Concert Review:​ Looking to What Comes Next with Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Symphony Tacoma

Sarah Ioannides | Symphony Tacoma Music Director | Female Conductor and Composer


Symphony Tacoma, led by conductor Sarah Ioannides, gave a dazzling performance of their Classics II concert, titled American Fusion.

…the concert which consisted of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture, the recently composed  Violin Concerto by Wynton Marsalis, and culminated in Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3. For the Violin  Concerto Symphony Tacoma was joined by Kelly Hall-Tompkins as the solo violinist. The night was filled  with varied themes infused with the feeling of Americana; the thrill and action of Bernstein, the  harmony of roots and discovery in Marsalis, and the open and hopeful spaces of Copland. 

The evening began with the heroic humor of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture, which for all its fun  is a deceptively difficult work that can easily descend into sluggish murk due to its demand for alacrity  and precision. Symphony Tacoma propelled the energy forward, displaying grand vistas and subtle  tableaus, dexterous winds and powerhouse brass and sweeping strings, unrelenting in momentum.  Voltaire’s adventure is recalled in unstoppable movement as the overture came to its explosive  conclusion, creating all the space needed for the arrival of Marsalis’ Violin Concerto

The featured soloist for the evening was the violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins, whose take on the Concerto was full of character, humor, brazenness and sentimentality. She was an incredible communicator,  expressing musical lines with an honesty and clarity that couldn’t help but be responded to in both the  audience and the orchestra, an essential component in a work like the Violin Concerto with its musical  conversation between sections, lines and colors. Kelly and Symphony Tacoma navigated this complex  interplay while making it look natural and feel spontaneous, an impressive and difficult feat! The result  was a performance of genuine personality that invites all to the conversation and to experience the joys of that conversation together. 

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