As the residents of Westfield and neighboring towns braved the bitter cold and blustery winds Sunday afternoon hurrying into the their efforts were well-rewarded by another wonderfully entertaining performance by the Westfield Symphony Orchestra.
The show was entitled 'A Night at the Movies' and included themes from 13 different cinematic blockbusters. The dynamic David Wroe, Music Director and Conductor, and his incredibly-talented musicians led us on a trip down memory lane beginning with the stirring, '2001: A Space Odyssey' and then transported us to Tara for a powerful rendition of the theme from 'Gone with the Wind' (my personal favorite of the afternoon). Maestro Wroe then had the audience happily clapping along to the 'Colonel Bogey March' from 'The Bridge on the River Kwai.'
In the second half of the performance, you could almost feel the chill in the air listening to the haunting 'Lara’s Theme' from 'Dr. Zhivago' and I’m amazed the roof is still on the church after the grand finale, which was a fabulous medley from 'West Side Story.' With the final note still hanging in the air, the well-attended concert had everyone from young children to octogenarians on their feet for a much-deserved standing ovation.
I don’t know what, if any, vitamins Conductor Wroe takes but I have find myself checking to see if his feet are still on the floor. This charming man just oozes his love for the music and enjoyment of what he does so well. Just watching him is definitely worth the very reasonable price of admission.
He spoke glowingly of composer John Williams, whom he knows personally, as not only extremely talented but a beautiful human being as well. Actually, we were treated to three compositions by Williams: 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' 'Jaws' and 'Star Wars,' all performed superbly as you would expect.
Wroe referred to music as the third dimension in films and in a separate conversation with Patch, he made the valid point that the impact of the infamous shower scene from 'Psycho' would have been much different without the dramatic background music; a fact I don’t think anyone would dispute.
My first introduction to this orchestra was their New Year’s Eve performance of 'Steppin’ Out' which I attended with my 11-year-old grandson as my “date.” We both loved it so much that he asked if his younger brother could attend the next one with us. Thus, I had two escorts yesterday and the fact that these two extremely high-energy boys sat transfixed for two hours speaks volumes about the talent we were witnessing.
While 'Steppin’ Out' had four excellent singers, these movie themes were so powerful that vocal accompaniment could have been a distraction rather than an enhancement.
I do hope the people of Westfield realize what a gem they have in their midst and treat themselves to the Symphony’s performances when they can. The season finale concert is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, once again at the Presbyterian Church, and they will be performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony while accompanied by the Newark Arts High School chorus. You might want to mark your calendars now.
For more information about the WSO, visit www.westfieldsymphony.org or call 908-232- 9400.