Review Roundup: Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Makes Carnegie Hall Debut

On Tuesday, February 27 at 8:00 p.m., the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut in a performance led by Music Director and Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. The exciting program-part of a season-long celebration of the music of composer Philip Glass-featured works inspired by a variety of Latin American locations, including Glass' Days and Nights in Rocinha-the composer's colorfully scored, evocative tribute to a Rio de Janeiro favela, known for its samba school, and La noche de los Mayas-a suite drawn from a now-lost 1939 film score by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. The evening concluded with Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, a virtuosic showcase for the evening's two soloists-Jim Atwood and Paul Yancich--who play nine timpani between them.

The orchestra's debut concert at Carnegie Hall marks the LPO's first return to New York City since New Orleans' recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The orchestra last appeared in New York in 2005, performing in a joint concert with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, benefitting LPO musicians affected by the disaster. Since that time, the orchestra has resurged artistically under the direction of Carlos Miguel Prieto, their music director since 2005. In fall 2015, Prieto and the LPO reopened the historic Orpheum Theater after a $13 million renovation. The ensemble has also been committed to serving their community through music education. The LPO has had a thriving partnership with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute for the last six seasons presenting Link Up to New Orleans students in grades 3-5 and, more recently, taking part in WMI's PlayUSA program.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Seth Colter Walls, The New York Times: The Concerto Fantasy's beginning, with its uncanny similarity to the stomping opening of the "Mission: Impossible" theme, is, at best, distracting. (Mr. Glass has denied plagiarizing, saying that he doesn't watch television.) More disappointing is how nothing else in the work manages to be as melodically memorable. During the Louisiana Philharmonic's performance, the strings were frequently swamped by the timpanists (Jim Atwood and Paul Yancich, stationed at the front of Carnegie's stage).

David Wright, NY Classical Review: So, what's new? Well, there's Philip Glass's String Quartet No. 8, which he says "adds a playful and whimsical flavor to the otherwise solemn string quartet repertoire." We can't confirm that, because nobody on this side of the pond has heard it yet. The same goes for Dan Trueman's Songs That Are Hard To Sing for string quartet and percussion-we don't know if it really sounds (in the composer's words) "like something we might be able to sing in a parallel universe." And Broken Unisons by the Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, featuring what he calls "jingly-jangly pulsating resonance, the overtones spilling over each other," still awaits its world premiere.

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