After a year of isolation, it was with tremendous joy and exultation that the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra performed Exsultate, a live-streamed all-Mozart concert on Saturday April 10 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
While physical attendance was by invitation only (12 enthusiastic, masked and amply separated concertgoers augmented by 70-plus cardboard cutouts) the event was live-streamed by Unicorns.live.
The concert opened with the overture to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s ninth opera, La Finta Giardiniera (the Fake Gardener.) For all the distance between musicians, the ensemble was tight and the balance impeccable. A rising melodic line in the strings gave this sunny, light-hearted music a sense of taking wing — spring painted in sound.
Great care was taken to effortlessly execute ornaments, soften phrase ends and taper cadences. Frothy and festive, it was the perfect opener for a chill spring evening.
The next work was Exsultate jubilate, a religious work for solo vocalist and orchestra in four movements. From the very first movement, Allegro, guest soprano Kelly Courbrough’s sweet, liquid tones echoed through the hall, capturing the positive and graceful character of the music. The cadenza was a particular delight as Courbrough executed the runs with enthusiasm and precision.
The second movement, Recitative, was delivered with earnest attention to the text as Courbrough’s tone became appropriately somber.
Glorious sound and tonal control from Courbrough gave the third movement, Andante, the tranquil flow required.
The light and optimistic last movement, Allegro, was beautifully performed with just enough decorum to keep the joy carefully under control. Courbrough’s scales, trills and ornaments were joyful and effortless.
Throughout this 15-minute work, Maestra Rosemary Thomson kept both orchestra and soloist unified, despite the challenging physical distance separating everyone.
The final work of the evening was Mozart’s effervescent Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K 201. Written when he was just 18 years old, this work is so perfectly constructed it could serve as a template for symphonic compositions today.
The first movement, Allegro, sparkled with brilliant energy and constant motion.
The second movement, Andante in D major, was graceful and sedate. Clarity of musical intention marked the performance of this section with careful attention to delicately executed phrase ends.
The third movement, Menuetto, was boisterous, driven by energetic rhythms and staccato phrases. Playing precise dotted rhythms can be challenging, but Thomson rose capably to the occasion, easily keeping the orchestra unified.
The sparkling last movement, Allegro con spirito, was unabashedly joyous in iconic Mozart fashion. The ensemble was amazingly tight as the orchestra roared through fiery, yet flawlessly-controlled 16th-note passages. The music galloped and cavorted right up to the last well-placed cadence.
In this dreary, wearying time, the brilliance of Mozart was a welcome diversion. Thomson and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra provided a heart-lifting ray of light.
To participate in the live stream of the OSO’s next concert, New Beginnings, visit https://okanagansymphony.com/2021-season/ for information on how to tune in.
Anita Perry is a Summerland music teacher.
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