Add the rattle of snare drums, the haunting lament of French horns, the crash of cymbals and the full romantic sound of violins to the David Lanz piano works, and the result is a BIG sound that thrilled a Utah audience Thursday night.
The combined talents of "New Age" composer Lanz with the Utah Symphony were received with wild enthusiasm from the kind of crowd the symphony is striving to convert - young concertgoers searching for something less stuffy and complex than classical but more sophisticated than Marie Osmond.In fact, several youngsters attended the concert with parents. Tyler Peterson, 9, is a pianist who gave Lanz and the symphony high marks but low marks to the free "refreshments" (cough drops) available in the hall. "I think David Lanz is very good. He's fairly modern. For people who like good music and a funny comedian, they should come here. He's cool," commented Tyler.
The concert was a first attempt by the symphony to play with a New Age artist. While Lanz was the obvious star, the symphony was not upstaged. The pianist and orchestra blended their performances smoothly. It would be difficult to tell the compositions Lanz usually performs as solo pieces apart from those written for orchestration. Conductor Steve Ray Allen deserves credit for masterfully orchestrating Lanz's solo works.
Having heard Lanz perform as a soloist, I have to admit I preferred the rich, exciting sound of his compositions performed with the Utah Symphony. His marches seemed more stirring, his mellow pieces more moving. Lanz may have spoiled his audience by combining with the orchestra.
When Lanz mentioned how much he enjoyed the Utah audience and announced, "I know I'll definitely be coming back," he received hearty applause.
Surprisingly, Lanz maintained the same, intimate rapport he establishes in his solo performances in the larger setting of Symphony Hall.
Lanz won the hearts of many Utahns whose loved ones are involved in the gulf war by donating proceeds from the sales generated by his very first songbook to them and providing free concert tickets.
The gentle-mannered musician talked a lot about peace - and focused his concert on that theme.
Peace, Lanz showed us, has many sounds.
"In order to achieve world peace, it's up to each individual to create inner peace," Lanz said. Dedicating his song "The Crane" (a bird symbolizing peace) "to those suffering from this crazy war," Lanz asked the audience to observe a moment of silence at the completion of the song.
From contemplative silence, Lanz lifted the audience into a stirring march, "Dancing on the Wall," inspired by the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. It would be tough for Lanz to achieve the chilling affect accomplished by the sound of bold percussion and roaring horns on the piano alone.
Even his more familiar, melodic songs such as "Behind the Waterfall," "Desert Rain," "Leaves on the Seine" and the popular `60s hit "Nights in White Satin" seemed to carry peace as their theme - offering personal solace and a break from the emotional turmoil of the past eight days.
His finale, "Skyline Firedance Suite" showed off Lanz's command of neo-classical music. The full range of Lanz's musical talent is displayed in this powerful, climactic piece.
After a standing ovation, Lanz performed a piece he wrote for Earth Day - "Madre De La Tierra." The song is part of the Narada Wilderness Collection. Proceeds are contributed to efforts to save the wilderness as a "sanctuary for the renewal of the human spirit - a place to find inner peace."