Autumn Cruise looks like warm summer evening

The RDSO’s Autumn Cruise concert opened with Spring’s Promise on an unseasonably warm evening that felt more like summer.

The RDSO’s Autumn Cruise concert opened with Spring’s Promise on an unseasonably warm evening that felt more like summer.

A full-house crowd turned out for Saturday’s performance at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, despite outdoor temperatures that hovered at least 10 degrees above seasonal normals.

That kind of loyal devotion was rewarded with a memorable, surround-sound rendering of Canadian composer John Estacio’s short work about springtime, which launched the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s 25th anniversary season.

Woodwind players were stationed in the aisles while horn players played from the balconies, producing sounds of nature’s awakening.

With the bird-like trills of the flute and wind-like rustling from the harp, an almost mournful tune was soon transformed into a gently undulating melody.

The colourful work ended with the horn section building to a crescendo that was as full of drama and splendor as a spring tempest.

Canadian soprano Nancy Gibson, now based in Germany, followed up with a rich and resonant rendering of Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.

The singer, who went to the University of Toronto with RDSO music director Clause Lapalme, was rescheduled after an earlier concert was cancelled by eruptions from Iceland’s volcano that grounded flights in the spring of 2010.

Saturday’s performance showed that Gibson was well worth the wait, as she beautifully captured the dream-like quality of songs about slipping into the tranquility of endless sleep.

Strauss’s music is set to autumnal poetry by Joseph von Eichendorff and Hermann Hesse that offer lines such as: “Now that I am weary of the day . . . All my senses yearn to sink into slumber . . .”

The calm solemnity of the music and the poetry were delivered by Gibson with a strong sense of peacefulness and longing.

Her voice, at times, blended so well with the orchestra that it took several moments to realize she had stopped singing while the violins and horns continued holding the lingering notes until they also faded into silence.

Gibson later captivated the audience with a more lively bonus performance that wasn’t in the program.

The idea was sparked by another of Gibson’s university mates, RDSO harpist Gianetta Baril, who convinced her to reprise a work the two had collaborated on during their student days — a Scottish folk song called Kismul’s Galley.

“I haven’t sung this in 28 years,” warned Gibson, who had to don glasses to follow the lyric sheet.

But she and Baril pulled off their rollicking duet. Gibson even sang the sailor song complete with rolled “Rs,” to the delight of the audience.

The last work on the program was the sizable Rhenish Symphony No. 3 by Robert Schumann.

Lapalme explained that the orchestration for this five-movement work required a little tweaking, for while Schumann was a giant among Romantic composers, exhibiting immense creativity and imagination, he didn’t know a heck of a lot about orchestration.

“He puts too many instruments into one line,” making it next to impossible to play certain sections, said Lapalme, while other dense parts make it hard to even keep instruments in tune.

What technical expertise Schumann lacked, Lapalme was able to remedy, since orchestration has always come easily to him.

But the RDSO conductor cautioned that Schumann is still the towering genius, while he is “just some guy” with a few skills.

Regardless, the easy-on-the-ears symphony proved an audience favourite, unfolding like a travelogue of the German natural wonders that inspired it.

Schumann penned this work after returning from an idyllic trip through Rhineland.

All in all, Saturday’s concert was a terrific start to what’s sure to be an interesting and tuneful season.

Just Posted

Westerner Days parade set for Wednesday in downtown Red Deer

Over 30,000 people are expected to line up the streets of downtown… Continue reading

Storm rips through Central Alberta

Hail pelts region causing damage to farmland, plus communities in Ponoka, Bashaw and Stettler

France wins 2nd World Cup title, beats Croatia 4-2

MOSCOW — France won its second World Cup title by beating Croatia… Continue reading

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

An exhaustive federal study of Canada’s largest national park concludes almost every… Continue reading

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Man killed by Chicago police ran away, reached for waist

CHICAGO — A man killed by Chicago police had a gun in… Continue reading

Chicago police: Man killed by police appeared to be armed

CHICAGO — Footage from body-worn cameras and surveillance cameras shows that a… Continue reading

New Mexico passenger bus crash kills 3, injures 24 others

BERNALILLO, N.M. — A crash involving a commercial passenger bus and three… Continue reading

Police officer, bystander die from gunshot wounds

BOSTON — A Massachusetts police officer and bystander died Sunday from wounds… Continue reading

Trump names EU a global foe, raps media before Putin summit

HELSINKI — President Donald Trump named the European Union as a top… Continue reading

Stolen firetruck stopped after wild chase in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Police chased a stolen firetruck across four Northern California… Continue reading

Storm rips through Central Alberta

Hail pelts region causing damage to farmland, plus communities in Ponoka, Bashaw and Stettler

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes in B.C.

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month