Concert Review: Chilled and spirited show

Burbank Leader

It was a cold and windy Thursday at the Americana at Brand for the Glendale Renaissance Orchestra's inaugural concert of their four-concert series. Still, that didn't deter an eager, though somewhat thin, crowd from turning out to see the orchestra's first performance that presented an hour of music with vocal stars soprano Dale Kristien and tenor Joseph Pokorski, all led by its conductor, Steven Goldstein.

The chilly temperatures caused instrument pitch and intonation difficulties. Add to that the poor sound mixing and mediocre speaker system and the result is not what you might hear at the Alex Theatre. The wind and cold worked against the singers as well.

Kristien and Pokorski began by offering a sampling of "Phantom of the Opera" tunes, hallmarks for both. The power of their voices is obvious but maturing voices tend to lose some flexibility and that seemed limiting here in addition to the swirling winds. Wonderful stage presence on the part of both guest artists won over the crowd easily.

The concert carried the name A Night at the Opera, but only one of the 20 numbers performed was actually from an opera. Other than "Nessun Dorma" ("No One Sleep") from Giacomo Puccini's "Turandot," which Pokorski sung movingly, the rest of the tunes were assortments of recent ballads, movie and show songs, or traditional songs, not withstanding the finale that presented a snippet of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. It is often called "Ode to Joy" in a pops version, a style the orchestra favored in almost all its number.

The 22-member D'Oro Choir was splendid, adding depth to Kristien and Pokorski's vocal work.

Kristien has a powerful soprano voice, but the softer numbers came through best as in "La Vie en Rose" where she gave a bittersweet version in a sturdy vocal rendition, although lower register notes in many songs simply disappeared.

Pokorski made his mark in "Speak Softly Love," the Nino Rota "Godfather" theme, but often stretched in other numbers.

The orchestra performed Pachelbel's Canon in D and "Fifth of Beethoven" with drummer Ralph Humphrey adding a solid beat in this contemporary version.

The next concert, Red White and Blues, will be July 1 at Americana at Brand, with the final two moving to the Alex Theatre Sept. 16 and Dec. 8.

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World