By Mike Keenan
The Niagara Symphony Orchestra Pops 3 featured maestro Bradley Thachuk, NYC vocalists, Scott Coulter, Kelli Rabke and Lorinda Lisitza (originally from that great name place, Porcupine Plain, SK) as well as LA’s John Boswell on piano with vocals.
Scott Coulter acted as MC, introducing the music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John with the added magic of a full symphony orchestra. Not only are these guys knights, but Coulter suggested very rich knights, their total worth well over $3 billion!
Partridge Hall was filled with their classic tunes, the symphony starting off with Webber’s powerful “Phantom of the Opera” overture, which never fails to thrill me with its resounding thrusts. Scott reported “Phantom of the Opera” is the longest running show in Broadway history by a wide margin.
The vocalists did a great job with a smattering of hits from each artist: Elton John’s “Your Song,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Crocodile Rock,” Paul McCartney’s “Live And Let Die,” “Silly Love Songs,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and Webber’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” (Jesus Christ, Superstar), “The Circle of Life” & “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (The Lion King), and “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (Evita).
In the second half of the show, Scott Coulter suggested that each of the following tunes will stand the test of time, each definitely a classic delivered beautifully by the vocalists.
For Andrew Lloyd Webber, it’s “Memory” by Grizabella (Elaine Page from the 1998 production of “Cats.”) Grizabella, once the glamour cat, appears old and mangy and withered, having left the Jellicle tribe a long time ago. Alone and left with only the recollections of her happier days, she sings the most famous song from the musical.
For Elton John, it’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” written by lyricist Bernie Taupin, originally recorded in 1974. The song found further success in 1991 as a duet between John and George Michael, which reached number one in the UK and US.
And for Paul McCartney, it’s “Yesterday,” first released August 1965. It remains popular today with an amazing 2,200 cover versions, one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. “Yesterday,” a melancholy ballad about the break-up of a relationship, was voted the best song of the 20th century in a BBC poll of music experts and listeners.
Coulter, Boswell, Rabke and Lisitza were all terrific, taking turns on vocals, adding harmony in between with Bradley Thachuk’s curly locks swinging to and fro as he conducted the lively NSO. The group sang “Hey Jude” as an encore, the audience invited in, and like so many other artists who have performed at the St. Catharines PAC, Scott Coulter expressed his delight with such an attractive venue.
Of course, the problem with selecting musical scores from these three gifted English artists is that many of their many popular tunes were necessarily left out. I had to chuckle on the way out at the end listening to audience members grumble, “Why didn’t they play…”
The NSO next plays “An Ocean Called Owen” March 1 in their family series, then Masterworks 5, March 15 and “In the Mood,” Pops 4, April 18-19. Their website: http://www.niagarasymphony.com/
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