DEER VALLEY Antonin Dvorak's "New World Symphony" was the billed headliner for Keith Lockhart's final summer performance as Utah Symphony music director Friday night. And the audience favorite did draw a big crowd, but it was guest artists Time for Three that stole the show.
Violinist Zachary De Pue, violinist Nick Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer showcased their artistry with three pieces, including an original work by Meyer.
Musicians with a sense of humor, the trio opened the concert with "Thunder Stomp," a Celtic jig of sorts that's featured in a History Channel TV program on the Spanish-American War.
A rousing version of "Hungarian Dance" infused with a little "If I was a Rich Man" from "Fiddler on the Roof" came next. The musicians teased the audience with extreme changes in tempo and dynamics and mixed things up with both violinists playing one instrument at the same time.
The members of Time for Three consider themselves a "classically-trained garage band," and in the tradition of fiddler Mark O'Connor, the trio is taking American music to new heights.
A fusion of folk, bluegrass and jazz, Meyer's "American Suite" is a celebration of classic Americana in four movements. Its fresh and creative sound was highlighted as the trio and symphony played off each other with child-like exuberance.
Starting with the classically structured "Gigue," the trio eased into a light and airy dance that set the stage for the following movements. "MoHawk," an upbeat hoedown, came next. A hauntingly sweet melody ushered in "Hymn," a simple prayer without words that built with emotion and connected with the audience on a personal level.
The rollicking "Orange Blossom Special" brought the group's set to a close with a feverish fiddling jam session that earned bravos, whistles and a standing ovation. Latecomers to the concert missed the best part of the show.
In keeping with the night's American theme, the concert opened with Joan Tower's "Made in America." The Grammy Award-winning piece is based on "America the Beautiful," which is laced throughout the work.
Representative of an ever-changing America, the symphony captured the feel of transformation by aggressively attacking the rhythms with a driving sense of urgency.
The evening ended with Dvorak's ever-popular Symphony No. 9 ("New World"). The piece showed off the symphony's flexibility, requiring it to tackle various moods and dynamics without making it overly trite or sentimental.
Of particular note was the beautiful Largo, which features one of the most famous themes in classical music. Lockhart's gentle interpretation here allowed the nuances to shine.Kudos go to Lockhart and the orchestra for a dynamic and energetic performance that offered a wide range of mood and color.