Scott Terrell said he liked the view from the stage in front of the Old Morrison Building at Transylvania University. When he looked one way, he saw his new orchestra, the Lexington Philharmonic. When he turned around, he saw his new town, or what must have looked like the whole town, from that perch.
The crowd for the Patriotic Concert the Philharmonic presents ever July 3 stretched from the steps of Old Morrison back across the lawn and over Third Street through Gratz Park almost to the back steps of the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. Our own Tom Eblen, a veteran Patriotic Concert fan, guessed the audience was almost twice as large as the typical crowd for this event.
That makes sense, as it wasn’t a typical Patriotic Concert.
It was the debut of Scott Terrell as the Phil’s music director — his first concert conducting the orchestra since he was named to that post in April.
Whether it was that or the perfect night that drew people out, it was a truly big debut that showed Terrell had some good instincts.
Conventional wisdom would have had him waiting for his first bow in September when the Philharmonic opens its Masterclassics season at the Singletary Center for the Arts.
Thing is, you couldn’t fit this audience in a couple of Singletarys.
By taking the baton Friday night, he got in front of one of the Phil’s biggest audiences of the year for a concert that sent a few messages.
~ Masterclassics aren’t the only thing. Terrell has talked about reviving the Phil’s pops series and introducing other concerts and series in coming seasons. That he chose to debut with this concert and obviously put some thought into it says he’s serious about broadening the orchestra’s profile.
~ Get ready for some new ideas about repertoire. Friday night’s concert had some of the staples of the event, including a tribute to the Armed Forces and the “get out your sparklers” rendition of Stars-and-Stripes Forever. He also got to conduct My Old Kentucky Home for the first time, and complimented the “mass choir” of the audience joining the Lexington Singers for the state song.
But Terrell wanted to make it about the broader concept of American music, so he added a selection of traditional melodies, showtunes and movie themes.
My favorite moment of people watching came during All That Jazz, from Chicago, when near the front of the stage, a little girl was dancing with abandon while, a few yards behind her, a senior couple was walking in rhythm, as if they were about to cut a rug — or lawn, as the case would be.
Exploring American music for the Fourth is an interesting idea, and it could yield some intriguing programs in the future. I did hear that some people wanted a concert more in line with the traditional Fourth evening of patriotic standards. The audience immediately around me, near the front of the stage, seemed to enjoy the program. Just as Lexington will spend the next season hearing Terrell’s ideas, Terrell will certainly spend the next season — and beyond — hearing audience feedback.
One note: It was cool he included Leroy Anderson’s Blue Tango, as Anderson was a favorite of Terrell’s predecessor, George Zack.
Speaking of Zack . . .
~ Terrell is ready to embrace the role of “Face of the Philhamonic.” Replacing such an iconic figure in Lexington arts, Zack’s successor needed to be ready to step forward in a PR role as well as musical role. Terrell seems ready for that, picking a debut concert that had him talking to the audience quite a bit. And by picking this concert, Terrell chose a venue that would put him center-stage before one of the orchestra’s biggest audiences.
And he seemed to have a great time, a big time — big gestures, big eyes and a big smile on the podium.
That would be the podium where he saw his orchestra and his audience, and we got out first good look at the Philharmonic’s future.
Friday’s concert will be repeated Saturday night in Versailles.
Comment: What did you think of the program?