Friday, March 25, 2011

Near Perfection

“She Has Been Here” by Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866)

The East Wind blows fragrances gently in the air,
Telling me, that you were here.

Here, tears flow, letting you know,
Even if you weren’t told, that I was here.

Beauty or Love, can either remain hidden?
 The scents and breezes make it known,
That she has been here.

Last evening, Robert Spano conducted the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in what for me, was the best concert of the year.  Dawn Upshaw ( was the guest soloist. 

Before I talk about the concert, I must pay tribute to Music Director Spano (   He is an inspired leader and musician.  His passion about music is apparent when he is on the podium- his conducting style is spare, but his facial expressions tell the story of his intensity.  He is adventuresome in programming and has led the ASO to support composers, often called the Atlanta School.    Some of the composers that have been part of this group include  Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, and Michael Gandolfi.  With Spano conducting, the ASO is often at its best, which can be quite good.  Last evening’s performance demonstrated Spano’s influence and his daring.  He is a great asset to the ASO and is often rumored to be under consideration for major music directorships in the US, most recently for the Boston Symphony, where he has been involved earlier in his career. 

The program began with a fanfare composed by Oswaldo Golijov ( titled “Water and Horse Prelude” commissioned by the ASO to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Mr. Spano’s tenure as Music Director and his partnership with Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles.  This prelude is excerpted from Golijov’s opera “Ainadamor” or the Fountain of Tears.  The piece is short (about 90 seconds) and includes music written for contrabassoon, string basses, and offstage trumpets.  The program note indicates that Jeremy Flowers (, a laptop musician, was also featured.  This is an intriguing piece that I found more satisfying that some of the other preludes written for this commemoration. 
The rest of the program is a wonderful mix of old and new, and for me, it fortunately did not include any music by Mozart, of whom I have become overdosed this year. 

The first piece was Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D. 759 (“Unfinished”) (  Schubert had a wonderful knack for catchy melodies.  The “Unfinished” is one of the most popular staples in concert halls, but for me, it is so beautiful and the themes so successfully developed that I have not tired of hearing it.  The ASO performed admirably, with the strings sounding particularly fine, which is becoming increasingly the norm for the orchestra. 
The second piece was again by Schubert but orchestrated, based on Schubert’s piano accompaniment, by Golijov.  Schubert was known for his songs and this piece, titled “She Was Here”, includes four of them.  They are: “Wayfarer’s Night Song” (written by Goethe, “Lied der Mignon” again by Goethe;  She has Been Here by Friedrich Ruckert (quoted above;) and “Night and Dreams” by van Collin.  All of these poems are very powerful in their lyrical yearnings about deeply felt love.  Golijov preserves the vocal line as Schubert wrote it, but added and Introduction and an Interlude.  The orchestra included the usual complement of instruments with the addition of the basset horn (, tuned glass (a glass goblet that produces musical tones by means of friction and it’s fun to try at home), and suspended crotales (finger cymbals that create a clear, chiming pitch).   This orchestration is very rich and produces sounds not often heard in a concert hall.    Ms. Upshaw was the soloist for this music.  She has a strong voice that is well controlled and always manages to work in conjunction with the orchestra, neither overpowering it or it overpowering her.  This music was stunning.  It is so romantic and intense that it is easy to get lost in, particularly when the poems were available through surtitles.  Schubert had the lyrical knack, and Golijov  truly enhanced it with this transcription and his additions.  Again, I commend Spano for performing this wonderful piece. 

The next work was “Luonnotar” ( by Jan Sibelius.  This is not a frequently played piece and Sibelius ( has been derided for his musical style, particularly that it was late Romantic, even as more adventuresome composers were his contemporaries.  To me, his music is beautiful, lyrical and melodic, and easily accessible.  As treacherous as the music is for the soloist, Upshaw performed it with aplomb.  The ASO again played impressively, with the strings, and the horns (yes, the horns) being particular standouts.

The final piece for the night was Sibelius’ “Fifth Symphony in E-flat Major” (  For me this is thoroughly enjoyable music.  It is melodic and lyrical, yet not reticent to use the full resources of the orchestra.  It is very accessible music and does not make great demands on the listener.  Though Sibelius had not written music for decades, he died while a concert was taking place in Helsinki that featured his Symphony Number 5.  To me, this is a lot better than passing while “Who Let the Dogs Out” plays in the background.  Again, the ASO was in peak form as was Spano. 

This was a wonderful concert and maybe the highlight of the season so far for me.  Mr. Spano is to be commended for being so bold as to combine these all of these pieces in one concert, but that’s what makes variety so spicy. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maybe the Emperor needs new clothes

The Paul Taylor Dance Company performed at Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts ( This was my first visit to the Rialto, which is an old movie house that has been converted to a multi-purpose performing arts center.  It is not a restoration, but rather a rebuilding of this century building.  The lobby is rather small and unremarkable.  The auditorium has good sight lines, but retains its movie theater “bones.”

The evening began with an overly long award presentation.  Please excuse my poor reportage on the recipients but I was there for the performance!

I really like contemporary dance and was looking forward to this performance.  The program began with Taylor’s “Company B”, built around the music of the Andrews Sisters, whose songs according to the program, “…express typical sentiments of Americans during World War II.”  I know that this is a revered piece but I had a difficult time with it.  Its message is presented with great subtlety and in some ways; it struck me as too subtle.  If I had not known what to expect, I suspect I might have missed it.   I am probably just too concrete, but when ambiguous messages in art must rely on my own projections for me to get the meaning, then it’s bound to be hit or miss.  I also do not have a great affinity for the popular music of the thirties and forties, just as I suspect that people born in the sixties might have little affinity for the music of the forties and fifties.  My only connection to the Andrews sisters is by way of watching a few black and white movies in which they sang.

I had similar problems with the second piece, titled “Phantasmagoria,” which is danced to music of the Renaissance written by anonymous composers.  As best I could tell, the piece is a series of tableaux that have a dream-like feel.   It included a nun whose eroticism got the best of her, an Irish tap dancer and a skid row fellow who is intoxicated.  The piece has numerous sight gags, although getting laughs from the bad behavior of a “drunk” is just too easy- much like the laughs that resulted from each of Archie Bunker’s toilet flushes. 

The final work was titled “Brandenburgs” with music by J. S. Bach.  This piece was the highlight of the program for me. It did not have a story that I had to divine and the choreography was abstract for abstraction sake.   It was music translated to physicality, without having an accompanying story.  It was as if the music was analyzed through a digital process to show the pitch, rhythm, and volume of the composition.  The dancers were being the equivalent of the digital display.  I have tended toward the Stravinskian viewpoint that music is what it is, and that it does not inherently express emotion, story, etc.  In “Brandenburgs,” Taylor gives us a physical representation of music, devoid of our desires to make it be emotional, psychological, etc.   For me, this is a great strength of contemporary dance.  It isn’t as though dance should not express some meaning that the choreographer extracts from the music based on their own psychological projections.  But it seems like such a conceit to me to expect me to figure that out their psychological state in order to understand the piece.  “Brandenburgs” avoids this and deals with the music simply as music.  To me, it was the best piece of the evening.  

The Paul Taylor dancers were technically skilled and performed admirably.  They were wonderful to watch.
All of the music for the performance was recorded.  Either the source material was poorly compiled or the sound system at the Rialto is second rate.  But poor reproduction of music really inhibits my enjoyment of that music.  Also, the program included two long intermissions.  I thought that the breaks lasted longer than the pieces.  I am not sure why there had to be two breaks.  There were no elaborate costume or scenery changes and I am all for some rest for the dancers.  But the intermissions “broke the spell” and made the evening seem drawn out. 

Finally, the audience was noisy.  There was chatter all around me.  In the rear of the auditorium is an overhang and whispers in the last row seemed to be amplified by it, and the person next to me began to sing one of the Andrews Sisters songs.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Questions about Social Security

Questions about Social Security:

1.       If indeed our OASDI taxes go into the Social Security trust fund and do not require funds from general  revenues, how can it be a leading cause of the budget deficit?  And what about:
EXCLUSION OF SOCIAL SECURITY FROM ALL BUDGETS Pub. L. 101-508, title XIII, Sec. 13301(a), Nov. 5, 1990, 104Stat. 1388-623, provided that: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the receipts and disbursements of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund shall not be counted as new budget authority, outlays, receipts, or deficit or surplus for purposes of - (1) the budget of the United States Government as submitted by the 
President, (2) the congressional budget, or (3) the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
W   Why do we pay OASDI only up to $106,800 of income?  Why should someone who makes $50,000 pay on 100% of their income, while those who make millions or billions have to pay OASDI taxes on only a fraction of their income?  I know the reason, but I think the question should be asked.

3.       If we raise the retirement age to 68 or 69, what happens to someone who loses their job at age 67?  Have you seen any company (other than Walmart) who are willing to hire someone at that age?  Because our society devalues older people, how are they to get employment until they are eligible for benefits?

Need an adjustment?

“The Adjustment Bureau” ( is a fantasy staring Matt Damon as David Norris and Emily Blunt as Elise Sellas.  It was interesting to see a movie where the two main characters each have a chin cleft.  You just don’t see that much anymore.  Blunt is absolutely beautiful.  I have seen her before, but in “Bureau” she is a knock out.  Her character, Elise, is a dancer and has one or two scenes that highlight Blunt’s sculpted body and dance acumen.  Apparently she has never been a dancer, so she had to have a crash course in Terpsichore.  Check out her walk in those extremely high heels- beautiful. 

The movie itself deals with the notion of free will and how somebody or other must intervene from time to time to keep things on plan.  Now, if someone has made a plan for our collective lives, then the notion of free will is sort of out the door.  Yet, in spite of this conundrum, the movie works.  It attempts to show the power of love against the forces of the universe.  I bet live would not be so successful however with the banks in the US that seem to above even the laws of the universe. 

There is much to like in the performances of Blunt and Damon.  She is flirty and seductive.  He is upwardly mobile but has had some lapses in judgment that jeopardized his political career.  Damon does have a kind of wounded style that makes his characters sympathetic.  There is one scene, though, where the two are in bed with heavy-duty shadows.  I did notice the clefts, so I am pretty sure it was them.  They share a kiss that looks like one of the great failures in cinema lovemaking.  It does not look passionate or convincing.  I understand that Tom Cruise had to be coached by director Stanley Kubrick on how to be warm toward Nicole Kidman during the filming of “Eyes Wide Shut.”  Where is Stanley when we needed him for Matt?

Finally, New York is like a third character in the film.  It looks dramatic and beautiful. We don’t seem much of its grittier areas, but there is no particular reason that we should have. 

I liked this film but I am a sucker for well done romances.  “Portrait of Jennie” is another fantasy romance that I like a lot, even though it was made some 50 years ago.  I do not believe that there is some senior-level executive that controls our lives and as Tyler Perry said, “I can do bad all by myself.”  On the other hand I do think that there are institutions that do impinge on our free will, sometimes for the good but often not.  At least the movie made me think about it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What a Cunning Little Vixen

The ASO, under conductor Jakub Hrusa, presented an intriguing program featuring works by Janacek, Mozart, and Dvorak.  For me, the excitement was in “The Cunning Little Vixen” Entre-actes from the opera and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.  I am really Mozarted-out- there is something by him on nearly every playbill this year and I have grown tired of his predictability. 

“Vixens” is rarely heard and it’s a pity.  Janacek ( is a master or orchestral color.  His use of the brass instruments is exciting and he included the contra bassoon, which, at least to my ear, provides a bit of spice to a composition.  This piece includes some beautiful melodies for the violins and I was pleased at the precision and tone of the ASO strings.  They seem to be getting better all of the time.
Jonathan Biss was the soloist in the Mozart concerto No 12 in A Major.  Biss has an ability to play pianissimos without them getting lost against the orchestra and when he plays forte, he has a commanding tone.  This particular concerto comes from the Mozart computer that composes music that is indistinguishable from many of his other works.  In spite of it being well-played, I just did not like it that much. 
After intermission, the ASO played the Dvorak Symphony No 7 in D minor.  This is a beautiful Romantic symphony that has wonderful melodies and very nice development.  The Scherzo is particularly nice, with its waltz-like them.  Again, the ASO strings were magnificent.  Even the French Horns, which have been a disappointment to me, were outstanding.  Hrusa seems to have augmented some of the Dvorak instrumentation, which highlighted the horns and the string basses.  With his approach to the work, this young conductor was able to spotlight how Dvorak was influenced by the friend Brahms.  I have never heard this link so beautifully clearly drawn.
Hrusa ( is a 30-year old wunderkind.  He has quite a resume and I expect that he will continue to draw attention because of his insightful readings and his attention to dynamics.  The ASO seems to respond well to conductors that make their intentions very clear from the podium, for example with Jaap van Zweden, and now with Hrusa.  I suppose that would be true with any ensemble. 

Before the concert, ASO members played various chamber pieces were members of the audience were able to be on stage with the players, which was a nice touch. 

In summary, I think there should be more Janacek and less Mozart.  I am not sure, however, that anyone cares!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brahms' Requiem

The Michael O’Neal Singers and a chamber orchestra performed Brahms' “Ein Deutches Requiem” ( at the Roswell United Methodist Church.  It was fortuitous that this most beautiful piece of music was played on the heels of the tragedy in Japan.  I was deeply moved by this truly awesome music in the context of this awesome tragedy. 

Brahms' Requiem was written for the living- to bring strength and reassurance.  It does not talk about sin or the anger and wrath of a distant god, but rather it focuses on goodness, love, hope and comfort for a loved one’s loved ones.  Brahms had a tremendous capacity to write beautiful themes and develop them into great symphonic music.  In the beginning of the second section (from 1 Peter 1:24), Brahms created a four note theme that is achingly beautiful.  It is so sad yet gentle and loving. 

The Roswell Church has a cavernous auditorium that has a surprisingly long decay time.   The echo it creates was startling.  The O’Neal singers were excellent and O’Neal himself was once a member of the legendary Robert Shaw, who led the ASO for years.  The chamber-sized orchestra seemed a bit lost in the acoustical space, and the tympani had a “thunk” sound that was a tad jarring.  Many of the players were from the ASO.  Brahms frequently wrote melodies for the reeds and French Horns to play together, and the horns acquitted themselves beautifully, which sometimes, they do not for the ASO. 

There were two soloists, Jana Young, soprano, and John LaForge, Bass-Baritone.  I was a bit put off to see that the singers were mic’d, but I guess it might have been necessary in the acoustics of the hall.  Lafarge has a powerful voice and he sang powerfully.  Ms. Young, however, is past her singing prime.  Her voice was thin and shrill, at times. 

This music is sublime and heartfelt.  The performance deserved the standing O that it received. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bach B Minor Mass

The New Trinity Baroque and the Georgia Tech Chamber Choir presented the Bach Mass in B Minor (  This is a monumental work that demands artistry and stamina from instrumentalists and singers alike. 

I was fortunate to sit next to a voice instructor whose son was in the Choir.  We talked about the strengths of each singer, which I will share later. 

The performance was held at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. St. Bart’s is not a great performance space.  It is rather small with some of the most uncomfortable chairs imaginable.  Pews would be far easier to tolerate.  In addition, the way the chairs are lined up, the site lines are terrible.  At best you get to see the head of the balding guy in front of you.  The acoustics are reverberate but not as to muddy the sound.  The modern architecture is, to my tastes, mediocre.  It will not win awards for excitement, although there is a large floor to ceiling bay window which must be wonderful in the daytime. 

The music is so sublime that the venue shortcomings must be overlooked.  It is tricky to present a choir with a period instrument orchestra since the sounds of the latter tend to be more muted that one hears with a modern orchestra.  Thus, it would be easy for the singers to overpower the orchestra.  Conductor Predrag Gosta kept the balances reasonable.  Because of the shallow performance space available, the soundstage was quite wide, but with little depth.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a bit unusual. 
There were 22 instrumentalists,  all playing baroque instruments.  This number is quite a bit larger than the usual NTB complement.  There was a tremendous solo by Paul Hopkins ( playing the Corno da Caccia.
Bach specifies this instrument for parts which require the same virtuosity as the trumpet parts. There is no definitive definition of the Corno da Caccia (hunting horn), so the instrument shown here is based on the requirements of the music that specifies it. By comparison, the large hunting horns which were carried over the shoulder would have necessitated the pitch to be an octave lower, and the music of Bach would then need to be played on the 16th harmonic (partial) and above making it very 'risky'.  (From : Hopkins played this difficult instrument without fault.  His performance was near perfection.

Another stand out solo was by Marianne Pfau on the Baroque Oboe.

 I liked the continuo used by Gosta.  It included the Baroque Cello, Violone, Baroque Bassoon, Chitarone, and Chamber Organ.  There was no harpsichord and it wasn't missed. 

I am not an expert on choral singing, but the Georgia Tech singers seemed competent enough.  Sometimes I heard some really harsh “K’s” and hard “C’s”, however.

The soloists were Wanda Yang Temko, soprano; Terry Barber, countertenor; Adam Kirkpatrick, tenor; and Paul Max Tipton, bass.  I like Yang Temko’s voice, although my singing coach friend thought her tone was not warm.  I asked it that was a fault of the performer of a function of her instrument.  Apparently it’s a little of both.  Mr. Barber is a wonderful countertenor.  Kirkpatrick is a solid tenor.  I personal thought that Tipton’s voice was a bit thin, but again the coach said he has a very good bass voice.  Shows you what I know.  Apropos of nothing, Yang Tempko wore the same dress that perennial prom queen Reese Witherspoon wore the Oscars.  I saw that while working out at Golds. 

St. Bart’s was packed.  People were seated in hallways.  Ticket procuring was done in a hallway before entering the sanctuary.  It is definitely not large enough an area to handle the crowd that showed up.
Predrag Gosta is a talented and charming person.  I assume that because of limited resources, he does a bit of everything, from crowd control, to videotaping, to schmoozing, to lecturing, and, oh yes, conducting.  I admire his enthusiasm in doing it all. 

It was wonderful to hear the Bach B Minor played by such a competent group. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


At the Georgian Chamber Players concert a few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak with violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti, who had just played a knock-out performance of Tchikovsky’s Tchaikovsky Trio in A minor for Violin, Cello and Piano.  She suggested that I attend the upcoming recital of the Ehnes Quartet to be held at Mercer University, where Moretti is a faculty member. 

I decided to drive to Macon to see what she promised would be a stellar event.  I can say that she did not mislead.  James Ehnes, violin; Moretti, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola, and Robert deMaine, cello comprise the Ehnes Quartet.  The long concert is part of Mercer’s Masterworks at Noon series.

The program began with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major (  I have never been partial to Beethoven, but his chamber works seem to be able to highlight his skills.  They are melodic and full of wonderful development.  The quartet played this music brilliantly.  The acoustics of Fickling Hall at the McCorkle Music Building perfectly suit a string quartet.  It produces sound that is warm and integrated.

The second piece was Bartok’s String Quartet No. 4 
(  This performance was unbelievable.  It is difficult music for the performers and maybe for some listeners.  I am a fan of Bartok’s music and feel that he is underappreciated.  He has influenced a lot of modern music, including that of many composers of movie soundtracks.  There is a foreboding quality to his works, but it is not frightening or angry, as is the case of some modern music.  The sounds he calls for in his music are creative and add a percussive effect, for example, having the violins plucked to the point that the string slaps against the instrument's fingerboard and  the glissandi, most notably used with the cello.  The members of the Quartet were totally immersed in the playing.  They have a big attention- grabbing sound that engaged me throughout the piece.  These talented musicians are technically wonderful, and they seem to enjoy performing with each other.
This was one of the best performances I have heard this concert season (in addition to the Tchaikovsky Trio mentioned earlier). 


The ASO had as guest conductor Gilbert Varga (  and piano soloist Pedja Muzijevic (  The program included:

SCHUBERT: Overture in C minor
MOZART: Concerto No. 17 in G Major
J. STRAUSS, JR.: Emperor Waltz
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegel
Here is the easy stuff.  Varga has great hair and haircut.  He wore a long coat with a vest and it looked good.  He has a very elegant baton technique, that is, he is very graceful while waving the little stick.  Muzijevic wore one of those band-collared coats that they use in science fiction movies when they are guessing what men’s clothing will look like in the future.  You might want to recall Paul Rieser in “Aliens” for reference. 
Now to the more difficult stuff.  This program was like eating Wonder Bread.  It was fluffy with little of substance, at least for me.  It was just an a few degrees away from being a pops concert.  The Schubert was originally written as a string quartet but gradually morphed into a piece for an all-string chamber orchestra, which is the version used by the ASO.  This piece has Schubert’s characteristic charming melodies that are a feast to the ears.  The ASO strings performed capably, but their sound was lost in the Symphony Hall acoustics.  I found it difficult to pay attention, since the sound seemed far away- somewhat like background music in a hotel lobby. 

The Mozart was well done.  It’s not one of Mozart’s most frequently played works.  It has the usual Mozartian concerto structure, with elegant melodies and development.  Sometimes I think that Mozart found his composing “schtick” and worked it over and over.  Pretty, yes- but it presented nothing particularly new or intriguing for me.  Muzijevic seemed timid during the usual Atlanta standing ovation.  In fact, Varga moved the pianist in front of himself in order to accept the crowd’s applause. 

After intermission, Varga conducted the Emperor Walzes.  Either the ASO was not really engaged, or Varga was not inspired, or both, but this was a leaden performance.  Where was the lilt?  Where was the slight hold on Strauss’ high notes, just before they cascade down?  Such a brief pause gives the waltz a subtle elegance that makes it more than just a straightforward ¾ count.  In the violin section, the first four chairs really dig into the music with their whole body.  Most of the other violinists look like they are sawing at their instruments with their attention fully glued to the score in front of them.  They play the notes, but do not seem particularly invested in them.  That’s one reason, at least for me, that the music seemed too weighty.  In addition, the French horns had intonation problems so much that two members of the winds looked at each other with a slight wince.  I finally figured out who the culprit is, but no point in pointing fingers.  That’s the job of the Music Director. 

The “Till” performance was engaging.  It is a fun piece of music that does not require a great deal of brain power to enjoy.  The ASO performed admirably, even the French horns.   The percussion section was in full force and the bass drum was wonderful! 

During the drive back to my home after the concert, the New York Philharmonic weekly concert was on WABE.  The orchestra was playing Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony.  Now that is a challenging piece for both orchestra and listener.  It is raw music composed to make a point to the Soviet government and its citizens.  This was a powerful performance, even in the confines of my car.  It made me wish that Varga had challenged himself a bit more

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cruelty, yes, but democratically determined cruelty

I cannot get too worked up about the events in Wisconsin, Ohio and South Dakota.  The citizens of these states voted for the governments they have.  Last I looked; we still live in a republic.  Now I may abhor what is happening, I think that the citizens of those states should live with the consequences of their votes.  If teachers are laid off and have no collective bargaining rights, so be it.  If women must wait an unusually long period of time and endure counseling before an abortion, so be it.  Voters must experience first-hand how all of us rely on government aid and services.  Our citizenry isn’t very bright (think the sign that said “Keep your government hands off my social security”) and that 20 percent believe that Obamacare has been repealed.  I don’t think we can expect those of limited view to really understand what the government does until it affects them directly.  So, to those who are being injured, physically, economically or otherwise by these events, you have my sympathy, but this is the will of the people.  I personally believe it means that we are entering an era of extreme selfishness and cruelty.  But, the electorate has made its selection. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Very Ecumenical but boring

The Atlanta Chamber Players performed at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue.  I was a virgin at being in a synagogue, so attending the concert was a good thing. 

The program consisted of a Trio Sonata in G Major by Bach, the Trio Pathetique by Glinka, and Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G Minor.  The ACP is mostly made up of first or second chairs of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.  For me, this was a deadly dull performance.  What? Was there no music written after 1832?  The music was so polite and mannerly that it was simply boring.  It was played well by the ACP but the program was not the least bit venturesome. 

The performance was held in an auditorium at the synagogue.  There was a portable shell around the performers, but the acoustics of the hall were so dry that there seemed to be an individual spotlight on each instrument, which is not good for a cohesive sound. 

I will give the ACP one more chance, but if it’s not a bit more risk taking, I will save my money.
However, there was a nice reception after the performance, sponsored by the Synagogue.