don’t believe the concert hall should be a mausoleum: Century II has already made the decision to allow food and drink in the hall during performances, probably in the interest of creating a more welcoming environment, and I’m sure it helps the bottom line.  Even so, one could sense the audience’s frustration when Maestro Daniel Hege waited for the ringtones to stop before beginning The Rite of Spring (the concert’s second half), and one still started chirping during the lightly scored woodwind introduction.  At best it’s an annoyance to other patrons; it worst it can interfere with the performance itself. It’s not a lack of education, or the influx of newcomers to the Symphony, it’s simple mindfulness: if the Warren Theatres can police cell phone use at the movies for the sake of a better experience, surely a live music venue can do the same.

Anyway, here’s what I wrote for The Wichita Eagle.

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