Review: Hilty a powerhouse at Pops performance
Megan Hilty made a triumphant return to Heinz Hall in her debut June 19 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops.
Hilty first performed at Heinz Hall years ago, when she was a student at Carnegie Mellon University, singing with Fiddlesticks at the symphony's children's concerts. It was, she said, “the best college job ever.”
Now, with Broadway and television shows under her belt, and a nice-sized baby bump as well, she was the headliner in a program of great American songs, which will be repeated through June 22.
Conductor Steven Reineke opened the evening with “Blonde Overture,” as in “Gentlemen Prefer” them. Despite some balances that were askew, it provided the requisite lively start.
The conductor moved more like a band leader than the stereotype of an orchestra conductor. He was so smoothly graceful that a member of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in attendance said he thought Reineke could have been a dancer.
The overture segued directly into “Luck Be a Lady,” which showcased Hilty's powerful voice. She was studying operatic singing when she realized Broadway was a better fit and retains those “legit” pipes.
Reineke brought several of his own Pops arrangements for orchestra alone — including Kurt Weill's “Mack the Knife” and “I Hear A Symphony: Symphonic Sounds of Diana Ross” — which were strong but not too bold.
An arrangement of Cole Porter's “I've Got You Under My Skin” was carried by saxophone, which, unfortunately, was seriously under-miked.
The three songs Hilty sang to close the first half provided a chance to show different sides of her personality. The ballad “Autumn Leaves” was performed with winning sensitivity and lack of pressure.
“Popular” from “Wicked” was a hoot. Hilty, who replaced Kristin Chenoweth in the show's starring role just before she graduated CMU, is superb at comedy and charmingly colored her voice's upper register. “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend” was more Carol Channing than Marilyn Monroe, strong and direct.
The second half was equally impressive. Hilty embraced the poignant qualities of “Second Hand White Baby Grand” from the television show “Smash,” in which she starred. The Gershwin brothers' “Someone to Watch Over Me” also was full of endearing nuances in both introspection and verbal nuance.
A hot arrangement of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's “Come Rain or Come Shine,” which was prepared for a famous Judy Garland concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, was the final number. Starting with fast Latin drumming, the song, arrangement and Hilty's powerhouse performance brought the audience to its feet cheering.
This concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. June 20 and 21, and 2:30 p.m. June 22 at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $15 to $99.
Details: 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org
Mark Kanny is 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.
- 3 venues making Dormont the place to be for live music
- Hard Rain goes ‘Deep in the Shadows’ for new release
- Faddis trumpets the subtleties, nuances of jazz
- Orozco-Estrada to debut with Pittsburgh Symphony
- Decemberists look forward to warm reception at Benedum Center after break
- Perfume Genius makes sweet sounds, sometimes from sad
- Ryan’s music draws from Ireland, U.S. shores
- Super Salsa Weekend brings ‘joy’ to Pittsburgh
- Iris, Chedwick, Christie join Pittsburgh rock legends
- ‘Stand by Me’ among 25 records being preserved at Library of Congress