Review: Memphis Symphony’s Shostakovich 10, plus percussion concerto featuring African drum ensemble

Posted on: January 22, 2018

“It was impressive to see just how many listeners braved the icy roads last Saturday to attend the Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s formidable ‘Percussion Explosion’ concert,” writes Alex Greene in Thursday’s (1/18) Memphis Flyer (Tenn.). “The audience bore witness to a moment of such political engagement, [and] by ‘political,’ I don’t mean Republican or Democrat, but that intersection where the arts reject escapism in favor of a confrontation, body and soul, of the powers that be. The evening’s first selection, Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony in E minor, is famous for tackling such matters…. [Led by Music Director Robert Moody], the MSO deftly brought all its conflicting emotions to life, from the first movement, alternatively tragic and threatening as it cinematically pans across the landscape of destruction left in Stalin’s wake, to the subsequent movements that range from spritely euphoria to panic…. The night’s second selection, James DeMars’ Sabar Concerto for African Drum Ensemble and Orchestra [featured] an intriguing blend of Senegalese rhythmic tropes with heroic and celebratory orchestral flourishes…. The harp evoked the cascading arpeggios of the West African kora, at times woven with complementary rhythms from the piano, xylophone, and vibraphone…. [Also performing was] the Watoto Memphis Performing Arts Academy Dance Ensemble.”

Posted January 22, 2018