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BWW Review: Lea Salonga is Flawless at BYU

BWW Review: Lea Salonga is Flawless at BYU

Tony-winning actress and international singing star Lea Salonga returned to Brigham Young University on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 to perform a concert of her hit songs and other memorable numbers with BYU's Chamber Orchestra. The concert was presented in BYU's de Jong Concert Hall as part of its BRAVO! professional performing arts series.

Lea Salonga's emotional resonance and power and purity of voice left the audience breathless with wonder at many moments throughout the evening. This was quite simply one of the best concerts many members of the audience may ever attend.

Salonga is a woman who likes to give the people what they want, and she did in spades with the songs she is known for. "Reflection" from MULAN, "A Whole New World" from ALADDIN, "I'd Give My Life for You" from MISS SAIGON, and both "I Dreamed a Dream" and "On My Own" from LES MISERABLES. Astonishingly, she not only replicated but often improved upon the recorded versions the audience was familiar with.

These songs were accompanied by a rich assortment of standards such as "Something's Coming" from WEST SIDE STORY, lush orchestral arrangements of pop songs such as One Direction's "Story of My Life," and contemporary hits such as "Burn" from HAMILTON. Every single number impressed and thrilled, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats to hear what she would sing next and how it would affect their ears and hearts.

Perhaps the only letdown in the stream of showstoppers was the omission of a song from Salonga's Broadway musical ALLEGIANCE (which was recently broadcast to movie theaters nationwide). Still, she can hardly be faulted for that when every other audience favorite was amply represented. She should also be congratulated and thanked for not merely replicating the set list of her previous concert date at BYU and instead populating this concert with mostly completely different music, providing a fresh experience for these who had previously seen her here.

The Chamber Orchestra is BYU's elite touring orchestra, and that is evident by the precision and passion of its performances throughout the evening. It would have been nice for the orchestra's sound to be amplified more than it was so more of the nuances could shine through. Regardless, it was a true treat to hear Salonga's beautiful voice supported and complemented by such accomplished accompaniment.

When the Chamber Orchestra tours to the Philippines later this spring, they will have the exciting opportunity to recreate this same set list with Salonga headlining at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila.

For more information about future BRAVO! performances at BYU (including Kristin Chenoweth in May), and to buy tickets, visit arts.byu.edu.

Photo Credit: Lea Salonga

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