Concert Review: Memphis Symphony’s Opus One

Posted on: November 15, 2010

In Friday’s (11/12) Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), Jon W. Sparks writes, “Memphis Symphony Orchestra musicians usually play high-toned concerts, but this week they got down at a Hi-Tone affair titled ‘Handel, Hendrix and Harlan T. Bobo.’ The MSO’s fresh, conductor-less group Opus One booked two concerts in its third event ever, raising the stakes for this bold experiment in reaching new listeners with a singular Memphis blend. Thursday night’s concert at Midtown’s Hi-Tone Cafe—a haven for indie rockers—went a long way to bringing together diverse styles. … Here was MSO music director Mei-Ann Chen not conducting but cracking jokes and getting rim shots from the drummer. And Bobo urging everyone to patronize the bar. And customers ferrying longnecks having to squeeze by the violin section. After Handel [‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’] came the ‘Jimi Hendrix Suite for String Orchestra,’ a cautious revamp of three familiar Hendrix tunes by MSO musician Marshall Fine. … The triumph of the evening though was the six-song set by [Memphis-based singer-songwriter] Bobo, brilliantly arranged by Jonathan Kirkscey, who is both a MSO cellist and member of Bobo’s group. He brought the blend to the party, taking a particularly savvy sense of orchestral possibilities and mixing in the acute sensibility of Bobo’s tunes.”

Posted November 15, 2010