Review: Winnipeg Symphony’s bluegrass-themed return to the stage, with audience

Posted on: September 21, 2021

“The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 2021-22 season with a bluegrass bang Saturday night, as it welcomed 560 pumped-up audience members back to the Centennial Concert Hall an astounding 351 days after its last ‘live’ concert held Oct. 2, 2020,” writes Holly Harris in Monday’s (9/20) Winnipeg Free Press (Canada). “The newly monikered neWSOunds band [featured] WSO first violinist/fiddler extraordinaire Chris Anstey; violist Gregory Hay (banjo/mandolin/guitar/viola); principal double bassist Meredith Johnson; and principal timpanist Mike Kemp (drum kit/vibraphone/Cajon)…. The denim-clad band members strode onstage for Callum’s Road, with Johnson paying poignant tribute to his late sister-in-law and former WSO violinist Meredith McCallum…. WSO associate conductor Julian Pellicano … strapped on his accordion while still leading the players from the podium for his own arrangement of Brahms’ Hungarian Dance, Nos. 5 and 6…. The … show proved strongest during the more traditional bluegrass numbers, including a gorgeous string trio arrangement of Appalachian Waltz…. During the band’s rip-snorting finale Hoe-Down Medley, floodlights suddenly swept throughout the audience, thus revealing our collective, albeit still masked, non-digital human presence to ourselves and the wide-eyed, appreciative musicians.”