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Vince Gill put on an outstanding performance in Pullman Thursday night.
The Alltogether Tour Sunday, April 23, the Opera House Christian music fans were treated to a multitude of musical flavors at the Margaret Becker, Susan Ashton and Christine Dente concert Sunday at the Spokane Opera House. From acoustic folk and guitaredged rock to artsy adult contemporary and dance-inducing pop, the concert program offered something for everyone.
The Bridge Ensemble Friday, April 21, The Met The 2-year-old Bridge Ensemble linked three diverse musical styles in an outstanding concert at The Met Friday in the Spokane Chamber Music Association's series of visiting ensembles. Members of the Seattle-based Bridge Ensemble - violinist Mikhail Schmidt, violist Susan Gulkis, cellist David Tonkonogui and pianist Karen Sigers - pride themselves in bridging two musical cultures - Russia and the United States. Schmidt and Tonkonogui come from Russia, while Sigers and Gulkis were born and trained in this country. Despite diverse backgrounds, these four players achieved outstanding unity of concept in three deeply committed performances.
"Hook-laden, arching harmonies launched the Margaret Becker, Susan Ashton and Christine Dente trio into the heavens. The Christian threesome, the night's opener, wasn't intended to be the show's highlight; it just happened that way."
"The players of this Seattle-based ensemble brought out both the chilling beauty and churning power of Alfred Schnittke's String Trio as well as the warmth and charm of piano quartets by Gustav Mahler and Gabriel Faure."
Peter Rejito, cello; Kendall Feeney, piano; James Schloepflin, clarinet, and Elisa Barston, violin, performed as Zephyr Friday night at The Met. Photo by Sandra Bancroft-Billings/The Spokesman-Review
Shoveljerk Saturday, April 15, at Outback Jack's Shoveljerk, the new Black Happy offshoot, played its maiden local show Saturday at Outback Jack's but the new group hardly expected a sell-out crowd. With several hundred people looking on, the Coeur d'Alene outfit undoubtedly had a lot more to worry about than just getting through its second show. (Shoveljerk debuted in Seattle.) The band knew it was going to be scrutinized by the audience through every moment its 45-minute set. And for good reason. Because Black Happy was such a fixture of the Northwest music scene, people understandably had high expectations for this new group. Instead of succumbing to nerves, the volatile rock band used the pressure as inspiration and played with exceedingly high amounts of emotion and tension.
Violin soloist Elmar Oliveira. Henry Grossman photo
"Mechetti and the symphony extolled the spaciousness and nobility of Schubert's Ninth Symphony without ever losing touch with its dance-like lightness. Violin soloist Elmar Oliveira delivered St.-Saens' Third Concerto with scintillating technique and a tonal boldness that bordered on ferocity."
Spokane Symphony Sunday, April 2, at North Idaho College 'The guy is just amazing." That was the phrase I heard again and again Sunday. It came from professional musicians, students and just plain audience members during the intermission and following the "Afternoon Concert of Ragtime" at North Idaho College. The concert, the finale of a weeklong forum in Coeur d'Alene, was one of those rare occasions of blissfully happy music-making.
Piano soloist Ursula Oppens possesses a mighty intellect, a splendid technique and a great sense of style.
"Two outstanding guest artists served up exciting music with the symphony. Pianist Ursula Oppens proved as adept in the romantic dash and songfulness of Schumann's Concertstuck as she was in the wicked rhythms and acerbic wit of Stravinsky's Concerto.
Spokane Jazz Orchestra Saturday, March 18, The Met It's an ill wind that blows no one good, and when one McDougall stood in for the other Saturday night, the old cliche proved doubly true. When guest trombonist Ian McDougall canceled, the SJO scrambled to find a replacement. Fortunately, Spokane's new Brazilian-jazz band, Desafinado, was waiting in the wings. That was the first piece of good fortune; the second came in the form of Laura Landsberg, nee McDougall. Landsberg is Ian McDougall's daughter and a first-rate singer with connections to Spokane via her new husband, guitarist Paul Landsberg, a jazz instructor at Selkirk College in Nelson, British Columbia, and a member of both the SJO and Desafinado. Saturday, Laura Landsberg fronted Desafinado in its opening set, and then sang with the SJO. She's a remarkably fresh and unpretentious singer with a terrific voice and enough versatility to deliver the sultry sound of Desafinado and the brassiness demanded by the SJO. Desafinado's set showed off the easy blend of accessibility and complexity that defines Brazilian jazz, best demonstrated Saturday by the Sergio Mendez/Cannonball Adderly tune "Sambop." Its boppish attitude fitted nicely over hipswinging rhythms and provided lots of room for soloing Desafinado's excellent soloists. Drummer Rick Westrick and percussionist Paul Reymond got off a hilarious duet during "Samba de Orpheus," Reymond playing a wonderful drum called , which makes an intriguing jungle squawk when rubbed with a rag. The SJO wasn't about to be upstaged by an upstart Brazilian group, though. Their adventuresome set highlighted a high-test version of "Jeannine" featuring an outstanding ensemble sound from the sax section and a tasty Karl Meister trombone solo. Under Paul Davis, the SJO just gets better and better.
Spokane String Quartet Sunday, March 19, The Met Why would anyone give up a springy Sunday afternoon to listen to a depressing, despairing string quartet? Is it really more fun to contemplate death by catgut than it is to generate some life in the garden?
Walt Wagner's first name is incorrect in the headline and caption. Pianist Richard Wagner brought his energy and enthusiasm to the Opera House Saturday night.
The Irish Rovers Sunday, March 12, at the Opera House From the looks of it, St. Patrick's Day came a week early this year in Spokane. First, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was held Saturday. Then on Sunday, Celtic folk king the Irish Rovers played the Opera House.
"The Irish Rovers' nearly two-hour performance was a perfect melding of jolly acoustic folk music and charming Irish humor. It was not just the Irish Rovers' last show here. Rather, it was the kind of show that the 30-year-old band would probably like to be remembered by."
Allegro's "Dance Baroque" Tuesday, March 7, The Met Allegro wrapped up its season - directors Beverly Biggs' and David Dutton's silver anniversary of making music in Spokane - with a lively selection of dance-inspired music from the Baroque period. With the aid of additional double reeds - an extra oboe and a bassoon, and some supplementary strings (two violins, a viola and a cello) - they formed a cheerful band. The large ensemble played suites from Henry Purcell's "Fairy Queen" and Andre Campra's "L'Europe Galante." Dancers from the Ballet Arts Academy joined in both of these numbers with choreography by Margaret Goodner. Stephanie Booth, Sara Gilpin, Jessica Hilt and Sara Radmaker were poised and polished in everything they did. Reflecting the styles and ideals of the 18th-century court, they eschewed the contortions and sudden aggressions of modern dance in favor of restraint and elegance.