The Princeton Symphony Orchestra recently opened its new season with a Happy 100th Birthday to Leonard Bernstein. The venue was Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus.
To honor the composer/conductor/performer/educator, PSO artistic director and conductor Rossen Milanov prepared a program that both challenged the orchestra and delighted the audience.
Musical selections drew from Bernstein’s contributions to Broadway rather than his symphonic works, and the PSO played each charismatic piece with energy and precision.
Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town” started off the program like a shot of adrenaline. Next on the program was “West Side Story Suite for Violin and Orchestra,” a collection of that show’s beloved melodies presented in an arrangement written expressly for a virtuoso.
PSO’s guest solo violinist Daniel Rowland was up to this difficult work, a showcase for his brilliant and subtle playing.
Rowland explored the highest range of his vintage instrument with playing that was soft, delicate, and exacting at the same time.
The PSO’s strings supported the soloist ever so quietly, accented by the harp and marimba.
Further along, Rowland fashioned a breathtaking solo around “Somewhere,” as slowly, slowly the orchestra joined him in a rousing finale to the piece.