Perhaps I should come clean. We’ve lived here for 37 years and last Saturday night was only the second time my husband, Jim, and I have attended a Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra concert.
Shame on us!
It is always such fun to attend anything in the beautiful Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks. Saturday night was a sellout. It’s an added bonus when you run into people you haven’t seen in a blue moon. Combine all that with the Symphony’s classic pops concert and – well – it made for an over-the-top evening.
I consider it “joyful noise,” the formally dressed violin, viola, cello, string bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion and harp players make as they tune up before concert time.
Then entering the stage is Alexander Platt, who is in his third season as music director of the symphony. I knew right off the bat that because of him the concert would be delightful. As I watched him in the beginning he sort of reminded me of humorist Victor Borge at the piano. Platt also is very animated. As he directs he literally dances on his two story platform wildly waving his baton. We should all be so passionate about what we’ve been called to do.
Platt combines his work in Grand Forks with his music directorship of the La Crosse Symphony, the Marion, Indiana Philharmonic and the Wisconsin Philharmonic. Saturday night he directed our orchestra in works by Brahms, Strauss, Offenbach, Debussy and Gershwin.
After intermission we were introduced to the talents of guest soloist, Pianist Hyperion Knight. He also was very light hearted and fun. He asked the audience, “You may wonder, what is a Hyperion Knight?” Then he told us he was happy to have that name because he was born in Berkeley, Calif., and could very well have ended up with a name like, “Sunbeam.” I believe he said he started piano at the age of 4, but up until second grade, his parents thought he looked more like an FBI agent than a pianist.
At age 19, Knight graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. By age 22, he had received both a Master’s degree and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He now lives in New York and studies with members of the Juilliard faculty.
Known for the diversity of his repertoire, Knight’s recordings range from Beethoven to the Beatles. He is a George Gershwin enthusiast and during Saturday’s concert, he, along with the symphony, delighted us with selections from Gershwin’s “Songbook.”
“Rhapsody in Blue,” was the finale, and my friend, Rachel Abbe, was literally on the edge of her seat during that great piece.
Thank you, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, for enriching our lives with your music. Thank you Alexander Platt, for coming to work with the talented musicians we have among us and thank you Hyperion Knight for your first ever visit to Grand Forks. Just so you know, we’d like you even if your name was, “Sunbeam.” Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again on a luxury cruise line where you also entertain.