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Violinist Philippe Quint Headlines Charlie Chaplin's Legacy: Classical Music in Film with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Violinist Philippe Quint Headlines Charlie Chaplin's Legacy: Classical Music in Film with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Quint mesmerizes the audience with his virtuosity performance.

What a night it was at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall as Guest Conductor Carolyn Kuan took to the podium to conduct a concert of classical film music featuring the film music of the great Charlie Chaplin. Who knew he was a prolific composer?

Kuan is a gifted conductor who has helmed the Hartford Symphony Orchestra since 2011 and her contract has been extended to 2022. She was a joy to watch. I must admit it was different seeing a conductor of the BSO with long black hair. Visually she was a joy to watch as she moved gracefully on the podium (with no back bar to stop a fall) and to watch her hand movements was especially lovely. She also possesses a great sense of humor and sparkles when she smiles.

The evening opened with a stage empty of musicians. Then, the BSO entered in unison to tumultuous applause. Audrey Wright was the Associate Concertmaster sitting in for Concertmaster Jonathan Carney. This is the first time I viewed her in this fairly new position, and she was quite impressive. She came in with the rest of the musicians with no tuning up. While everyone was awaiting the conductor, she then started the BSO with Samuel Barber's haunting "Adagio for Strings" which was used for the film "Platoon". Without a conductor it seemed more like a string quartet. Maestra Kuan later explained she was not "Late" for the concert but since Barber wrote the piece FOR a string quartet, they decided to play it without a conductor. Kuan explained her love for the BSO began when she attended Peabody Conservatory and told of her internship with the BSO. She could be a great addition to the BSO in the future.

Soloist Philippe Quint then took the stage for John Corigliano's "Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra from THE RED VIOLIN. The multi-Grammy Award nominee is international recognized for his unique and insightful approach to music. The piece began like a waterfall featuring the woodwinds and featured a cat and mouse segment between the trombones and percussion and included a great cadenza.

The BSO then performed Stravinsky's wonderful "The Firebird Suite". Maestra Kuan moved gracefully on the podium dancing to the music. One could see her big smile towards the end. My wife mentioned to me after the piece, "It took my breath away."

Following intermission, Quint took to the microphone to explain how Charlie Chaplin met the great French composer Claude Debussy and how much he influenced Chaplin's music and added his great
"Clair De Lune".

The brilliant Quint then spoke about his infatuation with the music of Charlie Chaplin. He first noticed his famous song "Smile" and arranged it for violin and piano which led to his discovery of over 100 Chaplin compositions he wrote for his films. Quint now has a best-selling CD entitled "Smile" with Chaplin's music. He brought to the BSO his program of Chaplin music as well as photos and videos of his old movies shown above the orchestra. There were photos displayed about Chaplin's film "Monsieur Verdoux" in which he played a serial killer with Chaplin in white hair and as a sailor...very different from his famous "Tramp".

One of the funniest bits was the BSO playing music to the film "The Great Dictator" from 1942 was the "shaving scene". Hysterical!

Quint spoke about Chaplin's invention of Chaplin's "Little Tramp" in 1915 and his first feature film "The Kid" starring Jackie Coogan was in 1921. It concerned Coogan's character, a little orphan. The Tramp rescues him, brings him up, but the child is left desolate when an orphanage reclaims him, reminiscent of Chaplin's own childhood. Chaplin directed, produced, starred in the film as well as composed the score.

Chaplin's most famous tune is "Smile" which was written for the 1936 film "Modern Times", inspired by Puccini's "Tosca". Lyrics were later added in 1954 by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Quint was just amazing playing the theme while we watched a close-up of Chaplin's face on the big screen. It was very emotional.

Kuan then stated there would be three encores of famous film scores.

The first was Williams' "Theme from SCHINDLER'S LIST". This was the first time I've heard this in person. Certainly, a Kleenex moment. Simply stirring. I've been fortunate to see Schindler's factor in Krakow, Poland and a monument to him at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem.

What could be one of my favorite film scores is from "Cinema Paradiso" by Ennio and Andrea Morricone. The 1989 film usually closes Baltimore's Little Italy summer outdoor film series. Quint was astounding.

The final encore was" Tango from SCENT OF A WOMAN". The 1992 film featured a blind Al Pacino doing this romantic dance.

The audience gave both Quint and Kuan and the BSO a well-deserved long and thunderous standing ovation.

I will gladly see Quint perform again whenever I can.

The Musical Tribute to Charles Chaplin is being repeated Saturday night, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. at Strathmore Hall in Rockville, MD and back at the Meyerhoff Sunday afternoon Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.

I highly recommend it.

For tickets, call 410-783-8000.

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From This Author Charles Shubow