I was overwhelmed twice last Saturday by the Rhode Island Philharmonic.
First, at the Cranston Senior Games, where Resident Conductor Francisco Noya showed no mercy in annihilating me on the tennis court, and again when I attended the Philharmonic’s opening concert.
After my embarrassing loss, I threatened to boycott the orchestra, but Noya suggested that I at least wait until after the evening concert, which he emphatically asserted would blow me away.
How right he was!
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev joined the orchestra for the best performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 that I had ever heard. The knowledgeable audience even clapped at the end of the first movement and rose to their feet for sustained applause as the final note was played. Yakushev and Conductor Larry Rachleff were in perfect sync and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
In a Q and A following the concert, with more audience members staying around than usual, Yakushev was asked what it was like adjusting from a “major” orchestra to the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He emphatically stated that the Philharmonic was a major orchestra and that playing with them and Rachleff inspired his performance.
Rachleff humbly accepted the praise and added that his musicians could (and do) play with any orchestra. With the completion for seats in the orchestra so tough, he is able to recruit the finest to Rhode Island.
Rachleff went on to encourage people to “bring somebody 25 years younger than you” to the next concert. A great idea, as I observed the age of the crowd.
Yakushev, you may remember, filled in at the last minute last year for an ill pianist, also bringing the audience to its feet. I suggested that he become a “permanent soloist.”
To further complement the evening, Yakushev played an encore, a lovely, quiet Marcello oboe concerto, and after intermission Rachleff led the orchestra in a rousing rendition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.
The next concert will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at VMA, with guest conductor Michael Stern leading the orchestra in Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini Overture and Symphony Fantastique. Guest pianist Joyce Yang will join the orchestra for Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. An open rehearsal will be held Oct. 14 at 5:30…and it is free.
For more information log on to www.riphil.org