In “See Change I,” Tacoma Symphony’s first conductor finalist Sarah Ioannides takes the orchestra to new heights of skill and nuance
If its first finalist is anything to go by, the Tacoma Symphony won’t have a problem choosing a new artistic director that’ll take them to higher musical places. A nearly-full crowd showed up at the Pantages yesterday to watch Sarah Ioannides, the first of four finalists in the orchestra’s search for a new artistic director, blaze her way through an audition concert (“See Change I”) that combined sterling precision with deep, nuanced expression – and an excellent solo performance by the orchestra’s double bass principal Chris Burns.
Conducting mostly from memory – including Shostakovich’s epic Fifth Symphony – the British native showed obvious rapport with the orchestra, who were following as one her encouraging but uncompromising direction. But while her precision and thought-out structure was impressive – not for a while have the violins sounded so tight – the first half was a little lacking in drama. Glinka’s “Russlan and Ludmilla” overture opened the show, and this Cossack dance with its bouncy theme and gleeful fast runs needed more wild abandon than Ioannides was going to indulge, going instead for lightness and spot-on unity. Facing the violins almost the entire time she also missed a few lower-string moments that could have made this a less refined, Mozartean experience.
Next in the spotlight, though, was an instrument that rarely gets the chance to shine but deserves it all the more: the double bass. TSO principal Chris Burns sailed through the Divertimento Concertante by Nino Rota – a mid-20th-century composer best known for his scores for Fellini, Coppola and Zeffirelli – with a calm virtuosity and thoughtful expression. Read more »