Right on, man! Pittsburgh Pops salutes '70s with verve
Gaudy costumes and a large mirror ball above the stage were part of the scene of the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops' tribute to the music of the 1970s on May 2, the first of four performances of “Disco Days and Boogie Nights.”
The program was created by conductor Jack Everly and the Symphonic Pops Consortium, a production company he heads and which is supported by five major orchestras. “Disco Days and Boogie Nights” is a smartly constructed, high-energy show with frequent changes in vocalists and the outfits they wear.
The program began with “Prelude to a Decade,” which — given the inclusion of the theme from “The Brady Bunch” and ABBA's “Mamma Mia” — indicated the music wasn't to be limited to disco.
The evening was mainly a series of medleys, beginning with one devoted to the Bee Gees that featured the smoothly professional all-male Chapter 6 singers.
Chapter 6 played the Village People for “YMCA” right before intermission, and in the second half performed the Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” a cappella.
The first of the five songs performed on their own was “The Way We Were,” last performed at Heinz Hall in the Marvin Hamlisch memorial concert in January. Farah Alvin began introspectively but built to a big belted-out climax.
John Lennon's “Imagine” also provided contrast for uptempo medleys. It was performed in an arrangement for orchestra only, benefitting from the beautiful oboe solo by Cynthia DeAlmeida at the start and others later in the piece.
The orchestra included many principal players, including four of the five string principals. Nevertheless, Lennon's words were missed.
The Disco Divas medley, including “I Love The Night Life,” showed Eleasha Gamble, Anne Beck and Alvin to be comparably powerful entertainers. In the second half, Gamble sang “I will Survive” with all the self-assertion it deserves.
Everly was a fine host with his own brand of humor, and remembered the decade included the opening of Heinz Hall in 1971. It did take him two tries to get his normal speaking voice back after listening to the high tessitura of Chapter 6 singing the Bee Gees.
Humor was definitely present in orchestral medleys called “Love Boat and Other Masterpieces” and “Groovy Movie Themes.”
This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. May 4, and 2:30 p.m. May 5 at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $20 to $98. Details: 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
Mark Kanny is the classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fiftieth anniversary week celebrates city’s British Invasion
- Bassist Ulery creates jazz-orchestra hybrid on ‘Ivory’
- Kings of Leon cancels Pittsburgh concert
- Kiss’ makeup has changed, but their impact remains strong
- Classics radio still has a home on Western Pennsylvania dials
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival
- Beyonce, Miley stand out at MTV Video Music Awards