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This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of the iconic entertainer Judy Garland. Can you believe she was only 47 when she passed? Think of the body of work she left us in such a short life.

This past weekend Maestro Steven Reineke and the mighty National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) put together a superb and fitting tribute to Garland with a concert entitled 50 Years Over the Rainbow: A Judy Garland Celebration. Reineke's genius is how he puts together his concerts and this one was a dozy to pull off. Complete with all of Mort Lindsey's original orchestrations in tow the performance was basically a song by song recreation of Garland's famous 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.

In this case we had three knockout vocalists performing with the orchestra. Laura Osnes and Capathia Jenkins are best known for their work on Broadway and solo recordings. Jimmie Herrod is a member of the group Pink Martini and a music professor in Portland, Oregon. To say that the talent level was off the charts wouldn't even begin to describe how top notch this concert was.

As soon as Maestro Reineke started the concert's overture featuring trumpeter Dave Detweiler as soloist I knew this was going to be good.

First out of the box vocally was our trio of artists performing "When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles with You". Other group highlights included "That's Entertainment" and "San Francisco".

Laura Osnes wowed the audience with every single one of her solo turns but a few of her standouts would have to be "How Long Has This Been Going On", and "Over the Rainbow" during which the stage turned the colors of the LGBTQ movement. Hearing Osnes sing live is always something I look forward to and she did not disappoint here.

Capathia Jenkins knocked me and everyone else out with her tremendous interpretation of "Stormy Weather". Her vocals on "Chicago" and "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" were pretty incredible too.

I did not know Jimmie Herrod's work before seeing him here but I must say he made a very strong first impression. With a smooth Frankie Lymon type sound propelling him Herrod's "The Man That Got Away" was easily one of the best vocal versions of that song I've ever heard. Herrod also stopped the show with his take on "Alone Together". How does he do that?

Another event that took place 50 years ago was the Stonewall uprising which basically started the Gay Rights Movement in this country. Maestro Reineke said that he believes the passing of Garland and that event are somehow connected because Garland was and still is such an icon of that culture.

Another point to be made here is that 50 years into the LGBTQ movement we are still fighting for equality. Garland's vocals uplifted us even though she was struggling herself while making many of her recordings and films. She taught us that we can't stop fighting.

50 Years Over the Rainbow: A Judy Garland Celebration was one of those concerts that was perfect in every way. The vocalists were superb and Maestro Reineke conducting the NSO sent all of us "Over the Rainbow" and beyond.

Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes with one intermission.

50 Years Over the Rainbow: A Judy Garland Celebration was a two night engagement on June 28 and 29, 2019 in the Concert Hall at Kennedy Center.

For all upcoming NSO events, click here.

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From This Author Elliot Lanes