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Jon Kimura Parker and Alessandro Siciliani with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra

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On Saturday, November 11, John Kimura Parker delivered an unforgettable performance with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, along with Maestro Alessandro Siciliani.

As I arrived and settled into my seat, I was surprised not to find the concert sold out given the popularity of tonight's guest conductor, Alessandro Siciliani, with this crowd. When he emerged, applause rose through the theater and did not subside once he took his place on the podium. He graciously acknowledged the attention and it continued. A “bravo!” was called. Then another from the other side of the theater. I'm pretty sure that I heard a third and after the maestro made a gesture with his right hand spinning about, it subsided and he could begin.

Tchaikovsky's Waltz from Eugene Onegin filled the theater. Siciliani was as ever both comfortable and confident, performing with the orchestra that he led for a decade for a community that had no desire to see him go. After the Waltz completed and the maestro left the stage, the string section stood and left the stage, their chairs moved aside. A concert grand piano was wheeled through the now-open space and to the front of the stage, in front of the podium. The musicians returned to their places and out came Jon Kimura Parker. The maestro followed and took his place after Parker took the hand of Charles Wetherbee, concertmaster. Parker wore all black, vest sans jacket and a solid red tie that matched as if by design the red silk pocket square worn by Siciliani. He wore the broad smile of a man happy to be where he was and doing what he loved. He took a seat and was poised to begin.

Then followed an unforgettable theme. More Tchaikovsky—the familiar and moving Concerto No. 1 for in B-flat Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 23. I felt wonderfully comfortable and very glad to have come as Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso began. Throughout the piece, Parker played with the same precision and passion that we have come to expect from his performances of the great Russian Romantic composers—and particularly Rachmaninoff, whose piano concerti he has performed several times with this orchestra and this composer. As the third movement (and the piece) reached its conclusion, with tension building, Siciliani, Parker, and the orchestra were all at their best. At the end of the piece, Parker lept up to the podium and warmly embraced Siciliani.

Parker came out thrice to receive the applause that was pouring out for him. Siciliani removed his pocket square and ran it over the keys of the piano, prodding Parker to give an encore. “I feel a very, very strong need to play something quiet and intimiate,” he said. “Solace—A Mexican Seranade” by Scott Joplin followed. Quiet, intimate, familiar, and endlessly entertaining: Parker's encores are always wonderful, a reminder that music need not always be powerful, new, and technically difficult to perform. In the end, music is a pleasure, the stuff that reminds us that it's great to be alive.

Brahms followed after the intermission. Uncharacteristically, Niki and I left at the intermission, as she was quite tired. Being less than two weeks away from giving birth, she's not inclined to fight fatigue.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-11-20 10:35 AM
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