The trumpet section got a workout Saturday night at the West Valley Symphony's spring concert.
Trumpets opened the first half in dramatic fashion with Rossini's "William Tell Overture," opened the second half with John Williams' "Summon the Heroes" (commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games), and had plenty of solo time in James Horner's music from the movie "Apollo 13."But for a few bobbles here and a few out-of-tune notes there (especially a difficult exposed low note during "Apollo 13"), the trumpet players pulled off their big night admirably.
Other musicians had their turn in the spotlight. Piccolos were featured at the beginning of the "Forrest Gump Suite" - music from the hit movie - and the evening's showcase piece, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," of course began with its well-known soaring clarinet solo.
As befits a community orchestra with a motley audience, the concert was an accessible mix of old and new, classical and popular. In the first half, for example, the symphony went easily from the "William Tell Overture" to "Forrest Gump" to an orchestral arrangement of Frescobaldi's 16th century "Toccata."
"One of the young guys," joked conductor Stephen Baker of the composer.
"Toccata" was one of the evening's heavier pieces, and it was the best-performed. Relatively simple technically, the orchestra gave it feeling and substance that was occasionally sacrificed in other numbers when the musicians had their hands full just getting the notes right.
The 80 part-time musicians of the West Valley Symphony range in age from 12 to 76 and come from as far as Huntsville and Tooele to attend weekly rehearsals.
"Rhapsody in Blue," the last piece on the program, is always a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, and Saturday was no different. It featured local pianist and conductor Jeff Manookian, who received a standing ovation for his efforts. Nevertheless, Manookian took considerable improvisational liberties with the music, most of which broke the flow of the piece rather than added to it. He gave the piece a clipped interpretation which, while interesting, didn't really fit with what the orchestra was doing.
At one point "Rhapsody in Blue" took an interesting twist: Baker was replaced by concertmaster and assistant conductor Kelly Richardson for the piece, Richardson giving up his violin to a replacement musician, but in the middle of conducting Richardson took back his instrument to play a short solo while still on the podium.
Manookian performed two solo encores at the end of the concert. They were entertaining, though one left thinking the evening wound up with too much emphasis on Manookian as recital performer and not enough on the orchestra.